Kindergarten Teacher

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Great Apps To Introduce Coding to Young Kids

This is cross-posted at the We Are Teachers Blog

If your class is like mine, the kids are always talking about playing video games! Rather than discouraging that interest, I want to harness it to encourage a higher level of thinking in my class. That is exactly what happens when kids explore coding. I love watching their faces as they try to process that people have to “tell” technology what to do in order for a game to work.

For many kids, the thought of creating games is even more exciting than playing them. Supporting their interest in gaming is important because the process of coding promotes problem-solving, creativity, collaboration and communication skills. Below I have listed four apps that are great places to start learning about coding with young kids. 

Daisy the Dinosaur (free) – This app is best suited for early childhood students or for a very basic intro for older students. The goal of the app is to make Daisy the Dino perform tasks. The “challenge” mode prompts the student to follow specific directions (image below), and the free-play mode allows kids to create whatever they like. Teachers could challenge students to perform certain tasks, or the kids could create challenges for each other. 

Daisy Dino
Hopscotch (free) – Created by the same developer as Daisy the Dino, this app takes coding/programming a step further. This is an open platform for kids in which they use coding skills to manipulate the characters they choose. The options for kids creating with this app are nearly endless as they can create games, animation, stories and more. I love that their creations can be interactive—the characters can be controlled by shaking, shouting and tilting the iPad. If you are new to this app, I suggest clicking on Community at the bottom of the app (image below) to check out some of the great examples of students and teachers using this app. There are a few app purchases you can make to get extra characters, but you will not need them to enjoy full use of this app. 

I also suggest checking out the Hopscotch Teacher Guide provided by the app developer. For older students, you could simply give them this document and let them start creating. 

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Cargo-Bot (free) – This is a game-based app that teaches coding as kids progress through challenges in the game. There are tutorials to get them started, and then they move on into the actual game levels. My favorite part of the app is the higher-level thinking involved as part of the learning process. Give the game a try and you will see what I mean—it is fun for all ages. 

Cargo Bot

Tynker (free) – This is another game-based app that teaches kids the basics of coding as they complete the game’s challenges. This app might be more appealing to kids who aren’t showing as much interest in coding, as the game aspect will immerse them in the learning. Tynker actually has three different games within the app: Puppy Adventure, Lost in Space and Sketch Racer. 

Tynker

 

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14 Apps for Creating in Elementary

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The video below is from a webinar with Region 10 where I discuss my favorite apps for creating on the iPad. This is one topic in a series of hangouts I will be doing with Region 10. You can find all the all the videos here.  I hope you enjoy the presentation and will check out the topics on the schedule.

Apps for Creating Video Presentation

Links to the apps discussed are below…

Background Eraser App

Explain Everything

Popplet

Stick Around

Felt Board

Story Buddy 2

Write About This

Tell About This

Lego Movie Maker

Aurasma

Doodlecast Pro

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Story Dice

5 Dice

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Dramatic Play: Bakery and Ice Cream Shop

Check out the amazing dramatic play center the parents at my school created! I can not claim any part of this but wanted to share the great idea. photo

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The image below shows the space. It is located in the hallway. We have four of these “pods” in our hallway that we use for our social centers (science, art, home living and blocks.) All the classes take turns rotating through these centers each day.

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Google Hangout Resources for Teachers

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EduHangout Website (ideas for class and teachers) by @catlett1

Tutorial for Google Hangout on Air- by @iPadSammy

Cybrary Man’s Google Hangout Page- by @cybraryman1

Google Hangout Tip Sheet by @MsMagiera and @gglibrarian

 Google Hangout Guide for Teachers- by Lee Summit R-7 District

How Educators and School Can Make the Most Out of Google Hangouts via Edutopia by @mbteach

Ultimate Guide to Google Hangouts by @MartinSherv

Google+ for Schools by @ericcurts

Connecting Beyond the Classroom Examples by @wkrakower

6 Ways Teachers Can Use Google Hangouts

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Venn Diagram Practice with Felt Board App

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Easy and fun way to practice creating Venn Diagrams with young kids using Felt Board. I print the example at the bottom of this post and the kids use that to help write the words.

Center Example

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Wonder Journal: First Activity of the Day

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I started using a Wonder Journal each morning this year. When the kids walk into the room I have an image and a word written on the board (see below). They unpack and then grab their journal and start wondering. They can use words, pictures or both to document their thinking. After the tardy bell rings the kids leave their journal on the table and sit on the carpet for the school announcements. Then I let the kids share with me what they have been wondering. The questions/wonders they have been sharing are amazing and they lead to some great discussions. After sharing for a few minutes we then watch a video about the wonder. Most days the image and video comes from Wonderopolis. Each morning I check the Wonderopolis sight and use the “wonder of the day” or pick from this list of 50 great wonders. Wonderopolis even includes a wonder gallery of images for each one so I have everything I need in one place. I decided not to display the actual Wonderopolis website on the board when they walk in because I don’t want the kids limited in their wondering by reading the “wonder of the day.” Having only the image about the topic has worked best so far for me. After our discussion and watching the video the kids go back to their journal to wonder some more or document their learning. This also allows time for kids that don’t arrive before the bell to get something in their journal. I am very happy with this process so far. The kids are excited to walk in and see the wonder, unpack quickly to get started and are engaged and thinking first thing every morning.

Example of what I have on the screen as they arrive each day. This is from the polar bear wonder.

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This is the journal. It has 20 blank pages (completely blank) and paper binding. Anything simple would work for this

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Sample page from the Where is the fastest roller coaster wonder. His wonder was how do they go so fast. 

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Sample pages from “What is the Hottest Planet wonder…

“I wonder why the sun is so bright.” 

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“I wonder why this one has a red spot”

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Red arrow shows the “Wonder Gallery” where I find the images most days. 

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