The Best Coding Games for Kids

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Best Coding Games For Kids

In this age, where our society heavily relies on technology, coding has become an essential piece of employment qualifications. And if you wish your children to have a successful career, then it is best to give it a quick running start.

Coding for children does not merely help improve their writing and mathematical skills because it also supplies them crucial abilities in life and, ultimately, in the workforce.

Why should we become aware of the significance of coding in our kids? There are several reasons for it, but the most crucial factor for that is, if they know how to code at a younger age, it significantly increases their chances of getting their dream job in the future.

Why is coding a vital skill to learn?

Knowing the basics of programming is a vital skill not only for adults but for children as well. Specifically, for the young ones, learning the fundamentals of coding in the early stages of life provides a massive benefit. 

One advantage of this skill is that when students are capable of creating simple websites and games, it will help them polish their logic, plans, and problem-solving skills. Besides, it also enables them to formulate ideas and show creativity in uncommon ways. That is why coding is indeed a useful tool for learning for children.

As we observe how the world develops, it is evident that coding is a highly essential skill to have. Why? Because there is a rising number of institutions that rely heavily on computer code, not just the sector in technology.

A student who knows how to code at an early age will possess an advantage in life. This advantage means more opportunities in employment waiting for them in the future. Regardless of which industry they will settle in, be it in the health sector, retail sector, finance sector, or others will never be a problem because our society currently revolves around technology.

So, if you have a child who spends a lot of time playing mobile games, why not incorporate coding into it? It is an excellent way for them to learn how to code while having fun at the same time. As kids expose themselves to technology, it will surely help them become a vital part of huge corporations as they grow up.

How can you teach your child to code?

This question is probably the first one an interested parent will ask. Well, many parents are as clueless when it comes to coding as the others, and that is particularly normal.

The most beneficial component of programming is that we can learn it at any period. Although the retention of various languages can be quite hard, especially for late adults, it can still turn out to be an excellent experience.

If you are going to ask about the most effective approach for your kids to learn to code, then the answer is for you to learn it with them.

You can stimulate interest in your children if they notice you doing the same.

So, if you become interested in coding and put in a little effort to learn it, chances are your children will follow.

To help you start, here are some top coding applications for kids.

Bee-Bot

Available on iOs and ANDROID

Available on iOs and ANDROID

This app is available on Google Play and the App Store. The Bee-Bot floor robot inspired this coding application, which now enables the children to learn the fundamentals of programming at various levels quickly.

The little ones who learn to code may entirely use this application to enhance not their problem-solving skills alone, but also their programming skills. Bee-Bot has 12 levels encouraging progression in total. Each level is time-bound, and the quicker you complete the stage, the more stars you acquire.

It enables children to enhance their skills in directional languages together with programming through the various sequences of backward, forward, left, and right 90-degree turns in every level. 

The progression within this game will allow students to improve their knowledge and their problem-solving abilities through encountering difficult challenges throughout the various aspects of Bee-Bot.


Daisy the Dinosaur

available on all major platforms

available on all major platforms

This application is suitable for ages 5-8 and is free to download. Daisy the Dinosaur serves as an excellent foundation for programming or to assess your child’s curiosity in the topic. Kids can program Daisy and in the process, learn some fundamental practices of programming. 

Daisy the Dinosaur has a couple of sections for your students to explore, one is the free-play mode, and the other is challenge mode. 

In the free-play mode, juniors can explore with commands to see how Daisy will move as an outcome of their program. Meanwhile, in challenge mode, kids will challenge themselves to solve a presented problem.

They need to use the given commands to finish the challenge. Apply the smooth drag and drop symbols to make Daisy the Dinosaur move. This Gaming application sets the foundation for learning the fundamentals of programming.

The content in this application is not huge, but sufficient enough for a free app. 

Code Adventures: Coding Puzzles For Kids

available on ios and android

available on ios and android

This remarkable app is ideal for ages 6 to 8 that concentrates on child-friendly computer coding puzzles.
This game features exciting puzzles while learning how to code, loveable characters, funny sounds, engaging visuals along with around 30 puzzle stages.

The main goal of this game of puzzles is to help Aurora go home by finishing the 30 stages of challenges. Also, this app works through different levels, which include the basics, functions, and repetitive control structures (conditional loops).

Students will have to set the commands into the correct order, which indicates a practice in sequencing ability. Besides, they will find the necessity to repeat the commands to help move the character around, as each movement hardly takes it one block in any direction.

The app slowly introduces different puzzle details such as ladders, movable bridges, flying platforms, and portals, which makes the programming even more enjoyable.

Children will solve tricky puzzles while learning how to code. It also grants an excellent opportunity for a family to bond together while stimulating the child’s curiosity in STEM subjects.

Kodable

avaialble on ios and android

avaialble on ios and android

This coding application cuts down computer science into the fundamental thoughts that children require to build a stable foundation in life. 

Kodable gives materials that concentrate on subjects ranging from communication and social-emotional knowledge to the real influence of computer science in the world.

This application hosts lessons for coding and games for children between 5 and 10. The main objective of Kodable is to assist elementary school educators in bringing programming basics into the classroom in the form of a game. 

While Kodable is indeed useful in the classroom setting, parents can also take advantage of this app to teach coding to their kids in an engaging and entertaining method. The design of the teaching guide of this app is so excellent that even people who have no experience in coding at all can also use it.

Kodable applies the sets of principles and processes of JavaScript, which makes it an outstanding source to learn to code for beginners. 

While this app focuses on younger ages, older children can take classes regarding JavaScript too. It will lead learners through the concepts of programming using various challenges and games, such as maneuvering a labyrinth. 

Kodable is one of the best apps for coding because it also enhances vital skills such as problem-solving abilities, social-emotional learning, decision-making abilities, communication skills, and a lot more.

ScratchJr

available on all mobile platforms and devices

available on all mobile platforms and devices

This game is a free coding application for young children.  With the help of ScratchJr, kids ages 5 to 7 can program their games and stories. While having fun, children will develop their skills in problem-solving, project designing, and will be capable of expressing themselves creatively.

Students snap together blocks to help make the characters move, sing, dance, and jump. They can also modify the characters in the app using the paint editor, add their voice, and even add their photos, which can truly develop their imagination and creativity.

Furthermore, as children learn how to design projects and solve problems while playing the game, they can also enhance their abilities in sequencing, which is an essential factor throughout life.

To Conclude

A lot of people believe that teaching students to code is almost an impossible task, and they are correct. However, if you introduce yourself in these coding apps and by recognising the benefits of coding in your children, then you would probably change your mind.

Teaching the little ones how to code will truly be advantageous for them, particularly later in life. Not only that, learning how to code at an early age would grant them a skill that they can utilize throughout their lives, but it would also prepare them for several new careers that will arise. 

This effect is a result of the rising inclination of the current generation towards technology, which makes it more reasonable for every parent to introduce coding to their kids.

Growth Mindset activities for teachers and students

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Growth Mindset - What is it, and Why is it important?

As educators, we are constantly advocating for the idea of lifelong learning, not just for our students, but also in terms of our own professional development.  

Every now and then some significant new research or theory comes to light that causes us to pause for thought. These new ideas can encourage us to take another look at how we approach our own work in the classroom.

In recent years the concept of Growth Mindset has gained lots of traction in educational circles. It has become something of a buzzword, but unlike much of the jargon we hear in our profession, there is much of value in this recently-coined concept to benefit both ourselves and our students.

But, before we take a look at how to practically apply the concept of a growth mindset for the benefit of ourselves and our students in the classroom, let’s take a brief look at just what the term refers to and why it has become so important.

Carol Dweck 

The origins of the term Growth Mindset can be found in the work of Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck. Dweck’s research is largely concerned with personality and development and many of her ideas were comprehensively outlined and popularized in her 2007 book Mindset.

 According to Dweck, mindset refers to the way students perceive their own abilities. She argues that these perceptions fall somewhere between two poles: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset.

 Mindset Definitions 

Fixed Mindset Definition:

Fixed mindset refers to a mindset where a student believes their skills, intelligence, and talents are fixed traits. This attitude is essentially fatalistic and can often result in a student resisting learning or other attempts to improve upon their skills, intelligence, or talents.

Growth Mindset Definition: 

Growth mindset, on the other hand, is apparent where a student believes that their skills and talents can be improved upon by hard work and perseverance. This mindset results in a receptive attitude towards both learning and critical feedback. Students possessed of a growth mindset are also generally more open to trying new things.

Growth Mindset for Kids 

A Growth mindset for kids is a mindset for life

A Growth mindset for kids is a mindset for life

From our definitions of the two contrasting mindsets above, it is clear why encouraging a growth mindset in the classroom could lead to greater engagement by kids and help them to secure greater success in their work and development in general.

In her book, Dweck argues convincingly that having a growth mindset helps kids to develop the necessary self-motivation required to set them up for continued learning and progress throughout their life.

Growth Mindset Quotes

Growth mindset is about how we look at the world and how we view our place in it. It is best understood as an attitude displayed by action. One good way to understand it is to learn from the attitudes of those who have gone before us and displayed a growth mindset in their own approach to life.

Let’s take a look at some quotes that encapsulate the growth mindset at its finest. This will help us get a real feel for exactly what it is we mean by the term.

It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop
— Confucius
The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work
— Harry Golden
A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
— Albert Einstein
Dreams don’t work unless you do.
— John C. Maxwell
Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure.
— Thomas Watson
growth mindset bulletin boards are an excellent and constant reminder

growth mindset bulletin boards are an excellent and constant reminder

Growth Mindset Activities: 6 Activities to Foster the Growth Mindset in Your Students

Now we understand the Growth Mindset attitude, we need to think of how we can best help our students take the necessary actions to develop it and to understand how to act from it in practical ways.

1. Mindset Definitions: Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset

For students to successfully develop a growth mindset they will first need to become clearly aware of how these mindsets are defined.

This will not only involve sharing definitions of these terms with your students, but also require them to effectively identify the thoughts and behaviors that best display these mindsets.

To do this effectively, you can start with a discussion of these terms and what they mean to the students. Discuss how a fixed mindset can prevent learning and limit achievement, and how a growth mindset can help students to have a much more positive learning experience. 

Then, when students have the confidence that they understand the meanings of both of these terms, they can be divided into groups. Assign each group one of these terms to explore. In their groups, students discuss their term and compile a list of actions and behaviors that display that mindset.

 

Fixed Mindset Examples 

For example, a group working on fixed mindset may record things like: 

●      Gives up easily

●      Sees mistakes as bad things

●      Avoids difficult tasks and challenges

●      Ignores feedback and criticism

 

Growth Mindset Examples

 A group working on growth mindset may write down behaviors such as:

●      Doesn’t give up easily

●      Sees mistakes as opportunities for learning

●      Embraces difficult tasks and challenges

●      Considers feedback and criticism carefully

 You could also challenge the students to come up with concrete examples of each of these behaviors from their own lives. Students can then feedback their answers as a whole group and reflect on what their mindset is currently.

 

2. Change My Mindset! 

In the beginning of this article we talked of the two opposing mindsets as being two points on opposite poles. However, most of us exist somewhere along the spectrum between a fixed and growth mindset.

In our first activity, we encouraged our students to reflect on where they exist on this spectrum. In our second activity we endeavor to help move them further along this spectrum towards the growth mindset pole.

To do this successfully, students must not only identify their fixed-mindset self-talk, but learn to replace it with suitable growth-mindset self-talk. To do this, challenge your students to write some examples of their fixed-mindset self-talk down and then write a growth-mindset version to replace it with.

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3. Growth Mindset Bulletin Board

Another great way to help you train your students to build resilience, by replacing their fixed-mindset self-talk with positive growth-mindset self-talk, is through the use of a Growth Mindset Bulletin Board in the classroom.

To start building your Growth Mindset Bulletin Board, first, print off a number of statements displaying either a fixed or growth mindset. You can choose one of these per day to discuss as a class. After discussion, decide whether or not the statement displays a growth or fixed mindset. Then stick the statement in the appropriate column on your bulletin board marked Fixed Mindset or Growth Mindset.

Another way to increase the power of this visual display of statements is to print the fixed mindset statements in black and white and the growth mindset statements in vibrant colors.

 

4. Exit Your Comfort Zone to Overcome Obstacles

 For students to shift from the resignation of a fixed mindset to a more empowering growth mindset, they must learn to appreciate the positive effect pushing beyond perceived limitations can have on the brain.  

Students should be encouraged to see obstacles not as barriers to shy away from, but as tools that help us to develop our intelligence and problem-solving abilities, much like the way in which resistance training helps athletes build their muscles and strength.

Attitude is key to the development of a growth mindset. In studies undertaken by Dweck and her colleagues, results showed that students in a control group who displayed a growth mindset secured significant increases in their math scores, while those displaying a fixed mindset saw a decrease in their scores.

These findings suggest that whether a student believes they can or can’t, they are likely to be correct! 

Simply understanding the benefits of having a growth mindset can have a profound positive effect on students. Students can deepen their understanding further, and work towards attaining these positive benefits for themselves, by thinking about times in their lives when they wanted to quit, but didn’t. They could then consider how this helped them improve and develop as a result of the experience. You may want to start the ball rolling with a personal example from your own life.

 

5. Gamify the Learning Process

Anyone who has children of their own, or works with young people, will be well aware of the powerfully seductive nature of video games. There is no doubt that video games assert an almost overwhelming pull on many of our young people. However, we can use this knowledge for positive ends within the classroom too.

Gamification refers to using certain elements of video games within your classroom activities. By using certain aspects of gamification, you can encourage students to continue to persevere at tasks they would normally find overwhelmingly difficult and subsequently quit. Adding these elements of gamification can help students stay engaged, avoid quitting, while also encouraging overall student progress.

For example, you could easily adapt how you present grades and scores to the class by mimicking the format of many video game scores. For instance, a score of 75% could be conveyed as experience points (XP) marking their progression towards completion of a task or towards achieving mastery of a given skill.

You may also award further XP points for the completion of homework and assignments, their participation in class discussions, and other demonstrations of learning and effort.

The beauty of gamifying learning in this manner is that rather than a student focusing on how they failed to reach 100% following the traditional grading model, in this method students tend to focus on what they can do to increase their XP points and therefore their own learning. Gamification encourages students to focus on steadily making progress - which is the real essence of what the growth mindset is all about.

6. Climb Down the Ladder of Abstraction

Gamification works well because it makes things quantifiable to some degree. It gives clear, numerical feedback to the student that helps them to get some indication of their own progress. However, this isn’t always as clear-cut when we are dealing with more abstract concepts and skills. 

Helping students climb down the ladder of abstraction to stand on more concrete ground will also help to instil in them the growth mindset when dealing with more theoretical topics.

To help students to recognize the real world applications of a concept, you must first help them to improve their overall knowledge of that concept. To encourage their further exploration, ask them the following three questions: 

●      Why is this concept significant?

●      What are its uses outside of the classroom?

●      How does this concept affect people’s lives?

These questions, coupled with class discussions and the sharing of ideas, will help students gain a deeper understanding of the concepts in question, while also helping them to grasp their practical applications more firmly.

 

Now, Go and Grow...

Now you have 6 activities you can use immediately to help you teach the growth mindset in your classroom.  

It should be clear by now, too, that much of what is meant by the term refers to the student’s attitude to their work, as well as their self-perception. Be sure to take the ample opportunities that present themselves throughout the day to reinforce this generally positive approach to not only learning, but life itself.

5 Amazing Classroom Decoration Ideas that engage and inspire.

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Amazing learning happens in inviting classrooms

As teachers we have no control over whether students go home to a happy, stimulating or a caring environment, but we do control the four walls you, and your students will spend some of the most formative moments of their young lives; your classroom.

Your classroom is the space in which you will spend around 1200 hours this year together learning, building relationships, and striving academically and emotionally to achieve.

Whether you like it or not, the decor, style and level of classroom decoration you display is a reflection of you as a teacher, your personality, and a great launchpad to build credibility with parents and students.  

If your students and parents can see your passion,creativity, and ability to manage a classroom respect and credibility is far more easily earned.

Let’s examine some Classroom Decoration Ideas that actually make a difference, and are simple to implement in any style or physical space.

Classroom Door Decoration Ideas

It’s pretty obvious really, but so many teachers overlook their classroom door as a place to  make your first impression with students and parents. Make sure it says “Welcome” above all else, and acknowledge your students as both individuals and members of a team as demonstrated in some of the examples below.

Avoid placing negative or overly authoritarian items on your door, whilst also ensuring it doesn’t look like the entrance to Disneyland.  This door is the entrance to a place to collaborate, create and cooperate together, and above all a place to work. Don’t create a false impression by plastering your door in decoration that screams “We’re all about fun.”

The back of your door  is an excellent place to reinforce important concepts to students about behavior, personal management and organisation.  Students will see these and change hats appropriately as they switch from student to a kid that wants to enjoy their friends in the playground.

Students of all ages will appreciate this aquatic entrance to their classroom

Students of all ages will appreciate this aquatic entrance to their classroom

It’s been done before but it certainly works. You can create this yourself or buy them from places such as  teacherspayteachers.com

It’s been done before but it certainly works. You can create this yourself or buy them from places such as teacherspayteachers.com

Christmas comes to chemistry class. Fun, Easy to create and still educational.

Christmas comes to chemistry class. Fun, Easy to create and still educational.

This door sets expectations, and is welcoming simultaneously.

This door sets expectations, and is welcoming simultaneously.

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Storage and organization Classroom Decoration Ideas

It amazes teachers on the first and last day of school just how large their classrooms are when students are gone, and furniture is pushed up against the walls in preparation for the holidays.  

When twenty something students walk through the door it shrinks dramatically, so storage space and management of your classroom is a really important factor of classroom decoration to get right.

It’s a delicate balancing act.  Whilst minimalism and efficiency is “on-trend” with adults it’s not so impressive to a six year old.  

No matter what path you follow remember to clearly label things with either text or images so that your students never have an excuse for not putting things back where they belong.

Take a look at some of the images below for classroom storage solutions to see if they appeal to you in terms of functionality and aesthetics.

Modular storage from Ikea is cheap and hardy. It looks great also.

Modular storage from Ikea is cheap and hardy. It looks great also.

Knock them out with color and labels

Knock them out with color and labels

Storage can also be seating

Storage can also be seating

Technology can be a struggle to store and charge at times

Technology can be a struggle to store and charge at times

Use your classroom corners as “Great Escape Spaces.”

Regardless of whether you’re teaching in a shared, open plan, or traditional single room classroom you are likely to have a corner that could benefit from an educational ‘makeover.’

Classroom corners can become any number of things to suit you and your students needs so long as you capitalize on the fact they are a place for students to escape the masses and retreat into their own head space.

As such they are best used for self directed individual or small group activities requiring little interaction or input from you the teacher, or distractions from other students.

Reading corners are common in most primary / elementary classrooms. To maximize learning opportunities here ensure your students cannot easily see what others are doing when they are seated reading.  If you surround this space with soft furnishings it will also dampen the external noise.

Your classroom corners are a great space to clearly display some large excellent visuals reinforcing the key learning concepts you expect of your students in this space.  Posters, charts, and exemplary work is a great thing to display and fosters independent learning leaving you to focus on working in other parts of your classroom.

One final note to consider when creating a classroom corners is not to simultaneously build a ‘hideout’ space in which students know they can misbehave or dodge work without surveillance.  Always ensure you, as the tallest person in the room can quickly and easily see what your students are doing at all times.

Forest reading corners are always appealing

Forest reading corners are always appealing

what child wouldn’t cherish spending time in here?

what child wouldn’t cherish spending time in here?

simple but effective reading corner

simple but effective reading corner

plenty of seating variation

plenty of seating variation

Classroom Themes

Classroom themes can be both a blessing and a curse you might want to consider as the year progresses. 

Whilst large portions of your classroom dedicated to back to school, summer, book week, Space, Harry Potter and so on may look great, they can also pretty quickly become irrelevant and dated.

If you are not a manic workaholic ( like most teachers are ) but you still want a dynamic classroom that changes like a chameleon just select a single wall or space you know you can repeatedly and quickly tear down and “flip” to suit the times and needs of your students.  

This leaves you the bulk of your classroom organized and structured for the remainder of the year with minimal fuss and interruption.

space is always a popular classroom theme

space is always a popular classroom theme

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Harry potter theme space

Harry potter theme space

welcome to TOMORROW LAND

welcome to TOMORROW LAND

Classroom decoration ideas on a budget

As we well know most teachers are not millionaires, but they are very highly innovative, and industrious when it comes to getting a lot from a little.

Take a look below at how teachers have taken some bargain bin products and turned them into a goldmine of teaching and learning opportunities in their classrooms.

Most of these items can be easily located and are durable enough to get many good years of use from.

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Make sure your classroom decoration “celebrates” learning above all else.

No matter what your style, or level of commitment to classroom decoration ensure you celebrate learning.

  • Showcase work from ALL students that celebrates GROWTH which can be acknowledged by you, parents, and students.

  • Ensure your classroom decoration sets expectations. Providing examples and statements that reinforce what you value as a teacher and what you expect of your students.

  • If possible display your students growth.  This can either be a before and after decoration, or a graph or chart demonstrating how your CLASS has improved at a specific area throughout the year. 

    Try to avoid putting anything that individually pinpoints, or compares one student to another. Emphasize the fact your class are a team and you celebrate the success as a team.  You will have parent teacher interviews and plenty of other opportunities to address student needs at an individual level. 

I would also emphasize the need to let your students take ownership of your classroom decoration where possible.  If you need a poster about recycling get your students to create them as opposed to just buying them.  

Let your students create their own classroom rules (under your guidance of course.) and ask your students for input in creating classroom decorations.

All this input will give them a greater sense of pride and buy-in to their classroom and you as their teacher.

Finally - If you trawl Instagram and Pinterest for classroom decoration ideas you can quickly feel very inadequate as a teacher. It may appear that classroom decoration has almost become a competitive sport fought out on social media.

Just create a space that you and your students feel positive about sharing, and hopefully lifts your spirits a little on a day that just didn’t seem to start out right at home for whatever reason.

I am confident you can take away one or two of these ideas and as always don’t forget to share your thoughts and inspiration in the comment section below.

How to build and outdoor classroom at your school

We often think of a classroom as essentially... A room.  But there are days when mother nature offers far more enriching learning opportunities in the open.

And the effort and expense to build one of these in your school is minimal.  It is really surprising to think that every school doesn't have one when you consider the opportunities it offers students and teachers to break the mold every now and then.

I came a across these simple plans from kaboom that outlines one idea but I am sure that you could adapt this to suit your needs.  You can download them here.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has had any experience in this field and could share their insights. 

Simple to make Halloween Jack-o-Lantern Jars

The spooky season is almost upon us, and these Jack-O-Lantern Jars are a fantastic way to decorate your classroom for Halloween.  The kids will love customizing their own designs and watching them glow in the darkness of the night.  With a few simple materials you can add a special spooky glow to your Halloween night!

For additional Halloween craft ideas, check out the Halloween Express ultimate guide for Halloween crafts.

Another great idea from Belinda

What you will need...An assortment of jars, coloured tissue paper, PVA glue (or  a glue which will dry clear), a paint brush, scissors, black paper, tea lights or LED candles.


Step One...Choose one of your tissue paper colours and cut out some strips.  For the pumpkin jar I used about 8 strips (2 x 10cm).  Of course the amount needed will depend on the size of the jar.

Step Two...Grab your strips, jar, glue and paint brush and prepare to stick your tissue paper in place.

Step Three...Cover your jar with PVA glue, and start sticking your strips on, as you cover your jar you will need to continue to add glue to ensure the overlapped pieces stick.


Step Four...Once you have completely covered your jar with tissue paper coat with another layer of glue.  Tip...Be sure to only have one to two layers of tissue paper on your jar, too many layers and you will loose the glow effect.

Step Five...Take your black paper and cut out a design to fit your jar...be creative!

Step Six...Glue your black paper design onto your jar and apply another coat of glue over the top of the black paper to ensure it stays stuck down and to give it a shiny appearance.

Step Seven...Carefully insert your tea light or LED candle to see the full effect of your Halloween creation.  Remember to always treat fire with caution!

The most fun way to teach computer science to kids

Computer Science Unplugged is my find of the week.  It houses a collection of free learning activities that teach Computer Science through innovative games and puzzles that use cards, string, crayons and lots of fun and action.

CS unplugged introduce students to underlying concepts such as binary numbers, algorithms and data compression, separated from the distractions and technical details we usually see with computers.

CS Unplugged is suitable for people of all ages, from elementary school to seniors, and from many countries and backgrounds. Unplugged has been used around the world for over twenty years, in classrooms, science centers, homes, and even for holiday events in a park!

Check out the video to see how it can be used in the classroom.  And be sure to download the excellent lesson plan booklet.       Click here to access


Name games for teachers and students

I will be the first to admit that I am terrible with learning people's names and find it difficult to find strategies that are effective.  Give these three simple games a go with your students and you'll all be on  a first name basis in no time.  Once again thanks to Michael Ramiko for submitting these three games in to make this process a little easier.

The small difference

On the board draw a seating plan of the room and get the class to copy it. Each learner round the room then says their name and everyone else writes it down at the correct place on their plan. Ask the class to study the names for 2 minutes, then put their plans away. Ask your first volunteer to leave the room - and while they're out, two other learners change places. When the volunteer comes back he /she must notice and name both students that have moved. Repeat the game a few times with different volunteers. After a few turns, make the game more difficult by changing two pairs at a time.   

Put up a mixed-up spelling of your own first name on the board - e.g. I might put up "Mij". Now, ask them to write an anagram of their own name. Collect these in and write them all up on the board. Every student now tries to write down all the original names. When finished they can check by walking round the room, meeting people and finding out if they have each person's name correctly.

People bingo

Each learner draws a large 3 by 3 grid (i.e. 9 squares). Slowly read through all the names on the register (spelling difficult names). Learners must randomly select 9 of these names (of people they don't already know) to write into spaces on their grid. When everyone has a full grid the learners walk around the room, find their nine people, chat a little and make some notes about each person. Afterwards, play "bingo" by calling out names randomly - students tick a name if they have it on their own grid. For each name ask the class to indicate who the person is and tell you some things about the person. When someone completes their grid with nine ticks - they win. (But you could always play it again!)

Spy

Prepare a set of small cards - one for each learner. On three quarters write "true"; on the others write "false". Distribute them; students must not let others see their card. Learners then stand up and mingle, meeting people and talking. When asked questions, anyone with a "true" card must give true answers; anyone with a "false" card must lie (except about their name), inventing false life stories. Afterwards, form small groups of 4 - 6 people. Each group should try to work out who was "true" and who "false", writing a list identifying all suspected "false" people. Finish up with a whole-class stage when the lists are read out and the truth is revealed. Groups get 3 points for each "false" person correctly spotted - but minus 3 for anyone incorrectly identified.

Simple but effective icebreakers to start the school year.

Although you may be a new teacher to a group of students, most of them have already worked together for years and know each other all too well. The new teacher may be the only one who needs to learn names. And, even if the teacher and class have all worked together before, there may still be a need for some activities to welcome everyone back and mark the start of the new year.  Here are a few that might be useful. 

Be sure to check out our list of ten great activities to break the ice for more ideas

Fibbing to the teacher
When a teacher is new to a class that already know each other, try this game. In groups of 5 or 6, the students should carefully prepare to introduce members of their group to the teacher. Everyone should introduce another person (not themselves). They should say names and something about their interests, home area, personality etc. All the information must be true except for one person in each group – for whom every single thing must be untrue. Allow plenty of time for careful preparation, after which the teacher should listen to all a group’s introductions (while learning useful names etc) and decide which is the untrue one. Warn all students that they must be careful not to give away the fib by laughing, sniggering etc.

The virtual party
Arrange an imaginary “welcome back” party. Ask everyone to stand in one part of the room. Designate another section of the room as the party room and show them where the front door is. Appoint a host / hostess or two and brief them on how to welcome guests. Be a host yourself too. Then encourage students to “arrive” at the party one by one, or in small groups, (ringing the imaginary door bell) and once there, mingle, chatting in English, catching up on news. Serve imaginary drinks and snacks. Students initially tend to react to this simulation with some suspicion (feeling it is a bit silly to hold imaginary drinks etc) but it usually takes off very well once they get into it.

Setting year goals
It is all too easy to simply launch into teaching from a new coursebook assuming that the class is automatically with you. However it is worth taking time to make sure that students are really clear about why they are learning and about what they want to get out of it. A simple way to do this is to ask them to make brief notes in answer to questions you ask. Make sure you allow enough thinking time. Students can then meet up in pairs or threes and compare thoughts. Possible questions: Why do you think English will be useful to you in the future? What is the most important area you want to improve on this year? What types of activities do you enjoy most in English classes? What advice would you give to your English teacher? What do you want to be able to do by the end of the year that you can’t do now?

Thanks for Michael Ramiko for submitting these ideas.  We'd love to hear some of yours.