I love incorporating themes into my lessons! Whether I am tying my activities into a holiday or celebrating a special occasion, it adds a whole new level of excitement and engagement for my students, making the learning experience more enjoyable. Today, I’m thrilled to share with you a collection of Valentine’s Day themed coding activities. These activities make learning STEM skills fun and contribute to an enjoyable classroom management experience for you! Plus, stick with me until the end for a helpful freebie for your classroom! Let’s dive into the world of coding adventures together!
Why Coding Skills Matter
Growing up, I was always under the assumption that coding was meant for professionals. Once I became an educator, I wanted to change that mentality and make it accessible for all of our learners. I am passionate about integrating coding activities into my lessons because they go beyond teaching a programming language. Coding activities cultivate critical thinking skills, challenging students to break down complex problems into manageable steps. This serves them well in the coding realm and enhances their ability to approach real-world challenges with a systematic mindset.
Coding is a powerful tool for unleashing creativity. Through coding activities, my students transform their ideas into tangible projects. This creative expression nurtures innovative thinking, providing students with a skill set that extends far beyond coding.
If you want to learn more about coding in the elementary setting, make sure to read The Benefits of Teaching Coding and Coding in the Elementary Classroom. These posts will fill you in on everything you need to know!
Coding Activities for Valentine’s Day
When it comes to February, it’s like a switch is flipped… My students become so excited and energetic during the days leading up to Valentine’s Day! Some of us may even feel frazzled after some of those days, wondering how we will continue teaching essential skills while still joining in on our kiddos’ joy. If you can relate, I’ve got your back! I have gathered coding activities that are perfect for the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, the actual holiday, and even for the sugar coma days that follow. Ready for all the deets? Let’s dive in!
First up, this one is a classroom hero for many reasons! I love incorporating hands-on activities in my classroom, and one of my favorites involves using an interactive mat with our beloved classroom robot. Here’s a step-by-step guide to how I implement this engaging activity.
After I provide clear instructions on how to operate the robot, I introduce the interactive mat to my students. They have the option to work individually or team up with a partner for added collaboration. I guide students to place the robot precisely on the ‘start here’ spot. Each student draws a task card from the pile. I do provide two versions to keep things dynamic. The task card then becomes their guide, instructing them on how to program the robot to reach a specific square on the mat.
Students use the code cards to program the directions for the robot. After successfully reaching a square, students pick a new task card and repeat the process. For an added challenge, students can introduce ‘bugs’ by marking certain squares as off-limits with an ‘X’, making the activity even more exciting.
I encourage creativity by allowing students to create their own mazes. They can rearrange the squares individually and use items like Keva Planks, popsicle sticks, or Legos to craft a unique path for the robot.
Whether making their own maze or using one of the pre-made maze mats, I have my students record their instructions on a response sheet. This way, they are documenting the directions programmed for the robot.
Unplugged coding involves using hands-on activities as a screen-free way to introduce programming and coding. In this lesson, my students focus on two key skills: decomposing large activities and arranging sequential events. We dive into the world of coding by connecting to the familiar task of writing and mailing a valentine. My goal is to teach my students how to create an algorithm with specific step-by-step directions.
I created three difficulty levels to make coding approachable and allow students to progress at their own pace. Before beginning, I ensure students know how to make a valentine, emphasizing the importance of giving specific directions one at a time. I have my students guide me through how to make a valentine and prompt them if a step or material, like a pen or paper, was forgotten.
To establish a coding foundation, I make sure my students familiarize themselves with essential coding vocabulary listed on the student sheet. This sets the stage for understanding activity directions, where terms like up, down, right, left, and star come into play. Once the vocabulary has been reviewed, I recommend reading coding-themed books before starting the main activity. These will help to further cement the idea.
I introduce activity sheets tailored to each student’s proficiency, allowing for seamless progression from easy to difficult levels. Students record answers in the provided workspace, utilizing stars to represent actions or item collection. Advanced coding introduces looping, where students efficiently repeat directions using a loop symbol. This well-rounded lesson integrates coding skills with literacy, creativity, and real-world application, providing an engaging learning experience for my students. For a complete bundle of coding activities for Valentine’s Day, take a peek at these Valentine’s Day STEM Activities.
Students can also Code a Valentine in this digital activity. Although this one uses a device, no robots are needed. This is a great way to bring computer coding to life in my classroom without expensive robots.
Using Google Slides, students will use movable pieces to build the code. They get hands-on experience by dragging and dropping elements to formulate their unique algorithms. I can easily tailor this activity to different grade levels and students’ coding abilities. With the added video tutorial, my students receive immediate guidance on navigating the digital coding landscape.
I make sure to integrate this coding activity in February to teach and review the basics of computer science in an engaging and paper-free manner. Sometimes, I assign slides of a certain level to groups of my students, which makes differentiation a breeze. Other times, I will combine slides of different levels to encourage review and a challenge. Almost like leveling up in a game!
To be even more on-brand with this sweet holiday, add a splash of decor to your classroom door, bulletin board, or classroom wall! I love decorating for the seasons and holidays, but sometimes it can get overwhelming. I have big ideas for the small amount of time I have to make the vision happen. Just remember that whatever you decide and create is enough for your students! No Pinterest-perfect decor required!
This set gives you a choice between STEAM or STEM themes, which adds a touch of customization to suit you. I even encourage my students to contribute by using the student response sheets. Different writing variations are included to cater to all skill levels.
To make the décor pop, I often experiment with mixing and matching colors for different words. Printing specific pages on bright-colored paper, especially on sturdy cardstock, ensures a vibrant and lasting display. For added durability, I recommend laminating the paper before cutting out the letters.
When using this as door décor, it’s essential to plan around the door handle or window placement. Past me has learned this lesson the hard way! To affix the letters securely, I opt for blue putty, allowing for easy removal and saving for future use. To keep the paper in place on the door, I find that packing tape works like a charm, giving the display a polished and secure finish.
Coding Activity Freebie to Get You Started!
My students love when I bring out the Ozobot robots to use for our coding activities! I am excited to share with you a free Valentine Ozobot Maze to try out in your classroom.
Ozobots are our tiny coding pals! These little bots introduce students to the world of programming in a super cool way. With their sleek design and color-coded language, Ozobots make coding easy and fun. We use them to explore mazes, create unique algorithms, and unlock the magic of coding right at our desks. Ozobots turn coding lessons into lively adventures in the classroom!
In my classroom, I incorporate these mazes as a practical coding exercise using Ozobots. Students receive photocopies of the mazes, offering them a hands-on experience with coding challenges tailored for Ozobots. To enhance engagement, I organize the mazes into dry-erase pockets, creating interactive coding stations that can be used repeatedly.
Before embarking on the activitystudents need to haveve a firm grasp of how to operate Ozobots. This knowledge ensures a smooth and productive coding session. The mazes serve as effective tools for honing in on problem-solving skills, requiring students to discern the suitable color codes to complete the empty spaces. By directing their focus toward selecting the correct code, students can concentrate on strategic problem-solving rather than being preoccupied with drawing precise lines of specific sizes. This approach encourages critical thinking as students make thoughtful decisions about turn codes, navigate the maze successfully, and reinforce their understanding of coding.
Elevate and Engage Your Students with Coding Activities
From coding with Ozobots to creating personalized Valentine’s Day algorithms, these coding activities bring so much excitement and problem-solving practice to my students. The digital coding journey adds a techy twist, while the DIY décor makes our learning space pop. Whether we’re figuring out mazes, crafting algorithms, or jazzing up our walls with cool displays, these activities go beyond the usual and make coding super enjoyable for all of us. We’re bridging the gap and turning our classroom into an innovation hotspot. The love for coding grows naturally and sets the stage for their tech-filled future!
Save for Later
Remember to save this post to your favorite STEM Pinterest board to return to when planning your Valentine’s Day-themed coding activities.