Teaching coding to preschool and early school kids is a challenge but there are several unplugged coding activities through which children can learn & have fun at the same time.
Here we present a few screenless, offline coding activities. Educators can perform these activities within their groups of learners without any requirement of an electronic device, internet connectivity or prior knowledge of programming and coding.
These activities aim to develop the logical, analytical & critical thinking skills of the children.
“Give me a glass of water, please”. Kids can understand and follow these instructions & can also instruct others. How about assigning such tasks to robots?
The way of communication changes. Just how two humans talk to each other through a language, an interaction between a human & a robot can be done through programming.
When a person is instructed to get a glass of water, they are aware of where the glass & water is. They will complete the task with ease. But a child does not inherit that knowledge from within & thus he requires practice & step by step instructions.
Similarly, when you expect a robot to follow such tasks, step by step instructions in the form of coding or programming are to be provided before the initiation of the task.
This roleplay activity intends to help your child or student understand the working & decision-making principles of a robot.
How to perform
It is divided into two different characters; the Programmer & the Robot. The task would be given by a “Programmer” kid to a “Robot” kid. The activity aims to teach basic algorithms to the children or in layman’s terms; thinking from the perspective of a robot (which is software with a physical body).
Things you will need – Almost nothing.
New skills learnt – Algorithmic thinking, Sequencing, Debugging, Paths and directions.
Ages – 6+.
Step 1 – Choose your task & its difficulty
- Think of any task which you can assign to children of age 6 and above. For example, “bring me a glass of water” or “close the window”. These are such activities that kids can follow after clear instructions are provided.
- Be creative with your task selection as it is extremely important. Feel free to go for a chocolate pudding or something that your child or student likes.
Step 2 – Assign the role of Robot & Programmer
- Assign the role of the programmer & robot between the children.
- The “Programmer Kid” is to instruct the “Robot Kid” & make sure that the activity is completed without any errors.
- You can become the robot or programmer if there is only one child.
Step 3 – Provide key details of the task
- Since there is a programmer & robot involved, step by step instructions are to be provided to the robot by the programmer.
- A concise program of the task with instructions is provided below. Two children are participating in it.
- The task will be completed only when the robot is back in its idle state.
Step 4 – Providing incentives & checkpoints
- To keep the role play interesting & engaging, make checkpoints.
- Attach some rewards at the checkpoints made.
Following are some of the fun roleplay activities that you can participate in right now with children.
- Keeping books inside a bag
- Writing something on the blackboard/whiteboard
- Sitting on a chair
- Switching on/off the light
- Closing/opening the door
- Getting an object from another room
2. Arrow Programming
Arrow Programming in simple terms is writing a program or set of instructions through arrows. Two activities are given below.
Maze Activity 1
The aim of this activity is to join all the dots through 4 arrows; “→”, “↓”, “↑”, “←”.
As the name suggests, this activity contains a maze. Use Up ↑ Arrow, Down ↓ Arrow, Left ← Arrow & Right → Arrow to move the boy to the girl.
Maze Activity 2
Move the boy towards the girl using the following arrows – “→”, “↓”, “↑”, “←”.
Maze Activity 3
Move the boy towards the girl. Use these following arrows: “→”, “↓”, “↑”, “←”.
Debugging means finding an error or bug and fixing it. Some debugging activities are given below.
Pattern Matching Activity 1
Pattern Matching Activity 2
Find the specified arrow in the blank space & circle it below.
Match the given arrows which are similar with the same colors.
Pattern Matching Activity 3
Write the numbers associated with the given arrows.
Pattern Matching Activity 4
Fill in the blanks with alphabets & form words.
Pattern Matching Activity 5
Use the alphabets to form words in the empty spaces.
Pattern Matching Activity 6
Identify the numbers associated with the arrows & solve the given problems.
4. Paper cup programming
This activity is a roleplay with two characters “Programmer” & “Robotic Arm”. You can either play a part in the roleplay or let the children run the show by themselves. The “programmer child” will write the complete chain of instructions & give it to the “robotic arm” child. The robot child will then follow the instructions step by step. The activity will be completed once the instructions are followed correctly.
An overview of the activity is mentioned below for your reference.
This is an entry-level program & other variations are available on our website. For your convenience, we are providing you with the downloading link of all the variations of Havi Papercup Programming.
There is a picture of three cups kept upside down. One of the cups is stacked on top of two cups in a pyramidal shape. “Programmer child” will write the code to place all these three cups as illustrated & the “robotic arm child” will place the cups accordingly.
Follow the steps mentioned below to know how you can organize this activity with your student or child.
Step 1 – Make sure the cups are placed in an upside-down position
- As shown in the picture above, cups are to be placed upside down.
- This will be your “Source” of the cups.
Step 2 – Appoint the Robotic Arm & the Programmer
- You can either make two groups of children or pick separate individuals for each of the characters.
- The role of a Programmer Kid is to create the complete code or basically step by step instructions through arrows. The Programmer kid cannot give any kind of verbal instructions.
- The Robotic Arm kid will follow the instructions step by step according to the written information provided by the Programmer Kid. The Robotic Arm kid at no point can ask for any verbal instructions.
- In case of an error, the Programmer Kid can rewrite the code & give it again to the Robotic Arm kid. Regardless of the code being correct or not, the Robotic Arm kid will have to follow the set of commands step by step.
Step 3 – Explain the roles of Programmer & Robotic Arm
- The Programmer kid will have to write the complete program before handing it to the Robotic Arm kid. The program will be written with the whole help of 4 arrows. “↑” The Up Arrow, “↓” The Down Arrow, “←” The Left Arrow & “→” The Right Arrow.
- An illustration is shown below, it is the program in execution for the first activity. The Robotic Arm is to follow this illustration step by step as described.
- Step 1 – Robotic Arm is required to pick up one cup from the source
- Step 2 – Then move the cup forward. The movement is equal to the distance covered by two arrows as shown in the illustration
- Step 3 – Then put the cup/glass down
- Step 4 – Return back to the original position or Step 1
Another illustration is provided for the Programmer & they are to write the whole program & then give the program to the Robot.
- As you can see there are 3 cups stacked in a pyramidal shape
- 1 represents the first cup along with its code, 2 represents the second cup and 3 represents the third cup with its respective codes
- Coding for the first cup is shown through arrows. Programmers will have to write the code for the 2nd & 3rd cup similarly
- The activity will be completed if the pyramidal shape as described is achieved
For teachers, all of these activities can be organized in a classroom. An interactive engagement with the students where they will learn the basics of coding & develop interpersonal & listening skills is what we call “learn to code with roleplay”.
Download offline coding activities templates