# Coding Lesson Plan: Monster Maker!

Nov 16, 2017 · 6 min read

Our lesson plans accompany our free short courses and are designed to help you get your students started coding in the classroom. Download a printable version of this lesson.

This lesson plan accompanies our Monster Maker! short course. Students write their first programs and draw fun monster characters. Along the way, they are introduced to the concept of algorithms as a sequence of instructions to be followed in a specific order.

6–10 years

## Language

Blockly — a visual programming language using drag-and-drop blocks

2–3 hours

## Learning outcomes

By the end of the lesson students will be able to:

• Define the term algorithm;

# Introduction — what is programming?

Start by asking students if they know what it means to program a computer?

To program a computer means to give it instructions to follow. Another word for a sequence of step-by-step instructions is an algorithm.

## New vocabulary

Algorithm: A sequence of step-by-step instructions to solve a problem or complete a task.

Program: An algorithm that can be run by a computer.

Giving instructions to a computer can sometimes be tricky because although computers are very fast they are not actually very smart! When we program computers we need to make sure that our algorithms are very specific so that the computer actually does what we want it to do.

# Activity 1 — The Exact Instructions Challenge!

A fun way to introduce algorithms is with the Exact Instructions Challenge:

## Discussion questions

• What algorithm did the children in the video need to write?

Let students know that they will shortly be having a go at writing their own algorithms. This means that, like the children in the video, they will need to:

• Break a whole problem down into small steps (decomposition);

## New vocabulary

Decomposition: Breaking down a problem into smaller steps. Imagine if you only had the final picture to look at when building some Lego? The instructions decompose the problem into smaller steps that are easier to follow.

# Activity 2 —Write your own algorithm

As a class, come up with an algorithm for a common activity (like pouring a bowl of cereal or brushing your teeth).

Use this activity to model to the class how they should set out their algorithm —start with a statement defining the problem, and then write out the algorithm as a clear sequence of instructions.

Next, have students come up with their own algorithms, individually or in pairs. Here are a few suggestions:

• Set up an obstacle course and have students write instructions to get from one end to the other, then test each other’s instructions. Remind students they need to follow the instructions exactly as they are written!

# Activity 3 — Monster Maker!

Direct students to the Monster Maker activity on the Grok Learning website. This beginner-friendly activity introduces students to the visual programming language Blockly — students use drag and drop blocks to to write and debug their own programs, and draw and colour monsters!

## Activity overview

• Students read the interactive notes and solve the coding challenges by writing their own programs.

Reading the interactive notes: Students can read through the notes independently, but depending on grade and experience it might be appropriate to go through the notes as a class.

Most slides have interactive examples which can be run by clicking the ▶ button in the top right hand corner of the example. Encourage students to run these examples when they see them. If you are going through the notes as a class, this is a good opportunity to have students make hypotheses about what will happen when the program is run!

Solving the problems: To solve the problems, students can write their programs in the editor, run them to test that they work correctly, and then submit them for auto-marking. If it’s not correct, they’ll get instant feedback with hints on how to fix the problem.

If students run into difficulties solving the problems, encourage them to try to solve them independently. As a teacher, you also have access to Teacher’s notes in the top right hand corner of the header where you will find explanations of the solutions.

Get creative: The final activity is a Playground where students can further experiment with the skills they have been practising, and design their very own monster!

Differentiation and extended learning: When does order matter? As students are designing their own monsters in the Playground get them thinking more about sequencing. How many different algorithms can they come up with which all draw the same monster? Sometimes problems have more than one possible solution!

# Wrap up

Conclude the lesson by asking students to define algorithm, program, and decomposition in their own words and share their definitions with the class.

Emphasise that the order and precision of of algorithms is important to make sure that we get a correct outcome, but that sometimes a problem has more than one correct solution!

# Further learning

Are your students keen for more coding? Here are a couple of ideas for what to try next!

• For more Monster Maker coding activities, take a look at our full-length courses Monster Maker and More Monster Maker. These courses introduce younger students to more complex algorithms, including programs with decisions and user input.

## Australian Curriculum

• Foundation to Year 2 Digital Technologies Processes and Production Skills: ACTDIP004

## New Zealand Curriculum

• Technological Knowledge — Technological systems: Level 2

## USA CSTA K — 12 Computer Science Standards

• K — 2 Algorithms & Programming: 1A-AP-08, 1A-AP-10, 1A-AP-11, 1A-AP-12, 1A-AP-14, 1A-AP-15,

## USA ISTE Standards for Students

• Computational Thinker

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