Learn to Code activities for parents

As schools are closed for now, in response to COVID-19, parents and schools are wondering how best to help children, with their studies at home. Up to now the main focus has been on Maths and English but we shouldn’t forget that facilitation other subjects can enrich our child’s educational diet.
One of the ways that we can do this is with programming; which is a large part of the Primary Computing Curriculum. It is also helpful for teaching children problem-solving skills; for example, scientists handle problems by thinking of a hypothesis before testing them one by one. In addition, car mechanics diagnose car issues by replacing one part at a time to find the problem. Problem solving is crucial in later life and by practising with exciting and enjoyable games, children can develop these vital skills in an engaging way.
Learn to Code is a series of guides that have been designed to feature a range of programming activities for children aged 7-11, they support children in their problem-solving decisions by using their coding skills and knowledge. Each book contains easy-to-follow activities and projects, supported by accompanying teacher/ adult notes.

 Download a free activity from Learn to Code

What’s Block-Based programming?

In computer games, the choice a user makes can change what happens. For example, in a quiz, different things can happen when a user chooses a right or wrong answer. With the Learn to Code series you will gain experience of this with Block-Based as well as Syntax-Based programming.
Block-based coding (also known as Block-Based programming) is a type of programming language where programming is mainly done in Block. Scratch is a block-based programming language. This is very helpful for children as everything is divided into sections on what they do and the effect that they have on the code, they might control something, or they may sense an input. Learn to Code supports these steps and encourages children to add blocks in methodical steps, slowly building up their programs one block at a time.
There are so many activities to choose from; building a maths quiz for younger children, programming a ‘Sprite’ to draw shapes when a button is clicked, creating an animation, even programming games. There are so many possibilities with the Learn to Code series and the software it helps to introduce to your budding coders at home.

What’s Syntax-Based programming?

There are also some syntax-based programming units in the Learn to Code series, which at first you might think would be too challenging for children. That said often children experience Scratch from Year 2, so in the later stages of Primary Education they may be more enthusiastic to try something new.
So, this got me thinking about what else is available to schools that can continue to push children’s coding skills, the main two ways we do this in Learn to Code is using Makecode by Microsoft and HTML5 with w3schools. Makecode allows pupils to use Javascript or block-based programming to test and emulate programming on a BBC Microbit using a Javascript or Block simulator.  Makecode allows users to use Javascript as well as Block-Based programming to test and emulate programming on a BBC Microbit using a Javascript or Block simulator. In addition, any of these projects will work on a BBC Microbit, all that is required is to download the project to a device.
Children can learn how to programme a script that lets users create an interactive name badge or create a friendly Emoji display using LEDs, there are even some great rainy day activities such as making the online Microbit into a working random Dice or a timer; great as a way of incorporating  coding into family board game fun.

What did children think?

“I found it so easy, I just followed the steps and I could do it- I didn’t think I was that good at programming but now I want to do that when I’m older.”
Max, 8.
“It was challenging, and I had to pay attention, but this is some of the stuff we will have to do at High School and I would never have been able to do it without the Book.”
Mohammed, 10.

Adam Chase is the author of Learn to Code Books 2 and 4. 
Download a free coding activity from Learn to Code.


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