Grade Levels: K-3

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades K-3, students watch the BrainPOP movie Computer Programming and discover how coding is like writing instructions. Then they will play a game with a partner in which they give and receive specific instructions for drawing a picture.

 

 

Students will:

  1. Share what they know about computer programming.
  2. Brainstorm why instructions need to be clear, specific and in the right order when writing a computer program.
  3. Watch a movie about computer programming
  4. Play a game in which they give a partner specific instruction for how to draw a picture.

Vocabulary:

code, coding, debug, bug, loop, command, algorithm, instruction, app, computer programming, step, tool

Preparation:

Preview the movie Computer Programming to plan for adaptations.

Read Computer Programming Background.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Prompt a class discussion about computer programming. Ask students what they know. Or more specifically, you might ask what kinds of things are programmed by computers. Allow time for students to discuss. Then share the following points as described in the Computer Programming Background:

    a computer program is a set of instructions that a computer follows to do something 

    share some things that use computer programming: digital toys, movie-making tools, drawing tools

    writing the step-by-step instructions that a computer follows is called coding; the code tells a computer how exactly to complete a task

    instructions must be very, very clear and written in the right sequence

  2. To emphasize the importance of writing clear instructions, help the class write instructions for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Be sure you cover every step, including opening the jar of peanut butter and using a knife to scoop it out and spread it on a slice of bread. Point out to students that the step for spreading the peanut butter and jelly has to happen before you put the two slices of bread together.
  3. Ask students why they think being specific and writing instructions in the correct order is so important in computer programming. Allow time for them to respond.
  4. Display the movie Computer Programming on the whiteboard and tell students in this movie, Annie and Moby explore computer programming and learn that coding is like writing instructions. Show the movie.
  5. Next, divide the class into pairs and have partners sit back to back to play a game called Sender and Receiver. Designate one student in each pair the Sender, and the other the Receiver. Provide each student with paper and pencil. Instruct the Sender to draw a simple picture (e.g., a simple shape, smiley face, house). When the Sender is done drawing, he or she gives step-by-step instructions to the Receiver to draw the same thing, but without saying what it is. Using grid paper helps students accurately describe size and position.
  6. Circulate as pairs work together, listening in as they give instructions. When pairs are done, have them compare their pictures. If the pictures differ, encourage them to discuss what went wrong with the instructions.
  7. Bring the class together again. Ask pairs to share their experiences with the class. Reiterate that being clear and specific with instructions is very important when coding a computer program.
  8. Finally, have pairs share their diagrams with the class or a small group, describing its parts and how it works.

Extension Activities:

Check it Out Divide the class into small groups or pairs. Have them write instructions on how to go to the library and check out a specific book you’ve used in class. How do you get to the library from the classroom? How do you find a book in the library? What are the steps? How do the steps change if the book they want is already checked out? Have the students discuss their plans together and write the instructions. They may even want to draw pictures to go along with their writings. For an added challenge, you may want students to count the steps it takes to walk to the library, being sure to consider left and right turns.

Activity Challenge students to follow instructions help Moby find a hidden treasure in this BrainPOP Jr. Activity.

Game Students put their sequencing skills to the test by playing the Computer Programming game.

Filed as:  K-3
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