Have students demonstrate the vocabulary related to giving directional commands (e.g., up, down, left, right, in, out, above) through activities such as getting them out of their desks to physically turn right, left, etc.
Once directional vocabulary has been demonstrated by the students, the teacher will ask: “Why is it important to understand directions?” (You can follow steps to complete a task. You want to get to a certain location. You want to make cookies using the right ingredients.)
Have students discuss other reasons why following directions is important and frame the discussion around encouraging the students to think of the smaller steps involved in completing daily activities (e.g., tying shoes, getting ready in the morning, etc.).
Give students time to share a few of the directions needed to complete the tasks they discussed.
Individual Activity: Provide each student with a copy of a simple grid maze.
Each student will also need a game piece or other item to be used to physically move around the maze.
Have students use a pencil to write the directions on the maze to illustrate the steps to get from the start of the maze to the finish.
Small Group Activity: Divide students into smaller groups (four students per group) for the next activities.
Once students have finished writing the directions to complete the maze, have students explain and discuss their process of steps to get from the start to the finish of the maze.
Within the group, have students discuss and explain if this were a real maze, how could you guide someone through the maze using these step?
Give each group of students a task card.
The students in the group will work collaboratively to break down the smaller steps involved in completing the task by verbally discussing the smaller steps, or process, to complete the assigned task. (They will be creating an algorithm to complete the task.)
Once each group has finished creating the sequence of smaller steps to complete their task, allow each group of students to share aloud the algorithm the group created to complete the assigned task.
The teacher will ask: “How can breaking up a task into smaller steps help someone else follow the directions to complete the same task?” (Answers may include: to get the same results, complete the same task, teach someone how to do a task)
Whole Group Activity: Introduction to Coding
The teacher will have students discuss: “How do you think computers understand directions?” (A human has to give it directions it understands.)
“Computers use code just like we use directions like up, down, left, right, etc.” (Students will need to understand computers don’t understand the language we speak, but instead, have their own languages called “code.”)
“The activity we completed with the maze is similar to how a computer understands code. We give it directions in its language to tell it how to complete a task.”
“I’m going to give you a more difficult maze, your group will work together to write a code, or directions, for a computer to complete the maze. Be careful not to run into any obstacles!”
Small Group Activity: Divide students back into groups of four.
Give each group a copy of the advanced maze.
The group’s task is to write the code (every group may have a different code to complete the task) for a computer to complete the maze without running into any obstacles.
Once groups have finished writing their code (ten minutes), give each group time to share their code and the process used by the group.
This activity will introduce them into coding concepts and can be used as an introduction to using smaller codable bots in future lessons.