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Today, I spent my morning introducing the magic of programming to a class of 2nd graders and it was amazing. It was also one of the more nerve-racking experiences as far as preperations go. I was so nervous I spent the better portion of my morning (starting at 6AM) researching and preparing!

Having the Creative Computing site was a huge thing because it pretty much wrote all the material that I needed and more! For a 45-minute session though, I only had time to get them excited about Scratch and to try out a few very simple exercises. Basically, I boiled down the session to the following activities:

Pics or it didn’t happen, right? Here you go:

Getting ready to play the Scratch intro video.


I later found out that she was one of the more shy kids in the class. What a brave girl!


Of course my boy HAD to show off his Scratch fu!


They were so enthusiastic and so full of energy I could barely keep up! Thank god their teacher, Mrs. Johnston, was there to help keep things under control. I was nervous for the most part but somehow got their undivided attention throughout the session. We finished early with about 15 minutes to spare so we had them take out their workstations and try out Scratch themselves.

Boy did they try it out! It was amazing to see their eyes light up with every new thing they discovered with Scratch and programming in general. I bet though that, to them, they weren’t programming. They were playfully creating and experimenting which is, I believe, how programming should be whether you’re 8 or 80 years old!

I see pair programming and cross-team collaboration here!


The best part about this experience, however, was when it was time for them to have their recess. Before going out to play, every single one of them approached me to say how much they enjoyed it (“Mr. Mark this is the best best best thing ever!!!”) while some didn’t say anything, they just quietly gave me the sweetest of hugs.

It’s hard not to fall in love with these kids. They’ve now cemented a special place in my heart and I can’t wait to see the amazing things that they’ll create with Scratch.

Resources

I highly recommend this experience to anyone who wants to engender a sense of playful creativity, adventure, and experimentation in kids. Should you decide to accept this mission, I have a few resources that you’ll find handy:

  • Creative Computing - A free online guide sponsored by Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. It provides guidance for those who want to teach as well as a free high-quality downloadable workbook for kids!

  • FedEx Online Printing Services - Starting at $14.00 you can have the Creative Computing workbook printed at your local FedEx shop!

  • Super Scratch Programming Adventure - Highly recommended for kids 8 years and above. From the publisher: A colorful, comic book-style guide to making fun games with Scratch, complete with easy-to-follow directions.

  • Scratch Programming Playground - Great for kids 10 years and older. From the publisher: An exciting introduction to coding where readers make versions of games they already love to play. Contains review questions and extra coding challenges in every chapter.

  • Learn to Program with Scratch - The next step for your 10-year-old’s adventure! From the publisher: Teaches fundamental computer science concepts using Scratch. Packed with detailed explanations, exercises, and illustrations.

  • Google CS First - A free program that increases student access and exposure to computer science (CS) education through after-school, in-school, and summer programs. All clubs are run by teachers and/or community volunteers.