Celebrate Hour of Code with These Quick Programming Activities

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Celebrate Hour of Code with These Quick Programming Activities
Photo courtesy of Code.org

A few weeks ago I shared some strategies to prepare for the Hour of Code with those who wanted to get ahead of the game and introduce kids at your local school to the power of programming. Well, the week we’ve been waiting for is finally here! Code.org’s annual initiative Hour of Code is a worldwide event in which newbies can get their first taste of programming by spending an hour doing one of numerous coding activities. So whether you’ve prepared for a blow-out series of school-wide introductions or you just want to join in the Hour of Code spirit with some playful coding at home, read on to find the perfect activity.

Code.org’s very easy tutorials are perfect for procrastinators. While our school set up volunteers and end-of-session certificates and so forth, you can definitely just work through these sessions without all the other infrastructure, at home, in libraries, or anywhere. Tutorials introduce fundamentals of computer science through favorite characters from Star Wars, Frozen, MinecraftAngry Birds, and more. Classrooms across the nation and the world are hopping with excitement for loops and variables using these tutorials.

Speaking of hopping, let’s first check out this dance-themed tutorial focusing on hip-hop — put together by the Scratch folks collaborating with Progressive Arts Alliance, as part of the Coding for All initiative. Dance choreography has the perfect balance of looped sequences (such as dance moves) and conditionals (for example, if another dancer is in the way, go the other way.) What a brilliant connection to make for kids who learn best through movement.


I’m especially interested in what people are programming, like the hip-hop microworld, to cross the barrier from on-screen to the real world. There are a lot of offline activities suggested on Code.org, including a few gems (marked [U] for “unplugged”) in this 20-hour course. For example, I liked the idea of introducing the idea of variables with this MadLibs style game.


I haven’t tried it with kids yet, but the one-hour introductory activity lesson plan “Traveling Circuits: My Robotic Friends” from Thinkersmith and Computer Science Education Week looked promising.

Teachers (like Joe Park for Hour of Code 2014) are knocking their kids’ socks off with MaKey MaKey.

Some are sharing the MaKey MaKey-based workshops and projects on Twitter, like this one in Turkey:

I checked in with Eric Schilling, who manages the global Scratch community. He shared a few games that have been shared as part of the special Scratch Design Studio in honor of the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland. The Scratch team worked on this initiative in collaboration with Pocket Code in Austria.

Alice in Wonderland Dress Up Game 2 by xVanyx sports special features like a “random” outfit generator and the ability to save and upload the numeric code of your outfit. Users share their codes in the comment section.
rabbit hole
In “Down the Rabbit Hole” by Scratcher amos_olson you collect yummy treats and avoid rocks as you fall down the rabbit hole.
SnoConeGlobe created “we’re all mad here” as a beautiful animated drawing of the Cheshire Cat.

Do you know anyone doing something amazing for the Hour of Code week? We’re looking for those feel-good stories whose glance into the power of programming is love at first sight, and also any Hour of Code projects you know about that has a special Maker angle to it, such as having some special real-world 3D or fabrication aspect to it. Let us know what’s out there in the comments below.

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Michelle, or Binka, makes . While at Maker Media, she oversaw publications, outreach, and programming for kids, families, and schools. Before joining Maker Media in 2007, she worked at the Exploratorium, in Mitchel Resnick’s Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, and as a curriculum designer for various publishers and educational researchers. When she’s not supporting future makers, including her two young sons, Binka does some making of her own, most often as a visual artist.

View more articles by Michelle "Binka" Hlubinka