Every year, the beginning of December marks Hour of Code. While coding and computational thinking are important skills that have benefits when incorporated year round in classroom programs, this is an excellent time where classrooms around the world participate; empowering students in d the development of these skills. In this post, I’m highlighting 3 activities that I will be using in my school to help support teachers who are new to coding and are wanting to give it a try this coming week.
This year, I’m envisioning centers so that students have an opportunity to participate in a variety of different activities while still allowing for small group teaching, especially with Scratch.
Who doesn’t love playing with Lego? I have to admit that even as an adult, when I have the opportunity to build with my nephews, I get excited at the possibility of creating with Lego. One of the unplugged – no tech required – activities that students have enjoyed is Coding Lego Mazes. This free resource is a great way to get started. The idea is that students have the opportunity to create their own mazes and once built, have to navigate their way to the end by thinking of all of the steps that it might take. In doing this, students start to think about giving clear navigational instructions using commands – similar to how we might use commands when coding. Older students can consider creating their own more elaborate mazes and the premise is the same, whereby they have to be able to direct someone from the beginning to the end of the maze.
Lego also has an online coding game, Bits ‘n’ Bricks. Students learn how to code using blocks as they help Bit on an Adventure.
Guided Online Activities
There are so many really great activities online that guide students as they learn to code using blocks. As students progress, the levels get more challenging and they gain a greater understanding of how code is formed and used as commands for specific actions. Below are a few links to some that I have used in the classroom with students.
- Dance Party
- Code Your Own Game
- Infinity Lab
- Minecraft Designer
- Star Wars
- Play Lab – Create your own story
- New Hour of Code Activities
Made With Code
I often share links with students in Google Classroom and they can select which activities they may enjoy participating in with a partner or in a small group.
Creativity with Scratch
I’ve used Scratch mainly with Junior students. The TDSB Coding In The Elementary Grades website has a variety of lessons from K – Grade 8 that guide educators as they teach students to create. I’ve used a number of these lessons to help students gain some of the basic skills in Scratch as well as in the creation of their own narratives. I love that they have broken it down by subject area. Take a look and see if there is anything that has a specific connection to what you are currently working on that students can try. We’ve been working on Geometry so this week, we’ll be using Scratch to determine how we might draw 2D shapes. Here’s the link to an article that I saw in Edutopia that we might use to get us started as we think about angles and side lengths.
For teachers new to coding, I hope that this helps. In my Hour of Code presentation, there are a few more ideas that you might also be interested in incorporating in your classrooms. Whatever you do, I hope that you have a great time coding and learning with students next week!