7 Hands-On Activities That Teach Coding Without A Computer

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Learning to code is important, and you can teach your students to do so without having to use a computer. Coding enhances students’ computational thinking because they can then reveal fundamental process patterns by dissecting complex challenges.

You can integrate various coding games and activities to teach your learners how to code, especially if you run programming classes and camps for kids. These approaches can activate their creative and inventive thinking processes in entertaining and educative ways. Make sure that you offer them practical and engaging learning experiences to enable them to think like coders.

The following guide outlines 7 hands-on non-computer-based activities that can help your coding students become resilient, creative, and logical problem solvers.

Activity 1: Using Binary Bracelets

The first activity you can implement is making binary bracelets to teach binary code. Binary code is the simplest code form because it involves only two possible states – on and off. These states are normally denoted as 1 and 0 and can be used to represent digits, letters, and other computer characters. Ask the students to make these bracelets to represent their names. This is generally a good place to start for beginner coders.

Activity 2: Teaching Them Through Robot Turtles

Robot turtles are ideal for children between three and nine years of age. Like other board games, robot turtles integrate both entertainment and learning. Children can learn to program when using code cards to shift their turtles from one spot on the game board to another. Through this process, the kids can learn how to use code to realize their desired outcomes by integrating preparation and sequential reasoning in their decision-making.

Activity 3: Ask Them to Read Hello Ruby

Hello Ruby, which started as a fun way to learn about computers and programming, is ideal for children over five. Hello Ruby is a story that engages students in endless escapades, activities, videos, and exercises. You can use this game to introduce learners to coding concepts such as breaking down complex challenges, identifying patterns in the code, and reasoning outside the box. In the long run, Hello Ruby will teach them computational thinking because each chapter has its own sets of adventures. 

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Activity 4: Follow the Leader

Follow the leader is one of the most interactive games for children. In this game, there is a leader and a follower (or followers). The leader is an essential cog as they are tasked with issuing ‘If Then’ instructions to the followers, who are usually stood behind the lead. 

For instance, the leader can yell to the followers, “If I go left, then you all go left.” The followers should then wait for the leader to go left before they can follow suit. As a tutor, you can ask the children to try similar activities to engrave the ‘If Then’ coding concept in their minds. 

You can also increase the complexity of the activities by including complex instructions and asking the leader to perform random actions. Towards the end, you ask them to switch roles so that leaders become followers and followers play the lead roles. 

Activity 5: Nature Scavenger Hunt

A nature scavenger hunt can help you teach the concept of properties to your students. Properties are named values awarded to objects. For example, a human can have the ‘age’ property while a motor vehicle can have the ‘price’ property. When coding, what the end users see depends on the property awarded to an object.

You can follow these steps to conduct a successful nature scavenger hunt:

  • Ask the students to go outside and collect flowers
  • After collecting the flowers, ask them to group them based on the colors blue, red, and yellow
  • You can also ask them to guess the colors of each other’s flowers to ease understanding.

Activity 6: Build Board Games

Another fun activity is asking the students to invent their own board games in groups. Board games are ideal for teaching sequences, conditions, and properties. Ensure that you provide the children with recyclable materials such as plastics and cardboard. 

You should also provide the instructions on what type of board game they should build. Examples include mystery, abstract, legacy, or area control. The aim is to teach the students how to play board games, understand the effects of consequences, and describe key characteristics of features. 

Activity 7: Applying ‘If Then’ Instructions in Art

Another approach to teaching ‘If Then’ concepts is asking the students to apply them in real-world scenarios. For example, the learners can explain what happens if they do not study hard, obey their parents and guardians, or eat their vegetables. The aim is to teach consequences.

Ensure that you give them pieces of paper to write their statements on and translate them into art. Art is a visual way of engraving the condition idea in the learners’ minds. 

Wrapping Up

Coding has become essential to the curriculum, especially for young children. As a tutor, you can use numerous non-computer-based activities to teach coding. The aim is to enable the kids to understand key concepts in simple, fun, and educative ways. 

Ensure that you apply the hands-on activities that teach coding covered in this guide to enhance the learning experience for your learners. 

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Researcher educator specializing in Ed Tech, educational innovations, computer-supported collaborative learning, and technology integration. Based in Singapore.

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