Can students learn to code without a computer? As a matter of fact, they can. Going offline and teaching coding through hands-on activities makes the subject less intimidating and more interactive for students.
Similar to online activities, students will learn the basics of coding that foster sequential thinking, logical reasoning and problem solving. Hands-on coding activities can also teach students how to collaborate, be persistent and think critically and creatively. These are all valuable skills to have whether or not they decide to pursue a future in coding.
While it’s essential to learn coding with a computer, unplugging and learning offline can be just as beneficial for students. We’ve rounded up five hands-on activities below that reinforce basic coding skills without using a computer:
Play Robot Turtles. Playing board games is an easy and effective way to combine fun and learning offline! Robot Turtles is a fun game that teaches the basics of programming to early learners. Using code cards, students move their turtles around the game board to reach a prized jewel. Through play, students will learn about coding and functions as well as develop planning and sequential reasoning skills.
Code a LEGO maze. Teach students how to think like a programmer! With four levels of difficulty, this LEGO maze activity introduces a variety of programming concepts, like loops and conditional statements. Depending on the level, students will create a set of instructions, or commands, to guide the character through the maze as efficiently as possible.
Read Hello Ruby. This is a great coding story and activity book rolled into one package. Written to introduce programming concepts to young students, Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding teaches kids how to “break big problems into small problems, look for patterns, create step-by-step plans, and think outside the box.” The main character is a small girl named Ruby who has a huge imagination and the determination to solve any puzzle. Each chapter provides a small lesson in computational thinking as well as exercises that incorporate play and creativity.
Make binary bracelets. Binary code is the simplest form of computer code. The coding system uses 0 and 1 to represent a letter, digit or other character in a computer. As their primary language, it’s the way most computers send, receive and store information. Students can practice using binary code by making binary bracelets that represent their name. Teaching binary code is a great way to introduce coding to early learners.
Teach a robot to stack cups. This activity from Thinkersmith challenges students to create a series of instructions, or an algorithm, for how a “robot” should build a cup stack. Students will learn how to convert real-world activities into instructions, which is one way to help them think like a programmer. Try this activity to teach the connection between symbols and actions as well as the valuable skill of debugging.
Using these hands-on activities is a great way to foster valuable coding skills while incorporating play and creativity. Unplug the computer and try these offline activities to teach coding in your afterschool program. Find similar activities at Code.org.