Tag Archives: coding

Python Programming Activities for Kids

Are you looking for Python programming activities for kids? Great news! TechnoKids Inc. has just released TechnoTurtle. This project is ideal for elementary and middle school students new to text-based programming languages. The lessons use Python and the Turtle library of commands to teach computer science concepts.

python programming activities for kids

Introduce programming to beginners with Python and the Turtle library of commands.

Build Original Creations Using Programming Activities for Kids

Empower your students to become programmers! Instead of using instructional materials that promote the mindless copying of scripts to write programs, teach with lessons that emphasize exploration and experimentation. TechnoTurtle gradually introduces programming concepts that are then applied to code original creations.

In the TechnoTurtle project, students become programmers. They follow step-by-step instructions to build programs that solve mazes, create artwork, and play games. The fun begins when students edit code to gain an understanding of the structure of Python scripts. Once familiar with basic concepts, students are introduced to debugging, loops, variables, and conditional logic. Ignite an interest in programming with meaningful activities designed for beginners.

About the TechnoTurtle Python Project

The TechnoTurtle project has everything you need to introduce Python programming to your students in Grades 3-8. It is jam-packed full of programming activities for kids:

  • 30 Coding Assignments – The assignments are divided into six Sessions. Each Session targets a different coding project and programming skill. The Sessions gradually progress in difficulty, with students transferring their skills to new tasks.
  • 5 Programming Reviews – The programming review questions include fill-in-the-blank, true or false, multiple choice, or short answer. They assess knowledge of Python, Turtle commands, and debugging techniques. The files are customizable allowing teachers to add, delete, or edit the content.
  • 5 Skill Reviews – The skill reviews have students apply their programming knowledge to build a program. The activities use the same skills taught within the Session in a novel way. This provides an opportunity to solidify learning.
  • 6 Extension Activities – The extension activities challenge students to extend their knowledge of Python programming. The enrichment activities introduce new skills and computer science concepts. They are ideal for students who have a keen interest in coding and want to do more.
  • Assessment Tools – The project includes multiple methods of assessment to evaluate coding projects. The materials include self-assessment checklists, peer review checklists, coding journal reflection, marking sheets, and a summary of skills. All files are customizable.

Helpful Python Resources Support Learning

  • Python Templates – To jump start learning TechnoTurtle has several templates that invite young programmers to edit code. This allows them to gain an understanding of how scripts are constructed. It also encourages them to actively discover ways to alter output by changing values. In addition, by “breaking” existing code they explore debugging techniques to find and fix errors.
  • Python Examples – TechnoTurtle includes sample files for all programs developed in the project. These files can be used to demonstrate the final product as a source of inspiration. Furthermore, they can also be used as an answer key or reference point when assisting students with their own original creations.
  • Python and Turtle Reference Files – Helpful resources support learning. TechnoTurtle includes a reference sheet that summarizes Python functions and Turtle commands at a glance. A Turtle canvas worksheet helps students plot x and y coordinates to place objects. Moreover, a Color Names file provides an easy way to customize coding projects to enhance the overall design.
  • and more!
  • programming and looping

    Loop a set of instructions to design colorful artwork.

    Programming Activities for Kids – TechnoTurtle Sessions

    The TechnoTurtle project has Python programming activities for kids. The assignments are divided into six Sessions:

    Session 1 – Python, Turtles, and Bugs

    In session 1, students become programmers. To start they learn how the programming language Python is used in daily life. Next, they visit the Turtle library to study the commands and make predictions about their function. They test their ideas by modifying a program to control what it draws. Once familiar with how to run a Python program, students add bugs to the code. This allows them to identify and fix common errors.

    Session 2 – Conquer the Maze

    In session 2, students control the movement of a Turtle through a series of mazes. The fun begins when the young programmers write their first script. It marches a Turtle around the screen by moving forwards, backwards, and turning. Once they have mastered this set of commands, students are challenged to develop a script that will guide a Turtle through a maze. Can they solve the puzzle?

    Session 3 – Draw Pictures

    In session 3, students write code to draw pictures. To start, they learn how to plot a point on the canvas using x and y coordinates. They apply this knowledge to stamp a unique design. Next, the young programmers follow instructions to design a robot by combining lines, rectangles, circles, dots, and symbols. Once familiar with how to control the Turtle’s drawing tools, students build their own program to draw a picture.

    Session 4 – Design Colorful Spirographs

    In session 4, students paint stunning artwork. To start, they learn code that repeats a set of instructions forever or for a specific number of times. Next, they complete a series of exercises to discover how to construct looping geometric shapes called spirographs. Once students are familiar with designing patterns, they use the Random library to produce colorful creations.

    Session 5 – Create a Mad Lib Generator

    In session 5, students design a word game, called a Mad Lib. It has players provide a list of words that are used to complete a silly sentence or story. To prepare for this coding task, students learn about variables by chatting with the computer. Next, they edit a Mad Lib party invitation to discover how to join variables and text together to form sentences. Once familiar with the structure of the code, they program their own wacky word game.

    Session 6 – Invent a Carnival Game

    In session 6, students become game designers. They combine Python and Turtle programming commands to produce a Carnival Game. To start, they learn about if, elif, and else. Once familiar with conditional logic they invent a game that prompts the player to pick an option to win a prize. Optional challenges enrich the design such as looping a flashing message or showing a picture of their winnings. Get ready for fun! Step right up to win a prize!

    Tips for Choosing Robotics Kits for the Classroom Part 1

    So, you want to invest in robotics kits for the classroom. Here are some observations we made while recently trying out some kits for a STEM program.

    robotics kits for the classroom

    What’s the Intention?

    To start, think about how you plan to use robotics kits for the classroom.

    • In what type of setting will you use the kit?
      • In a computer lab environment?
      • Learning center activity?
      • A robotics club?
    • Will it be used by multiple grade levels?
    • Does the kit lend itself to teamwork?
      • If students are working in small groups, is there a task for each student? For example, one child can control the parts, another reads instructions, a third can be the assembler, and a fourth could handle the programming.
    • Is the kit affordable? Consider how many students can work on a kit at one time, and how many kits your school can afford.

    About Kit Components

    Robotic kits for the classroom can be expensive. Consider the quality of the kit before you buy.

    robotics in the classroom

    • Flimsy or cheaply made parts will not stand up well in a classroom environment. Look for parts that are made of sturdy materials that can be used, taken apart, and used again many times.
    • Does the kit, or company, have good reviews? For example, LEGO is a reputable robotics manufacturer.
      • Is a warranty provided?
      • Can you easily purchase replacement parts if needed?
    • Does the kit require a power source?
      • If there are programmable controllers and motors, they may all require batteries. You will need to have a supply on hand or invest in rechargeable ones.
    • Some parts may need to be charged.
      • Does the kit come with adequate USB charging cables?
      • Allow time to charge! You may need to complete charging on a daily basis.
      • Don’t forget, if you opted for rechargeable batteries, these need charging too.
    • Age appropriateness is important. Look to see how parts fit together. Do they snap together easily? Do they require tools like a wrench and screwdriver? Are there mechanical parts like motors and sensors that may be too challenging for younger students?
      • Too many small parts are difficult to assemble for small hands.
      • Large kits may require several hours for complete assembly.
      • Smaller parts, motors, and gears may be more appropriate for senior students.
    • Are the parts easily disassembled? Can a model be taken apart quickly and easily to construct something new in a timely fashion? Will the parts last for several years?
    • Does the kit include any extra components?
      • A play map can teach coordinates and open-ended movement tasks.
      • Are additional add-on kits available to extend the usefulness of the base kit?

    About the Storage Container

    Some of the kits we looked at ranged from flimsy boxes and single use bags to hard plastic storage bins with dividers inside for parts. Consider how to store and track all the parts.

    • Ideally you want a storage container that has sections in it. You may find some that are shaped to the part so you can tell right away if something is missing. This makes it much easier to keep inventory.
    • A durable plastic bin with tight fitting lid is better than a cardboard box. The lid can double as a workspace area keeping the small parts from ending up on the floor. The lip, or rim, of the lid keeps everything contained.
    • If your kit comes with small parts that are in single use bags, this can be a nightmare once those bags are opened. You may need to replace them with resealable sandwich type bags.

    robotics kits for the classroom

    Robotics Kits for the Classroom to be Continued

    And there’s more to consider! In my next post, I’ll list some considerations about teacher and student support materials as well as the programming software.

    Stay tuned!

    8 Coding Tips for Scratch Jr

    In Scratch Jr, the Start On Bump block offers an opportunity to make fun action scenes. It also lays the foundation for teaching conditional logic, a cornerstone of computational thinking. Learn about how Start On Bump triggers animated sequences. Afterwards, refer to the helpful coding tips for Scratch Jr. This will allow you to support students when they need to troubleshoot their scripts.

    What Is Bumping?

    coding tips for scratch jr

    Start On Bump is a triggering block that allows the programmer to sequence scripts that are activated when a character touches another character. It can cause a character to say something, grow or shrink, move, play a sound, speed up, or stop. One bump can even cause a chain reaction of succeeding bumps to happen.

    Most scenes, stories, or games that students create require characters to interact. Start On Bump is a simple way to introduce cause and effect. It lays the groundwork for the logical thinking required in coding activities. Start On Bump is an ideal precursor to the more advanced programming blocks in Scratch, such as if-then, sensing blocks, and variables. It also provides a foundation for writing code in text-based programming languages such as Python.

    coding tips

    Sequence events in Scratch Jr using the coding block Start On Bump.

    Random Bumping

    A great way to introduce students to conditional logic is to create an animated scene that has random bumping. Games often have objects or characters respond when they contact one another. Using the Start On Bump coding block, a spaceship and an alien can be programmed to fly in two different, continuous action sequences. When they happen to touch by chance, the programmer can code the alien to disappear, change course, say something such as “Got me!”, make a sound, or another creative idea. Find this fun activity in TechnoTales, a coding project using Scratch Jr for primary and elementary grades. It’s the Session 4 Skill Review called Under Attack.

    Intentional Bumping

    The next step is to have characters bump in an purposeful way. Young programmers can use bumps to tell a story or have actions sequence in a timely, meaningful way. An object can move to another and only when it touches, does the resulting action occur. So a monster can walk to an apple and then eat it. Or in a fairy tale, a princess can ask for help and then run to a wizard who then moves to a dragon and, when he gets there, causes the dragon to fly away.

    coding tips for Scratch Jr

    Use the Start On Bump tool to cause a series of actions to occur.

    Coding Tips for Scratch Jr Bumping

    Triggering a script to run when characters bump can sometimes be difficult. If the characters do not touch, then no action will occur. Moreover, if the characters touch for too long, often an action will happen too many times.

    If the characters do not bump, try these ideas:

    • Increase the number of steps in a script.
    • Increase the size of a character.
    • Change the position of a character on the stage.
    • Turn on the grid to accurately adjust the number of steps.

    If the characters touch too long, try these ideas:

    • Always have the bumped character move one step to get away from the character that touched it. After that you can add different coding blocks.
    • Decrease the number of steps in a script.
    • Decrease the size of a character.
    • Change the position of a character on the stage.

    TechnoTales is a new STEM project by TechnoKids Inc. It includes a Teacher Guide and Student Workbook with coding activities using Scratch Jr. Primary and elementary students in Grades 2-4 follow the illustrated, step-by-step instructions to create a modern fairy tale. They learn how to build scripts to animate the story action. Find these coding tips for Scratch Jr and more in this coding project!

    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.