Posts Tagged ‘coding’

Beginning Computing with SEND children.

There are various tools to teach coding to youngsters away from the computer before they get onto screens with PurpleMash’s 2Code or 2Go, J2Code,  Scratch etc; and doing practical activities is an essential aspect of multi sensory learning.

Beebots aren’t just for the nursery classes. KS1 children can use them to begin learning how to make algorithms instead of giving one instruction at a time. They can learn directional language and how to identify themselves with the beebot so that they can “project themselves” onto a pathway to aid with giving instructions.

Playing a game like “Back to Back, Ear to Ear” will help them to learn the importance of giving a clear instructions. 

Coding with Cubetto happens with hands-on coding blocks, which means children can use it irrespective of reading ability or language barriers. This introduces programming concepts like algorithm, the queue, recursions, debugging.

Things to learn after ALGORITHM, are  EVENTS and ITERATION.

Here is a nice lesson (away from the computers) that will teach both.

As we start to write longer and more interesting programs, our code often contains a lot of repetition.

In this lesson, students will learn about how events cause something to happen and (repeats) loops can be used to more easily communicate instructions that have a lot of repetition by looking at the repeated patterns of movement in a dance.

At this point in the course, students should have developed comfort with programming a set of linear instructions.

Frequently the linear set of instructions includes patterns that are repeated multiple times and as students want to write more complex and interesting programs, manually duplicating that code becomes cumbersome and inefficient. To enable students to write more powerful programs, we’ll need to rely on structures that break out of the that single linear list. Loops allow for students to structure their code in a way that repeats. In this lesson, we will focus on identifying patterns in physical movement before moving back onto the computer to look for patterns in our code.

This Dance Party lesson is done away from the computer again. We are all dancing the same dance, we’ll need to know what all of the steps in the dance are, and how many times we should do them.

Show Dance actions (on the wall) so that all students can see it. Talk through the different sections of the dance as a class. Demo each action and practice putting them together.   (Play Music)

Point out the section that repeats and discuss a quicker way of writing it.

Dance Party Unplugged

Diving into Scratch

What a busy morning. A lot of hardwork, but a lot of fun, too, and plenty of challenges.

We began with looking at the steps of a line dance and how instead of talking through each movement they give a sequence of steps one name. So a ‘link’ is putting a foot to one side, crossing the other one behind it, then moving the first foot sideways again, before bringing up the second foot to meet it. A lot easier to say “Do a link,” than to run through that sequence of commands each time. And you can use it again and again in different dances. In fact every dance is a collection of these sets of steps. A bit like coding where you bring together sets of instructions rather than having to rewrite the code every time.

We put this into practice in where we used the activities based on the film Frozen. These started out fairly easy, then we had to join them together to make ever more complicated shapes, like snowflakes and linked circles.

Frozen coding with Anna

Then we put into practice what we had learned from the simulated coding environment in  by coding for real in Scratch. Some people  hadn’t used it before, but everyone got to grips with it very quickly.

After a quick tour of the coding screen the task was to create a fish tank, put a fish in it, then get it to swim backwards and forwards.

Scratch fish tank

We had to use the ‘Forever’ command and get the fish to ‘bounce’ whenever it hit the sides, so it ended up swimming around the tank. At the end everyone was adding more fish and getting them to swim colourfully around together.



Dance till you drop

We spent a lot of time this week dancing.

We watched videos of Dance Dance Revolution, a game involving a dance mat that most of the adults remembered, but not many of the students. You have to follow directions on screen to move on a floormat, scoring points if you tread on the right square.

We also watched a video of a robot and decided that Dance Dance Revolution was like programming a robot, so we created our own dance programs. In groups we created short routines using simple sets of directions and numbers, then we tried them out to La Vida Loca, before joining them all together into one long dance. Aziz acted as our choreographer helping everyone to follow the steps in each program.

Whilst the commands were the same in each dance – Fd, BK, Lt,Rt, Wait and Repeat – the number of steps or time to pause changed in each routine. These we called “Variables” because they change whilst the actions remain the same. We also introduced a command “Repeat until the music stops,” to make sure the dance lasted as long as the tune.

After that we used Purplemash and completed the Bubbles activity.


As the bubbles drifted up the screen we had to click on them to make them disappear with a ‘pop.’ Some people added more bubbles and made them do other things, either changing direction or making different sounds.

Everyone thought it was a good fun morning.


Drag till we drop coding

Today we started using drag and drop to code. This way you  don’t need to type in the instructions but select the ones you want then join them together to build up the instructions.

We began by using a floormat and giving each other instructions to move around it. We had typed commands that we then added in numbers of steps or turns to. This could prove challenging remembering which way to turn.

Then we used the Angry Birds game in .

Angry birds in studio code

Next we used 2Code in Purplemash. We had to give fish in an on-screen aquarium commands to make them move in the right direction.

fish tank 1

We all got to the point where we could add our own fish then program them to move when they were clicked. You could add as many fish as you wanted to. Nishat wanted to add a lot of fish.

nishat fish tank

She must like clown fish!

Some of them moved automatically. Others had to be clicked on to start them moving. We found you could click one fish and make a different one move.

Sometimes we had to think very hard to work out what to do. But everyone worked hard.

First steps in programming

Students from Langdon Park and Mulberry Schools are starting a ten week course in computer programming. To get started we thought about sequences and putting things in a logical, regular order that is always the same. Like you have to do in Line Up from Busythings. The Langdon Park group picked this up very quickly and took it in turns to put in the correct answer. The problems got harder using more colours and shapes, and changing the spaces that needed to be filled.

line up

Once they had that cracked we moved on to an activity needing logical thinking. In Block-a-doodle-doo you have to move vehicles out of the path of the chicken in the green car who is the worst driver ever, carrying on in a straight line, banging into things, and expecting everyone to get out of the way. If the monster on the motorbike catches the chicken he eats him.

Block a doodle doo

We talked about sequences in everyday life, things we do regularly without even realising we are following the same set of actions every time, like when we cross the road.

We went on to program a chicken to move through a maze picking up jewels on the way and avoiding monsters in Path Peril. This got harder and harder until there were five jewels and three monsters and no way to avoid them except by timing your moves right. It brought lots of laughs as the chicken got grabbed, gobbled and blown up.

Path peril

For the final activity we use J2Code and found the parking problem. Here a sequence of instructions is coded into a program to move a car from one parking bay to another. We watched as each line of code was run through then added and deleted lines to debug. We left the car park with several damaged cars!



In our second session a week later we transformed one of our teachers into a Human Robot who only understood clear instructions: “Forward (x)” “Backward (x)” and “Turn right”, “Turn left” where X is the number of steps we wanted the robot to take. We had fun making the robot travel round the room and then describe some shapes.

Then we programmed the Mole to get the worm in the TES iboard activity Mole Maze  We made it move one step at a time, then made a list of all the instructions before pressing Go.  Remembering right and left was a bit tricky for some, especially when the Mole was facing downwards. We spent a very little bit of time remembering why we had to put “90” for a right angle, “180” for a half turn etc.

mole maze This activity comes with three levels and we all started on the easy level first.

We logged onto Purple Mash and used 2Go to programme some letters and other shapes. jack