Maker Monday: Coding

28 Jun

Our first Maker Monday was a lot of fun!  Our program is geared toward children entering 3rd – 6th grade in the fall.  We only register 20 kids for the program because we only have 10 iPads and with technology and science programs, less is more.  I’m always a little anxious before starting these types of programs because I honestly don’t know a lot about these topics and fewer kids means we can focus on individual attention as some will need more help than others when trying something brand new, we’re also lucky enough to have 10 iPads in the library which allows for kids to work in pairs when we use the iPads.

I start some, if not all of my programs with a conversation with the kids.  I want the kids to share with the group what they know about whatever topic we’re working on during the program.  I usually have a few questions to pull information from the kids as needed, but the kids usually need very little prompting to share information.  After we share the information, we dove into our coding for the afternoon.

Our first activity involved a grid of paper lying on the floor, I think I was able to fit a grid of 10 x 8 sheets of paper.  We used a plastic gold coin as our “treasure”  One of the kids volunteered to take directions from the group and I explained that you can move volunteer in four directions – forward, backward, left and right.  (Make sure your volunteer faces the same direction throughout the activity)  Then the kids took turns giving directions.  A few times the kids gave bad directions which help showed what happens when your code is incorrect.  After we tried a few times, I removed a few of the papers which created blocks and made the “programming” more difficult.

After we finished working on our large version of the grid, I gave the kids a piece of graph paper to create their own maze or partner with friends to repeat the exercise above by hand.  I like offering these coding activities that don’t require technology because it helps the kids understand how coding works and what happens when the directions are incorrect.

Finally, the kids paired up to use the iPads and got the chance to spend about 20-30 minutes playing with a few coding apps including Daisy the Dinosaur, Hopscotch and Scratch Jr.  I like offering a few options as the kids are at very different levels in their understanding of coding and their experience in coding as well.  The kids did a great job of working together and sharing the iPads, no one wandered off task and started using other apps and I only had one instance where two boys were giggling and clearly up to no good.  I had them delete the project they were working on and gave them a stern talking to and had no other problems.

Overall, I’m really happy with how the program worked out and the kids seemed to really enjoy themselves.  Our next program is going to be a stop motion animation program which I’m pretty nervous about because it’s not something I’ve done before, but that’s part of the fun too.

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