Teaching coding concepts and technology vocabulary in the elementary classroom is more important than ever. With technology becoming an increasingly integral part of our daily lives, it’s essential for students to have a foundational understanding of how it works and how to use it. By teaching coding concepts at an early age, students will have a head start in learning more advanced coding skills later on.
This is all well and good, but realistically, many elementary teachers are having this added onto their plate without anything coming off. Tech is super important or I wouldn’t have this whole blog, but so are hands-on activities. And of course, we all know that technology is not always reliable and you need to plan unplugged activities for the days the WIFI is out or devices aren’t working.
So I was brainstorming ways to incorporate a fun craft into coding and created a set of “Code a Craft” activities that met this need.
What is Code-A-Craft?
So, how does it work?
The activity comes with a printable page that includes all of the craft pieces for your students to color, cut, and assemble.
There’s also a student direction page with directions written in a block code style, to give your students a taste of what coding looks like. The directions even feature a “repeat” block for steps they do multiple times.
Once the craft is complete, students can glue it to a themed poem sheet that features coding and technology vocabulary. They can then read the poem and highlight the technology words, giving them a fun introduction to these important terms.
To wrap up the activity, there’s also a writing prompt to give students a chance to reflect on what they’ve learned or just to be creative.
Once your students have completed their crafts, you can display them on a bulletin board with the accompanying poem and writing prompt. Not only will it add a festive touch to your classroom, but it will also serve as a visual reminder of the coding concepts and technology vocabulary your students have learned.
The Winter Bundle features 10 unique winter crafts and 10 Tech Poems that tie a technology concept into a poem with the same theme. Like a Gnome getting dressed for winter as a metaphor for looping and precision in coding or Santa stuck in the chimney as a metaphor for input/output in a computer for example. The whole bundle has 70+ tech vocabulary words featured in the poems!
Crafting & Coding – Cousins from Another Mother
I wrote that heading and realized it makes no sense and I don’t remember what the colloquialism is. But let’s just keep it for fun – fun just like my CRAFT. Buy it!
ANYWAY, another aspect I considered when making these “Code a Craft” activities is that it helps students see the similarities between crafting and coding. While they may seem like completely different activities, they both involve following a set of instructions to create a final product.
Just like how a craft project has a pattern or template to follow, coding also has a set of instructions or “code” that the computer follows to complete a task or create a program. The directions for the craft project are like the code for the computer, and the finished craft is like the final output or program.
Skills Practiced at a Glance:
- following instructions
- understanding logic behind the order of instructions
- connecting abstract idea of coding to something tangible
- developing spatial reasoning
By completing this craft activity, students are practicing following instructions and understanding the logic behind them, which is an important skill in coding. Additionally, by highlighting the technology vocabulary in the poem and relating it to their craft, students are making connections between the abstract concepts of coding and something tangible that they can see and hold.
Furthermore, crafting is a great way to develop spatial reasoning skills, which are also essential for coding. Spatial reasoning is the ability to visualize and manipulate objects in space, and it’s an important part of many coding tasks, such as designing and coding a video game or creating a website layout.
By following instructions, understanding logic, and making connections, students are developing key skills that will be useful in coding and other STEM fields. Consider this anytime you have students make a craft, too!
Code-A-Craft is Flexible
One of the great things about this activity is that it’s easy to adjust for different grade levels. For example, in Kindergarten, the teacher can read the poem and directions aloud, and the students can complete the craft. In grades 1-2, the teacher can read the poem and directions, but the students can also complete the craft and writing prompt on their own. And in grades 3-4, students can work independently to read the poem, highlight the tech vocab words, and complete the craft and writing prompt.
Younger students will get the small motor practice of coloring, cutting and gluing. And older students like the calm of coloring and an “easy” craft while benefitting from the integrated tech vocab in the poem.
Having a flexible activity is important if you are teaching STEM or computer lab classes to many grade levels. Rather than plan different activities for every class and level, you can take one idea and adjust it so it is appropriate to each set of skills and needs.
Benefits of Low Prep Crafting
The activity is also low-prep and easy to assign, making it the perfect addition to your sub plans or back-up unplugged plans.
I know many are required to have a set number of “emergency sub” plans in a bin ready to go as needed. But that doesn’t mean you have to resort to worksheets or packets either. You can still assign hands on stuff but you do want to make sure to address any “pain points” a sub may run into.
I purposely put all the craft pieces on ONE PAGE. You just need to print it and have students only need crayons, scissors and gluesticks to assemble. The Crafts have anywhere from 5-10 pieces with thick lines for easy cutting. I also included a craft sample so students can reference what a completed one will look like.
Finally, the poem prints to a half-sheet of paper, so students glue the finished craft RIGHT onto the poem. (Can you tell I have experience in crafts marketed as low-prep that weren’t haha). Because when I say low-prep, I mean I want the students mounting their crafts, too! Of course you can put the whole thing on a 9×12 inch construction paper background for your bulletin board display needs, but you don’t have to.
Code-A-Craft is Standards Based
My “Code a Craft” activities are a great way to introduce students to coding concepts and technology vocabulary in a fun and engaging way. It allows students to see the logic behind coding and understand how it relates to the real world. It also provides an opportunity for students to practice following instructions, which is an essential skill in coding.
Additionally, this activity aligns with the technology standards and skills set by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE): Creativity and Innovation: Students use technology resources to create and communicate unique works.
Many states are now including Computer Science standards too. In New Jersey, this meets standards related to algorithms and computer parts and processes.
The coding concepts and vocabulary I included is a solid intro into these standards and skills.
These “Code a Craft” activities are a great way to introduce coding concepts and technology vocabulary to elementary students in a fun and engaging way. It allows students to see the logic behind coding and understand how it relates to the real world. It also aligns with the technology standards and skills set by ISTE or your state coding or CS curriculum, making it a perfect addition to any elementary classroom!