This post is written by Karly Moura, a teacher on special assignment (TOSA) and Computer Science teacher in Mount Diablo USD in Concord, California. Karly is also part of team Ditchbook, enjoying her role as content and social media manager.
You don’t have to be an expert programmer yourself to get your students started coding in the classroom and the Hour of Code during Computer Science Education Week is a great place to start. With the incredible amount of resources available to educators, you can learn to program along WITH your students.
The Hour of Code is celebrated in the beginning of December with over 180 countries participating around the world. You can get your students in on the action no matter what grade level or subject area you teach.
Below you will find 20 ways to get your class coding before, during, or even after the Hour of Code.
Hour of Code activities and tutorials
Only have 60 minutes to host your Hour of Code? Or maybe you want to try a short tutorial out with your students before jumping in further. These activities will take approximately an hour for your students to complete. Many are available in multiple languages and teacher’s guides are provided. In addition to the ones I have highlighted below, you can find many, many more here.
1. Lightbot- ANY age, pre-reader+ can experience the HOC with Lightbot. Lightbot uses programming logic to solve fun puzzles. Students will learn how to sequence instructions, write procedures, and utilize loops along the way. Find more pre-reader resources here by clicking on “pre-reader”.
2. Dance Party- This year code.org has teamed up with musicians like Katy Perry, Shawn Mendes, Lil Nas X, Panic! At The Disco, Jonas Brothers, and many more for a NEW dance party coding activity that students will flip for.
3. Minecraft tutorials- Each year code.org offers Minecraft lovers everywhere the chance to combine their coding skills with familiar characters from Minecraft. Students can complete the newest tutorial and can try out past year’s activities too.
4. Animate your name in Scratch– Scratch is a free, block-based programming language created by the Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT. In this tutorial, students can animate the letters of their name, initials, or a favorite word.
Hour of Code tutorials for grades 6+
6. Coding Mathematics models- Students in grades 6+ learn to code different mathematical models in Python (a text-based programming language) with Tracy the Turtle. Although no prior coding experience is necessary, they recommend that students participating in the activity have completed Algebra I or higher.
No computers? No problem! Unplugged coding ideas.
It may surprise you and your students to know that you don’t need a computer to celebrate the Hour of Code! There are tons of activities available for students of all ages.
7. Hello Ruby- The Hello Ruby picture book series is one of the most brilliant ways to teach programming to young learners. Each book contains a beautiful story that introduces readers the fundamentals of computer science along with an activity book for young programmers. Check out helloruby.com for free lesson plans and links for ordering the books.
8. Dance party unplugged- The same awesome dance party activity that was mentioned above can be done without a computer! Students can learn coding concepts to choreograph a dance party together using events to respond to a user using a controller.
9. My robotic friends- In this fun, unplugged activity students will figure out how to guide each other to accomplish specific tasks without discussing them first. This traveling circuits activity teaches students the basics of coding as well as the extremely valuable skill of debugging.
10. Printable coding cards- Printable coding cards can be used with students for a hands-on, offline coding experience. Coding cards from Tickle App, Scratch Jr or Scratch can be used with online coding activities, unplugged lessons or even with robots!
Celebrate the entire Computer Science Education Week!
If you have more than an hour to devote to Computer Science education week or want your students to have the opportunity to go beyond the Hour of Code then these resources are the perfect addition.
Hour of Code choice boards
If you want to use the choice boards or HyperDocs with your class just go to File > Make a copy! (But please, please, please … don’t request access. Just make your own copy. Thanks!)
11. Choice boards- A choice board is a great option if you have a lot of classes participating in the Hour of Code or if you want to give your students the option of choosing their activity. Feel free to adapt this HOC choice board for K-5 or this HOC choice board for 6+ to meet the needs of your students.
Hour of Code and introduction to computer science HyperDocs
12. Hour of Code HyperDoc for K-2- This mini-unit can be done as a whole class or students can complete the activities in pairs or individually depending on their age and/or coding experience. This HyperDoc is meant to be assigned as “view only”, students will use the links provided to complete activities.
13. Hour of Code HyperDoc for 3+- This version of the Introduction to Coding and Hour of Code HyperDoc is more interactive and self-paced for older students. Students will learn about the basics of computer programming and block coding languages prior to trying out an hour of code activity.
Digital escape rooms
14. Digital Escape Rooms- Add an extra challenge to your Hour of Code celebration with a computer science themed digital escape rooms. These virtual escape rooms are meant to be challenging so students will need an extra dose of growth mindset and resiliency as they tackle these breakouts. The Ransomware and Robot digital escape rooms were created by Stephanie Allen, an adjunct professor of computer science Portland Community College.
Teach an entire computer science unit
15. How Computers Work- Computer science is about more than just coding. In this mini unit, geared toward grades 5-8, students will explore what makes a computer a computer, binary, circuits, logic and more. Lisa Guardino and I created this HyperDoc to introduce students to how computers work. This mini unit includes a NEW BreakoutEDU digital, a show what you know choice board, and fun challenges to get kids thinking.
16. Free computer science lessons for K-12- If you are ready to begin teaching computer science in your classroom but aren’t sure where to start or just want more resources then check out Beyond the Hour of Code: 20+ free lessons for teaching computer science by Owen Peery.
Celebrating the Hour of Code with physical computing and robots
Got robots or physical computing devices like MaKey MaKey or Micro:bit? Even if you only have one or two robots or devices these activities work great as a station and most of these tutorials can be completed with or without the robot or device. Check out hourofcode.com/us/learn/robotics for more.
17. Ozobots- With this tiny little robot students in pre-k and up can practice coding using markers or the Ozoblockly editor. Ozobot has 19 different HOC tutorials ranging from beginner to comfortable, no screen to tablets or computers, and even tutorials that don’t require an Ozobot at all!
18. RoboBlockly- Created at the UC Davis C-STEM center, RoboBlockly prepares students to program in C/C++. Based on Google’s Blockly programming language, RoboBlockly allows you to control Linkbots and Lego Mindstorms NXT/EV3 as well as to draw and animate for beginners to learn robotics. These Hour of Code activities are suitable for a range of skill levels and can be completed with or without the robots.
19. Makey Makey- Marketed as an “invention kit for everyone” Makey Makey turns everyday objects into a touchpad or keyboard. Let your students explore the world of circuits and electricity with Makey Makey as they complete the Hour of Code through this HyperDoc remixed by Owen Peery.
BONUS Hour of Code and Computer Science Education Week resources!
Check out this Wakelet collection that includes ALL of the links from this post. I will likely add to it in the coming weeks as more resources are shared during CS education week. This collection can be shared directly through Facebook, Twitter, and Google Classroom or you can even make a copy to edit and add your own resources!
In a recent #Ditchbook Twitter chat we discussed the Hour of Code and Computer Science Education Week. Educators shared lots of ideas and resources for teaching computer science in all subject areas throughout the year. You can check them out below.