Why Thanksgiving is the Ideal Time to Learn to Code

Thanksgiving is traditionally associated with Family, Football, and Turkey. But what if we added one more item to that venerable list this year? Coding.

The Hour of Code is quickly approaching, and teachers around the world are working hard to find the time and support necessary to bring coding into their classrooms, even if it’s only for an hour. For many others, however, coding is an unfamiliar endeavor. And while they may be interested in learning more about coding in the curriculum, they aren’t sure where to begin, or are overwhelmed by the thought of it.

Enter the long weekend.

This Thanksgiving, in between dinner and the Bears and Lions game, take the opportunity to sit with a younger member of the family and work through some coding activities together. Maybe you have a neice, or a nephew, or a cousin who would be interested in playing and learning with you for a few minutes amidst the chaos. Listen to what they have to say about the activity. Consider how they approach learning something new. How might you use this interaction to plan an introductory lesson on coding in your classroom? How might this experience spark a personal learning journey for you?

A few resources to explore this weekend:

If you are able to work on a desktop computer, check out the tutorials at code.org. There are hours of games to explore, but the most popular one in the library this week was based on the movie Frozen.

If you’re on an iPad, there are several great apps to explore, including Kodable, Hopscotch, Tynker, and Scratch Jr.

If you are on an Android device, check out LightBot.

Finally, if you don’t have access to a device at all, there are some analog coding activities you can explore! My Robotic Friends, Fuzz Family Frenzy, and Conditionals with Cards all help you approach logic and problem solving strategies without internet.

At the conclusion of a recent #techeducator podcast focused on the Hour of Code, I encouraged teachers to embrace the growth mindset, lean into some discomfort, and take a risk by bringing at least one coding activity into their classroom. This long weekend is an ideal time to get comfortable with some of the available tools and resources, work together with a younger family member, and start laying the foundation for a more comprehensive approach to bringing coding into your classroom.

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