2017 Kids Coding Club- Weeks 4 & 5

Whew! Our coding programs have been a lot of fun these past four weeks! We do not have the technology for this program, and I am really thankful to have been able to borrow the laptops from our system to have made this happen!  I am writing Lessons 4 and 5 into this one post because I think a lot of the information is the same. If you are interested, here are the links for Week 1, Week 2, and Week 3.

We are still following the “Beginning Code Camp with Code.org” lesson provided by Jen Fait on WisCodeLiterati. Where Jen’s program went for 6 weeks, we stopped at 5. This was practical because our students were able to finish the Code.org course that I assigned when I began this program.

In week 4, the kids were still pretty energetic, so I did a super simple unplugged activity inspired by the teacher’s lesson plan. We talked about conditionals, and I simply held up different cards, encouraging them to cheer if the card was red or pretend to cry if the card was black. We also connected the idea of conditionals to their experience with parents putting conditions on this like, “Yes, you can watch your TV show after you clean your room.” We re-wrote that sentence in computer code to look something like, “If (room is clean) {


Else {

The kids then went to work with the online lesson: Conditionals with Bees. Some of them got through this lesson more quickly than other students, and Code.org moved them into the Flappy Bird Game. This was what I had planned for Week 5, but I let them experiment with it until the end of the program. The kids who were not that far were really interested in getting to Flappy Bird, and it was great to stir up some excitement.

In Week 5, I had the kids tell me about some of the things they remembered working on last session, and some of the things they worked on during our coding club. I asked them to tell me about something they learned. Some of their answers were silly (I forget their comments now. 🙂 ), and some were more serious, like, “I learned how to move the blocks over to write my code program.”

I had no Unplugged Activity, and the kids got right to work on Flappy Bird. This is where kids actually get to program a game and make it interactive. They had a lot of fun, but it was a struggle for them to find out what the program wanted them to do to run their game. I think this is because they were coding two or three events in their program, instead of just one like they had in the lessons previously. But, they were able to figure it out by trial and error. Sometimes, though, I think they just kept guessing until the program worked, and they did not know what they did to get it to work. But, I gave them lots of credit for coming up with the solution on their own!

At the end of the program, I asked them to show the group one of their Flappy Bird games that they were proud of. We went around the room, watched their program, and clapped to recognize their efforts.

When our time was almost done, I asked everyone to set their laptop near the wall, and told them that we finished our six weeks of Kids Coding Club. We would be having a week off, and then start up again in November. All the kids were interested in programming more with games, so I will do some research and see if I can find a curriculum, possibly even on Code.org, that is similar to what they were asking for.

And that is our wrap!
If you have used Code.org and know of other ideas that I did not use, please leave a comment! I would love to connect with you!

Some things I am thinking about: I had a 5th-grade class come to the library for a STEM day, and I put them on code.org for our program. The kids were mesmerized! Their teacher was very interested in having her students keep working in Code.org when they got back to school. I sent her the information on how to get started with a teacher’s account, and how all the lessons tie to Common Core standards. I also gave her the link to the Wisconsin Coding Initiative.

I was also asked by the Middle School if I could lead coding programs there. I bought a sample lesson in Code.org, and again, the students loved it! I need to figure out what we will be doing since I have been invited to come every week.

And finally, I met with some representatives of a local organization that serves Hispanic/Latino needs. We talked about coding education, and how it can be a great way to children to learn a job skill that our labor force will be needed in the coming years.  It was great to begin those conversations, and think about how we can begin to offer after-school coding programming for Hispanic/Latino families.

Keep coding everyone!

2017 Kids Coding Club- Week 3

I may be a little behind on blogging my lesson plans, but we are still coding in Kids Code Club! I have a core group of kids who have been coming. It is not always the same kids each week, but I am averaging 8-10, which is a great size group for the number of laptops that I have available.

If you have not read my Week 1  or Week 2 notes, I have information on what we learned leading up to this lesson. I also blogged about setting up a teacher and student accounts on Code.org, and a first-week lesson plan to introduce coding to your group.

We are still following the “Beginning Code Camp with Code.org” lesson provided by Jen Fait on WisCodeLiterati. In Week 3, we learned about debugging programs, or finding the errors in code, and then re-writing the code to eliminate the errors to allow the program to run correctly. I did not do the Replay Programming from the Teacher’s Lesson Plan because the kids were a little energetic that day and having difficulty listening to directions. We went right into the online portion of the lesson with Debugging with Bee and Artist.

Even though the kids were energetic, it was a great program, and the kids left enthused about what they were doing!

2017 Kids Coding Club – Week 2

Our second Kids Coding Club meeting is completed! Offering coding programs has become one of the highlights to my week! The kids are interested in the topic and the activities are paced well enough so that they move from one lesson to another quick enough without getting bored.

If you have not read my Week 1 notes, you can get them here. I have instructions on setting up a teacher and student accounts on Code.org, and a first week lesson plan to introduce coding to your group.

For Week 2, we continued following the “Beginning Code Camp with Code.org” lesson plan provided by Jen Fait on WisCodeLiterati. For week 2, we learned about “Loops” in programming, and how they are basically synonymous with the repeat concept. Instead of writing numerous lines of code to have the program accomplish a task over and over, we can write one line of code, and loop it as many times as we wish.

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2017 Kids Coding Club- Week 1

This week we held our first Kids Coding Club meeting! This is the first official “coding” program we planned and scheduled for kids at the library. I was able to use a variety of resources to put together a plan that I felt comfortable leading. If you are, or thinking of, leading a coding program, read on!

My biggest fears about offering a coding program are probably not that different from any other librarian’s:

  1. No kids will come. (Actually, that is my biggest fear for any program. And yes, it is okay to admit it).
  2. I am not sure where to begin putting together a lesson plan.
  3. I do not have the technology to offer a program like this.

Thankfully, kids did come, a little help from an awesome librarian pointed me in the right direction for lesson planning, and we were able to find enough computers through some clever asking and borrowing.

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When you Receive a Call from Google about your Library’s Coding Program!

Hello everyone! After attending the 2016 WLA session, “A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Coding go Down” lead by Tessa Michaelson Schmidt, Ryan Claringbole, and Jen Fait, I knew that I had to bring coding education into my library programming.

Computer science is a new world for me. My major was in Communications. I did take two computer sciences classes my senior year, but that education was minimal. As I was working through the college courses, and the continuing education I have pursed in coding since attending that session, the more I realized that almost every part of our lives is touched by a computer program. If you dial your phone, a computer program will has been written to give your phone instructions to complete that task. If you start you car, computers in your car operate so that your car runs safely, without your even knowing the computers are there. If you turn on your washing machine, a computer program regulates how hot the water temperature will be.

Since our lives are so intertwined with computer programs, I believe that coding is a necessary 21st century skill for both youth and adults. Still more, I believe that anyone, regardless of education background, can learn to code. 

Today, the jobs and futures of our children depend on their being able to look inside the black box and see how coding works. Even more, they deserve to be not simply consumers of media, but also know how to create it in code. In the coding programs we have lead it always amazes me how interested both parents and kids are in coding, and how excited they become when they learn they can create media on their own–all by using code. I lead a Scratch program with one class of 5th graders. Afterwards, I heard comments from their parents that their child was not asking for time to play on video games. Instead, they were asking for time on the computer to create their own games. I checked in with this class at the end of the school year, and each of the kids had original and creative ideas for websites, games, or apps that they were hoping to learn how to create with code. When I asked a similar 5th grade class, they had trouble understanding what coding was, and what it could create. A simple one-hour program changed how the first class understood coding, and made them understand that their creativity and ideas belonged in the coding world. 

The more I learn about coding, the more ideas I find that I want to try. I have been able to blog about a few of our coding programs that we have hosted.  What I did not know was that the blog posts were given to Google, who chose to feature our library on their blog post releasing information on their Phase III “Ready to Code” initiative! I received a phone call last week from Nicky from Google asking if they could use our library’s name and program information for their big announcement! Yeah! 

Have you planned coding programs at your library? I would love to chat with you and share notes! Happy coding! 

And…here is the Google blog announcement!


Kids’ STEM Workshop: Tabletop Coding

Tabletop Coding

One aspect of the coding revolution that is sweeping libraries around the country is the idea that we can expose youth and adults to coding concepts without even needing a computer. This is based on the idea that coding follows logic, and logic we can demonstrate and experiment with without fancy equipment. This is great news if you have a large group for a coding program, and you know that you do not have enough devices or gadgets for everyone!

I was able to lead a no-tech coding program for a class of 5th grade students with no computer needed. We worked on the Tabletop Coding kit, which you can download from Wiscode.org. This lesson plan does not require any technology, and instead uses a checkerboard, two game pieces, sticky notes, and index cards to show students that computer programs are made from sets of instructions to achieve a pre-determined goal.

And…even without technology…our students loved this activity!

The skinny: This was a great program, and my students ran with it! They developed complex ideas and games just using their checkerboard and some random objects that I made available to them. Two students turned their checkerboard into the house in the Westing Game book. The goal of their “program” was to help a kid travel through the house without being hurt. I was surprised at how creative they took this, just using the simple instructions I gave them.

$0. We already had the checkerboards already on hand! You will need one checkerboard for 2-3 students. I would not try to make the groups any larger than 3 students.

Time needed:
For this 5th grade group, this activity took about 30-45 minutes.

How it worked:

I followed the lesson plan from WisCodeLiterati. I showed the students a checkerboard and gave myself two checker pieces. I randomly placed my red and black checker piece on the board and told the students the object of their program was to write instructions to make the red checker piece land on top of the black piece without moving the black piece. I showed them the cards that I made them, and how the “X” cards allowed their red checker piece to move horizontally, and the “Y” cards allowed their piece to move vertically. I then placed  a basket filled with odds and ends from my craft room on the floor. I told them that they could place these objects on their board to close off certain squares. They would have to write their program to go around these objects. I then gave groups of 2-3 students their checkerboard, two checker pieces, their deck of “X” and “Y” direction cards, and told them to have fun!

As I said, I was really surprised at how seriously the kids took this activity! They looked through their cards, and quickly found the order that they needed to organize their cards to bring their checker piece where they wanted to go. Then, they began to add obstacles and then arranged their cards again to avoid those obstacles. It was a lot of fun to see how creative they were!

This is a very simple activity, and the students caught on to the computer science of it right away! If you would like to begin offering coding programs, I would highly recommend this program! It can be adapted for any age, and it requires very low cost, set-up, and preparation!

Have you tried a “no-tech” coding activity? Do you have ideas to share? I would love to hear them!

Happy coding!



Week 3: Coding Together, Learning Together (Structuring Your Coding Program)

Putting Your Coding Club Plans On Paper!

Still blogging about the “Coding Together, Learning Together Course” that just wrapped up! If you are interested, here are my links for Week 1 and Week 2. Stay tuned for our final week blog post coming up!

If you are interested in taking this course, it is being offered again July 31-August 25, 2017 by UW-Madison’s SLIS Continuing Education Department. This course was a game changer for me, and answered so many of the questions I had about coding that was stopping me from planning out a coding program at our library. I highly recommend taking this course.

Our third week was all about putting our plans down on paper, or in my case a Word document, and actually figuring out how to structure and plan a coding club!

There are two basic ways to organize a coding program: structured and unstructured. Which one you choose will depend on your:

  • Program goals,
  • Target Audience,
  • Frequency and Length,
  • Materials Needed and Resources available.
  • What need is our coding club meeting?

Think back to our community needs assessment. What did our community members say they were interested in when I asked them about coding? As a public library, how does coding fit within your mission or vision?

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Week 2: Coding Together, Learning Together (Coding Curriculum, Apps, and Gadgets)

In our second week of Coding Together, Learning Together we began to dig into different options for coding gadgets, curriculums, and apps! (You can find my Week 1 Notes here).

This week we looked at different options for presenting coding programs. There are lots of options out there, and it is easy to be overwhelmed! However, sometimes just knowing what is out there is the first stop. Check out these resources!

Coding Websites (Credit: Casey Ineichen) 
Gadgets & Kits to Teach Code (Credit: Casey Ineichen)

Common Sense Media App Reviews:

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Week 1: Coding Together: Learning Together

Coding is everywhere right now! Lesson plans are on Pinterest, kids are talking about it, coding clubs are springing up all over the nation, and libraries are now offering coding programs to showcase how to create computer code for our youth, families, and adults. This spring, I was privileged to participate in the four- week online “Coding Together, Learning Together” course provided through DPI and taught by Casey Ineichen. This course was designed as a quick introduction to the wealth of coding opportunities and options for public libraries when planning programs. These were the course goals:

Learn the basics of coding and how to plan a coding event for your library so that: 

●You can share the basics of coding with your library patrons.
●You can select appropriate coding tools and software for your library and community.
●You can plan coding events for your library and community.


I found that this course was exactly what I needed to put my abstract plans about coding into a plan that was specific and timely. I understand that this course will be offered again, so if you are interested, stay tuned to Wisconsin’s DPI.
I will be blogging about my experience in this course. If you would like to learn more about code, like I did, try to work your way through some of the activities and websites that I will be posting.

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