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Coding Topic Guide for Teachers

The electronic devices that you use every day rely on computer code to work. From a cellphone to a washing machine, computer code is used to give instructions to a device.

As computers can only understand binary instructions, using just 0s and 1s, computer languages are used to write the instructions and convert them into binary.

Teach your children about coding using our handy topic guide!

Choose a section:
Teaching Ideas | Resources | Facts | Videos | Books | Links

Teaching Ideas

  • An algorithm is a set of instructions to perform a task. Before they start working on a computer or device, ask children to write a set of instructions to perform a simple, precise task. For example, write a set of instructions to navigate a simple maze. Ask someone else to perform the instructions exactly as written – can they complete the task successfully?
  • Use the Code For Life Rapid Router Online resources to guide children through building a program in small steps.
  • Try one of these “unplugged” coding activities to help your children understand how to construct an algorithm.
  • Try making a game in Scratch, based on your current book or topic.
  • Ask your class to decompose a game, analysing it to find out how it works and what objects it uses. These resources from code-it contain everything you need to try this approach with a game called Magic Carpet.
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Resources

  • Use some of the ideas in this great post from Doug Stitcher when you are planning your coding unit.
  • Our Coding and Programming banners are perfect for your display board.
  • Download these Hour of Code resources, including colourful posters and complete lesson plans for teaching coding.
  • The Tynker website has plenty of coding projects, from beginner to advanced, for children to work through at their own pace.
  • You will find lesson plans and resources for teaching coding on the micro:bit site.

Coding Facts

  • Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) is considered the first computer programmer; in 1842 she wrote an algorithm (set of instructions) to use an early computer to calculate numbers. The computer (Babbage’s Analytical Engine) was never finished.
  • The term “bug” for a problem in a program comes from a real bug – a moth which got trapped in a computer at Harvard University in 1947!
  • A program that uses malicious code to copy itself and infect computers, is known as a virus.
  • There are hundreds of different computer languages. Lots of them are very similar, so once you know one it is easier to learn others.
  • The oldest computer language still in use, FORTRAN, was released by IBM in 1957.

Videos

Blast off Coding in Scratch

A lesson on using variables in gaming for children aged 9-11, including a coding challenge

Running time: 24.55

What is Computer Coding?

This short video (the first in a series) is a good introduction to coding and how computers and other devices use programs.

Running time: 1:55

What is an Algorithm?

A simple explanation of algorithms for younger children.

Running time: 1:07

Program a Robotic Car

A primary class show how they programmed a car to drive to a location. Running Time:

Running time: 5:31

Books

Ant Clancy, Games Detective
Can Ant and his friends work out what is really doing on with the hit game Ray-Chay? Find out in this detective story.
Dot.
Dot knows how to interact with technology, but what about the real world?
Secret Coders
The first graphic novel in a series about the secret coders of Stately Academy.
Get Coding!
Learn how to write code and build a website, app and game.
Star Wars Coding Projects
Use this visual guide to build your own Star Wars projects in Scratch.
Coding Projects with Scratch Made Easy
Complete beginners can get started with Scratch using this book.
100 Things to Know About Numbers, Computers & Coding
Find out more about numbers, computers and coding in this fascinating, fact-filled book.

Are you teaching your children about other topics? Explore our full collection of guides!

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