Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan which is adaptable for grades 3-12, students use BrainPOP resources (including an online game) to learn about creative programming. Through the game Tynker: 15 Blocks Challenge, students will create a simple computer app using no more than 15 blocks.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Explain how programming is used to create computer apps.
  2. Create a simple computer app using no more than 15 blocks.


This lesson plan uses an online game called 15 Blocks Challenge which challenges students to create a simple computer app using no more than 15 blocks. The activity allows players to work with pre-loaded characters, backgrounds, and movements to create an animation that requires logic and creativity to build. Programming commands are based on the Tynker system of visual programming blocks, which simulate basic coding commands and processes.

We recommend familiarizing students with Tynker’s block programming interface – featured in the Lost In Space interactive on GameUP – before advancing to this more creative, open-ended activity. Yous may also provide a specific challenge, such as “Program the lion to walk back and forth on the screen” or “Make an alien turn around and float in space” or “Write a story about the superhero and then implement it using the code.”

Visit the Tynker Support Page: Hour of Code for curriculum maps, answer keys, and information about other coding tutorials offered.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Introduce students to the basics of creating computer apps through the BrainPOP Computer Programming Movie and related resources, including the Related Reading and Quiz.
  2. Allow students to explore the basics of programming through Tynker's Lost in Space interactive. Talk with students about the strategies they use during game play and how those relate to what they learned in the movie.
  3. Tell students they will now have the opportunity to compose a creative program using Tynker's 15 Blocks game. Provide 10-20 minutes for students to explore the game and challenge them to compose the most creative program they can, using the blocks provided.
  4. Invite student volunteers to share their programs with the class, or have students gather in groups of 3-4 and share what they created. Encourage students to explain their thinking and how they chose their blocks.
  5. For an additional challenge, ask students to produce a specific program with the game. For example, you could have students program the lion to walk back and forth on the screen or make an alien turn around and float in space. You could also have students write a story about a super hero who follows the mouse to fly around, and then implement the story using code.
  6. Another idea is to have students pair up and think of their own programs. They can assign a specific program to their partner and challenge them to produce it.

Extension Activities:

In 1997, a 15 Word Logo Challenge was announced, instructing coders to "Write a Logo one-liner using 15 or fewer words, not counting square brackets and parentheses, to produce the most beautiful, complex, and interesting picture." You may want to show students several examples from the contest (available in the link above). Challenge them to download the free Logo software and see what images they can create!