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

*Click to open and customize your own version of the Variables Lesson Plan.

This lesson accompanies the BrainPOP topic Variables, and supports the standard of identifying and manipulating variables in an algorithm. Students demonstrate understanding through a variety of creative projects.


Display an example of a thank-you note, like this one:

Dear Cassie,

Thank you so much for celebrating my 8th grade graduation with me.

You made it a truly special occasion.

I also wanted to thank you for the wonderful chemistry set.

It is such a thoughtful gift.

Your Dear Friend,


Ask: what do you think is the variable in this thank you card? HINT: What changes in the card depending on who you’re sending it to?


  • Read aloud the description on the Variables topic page
  • Play the Movie, pausing to check for understanding. 
  • Have students read one of the following Related Reading articles: “Language” or “In Practice.” Partner them with someone who read a different article to share what they learned with each other.

Step 3: APPLY

Students synthesize their ideas and express them through one or more of the following creative projects. They can work individually or collaborate.  

  • Make-a-Movie: Create a commercial for a Coding service that promotes the use of variables in computer programming. Give real-life examples of when you might use them.  
  • Make-a-Map: Make a concept map that outlines a process where a variable might be helpful. Declare and initialize the variable, then “code” the process.
  • Creative Coding: Code a sorting game where players determine whether variables could be used to make different situations more efficient or not.  


Reflect: After sharing creative projects with each other, students reflect on what they’ve learned about variables.  Prompt them by asking questions such as:

  • Describe a situation in which variables would be beneficial.
  • How might you troubleshoot code for variable errors? 
  • Why is order important when coding with variables?

Assess: Wrap up the lesson with the Variables Quiz

Step 5:  Extend Learning

Practice using concepts like variables, loops, and more with coding games, including Blockly: Maze and Run Marco!

Dive deeply into computer programming with BrainPOP’s collection of Computer Science and Coding topics, games, and teacher resources. 


Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments