Coding means programming. That is, writing (or executing) lines of code with instructions to be given to a computer. But why has this activity become so important in the educational setting? And, most importantly, how can you introduce children to coding in a fun, playful, and creative way?
I’m an elementary school math teacher and I couldn’t help but delve into topics related to coding: problem solving, working in groups, creativity….
Probably also having a husband who is a computer scientist has contributed to increasing my interest in using educational robotics in the classroom.
In recent years, coding activities are increasingly more common in schools because they are considered important for the development of computational thinking. This is a cross-curricular skill that should be developed, stimulated and trained from an early age.
SOME UNPLUGGED CODING ACTIVITIES… to get started!
The very first activities suitable for young children, which help them to take their first steps in a progressive way, are called “unplugged”.
These are activities that use non-digital tools to introduce the basic concepts of computer science, and then gradually move on to the use of some tools.
To start, in the classroom, we started with movement and our bodies! We made a chessboard on the floor with colored tape. The directions with the main commands to use were: FORWARD, RIGHT, LEFT, BACKWARD.
In preparation for the use of visual block programming, the children, through the use of tiles will directly illustrate the instructions to carry out the process.
In this way, children can explore the world with simple commands, develop logic and calculation, visualize patterns in space, and learn the basics of programming languages.
It becomes very stimulating for the teacher to construct teaching activities by adapting them to the different areas of learning in order to make the ” coding hours” at school interdisciplinary.
We have also used Pixel Art as an unplugged coding activity, as we tried to reconstruct different types of images with increasing complexity. The design then becomes a sequence of instructions to be solved according to the size of the pixels and their number.
The use of coding in teaching is an effective and fun way that can facilitate and simplify the understanding and acquiring of content, it can be a powerful tool for the inclusion of different learning styles with a transversal value among the different branches of knowledge.
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