Children take turns being a programmer and the computer as they play on a life-size game board. In this group activity, children learn about programming, while practicing their communication skills.
- Index cards (optional)
- Markers (optional)
1. Using chalk, set up a life-size game board in the shape of a grid on a sidewalk, driveway, or large open space. Add in different colored shapes throughout the grid. See the example below for inspiration.
2. Create index cards with colored shapes to match the ones on the game board (optional).
3. Select one player to be the programmer and another to be the computer. Take turns so that everyone gets a chance to try both roles!
4. The computer should stand on the game board. The programmer will tell the computer where to start, and then where to go on the board. The computer will follow these instructions exactly. For example, the programmer might say, “2 steps forward” and the computer will move 2 squares directly forward on the game board. Or they might say “turn right” and the computer will turn to the right. Use the following as commands: “Turn right; turn left; Forward __ squares; Back ___ squares”. Each command can be repeated as many times as you wish; for example, you might need to turn left twice in order to face the right direction.
5. Once the basic concept is mastered, add in the challenge of getting the programmer to move the computer to a particular colored shape on the game board. You can use shape cards to draw a challenge. For example, have the programmer draw a card before beginning. If the programmer draws a purple star, the challenge is to direct the computer to the purple star on the game board.
- If an older child is the programmer, challenge them to plan the entire sequence of moves before telling the computer what to do. If a younger child is the programmer, invite them to go move by move.