December 7-13 is Computer Science Education Week. Introduce your students to computer science by getting them to participate in an Hour of Code.
“In one hour, students (and teachers) can learn that computer science is fun, easy, and accessible at all ages.” – HourOfCode.com
Code.org is THE resource for any educator interested in teaching their students about coding. From courses and curriculum to professional development and supporting diversity in computing, this site has everything you’ll need to get started.
Find lesson plans sorted by grade level and subject area, along with teacher-guided tutorials to get students coding and having fun in no time.
Access lessons and more, along with teacher’s notes at code.org/learn. Check out the complete How to Teach One Hour of Code guide, or download the Hour of Code Participation Guide. Looking for inspiration? Check out the Teacher-Led Hour of Code Lessons.
Coding for Elementary Students (K-3)
As a parent, I’m mindful that not all screen time is equal. My daughter loves the iPad’s entertainment value, while I view it as a powerful tool for learning. The Foos makes us both very happy. I see her problem-solving, sequencing, and creating loops; she thinks she’s just playing a game. The makers of The Foos describes their game as “the most fun and kid-friendly way to learn about computer programming,” and I’d have to agree. It’s designed for ages 5-10, and available for iOS, Android, and for the Kindle Fire. You can also play it with a web browser or by downloading it from the Mac App Store. Their Hour of Code Page provides students with the opportunity to earn and Hour of Code certificate, in addition to providing curriculum and a solutions guide for teachers.
A Great Coding Option for Grades K-3, and Grades 4+
Lightbot is one of the first apps that my six-year-old daughter started coding with. Students use drag and drop coding to maneuver the Lightbot through multiple game levels. Beginning levels provide direct guidance, with each level getting progressively more difficult. Lightbot is currently priced at $2.99, but they have created free Hour of Code versions for iOS, Android, and Online (Flash, in-browser). The paid version is available in two different versions. Junior Coding Puzzles for ages 4-8 are available on iOS, Android, and Kindle. Programming Puzzles for ages 9+ are available on iOS, Android, Kindle, Windows, and Mac. Lesson plans, printable command icons, and Hour of Code resources are available on the Teacher Resources.
I’ve been using Scratch with my high school students for years. It’s a browser-based, drag and drop programming platform for creating games, interactive art, stories, and simulations. My Environmental Science students have used it to create food web games, and natural selection simulations. Check out their Hour of Code page, or explore their online community for Educators ScratchEd.
Make Coding Even More Fun
I can’t think of a way to make coding more exciting than to use it to control robots and drones. Tickle is an iOS app that allows students to use drag and drop coding to control a number of different robots and drones. Sphero and the Rolling Spider are two of my favorites. No robots? No Problem. Tickle can also be used to program iPhone games. Check out the Swimming Orca game on their Hour of Code Page.
I featured Sphero as one of my 5 Awesome Tech Gadgets for Teachers and Students. The rolling robot is so much fun to program that students will forget they are learning. Challenge students by creating a maze or obstacle course to program the robot though. They’ve also recently added a BB-8 model for all the Star Wars fans out there.
Parrot Minidrones Rolling Spider
The only thing cooler than programming a robot is programming a robot that can fly. Check out the video below that shows the fun I had programming the Parrot Minidrones Rolling Spider at the 2015 Apple Distinguished Educators Institute. It was so much fun that we didn’t want to put it down.
Apple Store Coding Workshops
Apple is offering free, one-hour introduction to computer programming workshops in their stores for students age 6 and up. Find the schedule for your local apple store and register here.
What are your plans for Hour of Code? Share them in the comments below.
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