It’s here!  This coming week is the big Hour of Code.  You might be thinking, ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that?’ Or, maybe you’re like me, thinking, “Oh my gosh, this is my superbowl!”   Either way, whether you have an entire coding curriculum in your classroom, or have never even understood what the heck the coding revolution is all about, there is something out there for you to encourage your kiddos to try… no planning, no purchasing. Just an activity that will get it started.  There is likely a kid or ten in your classroom that thinks in the visually goodness way that coding speaks to. Trust me, often kids that are struggling in some areas, find success in coding.  Doesn’t that make it worth trying in the classroom?

Here are five ways to incorporate Hour of Code THIS week…. or the week after, whether you have one device or a class set.

1.)  Paper Coding.

On index cards, create arrows of Turn Right, Turn Left, Forward, Backward.  On the floor, use the floor tiles or use masking tape to create a grid.  Depending on what you are learning about in class, create a game board with the grid.  For example, Oregon Trail?  Add obstacles on the grid like a river, a rock, a moutain– all things students will have to navigate around.  Students write the program by laying the cards out, and another student follows the program by moving through the sequence on the floor. Young students could practice letter recognition, find numbers by rolling a dice, or even sight words.  Older students could create their own board with a historical topic, make cards to draw a task like, “Navigate from the mountain, across the river, and stop at the bridge.”    Oh, there’s no device even involved.  Just teamwork, creativity, collaboration… and fun.  This could also work on a small scale using grid paper and moving objects.

Fractus Learning offer these FREE PDF printables for coding games and some great suggestions for other paper coding!

Space Paper Coding Example

2.) Websites has three amazing ready to use tutorials that kids can partner up and try out for some collaborative fun, or dive in on their own.  Minecraft, Star Wars, and Frozen make the tasks fun and interactive, but the idea is to introduce kids to the basics of coding.  Do it along with your students and you’ll be surprised at how much fun coding is.  It’s certainly not just a boring bunch of numbers and letters like I once thought.  No experience necessary.

Scratch.  Scratch has to be one of the most underused and overly awesome things online.  I know why – it’s a bit confusing to a teacher that doesn’t have a lot of spare time to take a look at coding sites.  But have no fear!  Scratch has you covered– they offer FREE Scratch Cards for you to download and print.  And guess what, with NO experience on your part, you can hand these to your kids, and ask them to figure it out. And you will learn right along with them.  Once they start discovering what Scratch can do, they’ll be hooked.   Scratch also has an amazing little set of easy tutorials to help kiddos begin to understand coding.  Be sure to check out last years “Create a Holiday Card” tutorial… it’s a fun one, too.   So how can Scratch fit into your overpacked curriculum?  The skills it reinforces, among them creativity, collaboration, problem solving, also include tons of math skills (number sense, time, measurement, angles, shapes), could easily be used to reinforce understanding in a science or social studies topic, or could be a springboard to a creative writing project because of the interactivity. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination!   NOTE: Scratch Jr. is also available as an app, and definitely one to check out for the younger crowd.

3.) Apps

Hopscotch:  A great app to begin coding with. Similar to Scratch.
BeeBot:  Now you can code with BeeBots on an iPad, whether you own the BeeBot robots or not.

Daisy the Dinosaur: Created by Hopscotch, another fun one. Daisy is cute, too.

And to look for a few more, check out Common Sense Media Coding Apps.  This is a must use site for vetting apps and websites for the classroom or even your own kiddos at home.  Excellent rating systems and they keep it up to date.

4.) Videos

What is coding?   Great little intro for primary and elementary ages.

What is coding?  Good intro for Upper Elementary.

Should Everyone Learn to Code?   Very cool way to show kids the possibilities of the cool careers that coding involves.  Would be excellent for upper elementary and middle school.