Author Archives: Christa Love

Christa Love

About Christa Love

Christa Love, Vice President - Christa Love has a passion for education and technology. A graduate from Brock University she has an Honors Bachelor of Arts in Child Development, Bachelor of Education in Primary and Junior divisions, and Masters of Education in the area of Curriculum Studies. Her work at TechnoKids Inc. began more than twenty years ago as an instructor at a local learning center. Since that time she has operated the summer camp program, taught at the research and development center at John Knox Christian School, trained educators throughout the province on issues related to technology integration, and overseen the curriculum development of hundreds of technology projects. In recent years, Christa has become the vice president of TechnoKids Inc.

Storytelling and Coding for Beginners

Storytelling and coding are the ideal combination when introducing programming concepts to beginners. If you are teaching a STEM unit with primary or elementary students consider designing an animated story using Scratch Jr. Discover the reasons for blending creative writing with coding activities.

Storytelling is Familiar

The structure of a story is familiar to children. They know a story has a beginning, middle, and end. This knowledge provides a foundation for organizing the scripts into manageable chunks. Student can code the action using separate story pages to animate each event. This can reduce a complex idea into a simple task.

Building Scripts is Similar to Writing Sentences

When students write a story, words are put together to form sentences. When they are read by a person, the sentences explain what is happening. This is similar to building scripts. When students write code, commands or blocks are put together to form a script. When the computer reads the script, it knows what action to do. The similarities provide a foundation for understanding how to sequence commands when coding.

creative writing and building scripts

Combine creative writing with building scripts.

Animating a Story is Engaging for Students

Coding a story is fun. In the past, students will have written, illustrated, and read stories. However, they may have never animated one. This task will hold their attention, not only because it is new, but because it is so enjoyable. Building scripts to have characters speak and move will engage even the most reluctant writer. Scratch Jr has a library of backdrops and characters that make it easy to make a story come to life.

Coding Follows the Stages of the Writing Process

Coding an animated story has a similar design process as creative writing. First students plan and organize the story idea. They must select a setting, characters, and plot. Next, they build scripts to tell about the events. The content is edited by debugging the scripts to enhance the quality of the storytelling. Upon completion, students publish the coding project to share with an audience.

Transform Reluctant Writers into Coders

Not all students like to express their ideas using text. Coding provides an opportunity to tell a story by building scripts using blocks. The color-coded blocks are sequenced together to control how a character looks and moves. This is a unique way to transform reluctant writers into storytellers.

Storytelling and Coding Activities for Kids

Are you interested in having your elementary students in Grades 2-4 code an interactive story using Scratch Jr? TechnoTales has detailed instructions that explain how to create a modern fairy tale. Each story page introduces a new coding technique. Helpful resources support learning. The project includes a teacher guide, workbook, example videos, coding block flashcards, assessment tools, and more!

storytelling and coding

TechnoTales is a technology project that blends storytelling and coding.

5 Reasons to Teach Offline Coding Activities

Offline coding activities are an excellent way to introduce children to programming concepts. Consider the inclusion of unplugged exercises to promote computational thinking. These can be interwoven throughout a coding unit or as a jump-off point prior to beginning a project. Refer to the bottom of the article for a free offline coding activity from the technology project TechnoTales published by TechnoKids Inc.

Why Teach Offline Coding Activities?

Why teach offline coding activities when kids can use apps to build their own scripts and watch them run? Isn’t hands-on learning by building scripts more meaningful?

It is true. There are many apps and text-based editors that are ideal for teaching children about programming. Primary or elementary students will find Scratch Jr or Scratch a fun and easy way to create interactive stories and animated scenes using color-coded blocks. As well, middle or high school students will enjoy writing scripts to build a web page using HTML or a simple game in Python.

In these cases, the focus of instruction tends to be upon knowing the function of coding blocks or commands. However, a prerequisite skill to coding is the ability to decompose complex tasks, express ideas using symbols, sequence steps, apply logic, and plot coordinates. This is where offline coding activities are beneficial. They remove the emphasis from the technology and instead place it upon computational thinking skills.

Consider the four ways offline coding activities can provide a foundation for learning about programming:

Divide a Task into a Set of Instructions

A program is a set of instructions that tell a computer what to do. Most have many parts that work together to complete a task. Before students can start to build scripts, they must first have the ability to divide a task into smaller pieces. Offline coding activities that have students make an ordered list of steps are a great way to teach decomposition. For example, writing how-to instructions, recipes, or directions will help students develop the analytical skills required to think like a programmer.

Form a Connection Between Symbols and Ideas

A programmer writes code which is like a secret language. They use commands in the form of symbols, keywords, or phrase to produce a set of instructions. This requires an abstract way of thinking. Offline coding activities can help students represent ideas using objects. For example, writing directions to reach a specific destination using up ↑, down ↓, left ←, and right → arrows is an ideal way to practice expressing an idea using symbols.

offline coding activities

Offline coding activities help students to think like a programmer. Design a set of instructions to move the knight to a place on the map.

Sequence Steps

The commands in a script must be sequenced to complete a specific task. A programmer must determine what should happen and when. Offline coding activities that require students to order items is one way to develop a systematic way of thinking. For example, sequencing story events, listing significant milestones chronically, or reorganizing stages of a life cycle are some ways to foster logical reasoning.

Apply Logic Reasoning to Control an Outcome

Some parts of a program will only run if a condition is true. Conditional logic can be complex to code for beginners. Offline activities that connect daily life to if-then statements are one way to establish understanding of this concept. For example, students can identify what happens if a power button is pushed on a tv, the school bell rings, or the teacher is talking. These common occurrences will help students understand how conditions are used to control events.

Plot Coordinates to Position Objects

The function of some programs is to place or move objects. This may be done to control the action of a robot, video game player, or character. This requires an understanding of x and y coordinates to plot the movement. Typically, plotting ordinals is not taught until middle school. However, some coding apps such as Scratch require this knowledge to animate objects efficiently. Fun offline coding exercise can help provide a foundation for understanding how to position objects. For example, identifying a location on a map using longitude and longitude is one way to establish the purpose of coordinates. Another option is to design a dot-to-dot drawing on a grid that has an ordered list of x and y values for each dot.

Free Offline Coding Activity

If you are interested in helping students develop computational thinking skills download the free offline coding activity Design Your Own Quest. It is from the technology project, TechnoTales. In the activity, students write instructions to move a knight to a specific place on the map using up ↑, down ↓, left ←, and right → arrows.

TechnoTales uses Scratch Jr to animate a modern fairy tale. Scripts are used to tell the story of a hero that embarks on a quest to solve a problem. The character must find a hidden item and a helper to live happily ever after. This fun storytelling activity blends creative writing with coding. The lessons are ideal for primary and elementary students.

free coding activity

Code an interactive story using Scratch Jr. Download a free offline coding activity.

NEW! TechnoTales Coding Activities for Beginners

TechnoTales is a new STEM project by TechnoKids Inc. It includes coding activities for beginners. Primary and elementary students in Grades 2-4 follow the detailed instructions to create a modern fairy tale using Scratch Jr. They learn how to build scripts to animate the story action.

coding activities for beginners

TechnoTales has coding activities for beginners. Build scripts to create an interactive story.

Blend Creative Writing With Coding

The lessons in TechnoTales guide students through the writing process. The project begins with an exercise that forms a connection between storytelling and scripts. Next, students answer questions about an example fairy tale to recognize the story elements. Once familiar with the task, they use a planning sheet to select the setting, characters, and plot. Afterwards, step-by-step instructions explain how create the story pages. A checklist is used to help students review the completed fairy tale to make revisions. Upon completion, the Techno Tale is shared with viewers.

story planner for a coding unit

Imaginative resources support learning.

Storytelling and Coding Activities for Beginners

TechnoTales gradually introduces students to programming concepts. Each story page applies a different coding technique:

Page 1 – Once Upon a Time: Introduce the problem in the story. Animate the hero embarking on a quest using Motion and Looks blocks.
Page 2 – Find a Hidden Item: Engage the viewer. Tap objects on the story page to reveal a hidden item that will help the hero.
Page 3 – Get Help: Seek someone that will help to solve the problem. Count the number of steps to produce an animated sequence that triggers an event when characters bump each other.
Page 4 – Happily Ever After: Create the story ending. Send and receive messages to show the characters celebrating.

Download Scratch Jr to Complete TechnoTales

To use the coding activities in TechnoTales you must have Scratch Jr installed on your devices. Scratch Jr is a free coding app for iPad, Android tablets, and Chromebooks. The interface is designed specially for children. To introduce programming concepts, colored blocks are sequenced together to form scripts. It is fun and easy to build interactive stories, animated scenes, and games.

Scratch Jr interface

Combine coding blocks to build scripts that animate the story action.

Teach Coding to Kids Using TechnoTales Instructional Resources

When you purchase TechnoTales, you will receive:

  • Teacher Guide: Detailed instructions for teaching a coding unit provide tips and strategies.
  • Student Workbook: Digital worksheets with screenshots and illustrated scripts support learning.
  • Example Videos: Sample fairy tales created with Scratch Jr help students gain an understanding of the task and spark inspiration.
  • Scratch Jr Flashcards: Large colored or black and white coding blocks can be used to build scripts as a visual aid.
  • Review Questions: Multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, or short answer questions assess knowledge of Scratch Jr tools and scripts.
  • Skill Reviews: Optional activities solidify learning by transferring skills to a new coding project.
  • Assessment Tools: Customizable checklists and marking sheets evaluate the fairy tale.
  • Extension Activities: Enrichment lessons challenge students to expand their coding skills.
  • Offline Coding Exercises: Board game that applies computational thinking to have a player complete a quest.

Teaching If Then Statements, Make Real World Connections

Make real world connections when teaching if then statements to beginners. If then statements are conditionals. A conditional is an action that occurs if something specific happens. If then statements are used in programming to trigger a set of instructions.

teaching if then statements

Before learning how to code if then statements, students need to understand the logic.

If then statements can be a difficult concept for young children to understand. To help them comprehend the logic, compare it to situations in their daily life. For instance, you may go home from school but only if it is the end of the day – then you can leave. Or you may get a treat, but only if you eat your dinner – then you can have a cookie.

Teaching If Then Statements to Beginners

Think about a school day. IF an event occurs THEN what happens?

  • if it is math class then ___
  • if it is library day then ___
  • if the fire alarm rings then ___
  • if the teacher is talking then ___

Think about a sporting event. IF an event occurs THEN what happens?

  • if the referee blows the whistle then ___
  • if a time limit is reached then ___
  • if a racer crosses the finish line first then ___
  • if a player touches a friend during tag then ___
  • if a soccer ball goes out of bounds then ___

Think about weather. IF an event occurs THEN what happens?

  • if it is hot then wear ___
  • if it is cold then wear ___
  • if it is rainy then wear___

Think about your daily life. IF an event occurs THEN what happens?

  • if the clock alarm goes off in the morning then ___
  • if you do not clean your room then ___
  • if the traffic light is red then ___

Think about gadgets. IF an event occurs THEN what happens?

  • if a cell phone battery charge is 0 then ___
  • if a person forgets to sign out of a device then ___
  • if the microwave reaches the time set for cooking then ___
  • if the SHIFT key is pressed when typing a letter then ___
  • if the Fill tool is clicked by the mouse in a drawing program then ___

Teaching If Then Statements using Scratch

When teaching if then statements it is essential that students understand the logic FIRST – before programming begins. Once connections have been made to daily life, students are ready to build scripts with if then coding statements. The if then coding block in Scratch, a coding app for children, can be used to direct the action in animated scenes, puzzles, or games. It uses blocks that are joined together to form scripts. The if then coding block has a blank spot that is filled with the condition.

if then coding block in Scratch

if then coding block in Scratch

In Scratch the if then condition can be:

  • if a sprite is touching another sprite
  • if a sprite touches the mouse pointer
  • if a sprite reaches the edge of the stage
  • if a sprite touches a color
  • if one color is touching another color
  • if a keyboard key is pressed
  • if the mouse button is pressed down
  • if a value equals an amount
  • if a value is less than an amount
  • if a value is greater than an amount

Lessons to Teach If Then Statements

Are you interested in teaching a coding unit that applies if then logic? TechnoCode uses if then statements to have students build scripts to control the action of characters. Several assignments use conditionals:

  • Animated Fish Tank: Sense if a sprite is touching a specific fish. If it is, then alter movement. Children can program the sprite to swim to a new spot, change direction, or spin.
  • Maze: Sense if a sprite touches a color outside the path. If it is, then move back to stay inside the path.
  • Game: Sense if a player touches a target. If it does, then increase the score.
  • Game: Determine if a final score in a game is greater than a value. If it is, then display a message such as “You won!”