Can a board game teach coding to preschoolers?

blue-6201-300x229NPR posted a story that came across my Facebook page. The author, Elise Hu, tells us about how a new board game is targeting preschoolers in the hopes of teaching them how to code. You can view Hu’s article This Board Game Aims to Teach Preschoolers How to Code by clicking here.

To briefly summarize the article, the board game was developed by start-up entrepreneur and former Google employee, Dan Shapiro. He decided to come up with a way to play a game with his kids that wouldn’t bore him. So, he came up with his own game called Robot Turtles. It’s a board game, not a computer game, that teaches the fundamentals of programming. The game doesn’t use words to do this. Instead, children learn “by cutting out clip art cards and moving the cards based on what the kids were doing”.

Curious? If so, check these out:


Commonsense Media Scope and Sequence

10-16-2013 11-28-36 AMI had to share this awesome (I can say that) site for teachers. This site is FULL of so many resources that you could spend hours surfing and downloading material.

I spent the greatest portion of my time visiting the Scope and Sequence tool on the site. The Scope and Sequence tool provides cross-curriculuar units that “spiral to address digital literacy and citizenship topics in an age-appropriate way.”


(Click here for the PDF version for the Scope and Sequence tool.)

The lessons are geared to specific grades, so you have the option to search specifically for your grade if you’d like. The grade suggestions also makes sure that the lesson that you have chosen is appropriate for your grade level. But we all know that teachers know how to take a lesson and adjust it to their particular grade level, so grade level suggestions are just suggestions.

For our class assignment, we were asked to find a lesson plan that we found useful. While there were many topics that I found extremely important to share, such as cyber-bullying, online safety, and online communication, I decided to share a lesson called Picture Perfect (recommended for grades 3-5). This lesson’s topic, “How can photos be changed on the computer, and how can that affect our feelings about the way we look?”, directly ties into the many conversations that I am having with my daughter about her self-image. As a woman, I understand the insecurity she feels about how she looks compared to the retouched photos that are posted online. Everyone knows that only the “best” pictures of someone are posted on Facebook or Instagram; at least those images that we can control, which is another topic that could also be covered within this lesson.

You will have to register and create an account before you can download the lesson materials that are provided with the lesson overview on the page, but since I’ve already created my account I will try to share the lesson materials with you now. Just click here and we’ll see if you can get to them.

I encourage you to visit the Common Media Scope and Sequence page to see what other options there are…and there are many!! The Common Media homepage also worth checking out, as is the Common Sense Media Education page.

Others that you might be interested in from Common Media:

Movie Maker using Your Own Images and Music


At Animoto, we live by two basic philosophies: make it simple, and make it beautiful. And we’re proud to offer you the simplest way to create the most beautiful videos online, whether for yourself, your friends, your family, or your business.”

Animoto is a user-friendly site that allows you to upload your own images and add your own music to create mini-movies. If you go for the free option, you can make short 30 second mini-movies. A good option for classroom presentations. Students can use these mini-movies to showcase their work, similar to a portfolio. The movies can be shared or embedded. For a reasonable price, you can upgrade your subscription enabling you to make longer movies with greater movie making options (access to a larger variety of templates). I created a short video using only a short selection of photos from our current Halloween yard decorations that I had recently shared on Facebook. Which, by the way you can have access to through Animoto as long as you are willing to grant the site access to your information. You can also use your Instagram images following the same process for sharing your information with Animoto. If you have an issue with allowing access to your accounts, you can always simply upload your images from your own computer.

Here is the Halloween video that I created: Cleveland Halloween Animoto Video

It’s short, but you can get a general idea of how it works. Also, you can see that you also have the option to add text to your video. I used a simple one “Cleveland Halloween; BOOOO!!!”. I wasn’t very creative when it came to what to write, but I think it fit in really nicely with the photo stream. All in all, I really liked the application. I’m planning on using it to create a short video for my son’s birthday. I intend to use images from his birth until now to share with our family and friends who live in different states. Most likely I will post it on Facebook and tag my family and friends so they can have access to it.

Below I’ve listed the pricing plans so you can get an idea of how much it costs to use Animoto. Again, it’s free, as long as you want to create short videos.