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Code a Friend

Overview

Activity Description

Children will use coding blocks to create codes for friends to follow.

Duration

30-40 min.

Key Outcome(s)

Use critical thinking and problem-solving skills to develop a code (a set of instructions) to direct the movements of others.

Materials and Preparation

Prep Time

15-20 min. 

Materials

  • We provide: ‘Coding blocks’: four each of hand, foot, head, leg, arm; five arrows; green start, red stop; ‘Modelling coding blocks’: hand, foot, head, leg, arm, arrow, green start, red stop; ‘Coding strips’ (optional). Click HERE to download

Preparation

  1. Print and cut out the ‘coding blocks’ (one sheet for each pair of children). If you cannot print in colour, colour the stop blocks red and the start blocks green using markers, pencil crayons, or crayons.
  2. Prepare the sets of ‘coding blocks’ for differentiated learning (i.e., provide some pairs with the arrow ‘coding blocks’; limit the number of ‘coding blocks’ some pairs will receive).
  3. Print and cut out the ‘modelling coding blocks’ if you would like a larger set for demonstration purposes (one set, in colour if possible).
  4. Print and cut out the ‘coding strips’ if this is where you would like the children to place the ‘coding blocks’ (one ‘coding strip’ for each pair; provide more strips if you would like some pairs to make longer codes).

The Activity

What do we wonder?

 “Today we will learn about coding. Did you know that video games were made with coding? Even the doors at the grocery store that open when you walk in front of them work because of coding. I wonder if we could create a code for a friend”

What do we know?   

  1. “Can you tell me about coding and what it is used for?” (e.g., apps, elevators, cars, cash registers, electronics)
  2. “People called ‘designers’ and ‘programmers’ use blocks of code to give commands. We’re going to use pictures to give our friends commands!” One at a time, show a body part ‘modelling coding block’. “Can you name this body part? Let’s choose a movement to go with this body part.” (e.g., hands: clap; feet: stomp; legs: hop; arms: wave; head: nod)
  3. “Let’s look at a code I made!” Using the ‘(modelling) coding blocks’, show a code with a green ‘start’ block, an ‘arm’ block, a ‘foot’ block, and a red ‘stop’ block. “What is this code telling you to do? What do you think the _____ (green, arm, foot, red) block of code means? Now let’s try the code!” Act out the sequence together.
  4. “When we make our codes, we will begin with a green ‘start block’ of code, then we will use some body parts ‘coding blocks’ to tell our friend what to do, then we end with a red ‘stop block’ of code. We will line these up like words in a sentence that we read from left to right with no spaces between the blocks.”

Ideate and plan

  1. “Can you create a code? Let’s brainstorm what you could tell a friend to do using the ‘coding blocks’.”
  2. “‘Brainstorming’ is when we think of all the ideas we could use to solve the problem or challenge we are working on. It helps to think with friends because together we have more ideas, and ideas from friends can help us think of new ideas.”
  3. “Now that we have some ideas, we need to create a plan. Plans can be in our heads or drawn out on paper. If I want my friend to wave, I’ll need four blocks of code.” Model a code (e.g., start, arm, hand, stop).

Create

Ask the pairs to use the ‘coding blocks’ to create a code by setting the blocks side by side in a line (or use a provided ‘coding strip’). Each child in the pair will take turns being the ‘programmer’ and the ‘tester’. Remind them to begin with the green start ‘coding block’ and to end with the red stop ‘coding block’.

How can we test and modify?

  1. “How can we test our codes?” (We can ask a friend to try it and see if he or she does what we wanted.)
  2. “What do we do if our friend can’t follow our code?” (We can change our code to make it better.)
  3. Ask some or all of the following questions as the children test and modify their codes: “Is the code too long? Do you need to break it up into sections? Should we practice small codes and then put them together? Would pointing to each block help our friends to follow your code?”

What did we learn?

  • “What did you learn about coding?” (Coding lets us give instructions to computers or robots and even friends.) HINT: To assess understanding of coding, ensure that children understand that today’s ‘codes’ were a line of pictures that told their friends what to do.
  • “What was hard about making a code? How did you make it easier for your friend to follow?”
  • “Why is coding important? How could this help in our world and at school?” (Coding helps us to get better at giving and understanding instructions.)

Let's do more!

Incorporating Domain B skills (Social Skills and Approaches to Learning):

Ask the children to create codes together, either with the provided ‘coding blocks’ or with other tablet coding programs.

Incorporating Domain C skills (Cognitive Skills):

Numeracy: Ask the children to count the number of blocks (length) in their code. Tablet coding programs are also beneficial to learn numbers and directions.

Adaptations

To make this activity MORE challenging:

  • Children can use the arrows (provided on the ‘coding blocks’ sheet) to make the codes more challenging. Arrows can be used for forwards and backwards and/or right and left.
  • Ask the children to create longer codes (provide more ‘coding strips’ if using them).
  • Ask the children to draw and cut out their own codes using the provided ‘draw your own code’ sheets.

To make this activity LESS challenging:

  • Limit the number of ‘coding blocks’ children use and do not include the arrow ‘coding blocks’.
  • Print the provided ‘action coding blocks’ if the children would benefit from following action pictures instead of body parts pictures.
  • Set up a small guided group session for children needing extra support.