Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hour of Code in Kindergarten

This week is Hour of Code Week, which is simply a wonderful excuse to give your kids the opportunity to try coding.  In my classroom, we participated in the Hour of Code each year, and some of the kids loved it and some didn't.  But all were exposed to coding, and that's what matters!  Coding teaches some incredibly valuable skills, such as critical thinking, reasoning and perseverance.

Don't think that YOU need to know how to code in order to let your kiddos code!  You don't!  I have NO STINKING IDEA how to code, and had many kindergartners who became more skilled than I was. They were our classroom experts and other kids could go to them for help.  There are so many awesome websites, programs and apps that do the work for you.  Just give your kids access!  I was at Eagle Cliffs today, and Mrs. Scheafer talked about how she uses the coding apps right along with her 2nd graders.  Many have passed her on "levels" but they love playing along with her and showing her the new things they are learning.

Check out code.org, the Hour of Code, Tynker, Khan Academy, or Google Computer Science First. These are all awesome resources to get your kids started, and help you learn the ropes.  The Google CS First program even sends you a free kit!

In Mrs. Bishop's kindergarten this morning, we spent the first 30 minutes of our "Hour of Code" introducing the VERY basics of coding (Mrs. Bishop described them as "directions" to make the character move, and they need to be done in the right order) and using the app Daisy the Dinosaur. We used Air Server to reflect the iPad onto her screen and show them how to use Daisy the Dinosaur. We then had them go to their seats and get started.  They worked on Daisy the Dinosaur for 10-15 minutes, then Mrs. Bishop had them take a screenshot of their work and post to Seesaw, writing a sentence about what they had Daisy do with their coding directions (i.e. "She spun."  "She jumped", etc).

The second thirty minutes of our Hour of Code was spent BRIEFLY introducing the app Kodable, then letting the kids worked.  They REALLY loved this app, and it kept them busy for the 30 minutes and beyond.  Mrs. Bishop does a wonderful job of only helping her kids a little tiny bit - they need to persevere through the challenges and figure out where mistakes are happening.  This is the real value of learning to code in kindergarten!  I also loved how they would help each other out when someone got stuck.  Anyone who thinks that 1:1 iPads make for a non-collaborative classroom should observe kids when they are learning to code!  They worked together so well.

Thanks for inviting me in, Mrs. Bishop!  I loved watching your kindergartners celebrate when they finally made it through a challenging level!

A couple other teacher fave apps are:
Most are free apps, but Lightbot is $2.99.  Happy coding!

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