Kids code learning must be fun and very exciting. Parents and teachers should turn this learning experience into an exciting activity to get their full attention. Therefore, several games and activities are created to make kids coding class enjoyable than ever.
However, another thrilling part of these tasks is that there are no gadgets such as tablets, cellphones, or even computers to use with this kid’s coding class! The kids coding lessons and activities without these gadgets are so-called “unplugged coding.”
Before checking out the tips on how to use unplugged coding activities to teach kids coding, let’s see how it works and how it differs from other tasks.
What is unplugged coding?
Unplugged activities refer to tasks, ventures, and projects without any use of electronics. It also includes things you do without any reliance on computers and gadgets. So it proves how unplugged coding makes the task exclusive to utilise materials and items not related to technology.
Here are some aspects of unplugged coding activities you might consider to make it more understandable.
No computers required. Unplugged coding activities obstruct the use of computers. Moreover, parents and teachers can maintain coding activities without actual coding on screen.
Real computer science. It nourishes kid’s skills and understanding of coding. Even with no use of gadgets, unplugged activities can also interject code concepts and principles during the tasks. It can also widen their interest and motivation in tech fields.
Learning by doing. If the activity has no gadgets but showcases projects and experiential learning, it belongs to unplugged coding activities. It fosters a child’s manipulative skills together with creativity, resourcefulness, and independence.
Fun activities. Tasks without gadgets but fun and entertaining is the essence of unplugged coding activities. As long as it engages children whilst considering their level of understanding, then it aids to fun education without too much screen time.
How to start unplugged kids coding activities?
You and your kids are unplugging yourselves in utilising technology which makes less screen time. It also gives your child a break from the digital world. But then, this unplugged coding even encourages your kids to think like a coder using the usual things you have at home, such as paper, pens, markers, balls, toys, and even coding toys.
Unplugged coding is cheaper, more efficient, and can help you have a strong bond with your child. Try this at home and see how your family or your kid’s group can enjoy the following unplugged coding activities as part of the code learning for kids.
#1 Code a Friend
You can play this game in pairs. Let be the one partner as the code, and the other is the robot. The coder must give tasks to the robot, such as walking across the room. Afterwards, the code will continuously provide step-by-step instructions to the robot until they complete the job. It is challenging for the robot as if it needs to remember all the instructions without making a mistake. However, if the coder stated a wrong step, then the robot will not move or work. So, the code must debug and see what the problem is. After the first game, let them switch roles.
Code a Friend is a great simple game to understand step-by-step instructions or algorithms and correcting missed or wrong instructions or debugging.
#2 Origami Without Instructions
Your child can play origami on their own. Give them a piece of square paper and ask them to fold it to make a fish. Remember, no references and other materials, just folding. Once your child gives back the origami, ask them about the process. Then, after reflecting on the whole experience, you can now give another piece of square paper, and they can now refer to the step-by-step instructions. Afterwards, take time for another reflection. Which one is easier or faster? What would you choose next time in another task?
Origami with or without instructions teaches your child how sequencing affects the tasks. It saves more time and prevents mistakes. Explain this to your child to understand how computers require step-by-step instruction while coding to perform more accessible and faster.
#3 Feed the Mouse
Another game you can do at home is the Feed the Mouse, as it only needs a deck of cards, a toy mouse (or any other stuffed toys), and few toys as yummy treats. The parent may help in arranging the deck of cards as the pathways. Then, they can now assign the child as the computer, the one who controls the mouse by listening to the coder's instructions. Then the other child is the programmer who dictates the command.
The only verbal instructions to use are “move forward”, “move backward”, “turn left”, and “turn right”. The coder can also add the number of steps if needed. The mouse needs to reach for all the treats as they move along the course. Once they finished the game, give them some treats and explain how the programmer and computer work together to accomplish the task.
You may make the obstacle pathways more challenging by adding some parts or removing more treats. It is up to you based on the level of difficulty your child can perform.
#4 Binary Cards
Speaking of level of difficulty, a sample of unplugged coding is the Binary Cards with additional math logic. You need to carry the binary alphabet to see the equivalent letters to the code. You only need a set of cards with different numbers of dots, such as 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16 dots. Arrange the parts into the table or board. Then, flip the cards showing 5 dots only. So you need to flip down 2, 8, and 16 with only 1 and 4 appearances. Afterwards, let your child use 0 for the flipped down numbers and 1 for the cards with dots. This part gives you 00101. Through this, you can introduce the binary number system. Show them the binary number system chart and let them see the pattern.
Using the Binary Cards, try to develop the binary code of 4, 6, and 10. Through this game, they will familiarise themselves with the binary coding language.
#5 A Loopy Routine
If your child and their friends come to your home, A Loopy Routine game is perfect for them. In this game, you need to assign each kid a different action to do. For example, there are three kids. One should sit up, then another must push up, and the last one must do jumping jacks. You can also clap, spin, and wiggle if it is for a dance routine. Nevertheless, you just need to ask them to do the task and even shout “looped” for them to repeat the task. Every time you tell them to loop, they will do it again until all of them did not make any mistakes with the routine.
A Loopy Routine helps kids understand how coding loops work. It is a repetitive portion of the coding process a certain number of times. Through this, they will be able to realise that there is a looping system in the computer.
#6 Rock, Paper, Scissors
One of the most common games without any material is the Rock, Paper, Scissors. Without noticing, it even includes code learning for kids.
The coder must decide on the if and then statement. For example, if the rock and scissors are played, the rock wins. Then if the paper and rock are played, the paper wins. Next, if scissors and paper are played, then the scissors win. Lastly, if the same objects are played, then it is a tie. You can play these in numerous rounds until they understand how conditional statements work. You can also use other actions to represent the condition.
Rock, Paper, Scissors teaches your children how the conditions are essential before every program starts. The outlining is necessary for the full format of the code.
#7 Build Your Own Robot
This game needs two players, one is the programmer, and the other is the computer. The materials for the game are lego bricks, a piece of cardboard as the partition wall, and the lego base. Please put the cardboard for the players to see what they are doing.
Begin the game by placing two kids on opposite sides of the board. Then, ask the coder to give one instruction for the computer to build the robot. One by one, the coder provides a command that the computer must do right away. After completing the instructions, they will now show what they have done. If they achieve the desired look of the robot, they win. If not, they need to fix it. Then, the kids can switch roles.
Build Your Own Robot helps the kids understand how instructions must be clear to understand by the computer. It should have no issues performing the tasks properly. So, the kids practise their creativity, carefulness, and resilience within the game.
#8 Create Your Own Code
Create Your Own Code is perfect for treasure hunting games. You only have a piece of paper, marker, and chart of the symbols you want to use. You may use Binary Code, Morse Code or any symbol you like. Think of a passage and convert it to the codes. Then, hide it or place it somewhere that they can see for them to translate it to the alphabet. If they unlock each letter, then they can complete the whole passage. Once they finished the message, they can now move on to the next step.
This game helps the child know the coding language of binary. They will master how to translate words into the computer language. Thus, they will understand how coding language is vital in creating programs and software.
#9 Squeezing Pictures into Codes
A more complicated game is related to pixels. Squeezing pictures into Codes requires pencils, markers, or crayons. You also need grid squares on the paper or graph paper. Afterwards, the parent may have the code on their hands.
Give the code to the child.
For example, “2,7” means start shading in the 2nd white and end shading until the 7th white pixel. Complete the shading base on the codes until you finished the whole picture. Once you achieve shading the entire image, move into the distance and see how the pixels are tiny.
#10 Nature Scavenger hunt
If you and your child are outside, you can still help them learn to code for kids. How? Try the nature scavenger hunt. You may use baskets or bags as they collect things from nature, but it is optional.
Ask the children to choose anything they see in nature in the colour green. Let them roam around and collect things in green. Once they achieve, try another category like find a pink, round, smooth material. Then, if they identified it, you can try and try other varieties.
This game introduces how to organise, connect, and compare things. The kids will learn how to convert an idea into something in nature, which determines a program’s output. They can also master observation, critical thinking, and decision making within this game.
Where can you conduct unplugged coding activities?
Due to the idea that unplugged coding activities do not require gadgets, then you can freely choose where to host the event. One thing is for sure. You can have it for both indoor and outdoor spaces! Here are some suggestions.
School. Teachers can also incorporate unplugged activities inside the classroom, laboratories, playgrounds, or even in the stadiums. They can set up tables, chairs, and other materials to perform the tasks outside the rooms.
Educational Centres. Unplugged coding activities are also perfect to showcase inside academic centres. It will help kids have a comfortable and conducive learning experience.
How can kids enjoy unplugged activities?
Above all these unplugged coding activities, you can still further develop your child’s coding skills through programming classes for kids, computer class for kids, and robotics class for kids. If you want to learn more about these kids coding classes, you can check out kids coding school in Sydney, the Skill Samurai.
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