3 Unplugged Coding Ideas Your Students Will Love

Coding in the classroom is such a popular thing for teachers to be doing right now, but what do you do if your access to tech is limited or non-existent? This unfortunately is a reality for many teachers and students. I know how important it is to expose our students to the concept of coding, so I created some unplugged coding ideas for times when you don't have access to electronics, but still want to incorporate fun and engaging coding activities into your lessons. Here are 3 of my favorite unplugged coding ideas I know you and your students will absolutely love!

What is coding?

The word “coding” is short for computer programming, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. In education, when we talk about coding we are focusing more on creating a set of instructions that have to be completed to finish a task.

Did you know that not all coding activities require technology? It's true!

You can teach your youngest students about coding with simple-to-use worksheets, or cut-out cards that can be manipulated to create a set of instructions for a friend to follow.

Coding in the classroom can be as simple or complex as you like. Because coding can include everything from apps to robots, to technology-free activities, your students can practice learning how to code no matter their grade level.

Unplugged Coding Ideas

You absolutely don't need technology to include coding activities in your lesson plans. All you need is access to a printer, some scissors and something for your students to write with. It really is as simple as that.

Students can learn about coding and algorithms with these fun, interactive activities. In my classroom, I like to relate coding to everyday tasks. This makes coding more relatable to students with no or very little coding experience.

1. Code a Sandcastle

This Code a Sandcastle activity is a great way to teach students how to decompose large activities into a series of smaller events. After all, that's what coding is all about. One of my favorite things about this activity is it can connect with the awesome book How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk. This means you can also bring some literacy practice to your coding activities.

I like to start the activity by asking students to review the steps to building a sandcastle. You can have students write or draw the steps on the board. With younger students choose images to place in order.

It's a great way to remind students to focus on the small steps, not just on “building a tower”. We want students to think of the steps it will take to actually build the tower.

The goal of the Code a Sandcastle activity is for students to understand how to create an algorithm and give specific directions on how to complete an activity.

I like to ask my students to think like they are explaining how to build a sandcastle to an alien. This forces students to really think through all the details in a different way.

By the end of the activity, students will learn that algorithms are everywhere in
real life, even in the building of a sandcastle.

This hands-on activity is a great way to teach students how to program and code without using a device, totally screen-free!

2. Code a Snowman

Code a Snowman is the perfect way to teach students how to code while having some winter fun! Building a snowman is something most kids are familiar with or at least understand the concept of.

First I review coding vocabulary with my students. This is important so that they learn to use the vocabulary words in context.

Then I provide the entire class with the Code a Snowman worksheet. We work on the Code a Snowman activity at the same time. This is a great way to model the steps involved in coding. It is really helpful if students have never done coding before. As students finish, they are able to get the worksheet with the next level of difficulty and start working on their own.

Because this activity includes three levels of difficulty, it's also easy to differentiate based on skill level as well. You can assign specific sheets for students to complete during center or station activities.

Students love working on coding skills using this snowman coding activity

I have also used these sheets as a reusable center activity too! I copy them on cardstock for extra durability and laminate them or slide them into a dry erase pocket! Students use expo markers to record their code & erase it for the next student. It's a great way to set-up some holiday or seasonal stations.

Students will also learn some of the important vocabulary they need for coding with or without a device. They will also have to use their critical thinking skills to solve problems, navigate through an activity, and create algorithms.

3. Code a Valentine's Card

This code a Valentine's Day Card activity helps students learn what coding is all about without any screens or tech

This Code a Valentine's Card activity is the sweetest unplugged coding activity out there. Use this ready-to-print Valentine's card activity for students to complete before they actually make their Valentine's cards.

Too often, our kids don't think about the small steps and process of creating everyday activities like writing a card.

With steps like writing the card, putting it in an envelope, writing the address, and putting a stamp on the envelope, students really have to think about every small step it takes to send a Valentine's card.

The Code a Valentine's Card activity worksheets steps range from easy to difficult. This makes it easy for you to differentiate for individual students or groups based on skill level.

I love that I can teach the basics of computer science, whether you have computers in your classroom or not. Plus with the detailed focus on sequencing events, students can apply these new skills to reading and math activities that use sequencing too!

Unplugged Coding for Everyone

These Coding Unplugged activities are the perfect way for you to start teaching and practicing coding in your classroom. No expensive supplies or equipment needed! All of these activities help you to easily teach coding even if you have no experience.

Because my kids absolutely love the fun and sometimes silly activities they can't wait to do more. For even more fun unplugged coding ideas be sure to grab your Coding Unplugged Year-Long Bundle today!

Save these Unplugged Coding Activities

Make sure to save these unplugged coding ideas to your favorite classroom Pinterest board. Then come back the next time you need coding or tech activities for your classroom.

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