Oct 6 / Michael O Kane

Best Coding Games for EU Code Week for Schools (with a free coding lesson plan)

by Michael O Kane
two school girls in uniform looking at an ipad with their teacher

Best Coding Games for EU Code Week for Schools

Coding games are a brilliant way to easily teach primary school children coding, computational thinking, logical thinking and problem-solving skills. All of these skills are important life skills which are valuable to apply in all subject areas inside and outside the classroom.

Coding can seem like a very specialist subject but luckily there is no shortage of excellent curriculum programmes and coding games to help students (and teachers) develop their confidence and their coding skills. In fact, there are enough tools and resources on code.org, Scratch,Tynker, Sphero and theEveryone Can Code curriculum from Apple to develop these 21st Century skills across the curriculum right throughout the whole year!
Login or sign up to Wriggle Connect Teacher to get access to dozens of short tutorials on the top coding apps and games with practical classroom exemplars in Michael's course on Coding in the Primary Classroom here on the Wriggle Connect Teacher Training platform. 

...but why learn to code?

Learning to code helps students to solve problems and to apply logical and computational thinking skills by encouraging them to break down the steps to solve a problem into a logical sequence and then test these steps to make sure they get the right outcome. When coding, children will work though important concepts like writing commands, sequences, functions and loops which will enable the character in the game they are playing to move the way they need it to to play the game.

Below I have outlined a simple coding lesson suited to beginners using Apple's free Swift Playgrounds app with curriculum and skills based outcomes outlined to help you to get started with coding in your own classroom for Code Week and beyond. Simply grab an iPad, download Swift Playgrounds and follow the instructions below.

Your free Coding Lesson for Beginners

This CodeWeek activity focuses on using the Swift Playgrounds app. It looks at commands and putting simple pieces of code in order which will develop children's sequencing skills. 

Step 1: How to Introduce Coding to your students

To introduce coding to your students, start with an activity on giving instructions like the one listed below on 'How to make a cup of tea'. It is important to tell children that a sequence is the order in which the commands or instructions are given.

Ask students to work together to put the commands in the correct sequence. Then ask them to share with the class why it is important that these instructions are put in the right order or else they will result in making a cup of tea incorrectly...which may not taste very nice.


instructions on how to make a cup of tea

Step 2: Learning to give the correct commands to problem-solve

Now that students have discovered the importance of giving instructions in the correct order you can introduce them to their first coding app. 

Ask the children to access the Swift Playgrounds app, then tell them to tap on Learn to Code 1. Here the children will have the opportunity to solve problems and puzzles by putting commands in the correct sequence.

In this video, I walk through step by step how to give commands in coding in Swift Playgrounds.
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Login or sign up to Wriggle Connect Teacher to get access to dozens of short tutorials on the top coding apps and games with practical classroom exemplars in Michael's course on Coding in the Primary Classroom here on the Wriggle Connect Teacher Training platform. 
Children will have to start at the first level - issuing commands. If children want to jump to a different level they should tap the botton at the top left of the screen. 
*We recommend that children work through the levels in the lesson however in order to develop their sequencing and coding skills.

In each puzzle, children must give the character, named Byte, commands/instructions to move around the puzzle and collect gems. To do this they must tap the commands, written in the Swift language at the bottom of the screen. Once they are happy with their instructions and the sequence they should tap Run my Code at the bottom right of the screen. Some of these instructions are shown below. If correct, the children will move to the next level. If incorrect, children will have to identify what is wrong in the sequence and correct it - developing their problem solving and computational thinking skills.

In this video I show how to run your code in Swift Playgrounds to see if your commands are correct.
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Assessment tip - Tap the 3 small dots at the top of the screen to access the Record Movie function. This will allow children to record what they are doing. This can be saved for future assessment, evidence or even shared through other apps.
Login or sign up to Wriggle Connect Teacher to get access to dozens of short tutorials on the top coding apps and games with practical classroom exemplars in Michael's course on Coding in the Primary Classroom here on the Wriggle Connect Teacher Training platform. 

Step 3: Collaborating and Reflecting on Coding Skills

In the final minutes of the lesson, bring the children together and put up the Adding a New Command and Toggling a Switch levels on the Interactive Whiteboard or TV. Ask them to share the commands/instructions they used to solve the problem with their friends. If they have recorded video, ask them to share these also. This will allow other children to see the process of putting the commands in the correct order. these videos may also have captured examples of debugging, problem-solving and logical thinking.


For more practical lesson plans or exemplars on Coding in the Primary Classroom, check out my course on the Wriggle Connect platform today.

Or to take things further and get children thinking about designing their own app, you can take a look at Miriam and Lyndsey's course on App Prototyping in Keynote.

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About the Author

Michael O Kane

Michael O’Kane is Headmaster of St. Colmcille’s Primary School & Nursery Unit in Claudy in Co. Derry and manager of Claudy Apple Regional Training Centre. He is an Apple Distinguished Educator and Apple Professional Learning Specialist and is committed to raising standards in learning and teaching.
  
As a Wriggle Connect Ambassador, Michael created the Coding in the Primary Classroom teacher training courses in the iPad Learning Pathway on the Wriggle Connect Platform, Ireland’s ONLY Educator Professional Development Platform – Developed by Educators for Educators.

To learn more about the courses Michael has created on the Wriggle Connect platform, click on the Courses section if you already have a Wriggle Connect account, or contact us see how the Wriggle Connect Online Training platform can support your teachers' professional development today!