Tech & Media
Learn To Code With Kids’ CBC! An Easy Napkin Man Activity
By Caitlin Davey, Kids' CBC, and Kids Code Jeunesse
Photo by Wavebreakmedia/istockphoto
Dec 1, 2015
Code is behind everything kids do on a computer, phone or tablet. It's what makes websites, games and operating systems work. Many experts say that coding is the next literacy—in the future, kids will need to understand code to understand the world around them.
Coding also teaches logic, creativity and communication. It's never too early to teach kids the basics of code—even if you aren't familiar with code yourself! Kids' CBC has partnered with Kids' Code Jeunesse to build a simple Napkin Man learn-to-code activity for kids aged 6+ (visit Kids' CBC 2 for a learn-to-code activity for kids aged 8+). We used a learning tool called Scratch.
Scratch is a visual programming language that makes it easy for kids to learn about code through tinkering. Scratch looks and works like digital Lego blocks; they can be snapped together to create surprisingly complex animations, games and applications.
Developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten research group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media lab, Scratch cultivates creativity as well as logic. It also allows kids and their educators to share their creations with others on the web.
The easiest way for kids to start learning is by exploring, playing with and modifying a short algorithm (computer science lingo for a series of step-by-step instructions.) We’ve built a Scratch activity that features Napkin Man!
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The Adventures Of Napkin Man! Scratch Activity: Step-By-Step Instructions
Prefer paper instructions? Download and print the PDF.
1. Open the Kids' CBC Hour Of Code Classroom in Scratch.
2. Click the green flag and you’ll see a very short simple animation.
3. Click the See Inside tab on the right. This takes you to the Scratch workspace.
4. On the right side of the page, you will see a Scratch algorithm, annotated with post-it notes that describe several ways to tinker with the algorithm.
5. Encourage kids to play with and modify Napkin Man’s scenario however they like.
6. Once kids are ready to move on and learn more, they can access simple beginner tutorials through the Tips tab—accessible at the top of the page, or by clicking the question mark at the top righthand corner of your screen.
7. Here's a more advanced activity: use your mouse to right-click on Napkin Man in Sprites section. Select duplicate to double the fun!
8. You can also add new characters from Scratch’s public library. Click on the button to the right of the text New Sprite. Select a new character and add it to your Napkin Man scene.
Once you've added new characters to the scene, see if you can make them interact with each other. Can they talk to each other? Or move at the same time? Check the Tips tab if you get stuck!
Scratch: Resources For Parents And Educators
Parents and educators who would like to know more about Scratch can follow the Getting Started with Scratch tutorial under the Tips tab in the Scratch workspace or read Getting Started with Scratch, a guide created by MIT.
Educators who would like to teach Scratch in the classroom will find excellent lesson plans at Creative Computing. Learn more about Scratch at Kids Code Jeunesse, a Canadian not-for-profit dedicated to providing every Canadian child with the opportunity to learn to code.
Kids Code Jeunesse is a Canadian not for profit organization dedicated to empowering kids, teachers and parents with the skills we all need to thrive in a technology driven society. Kids Code Jeunesse believes that coding is a basic literacy as important as reading, writing or math. By teaching kids how to code, we teach them how to be better thinkers and better creators in a digital world.