This week is National Computer Science Education Week, and all of our students are participating in "The Hour of Code." This includes activities for all age groups that teaches them the basics of computer programming. To be honest, I was scared to take this on because I know NOTHING about programming. But once I saw how simple and child-friendly these activities were, I got really excited about it.
I have been blown away by the educational value that teaching code can have. After going through some of the activities myself, I learned that programming incorporates cause and effect, making predictions, problem solving, reasoning, map skills, basic math, and more! We complain often that our kids don't know how to THINK, and these activities force them to do exactly that.
If you want to find an activity for your class or play around with it yourself, click here. There are several apps and websites you can choose from. My favorites so far are the Angry Birds activity (3-5), the Kodable app (K-2), and Tynker (1-5).
I have begun teaching my K-2 students how to use the Kodable app, but we are limited by the time they are with me. It progressively gets more in depth, so I would love to see them using this in class as a math station.
This is the most basic level of programming and, of course, doesn't use actual code. However, it does lay a foundation for how coding works and begins teaching problem solving that even Kindergarten students can figure out without having to even read letters or numbers. It works like a game, gradually progressing them toward more difficult tasks. It's just like math or reading--they have to learn letters or numbers before they can read or add.
I encourage you to download this and play through a few levels yourself. See for yourself the skills that you use while you play.