Many schools have implemented tech lessons built around the “hour of code” initiative. In case you’re not familiar, the hour of code is a website that promotes the idea of teaching computer coding. For example, users can learn the “language” behind making elements move on the screen. Lessons build on each other and both kids and adults can progress to creating an entire video game. Anyone can take advantage of the tutorials and lesson plans on the site. Students learn the basics of coding, either individually or through an organized hour of coding event.
Educators are using hour of code concepts in several ways, including allowing for regular classroom coding time or presenting lessons off and on throughout the year. It’s likely that any amount of exposure to computer programming instruction is beneficial to students of all ages, and elementary-age kids are no exception.
Interested in launching your own classroom coding plan? Of course there’s an app for that. Take a look at these well-known coding apps and see if any are appropriate for your students:
- codeSpark Academy. This app requires free registration and then teachers can manage their students’ progress within the app. Search @PlayTheFoos on social media to discover how other teachers are using codeSpark.
- Hopscotch. You’ve likely heard of this app as it’s one of the more popular choices when it comes to learning how to code. However, just be aware that the app offers users the chance to communicate with each other via iMessage and this feature is often a no-no in elementary classrooms.
- Lightbot Code Hour. Definitely made for beginners, this app allows users to jump right in without registering and the directions are super easy to understand. Consider using this resource to keep groups of students occupied while you’re working with other kids one-on-one.
Now, apps aren’t the only way to encourage the idea of coding. When it comes to anything tech-related, kids often learn the most from other kids. So, find a way to partner with a high school classroom and have the older students show off their coding skills to the younger set. Think of how excited 1st and 2nd grade students will be to sit down with teenagers and learn a cool tech skill.
YouTube can be another coding resource. It’s no secret that kids love YouTube so why not promote videos that are educational? Also, some experts believe that age-appropriate YouTube channels are some of the safer and more positive social media platforms around. So, organize your students into groups, find a suitable coding channel like Kids Can Code and let them watch a few videos. Increase the educational value by asking for short written or oral recaps of what the kids learned.
Try to implement electronics practices that can provide real and practical benefits. No matter what your feelings are about technology in the classroom, attempt to make sure your students are exposed to worthwhile iPad or computer time. Helping kids become tech-savvy can have a positive effect on their academic life on up through college. So, consider adding regular coding time to your classroom routine and help your students prepare for a technology-driven life.