Beginners Coding Guide Online Resource for Educators

Attention teachers and home school parents, AT&T has just released an online Beginners Coding Guide. It is a free interactive learning resource to introduce basics of coding. By reading information and answering questions students gain valuable programming knowledge. Upon completion, they earn a certificate to celebrate their accomplishment.

This online resource contains four modules about Programming, Data and Variables, Control Structures, and Sorting. Each module is divided into short assignments. An assignment begins with text that students must read to learn about programming. Afterwards, they answer multiple-choice questions to demonstrate their knowledge.  

Students control the pace of learning. By clicking the Next button, they move from one section to the next. At the end of each module is a Lesson Recap.

Tips to Use the Beginners Coding Guide in Your Curriculum

Set Aside a Block of Instructional Time: The modules must be completed in one class. Students cannot bookmark their place and return to it later.  For this reason, allocate about one hour for completion.

Guide Students Through Resource: If instructional time is limited or students struggle with their reading skills you may want to act as a course tour guide. Read the information together as a class, and then have each student on their device select an answer to a quiz question. This will allow everyone to progress through the modules before the class period ends.

Monitor Quiz Taking: To foster a love of learning, if students select the wrong answer during a Beginners Coding Guide quiz they can try again. This is a great way to empower students and keep them motivated. However, there is the possibility that students could skip the readings and then mindlessly pick a, then b, then c; until the correct answer reveals itself. Theoretically, your students could earn a certificate without reading the content or critically thinking about their answers. To promote learning, actively monitor students to verify they are using the resource as an opportunity to learn in a fun way.

Coding Resources

Do you want your students to create coding projects? TechnoKids has instructional units, called technology projects, that include a teacher guide, workbook, and resources. You will have everything you need to teach programming including step-by-step lessons, sample programs, templates, coding journals, and quizzes.

  • TechnoWhiz: Code animations and games using Scratch Jr. TechnoWhiz includes fun coding lessons for primary students. Introduce students in Grades 1-3 to programming concepts.
  • TechnoTales: Produce an animated story using coding blocks in Scratch Jr. TechnoTales has easy to follow programming lessons for elementary students. Combine storytelling with coding.
  • TechnoTurtle: Solve a maze, design a spirograph, or code a Carnival game using Python and the Turtle Library. Activities in TechnoTurtle are ideal for students in Grades 4 and up.
  • TechnoCode: Code animated scenes and games using Scratch. Reflect upon the experience using coding journals. Activities in TechnoCode are ideal for students in Grades 6 and up.
  • TechnoHTML: Design a web page using HTML and CSS. Format text, images, and hyperlinks. Lessons are ideal for middle and high school students.

Access Technology Projects from the TechnoKids Library

Great news! TechnoKids Inc. just launched a TechnoKids Library. It organizes all your TechnoKids projects onto online bookshelves. No need to back up your files. You can access all the instructional materials anywhere, anytime.

The TechnoKids Library includes over 40 technology projects for Microsoft Office, Google, and programming.  When you log in you can instantly see projects that have been updated. If you own a set or package new projects are automatically added to your shelves.

The TechnoKids Library offers educators a convenient way to get the lessons and resources they need. Product availability is no longer restricted. Instead, you can download any version including Google or Microsoft 2019, 2016, or 2013. Please note, older titles and Office 2010 or earlier versions are not available.

TechnoKids Library
TechnoKids Library – Access TechnoKids projects anywhere, anytime.

How to Log In to the TechnoKids Library

  1. If you are a TechnoKids customer, visit https://www.technokids.com/lib
  2. Type in your username and password. It will be the same as the information you used to make your purchase from the TechnoKids store. Click Login.

How to View Projects

TechnoKids Bookshelf Tabs
Click a tab to view the contents of the bookshelf.
  1. Once you are signed in you will notice that the bookshelf is organized using tabs. There is a Primary shelf, Junior shelf, Intermediate shelf, and a Senior shelf. Click the tabs to see the technology projects in your collection.
  2. Each technology project on the shelf has an information button, download button, and favorites button. You might want to mark a project as your favorite if that is one you are currently teaching.
  3. project with symbols
    View project details, add an item to the Download cart, or mark as Favorite.
  4. There are different ways to display the bookshelf. You can show only your projects, by selecting My Projects, or you can view All Projects, My Favorites, New Projects, or Updated Projects.
show menu
Use Show to filter projects on each shelf.

View All the Projects

  1. Select All Projects to see the entire collection.
  2. If you have purchased the TechnoKids package all the technology projects will be unlocked. However, if you have only purchased a set or individual project then some of the items on the shelf will be locked. To access these materials, you must purchase them from the TechnoKids store.
Locks on projects
Items with locks must be purchased from the TechnoKids store.

How to Download a Project

  1. To download a technology project, find the one that you want on your bookshelf.
  2. Click the download button.
  3. You will need to pick a version that matches the software you are using. Click Close.
  4. Choose version dialog box.
    Click the Download button. Select the version that matches the software on your device.
  5. The item will be added to your Download Cart. You can continue to add technology projects.
  6. When you are done, click Start Download.
  7. start download button
    Projects are added to the Download cart.
  8. The files will be prepared for download. Be patient. The more items you add to the cart, the longer it will take.
  9. Starting Download message box.
    The more projects in the cart, the longer it will take to download.
  10. Depending on your device’s setting you may be asked where you want to save the files, or they may automatically be placed in your Downloads folder. When the download is complete you can access your TechnoKids technology projects.

Keep your lessons current. Use the TechnoKids Library to download the latest versions of your TechnoKids projects.

Python Variables and Offline Coding Exercise

Young programmers need to understand the purpose of Python variables. In a program, variables store values that can change. They are very powerful. They can be used to count, create lists, store user input, report information, personalize the user experience, trigger an action, calculate amounts, and more!

One of the best ways to learn about computer science concepts is hands-on learning. In other words, writing programs that use variables. Talking about variables will generate a limited understanding. Having said that, before jumping into Python programming, it is worthwhile to begin instruction about variables with an offline coding exercise.

Variables can seem a bit abstract to a child. It is worthwhile to make the concept tangible. A quick activity that connects variables to daily life will help elementary and middle school students to form an understanding of their use.

Have your students apply computational thinking to think about the world around them as a set of variables that store and direct events. This knowledge can then be transferred to programming activities. Refer to the connections below as a way to create an offline coding exercise about Python variables.

The Value of a Variable Changes

Just like the weather, a variable is a value that changes. It could be sunny in the morning and then rainy in the afternoon. What is the weather?

Complete the value of the variable weather. For example: weather="sunny"
weather="   "

A Variable Stores Different Types of Information

A variable can be text, a number, or a list. In the above example, the value stored was a word. However, you can also store numbers as variables. Temperature is a numbered variable that changes. It could be 5°C (41°F) at night and then 15°C (59°F) in the afternoon.

Write the value of the variable temperature. For example: temperature="15"
temperature="   "

The Value of a Variable Can Trigger an Event

The value of a variable can cause an action to occur. For example, if it is hot outside you might wear shorts. Or if it is rainy you might use an umbrella.

Complete the script using weather as the variable. What will you wear?

if weather=="snowy":
    what will you wear?

An Event Can Trigger the Value of a Variable to Change

When a program starts, a variable has a specific value. However, an event may occur that changes the value. This event could make a number higher or lower. Or, it could assign a new word to a text variable.

When making a decision you might change your mind depending on what is happening. Programs do the same thing! Pretend you are getting dressed for school. What piece of clothing do you want to wear?

Complete the value of the variable clothing
clothing="   "

The item is in the laundry. What piece of clothing will you wear now?
clothing="   "

A Variable Is Stored in a Numbered Location

The value of a variable is saved in a spot that is like a numbered storage bin. When the program needs the value in the variable it takes it from the bin. The computer knows where to find the value because it has a unique location.

Labeling a location to store things is done everyday at school. For example, your school locker may have a number. Or the library may have a numbered bin of books.

Look around your classroom. What bins are used to store things? Are they labelled?

Write your discovery as a variable. For example: mylocker="1215" or period1bin="homework"

bin="item"

A Variable Is an Efficient Way to Refer to Information

A variable is like a container that stores information. The label on the outside is the name. The item you put inside is the value. When giving an instruction, the program uses the variable name, not the data stored in it. This is done to save time and keep things simple.

Imagine it is recess time. The teacher needs to tell the students what to do. The teacher gives the instruction, “Please go and get your snack”. The teacher does not say, “Please go and get your apple, crackers, cookies, carrots, chips, or banana.”

The word “snack” is used to refer to many values. It also allows the values to be unknown. The teacher cannot know what you or your classmates brought for a snack. Using one word that is meaningful is an efficient way to refer to information.

People often use one word to quickly refer to many things. Turn the word lunch into a variable. What is in your lunch today? Make a list of the values in your lunch. For example:

lunch=("orange juice", "ham sandwich", "apple", "blueberry muffin")

lunch=

A Variable Can Store User Information

Sometimes the programmer assigns the value of a variable. Other times, the user inputs a value. This can be done by prompting the user to enter data by displaying a text box or question on the screen. The program can then use this information to sign into an account, customize the settings of an app, or pick a selection.

Think about a game you play on a device. What information does it ask you to input? Each of the pieces of information is a variable.

List two pieces of information you must enter into a game before you could play it. For example:

playername="technokid"

playermode="single player"

Python Variables and Fun Programming Activities for Kids

If you are looking for some fun programming activities for kids that use variables, take a look at TechnoTurtle. This STEM project introduces beginners to Python variables in a way that is easy to understand. Students develop programs that have players play Mad Libs, a Carnival Game, and a Guess the Number Game. Each uses variables to trigger action. These coding activities are a great way to make Python variables meaningful to kids. The lessons provide a foundation for further learning.

Python variables and TechnoTurtle

Teach children about Python variables using the STEM project TechnoTurtle.

Variables in Python and Teaching Coding to Kids

Variables in Python are used by programmers to store values. These values complete a task within a program. In game design variables can track scores, count the number of turns, or store player answers. However, they have many other uses. When teaching coding to kids, it is important that the purpose of a variable is understood.

variables in python

Variables in Python store values that a program uses to complete a task.

What Are Variables in Python?

A variable stores a value that can change. It is saved in a special spot that is like a numbered storage bin. When the program needs the value in the variable it takes it from the bin.

A variable can store lots of different types of information. For example, the value could be a number, text, or a list of items. In programming, a number is called an integer or int for short. Text is called a string or str for short.

A variable has two parts – name and value. To create a variable, you write the variable name, then an = symbol, followed by the variable value. For example: player=”Alex”

variable name and value

A variable has two parts – name and value.

Variables in Python Must Have Meaningful Names

Naming a variable is a fundamental skill. A programmer should be able to read the variable name and understand its use within the program. It is very important that it is short but concise. It’s name should describe its purpose.

A Python variable must:

  • be meaningful
  • be one word
  • have no spaces
  • use no symbols
  • not be a reserved Python word

Why Use a Variable?

Variables make a program flexible. Programmers use them for many reasons.

Variables Can Count the Number of Times an Event Occurs

Variables can count. This is useful when making a timer or tracking a player’s score. To count, you can create a variable called count=0. Each time the line of code count=count+1 is run than the value of the variable goes up by one.

Variables Can Store Multiple Values as a List

Variables can store more than one value. The list may look like this: pickcolor=(“red”, “blue”, “green”). By assigning multiple values to a variable it allows a program to make a choice. This use of variables creates games that are fun to play because the selection is unknown.

Variables Allow the User to Input Information

Sometimes the programmer assigns the value of a variable. Other times, the user inputs a value. This is done by prompting the user to enter data by displaying a text box or question on the screen. For example, the following code will store a user’s name:
name=input(“What is your name?”)

Variables Report Information

By using the variable name in a sentence you can report important information to the user. For instance, to display a player’s score the following code will join text with the variable value:
print(“The game is over. Your score is ” +str(score)).

Variables Personalize the User’s Experience

Variables can be used to communicate, making a device seem more human or less machine-like. Suppose that a player types in their name. Lines of code can have the computer give a personal greeting, such as Hello Sara. The sentence and variable are put together using this Python code: print(“Hello ” +str(player)).

Variables Can Trigger an Action

A variable’s value can change. If it is a number, it can get higher or lower. If it is a text, it could have another value assigned to it. Conditional logic can be used to trigger an action when a variable meets a specific condition. The value of the variable might need to be equal to, greater than, less than, or does not equal. When the variable value matches the condition, then an action will occur. The code might start like this if guess==”answer”:

Variables Calculate Amounts

Variables can be used in mathematical formulas. This has many practical applications. For example, a business owner can track employee earnings. The variables wage, hours_worked, and earnings can be placed into the formula earnings=wage*hours_worked.

Create Artwork and Build Games using Variables in Python to Teach Coding

Learning how to use variables in Python can be fun. In TechnoTurtle, the programming activities gradually introduce elementary and middle school students to variables. In this project they use variables to count loops and create spirographs that are random colors. As well, they store player answers to build a Mad Lib word game, a carnival game that awards a prize, and a guessing game. These programming tasks make the purpose of a variable easy to understand. Beginners experience first-hand how variables are used in a program to complete a task.

technoturtle and variables

Learning about variables can be fun.