Tag Archives: technoturtle

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.

Teach Python Using the Turtle Library

Teach Python using the Turtle Library to ignite an interest in STEM. Python is a popular text-based programming language. It is used every day by programmers.

The Turtle Library is a collection of functions used to control a robotic Turtle. The commands can be combined with Python to build programs that create stunning artwork and original games. The use of the The Turtle Library is a fun way to introduce students to programming.

You may think that using the Turtle Library to teach Python is a waste of time. Shouldn’t students be learning ‘real code’ instead of functions that they won’t use in the workplace? How useful is it for young programmers to move a Turtle through a maze using forward(100) or draw using pendown()? The answer is….very useful!!!

The skills acquired from building programs using Python and the Turtle Library provide a foundation for further learning. By knowing the basics, young programmers can extend their knowledge to more complicated tasks in the future. Discover the 7 reasons you will want to use the Turtle Library with your students.

7 Reasons to Teach Python Using the Turtle Library

1. Produce a Wide Range of Coding Projects

The use of the Turtle Library is not limited to moving a Turtle around the canvas or making artwork. Although this is really fun to do, it can be used for so much more! Want to hook students’ interest in STEM? Then teach Python using the Turtle Library. Consider programming these games using the Turtle Library:

  • Etch-a-Sketch: Invent a drawing game that uses arrow keys to draw lines to create artwork.
  • Carnival Game: Design a game using conditional logic that awards a prize to players based on the option they pick.
  • Mad Lib: Create a word game that stores players’ answers as variables to form silly sentences.
  • Guess the Number: Combine the Random Library with the Turtle Library to build a game that has players pick a number between 1 and 10. Will they guess correctly?

2. Develop the Computational Thinking Skills to Sequence Instructions

Programming requires each line of code to be in the correct order to achieve a goal. When writing code with the Turtle Library of commands, students must apply computational thinking to determine what comes first, second, and third. This ability to sequence instructions will be helpful later when programs are longer and more complex.

3. Effectively Apply Debugging Strategies

No matter whether a programmer is using Python or has code that includes commands from the Turtle Library, the errors are the same. Mistakes in coding generate the identical name and syntax errors. For example, if a : (colon) is missing at the end of a loop, there will be an indent error. Understanding how to identify the problem and fix it is transferable to new programming tasks.

4. Understand How to Organize Scripts

No matter the programming language, programmers add comments to describe each section in a program. A comment is a brief description that acts as a summary. It explains the purpose of the code. Comments are used by programmers to communicate with others about the intent of the code. As well, they can act as markers to identify each part of a program. This makes it easier to locate a specific section for writing new code or debugging errors.

In Python a comment begins with a hashtag #. The symbol tells the interpreter to skip the line as it does not contain an instruction. For example, #store a word list is a useful descriptor that explains the purpose of the following lines of code. It is important for young programmers to get in the habit of using comments as it is good programming practice used by professionals.

5. Import Libraries to Build Programs

The Python programming language uses special words to tell the computer what to do. A function is a word that does a specific task by executing a stored set of instructions. Many Python functions are stored into libraries. Professional programmers use Python libraries to create responsive graphs, display the time, or grab information from a web page. The ability to import the Turtle Library is similar to importing any Python Library, making it a useful programming skill.

The ability to import libraries is an important reason to use the Turtle Library to teach programming skills. Programs that use the Turtle Library to create artwork and build games can include other Python libraries. For example, students can use the Random Library to pick a random number or item from a list. This is a fun way to make surprising geometric patterns or a Guess the Number game. As well, students can use the Time library to set the timing of events. This is very useful when flashing the word “WINNER” across the canvas in Carnival game. The programming skills that are introduced when using the Turtle library can be transferred to more complicated or work-related tasks in the future.

6. Appreciate the Importance of Accuracy When Writing Lines of Code

When students are writing programs using Python and the Turtle Library, they quickly learn the importance of accuracy. A reader can understand a story or report that has a few spelling or grammar mistakes. A computer cannot. If a program has a command spelled incorrectly it will not run. Moreover, if the code is missing a bracket, colon, or indent than an error will display. The emphasis on precision when coding is best taught early, as it is required by all programmers. Teach Python using the Turtle Library to support STEM.

7. Instant Feedback Develops Confidence

The Turtle canvas instantly shows the result of the code. This visual is helpful during program development. Nothing is more frustrating then trying to figure out why the code does not work the way it is supposed to when the program runs. Young programmers can quickly become frustrated. With a lack of immediate success, they can start to believe that they are not good at programming. Since the Turtle Library displays the output on a canvas, the programmer can see what they need to change to improve their program. For example, they might notice that the Turtle moves in the wrong direction, the pen needs be picked up to stop drawing a line, or the game title is too small to read. Seeing what needs to be fixed helps young programmers understand how to improve their code.

Support STEM. Teach Python using the Turtle Library. Spark an interest in programming.

TechnoTurtle Has Lessons to Create Artwork and Build Games

TechnoTurtle is a technology project, by TechnoKids Inc. that has lesson plans to teach Python using the Turtle Library. It has over 30 assignments that gradually introduce programming skills to elementary and middle school students. The instructions guide students to build programs, with additional open-ended challenges to spark creative exploration of code.

Introduce Beginners to Python Using the Turtle Library

Why not introduce beginners to Python using the Turtle Library? Python is a text-based programming language. To prepare elementary and middle school students to master this language, a good starting point is the Turtle Library. The Turtle Library is a collection of commands that can be used to create artwork and games.

What Is Python?

Python is a programming language created by Guido van Rossum about thirty years ago. His goal was to invent code that was easy to read, write, and understand. Today, Python is used by programmers to develop programs that:

  • analyze large amounts of data
  • build models to test ideas
  • find information on a website
  • host websites
  • design and launch mobile apps
  • support machine learning, which is when a device can improve how it works by itself

Python’s use by programmers is one of the reasons why teachers should introduce beginners to Python using the Turtle Library. It is important to hook student interest in programming in a fun way. The skills and knowledge they learn will provide a solid foundation for future learning.

What Is the Turtle Library?

The Python programming language uses special words to tell the computer what to do. A function is a word that does a specific task. Many Python functions are stored into libraries.

The Turtle Library is a set of commands that control a robotic Turtle making it move, draw, and write. When programming with Python, students must import the Turtle Library using the line of code: from turtle import *. This will then allow them to use all the commands from the Turtle Graphics Standard Library.

introduce beginners to python using the Turtle Library

The Turtle library has commands that control a robotic Turtle making it move, draw, and write.

5 Reasons to Introduce Beginners to Python Using the Turtle Library

1. Create Fun-Looking Programs that Excite Young Programmers

Python is a text-based programming language. The program output can be viewed in a Python Shell. However, the Python Shell only shows words. There are no graphics or animation. Instead, it is just plain text. This is not exciting to young programmers.

python shell

The Python Shell only shows words. There are no graphics or animation.

The Turtle Library of commands uses a canvas to show the program’s output. This invites creativity! Students can program a robotic Turtle to move around the screen to solve a maze. Programmers can create colorful artwork. Or, they can invent games for players. The possibilities are endless! The appeal to using the Turtle Library is that the program’s output looks fantastic – which is a great way to hook young programmers.

carnival game

Introduce Python in a fun way! Create colorful artwork or invent games using the Turtle Library.

2. Spark Creativity and Ignite an Interest in Programming

Kids are naturally drawn to making things. Whether it is painting, coloring, or writing they want to express their ideas and share their creations with others. Python programming combined with the Turtle Library invites artistic expression.

Students can design programs that draw pictures from lines, shapes, and symbols. In addition, by looping a set of instructions they can produce colorful spirographs or surprising geometric patterns. The ability to make things encourages students to enjoy programming.

create artwork

Use the Turtle library to spark creativity and ignite an interest in programming.

3. Code Make Sense

The first introduction to text-based programming should be fun. Typing line after line of code that looks like gibberish is not gratifying. Instead, you want students to feel empowered. The good news is that the Turtle Library of commands make sense.

The Turtle command names hint at what they do. For example, pensize(5) sets the thickness of the pen line; pencolor(“blue”) makes the outline color of the pen blue; and circle(20) draws a small circle.

The commands sequenced together make a simple program that draw a circle:

#draw a circle
from turtle import *
pensize(5)
pencolor(“blue”)
circle(20)

Imagine the possibilities! Since the Turtle Library of commands are understandable it makes programs easier to write and debug. Moreover, the simplicity provides a solid foundation for programming original creations. For example, students can extend their knowledge of drawing a circle to make a picture of a snowman, ant, or another object from circles.

draw snowman with Turtle Library

The simplicity of the code provides a solid foundation for programming original creations.

4. Only a Few Lines of Code Do A Lot!

Young programmers tend to have limited typing skills. This makes writing line after line of code tiresome – and boring. Moreover, it can cause a programming task to take exceedingly longer than the time allocated for instruction.

The great news is that by combining Python with the Turtle library, students can write fun programs in only a few lines. For example, they can have the computer respond to a player by displaying a personalized message in just 3 lines! The simple code will show a text box that has the player type in their name. A message will then display that says “Hello Player Name“.

from turtle import *
name=textinput(“Name”, “What is your name?”)
write(“Hello ” +str(name))

5. Illustrate Programming Concepts in a Meaningful Way

Programming concepts such as loops or variables can be so abstract that they are difficult for beginners to understand. However, blending Python with the Turtle Library makes them tangible. This is because the output on the canvas allows students to see what is happening.

For example, you can tell a student that a loop is a set of instructions that repeat. However, if they build a simple program that draws and counts circles on the Turtle canvas then suddenly
for shape in range(4): makes sense. They can watch four circles being drawn, forming a direct connection to how the code makes loops work.

from turtle import *
loop=0
for shape in range(4):
    circle(60)
    loop=loop+1
    write(loop)
    forward(50)

four looping circles

Count the circles to understand that loops repeat a set of instructions.

Introduce Beginners to Python Using the Turtle Library and TechnoTurtle

If you are looking for teaching ideas designed for elementary and middle school students check out TechnoTurtle. This project, published by TechnoKids Inc., has over 30 programming activities. Young programmers blend Python and the Turtle Library of commands to solve mazes, create artwork, and invent games.

python programming for kids_2

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

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!