Lesson Plan

Code Mode

An Introduction to Coding for Elementary Grades
Valerie H.
Technology coordinator
Milford Brook
Manalapan, United States
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My Grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Students will be able to...

  • Define a program and an algorithm and give examples of the two in our everyday lives
  • Navigate through the Code.org website to access their Student Accounts
  • Develop programs using the Blocky method to solve various puzzles, mazes and create designs
  • Create their own programs to design a unique image on-screen using Blocky code
Grades 2 – 4
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook—Help Someone!

Activity: Conversing

Students will learn what algorithms are by realizing that they are present in many parts of their day. Ask them how people help others understand how to do something using a set of instructions. What kind of instructions have they followed or have they been given in their lives? Things like feeding the dog, or brushing your teeth are typical instructions they have learned how to do. You want the students to understand that the term: algorithm, is really a synonym for instructions. 

Student Instructions

Have you ever given anyone instructions in how to do something? Play a game? Solve a math problem? Make a sandwich? Think about a time you've given someone directions (for example, make their bed) and list the steps on the index card. Share your instructions with your neighbor/partner or team. Can you follow their directions?

2 Direct Instruction

Activity: Exploring

Students will define the two terms: algorithm (a list of steps to follow to finish a task) and program (an algorithm that has been coded so that it can be run by a machine)


Using a simple four by four grid. Students will learn to program an A.R.M. (Automatic Response Machine) whichi is esstentially their own arms. The worksheet is here: http://code.org/curriculum/course2/1/Teacher#Activity1

If students are still in need of practice programming, there are additional activites included on this worksheet (steps for creating an airplane, cleaning a cat's teeth) but if they understand the concept, you may want to consider skipping the additional activities. 

Student Instructions

If an algorithm is a set of steps, a program is an algorithm that a machine can run. We'll be using an A.R.M. machine for the next activity. You all have one attached to your bodies. Using the worksheet, we'll write a program to move the arm in the proper position.

Once you write the program with your partner, we'll see if we can follow the algorithms with our ARMS to create the correct puzzles. 

3 Guided Practice on Code.org

Prior to students logging into the Code.org website, create an account for yourself and a set of student logins. This will allow you to track how your students are moving through the program and allowing them to progress at their own pace. 

I used Course 2 for grades 2 and 3 students, but you may find Course 1 might be a more practical place to begin. While the coding doesn't use a great deal of reading, there are helpful hints that students can use for assistance. Try out both courses yourself and find which one suits your population best. 

The direct link to the first video is here: http://studio.code.org/s/course2/stage/3/puzzle/1

Watch the video and answer any questions the students may have. Then log them into their accounts and begin the first module together. 

Student Instructions

Today we'll be logging into our Code.org accounts to begin learning how to program algorithms that apps and games you play online use. 

To begin, we'll watch a video about how the coding program works and how to begin. 

4 Independent Practice on Code.org

Once students are familiar with how to manipulate the Blocky coding blocks, (you may want to go through the first few modules together, or pull a few students who may need extra direct instruction) independent practice can begin. 

The students progress through each module at their own pace and when all modules are completed can move on to the next stage. 

At this point, you will become a facilitator, helping if needed but mainly monitoring their activity and ensuring they are on-task. From experience, most students will be engaged and motivated by the puzzles they are solving. 

Keep an eye out for frustration levels, as the students progress through the stages. All levels can be repeated for reviewing and may be helpful to remind students if they have not been using the program daily. 

Student Instructions

Once you feel comfortable using the Blocky program, you can progress at your own pace. You are each other's best tutors and if classmates are having difficulty passing through a module, I encourage you to ask your classmates for assistance. 

I will be moving around the room to help if you need assistance from me. You can also repeat any modules if you want extra practice at some point. 


5 Daily Wrap Up

Activity: Assessing

As each student will be a a different stage or module, assessing will be best done as an independent assessment.

You may want to ask for a response such as, "Show me by putting up one, two or three fingers what you experienced today (1 finger for understanding most of it, 2 for a little but not all, 3 for really confused for most of it.) This will give you a good gauge of how much the students are grasping of the concepts they are learning. You can compare their rating with how far they are progressing in the course using your online tools at the website. 

Student Instructions

As you finish up on your module for today, think about what you experienced as you worked today. I'll be asking for your assessment in a few moments. 

After students have logged out and you have their attention, ask, show me by holding out 1, 2 or 3 fingers your experience today. If you really understood most of what you worked on, hold out 1 finger, hold out 2 fingers if you learned some things, but some things were tricky, and hold out 3 if you found that most of what you worked on today was difficult. 


6 Project Wrap Up

Activity: Assessing

As a final closure to the unit (after the students have completed the course and/or moved onto the next course,) revisit the idea of what an algorithm is (a set of directions to complete a task) and what the students have learned about programming from completing the stages in the course. 

For students who show further interest in learning coding, allow them to continue on in the website (either independently, or as part of a group.)

It is recommended to have a final exit ticket (a Google form would be a good choice) asking the students about their reaction and input to the program.