Where to start with Coding in the Primary Grades (Scratch Jr)

If you teach at the primary level and are interested in coding with your class my recommendation would be to take a look at Scratch Jr. Scratch Jr. does not have a web-based version so you need to have access to iPads or Tablets to use it. In addition you need to have permission to install apps on those devices (that can be a challenge in schools).

Ideally you have access to some devices that already have the app installed. If so there are a number of excellent activities at: http://www.scratchjr.org/teach/activities

Each activity has a slick one-page instruction sheet with lots of visuals that can be followed by emerging young readers.

These activities will let you see very quickly what Scratch Jr. is all about. If you are interested in digging deeper there is a full curriculum available at:

http://www.scratchjr.org/teach/curricula

Each curriculum topic is broken down into lessons so that it provides hours of pre-made activities to help guide you through coding with your students. As with Scratch the lessons were created for learning and lessons have been tested with real students. I like that each activity offers extension or challenge activities so that students who finish quickly or have used it before can push on ahead.

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Suggested starting point. If you are looking for a place to get started I would try connecting Scratch to your curriculum. Pick an expectation that you know you need to work on and then use Coding as a way to address that topic. For example in the Common Core English curriculum

Grade 1 Reading:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.1.6

Distinguish between information provided by pictures or other illustrations and information provided by the words in a text.

The Scratch instructions are a nice mix of words and pictures and they can either be handed out or projected on a screen.

If you have a projector with Apple TV and can project from the iPad to the screen these activities would be great for passing an iPad around the room so that individual students can perform steps but everyone can see the results on the screen.

The Spooky Forest Activity is a good one for October! If you’re a novice make sure you go through the activity yourself first. You can find Youtube videos to help if you really get stuck.

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