Hour of Code and Beyond!

November 28, 2018

Every December schools around the country celebrate Hour of Code as part of Computer Science Education Week. We can't wait to see how you have your students mash up coding with inventing out of everyday stuff. We know from years past that some students will get their first taste in physical computing next week when they learn about coding with Scratch and using Makey Makey to control those creations.

 Learn more about physical computing across grade levels in this blog post.

So in honor of hour of code Dec 3-9, we thought we'd present a few ideas to try with students next week.

Hour of Code Activities by Grade Level

Early Years: Screen-Free Coding

  • Kinder- 2nd: Try some off-screen coding! You can download and print these Scratch Jr blocks and have your students partner up to play "Computer" and "Programmer." Teach students how to trigger an event and move according to the blocks lined up in a program. Challenge your students to create a program together with the blocks. After writing their first computer program, ask one student to be the computer and the other student to be the programmer. The programmer will tell the computer what actions to take based on the blocks (program.) Make sure to let students play both roles! For an added challenge, use low adhesive tape on the floor to make a pattern. Then challenge the students to create a program that will make the computer walk the shape on the floor. 

 Learn more about Scratch Jr. here.

Elementary: Make Movements or Make Music

  • 3rd Grade: If students have never used Scratch, try having them start at the "getting started" tips to learn how to make a sprite move. Once they've programmed a character to move, let them follow this easy Labz guide to connect Makey Makey and create their first custom game controller. 
  • 3rd Grade and up: If your students are already using Scratch, consider a musical instrument challenge.  Let students create their own musical instruments out of cardboard and then create a custom musical interface in Scratch.

Picture from Kyle Kitchen's Musical Instrument Labz Guide


Upper Elementary 3rd, 4th and 5th Grade: Make History Alive

  • 3rd grade and up: Combine history, research, coding, and making by creating biography bottles! In this Labz guide by Kimberly Boyce and Bradley Quentin.
  • 3rd grade and up: Here's another historical research project that uses Scratch coding for creating an interactive poster!

Middle School: Get Active!

  • 5th and up: Try creating some of these amazing controllers from John Lynch and then challenge students to create games to accompany these inventive controllers. 

  • 5th and up: Try some STEM in the Gym! Share this video and challenge students to create their own STEM in the Gym games with Scratch. 


Middle School and High School: Integrate Literacy

  • 4th grade and up: Let students create inventions based on their favorite books. This workshop from Frazer Merrick at Signals produced some really great Interactive art based on books! 

  • 4th and up: If your middle schoolers or high schoolers are still new to Scratch, creating interactive poetry is a cool way to tinker with circuits and wordplay.

All Levels: Design Thinking and Empathy

  • Have students design activities or controllers based on the need of others. Our very own Tom Heck led a group of high school students that designed and built assistive technology devices for elementary students. Have your students create controllers and games designed around another's student's particular need.  
  • Jennifer Schank one of our newest ambassadors (and previously featured in this blog post) challenges occupational therapists in training to create devices for client's with certain challenges. She recently shared a hand strengthening tool hacked with Makey Makey to play an XBox game.


Going Beyond Hour of Code- Free Webinar with Brian Aspinall!

While "Hour of Code" is a popular way to get students excited about coding and promotes Computer Science Education how can you go beyond the hour of code and make sure coding is part of the whole school year? 

Join us  December 11th 11:00 am EST as we chat with Brian Aspinall, Makey Makey ambassador and author of Code Breaker, to discuss ways you can incorporate coding and Makey Makey into your daily curriculum.

"The hour of code is a great entry point, not a destination. Where to now ?" Brian Aspinall

Register here

(This webinar will be recorded and available here after December 11th!)


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