Unplugged Coding

Unplugged coding is a great activity to do with our younger students. There isn't the worry about gathering expensive technology, learning how to work robots, or making sure everything is charged. Students become a coder who is "programming" a set of commands to run the program on a "robot" student or object. This gives the students an opportunity to not only learn about coding, but also to build listening skills, movement and develop leadership skills.

The book, "Taking Shape: Activities to Develop Geometric and Spatial Thinking, Grades K-2" by Pearson has a great chapter (Section D) on Locating, Orienting, Mapping, and Coding. These lessons allow for unplugged coding by students to learn about directional movement, sequencing, and visualization.


Build a grid system using masking tape, floor tiles in your classroom, and transparent plastics. Print out pictures and place them on the grid system for Kinders to code the pathway to reach a final destination. There are several ways students will find their ways: by placing arrow cards directly on the grid, using physical objects to move on the grid while laying cards on the side, or some may use their "Peter Pointers" to tell you which direction to move and what squares to count. Want to make it more challenging? Try putting obstacles in their way to make them create alternative pathways. The key is to refine how the students use the grid to enhance the conversation about spatial motion.

To make it more fun, find out what your Kinders are interested in and print out cards that reflect those interests. Finding the pathway for Spiderman, animals, or pirates is always more fun than just finding the edge of a mat!

Sometimes we don't always have a grid system on hand so we can use coding blocks to "program" students to do an activity. These could be actual coding blocks from Scratch/Blockly or create your own. This allows students to become "programmers" and "robots" where they can code each other's movements around the classroom. This is great for gym classes, movement breaks, and learning directions. If you laminate these, you can use dry erase markers to "re-program" as often as you like. You can find a link to Scratch and Scratch Jr printable blocks below.


Sample resources/ideas from other sites

BC 4.1 SRWB 2.2, 3.2, 8.1 DLMB 15.1, 17.2 PSI 1.2