Little known fact about me – I am a veteran of the US Air Force. I was in the medical corps in the late 80’s. What does that have to do with this coding thing? Well, way back then I qualified to be cross trained into the computer programming field. This was a pretty big deal – only a couple people qualified in a given year. I declined. DECLINED! What a fool I was. Silly me didn’t want to spend my days in front of a screen. Oh the irony of it all.
Anyway, you might have guessed that I’ve personally had a lot of fun with this thing. I tried several of the activities that were new to me, including animating my name. I think the kids could spend hours on this. I didn’t want to blog about Thing 17 until I tried some coding with kids. This week I introduced Daisy the Dino to my kindergarteners. Kindergarten wasn’t my first choice, but I don’t see any opportunities to experiment with my older kids anytime soon, so I went with it.
I am fortunate enough to have AppleTV in my library so I started out by mirroring my iPad to my Smartboard and going through the challenge mode of Daisy with the class. I read the directions for each challenge to them and they had to decide what commands to use to accomplish the task. Their favorite part was the command that moved Daisy forward when I shook the iPad. That was the one that really seemed to make them realize that THEY were telling the iPad and Daisy what to do.
I had two kindergarten classes this week. One typical class and one that is a … challenge, to say the least. Both classes successfully worked their way through the challenge mode. My most challenging boys proved to be very good at solving the problems and I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly they caught on and figured out how to use the commands. While my boys were shouting out commands, I observed a few of my girls studying the problems and the failed tries before suggesting commands. But when they did have a suggestion, they were usually right and held their ground.
One class had individual hands-on time with the iPads, which went well. The only hiccup being that several of them choose challenge mode but they couldn’t read the directions to complete the task. I do wish there was an option for audio directions so they could practice challenge mode independently. Once everyone was in freeplay mode they had a grand time controlling Daisy. A favorite activity was making Daisy grow repeatedly until she was a giant green blob on the screen.
I’m hoping to try Hopscotch with my older kids before the year is out, but I don’t know if I’ll get to it. Next year I plan to introduce coding in December when the kids’ attention is a little hard to come by. I’m pretty sure this will solve that problem.