Learning about coding is a lot like learning a new language. The earlier that the foundational skills are understood and practiced, the easier it will be to add more complicated and detailed challenges later on. Students who have the opportunity to practice coding skills in elementary classrooms are better prepared for practicing more advanced coding.
Benefits of Learning Coding in Elementary School
Learning coding, much like learning a new language, opens doors to more creative projects and problem solving skills. Giving students the chance to learn the logic and patterns of coding is a great way to introduce STEAM skills and help them to develop interest in technology.
Additional Problem Solving Skills
Logical, algorithmic, abstract, and procedural thinking skills are all a part of coding practice. Skills like these are an important part of cultivating an enjoyment of learning and teaching students to be lifelong learners.
Coding is a complex form of problem solving that requires students to look at a goal and take actionable steps to communicate using code to achieve it. This alternate view of problem solving is useful because it helps students practice using trial and error to find the correct or most efficient solution.
Increased Career Opportunities
According to the US Department of Commerce, STEM jobs will increase by over 8% by 2024. A large party of the growing market will include jobs in the computer and math fields. Coding and creative problem solving skills are crucial to preparing students for careers in these fields. Professionals with STEM degrees tend to earn more, regardless of whether or not they are working in a STEM career.
Fun & Practical
Coding and problem solving skills aren’t only important for the career aspects. The brain stretching practice and useful applications of coding knowledge make it fun and practical for students of any age.
New thinking patterns and problem solving skills are a challenge to develop, but helping students to enjoy the practice early on is beneficial to their long-term goals and aspirations. Regardless of their favorite hobbies, career goals, or interests, practicing STEAM skills can offer a new perspective and may even improve overall performance.
Family Games that Encourage Planning & Problem Solving
Screen-Free Coding Activities for Elementary Students
The good news is that you don’t need a bunch of expensive equipment to get your elementary classroom students started on the path to learning coding skills. There are fun activities you can create in your classroom using tools and supplies you already have on hand. Check out these three tech-free coding activities and try one with your students:
1. Lego Alphabet & Spelling Practice
Create an alphabet code (or use using Legos of different sizes and colors. Take a picture of the code “map” and put it up on the board for all your students to see. Then, using a list of words or a spelling list, have students “spell” their word in code using the colors and shapes that match each letter.
If you do not have enough Legos for every student to spell the words out using the code, have them work in pairs or small teams. Award points for each student/team that gets the spelling and the code correct.
2. Binary Birthday or Name Charms
Most computers are written in binary code, and each number and letter of the alphabet can be represented by a combination of 0’s and 1’s. Use pony beads or other easy-to-grab beads to create a bracelet, necklace, or backpack charm that represents the students birthday or name in binary.
Have students start by choosing two colors, one to represent 0’s and one to represent 1’s. Then cut a piece of yarn or string to the length required for a bracelet, necklace, or backpack charm. Shorter names or birthdays will fit best on bracelets, while longer names may need to be a backpack charm or necklace. See the Binary Alphabet Code
More STEAM Blogs & Activity Ideas
Looking for more ways to engage your students in some STEAM learning? Check out the STEAM/STEM category to find more ideas like these and inspiration for keeping your students engaged. Learning with the right tools and technology can make things even more exciting. Also be sure to stop by the STEAM online store to see the latest.