If you have been with me for a minute, you know how passionate I am about integrating the ideas of computer science and coding into anything and everything possible. If you find an activity that blends creativity and technology, I’ll be all over it! That’s why I love the idea of Hour of Code! It’s able to be done year-round, but the main focus is during Computer Science Education Week.
What is Hour of Code™?
The ‘Hour of Code™’ is a nationwide initiative by Computer Science Education Week and Code.org to introduce millions of students to one hour of computer science and computer programming. Hour of Code™ can be as easy as clicking on their How To Get Started link, picking an activity, and going through their prescribed steps to plan out your experience. The educators and experts behind Code.org have a lot of choices for you (the list can get overwhelming!), but there are even more out there! Instead of you searching for them on your own, we have created an Hour of Code Roundup for you! Keep reading to find some great ideas for an hour of coding, computer science, STEAM, or “Unplugged” fun!
Coding Activities for Hour of Code
Code.org As the originators of the Hour of Code idea, it’s only fair that we look at some of Code.org’s ideas and lessons! In 2023, they add AI components to some of their most popular coding adventures.
First up is Dance Party, AI edition. This is one of my favorite beginner options when the class is checking out coding. Use block coding to teach your cat or sloth to dance, groove, and clap to all sorts of songs while celebrating computer science the whole time!
Minecraft has been popular for a while, and it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon! They’ve got a bunch of Minecraft-themed activities like this year’s Generation AI. Venture through time to create your AI-powered inventions in the new Minecraft Hour of Code: Generation AI. I love that you can either choose the beginner-friendly block coding or more advance Python options.
Check out Hello, World where kids will learn the basics of computer science by programming in Sprite Lab. You will create and animate sprites, and make your own interactive scenes. There are a space theme, soccer theme, food theme, and more!
NASA’s Space Jam gets kids learning about distant planets and making their own melodies inspired by data from space. By the end you’ll be able to create your own musical solar system, complete with banging drums and spacey melodies. You can even use data from real planets and remix their song however you choose.
Here are some of my favorites from past years…
AI for Oceans is one of my favorite releases from Code.org and it is PHENOMENAL! Help your little one learn about Artificial Intelligence, preserving our oceans, and computer science in a fun and engaging way!
More Apps and Programs for Hour of Code
Beyond the options in the post linked above, here are a few more apps to take a look at!
Codeable Crafts is a great app for combining creativity and computer science. Geared towards younger ones, this app helps learners create animated stories through blocks of code.
Code for Life is an online program based on logic and puzzles. Learners have to solve the problem or complete the challenge before moving on to harder tasks – ensuring understanding before they keep going!
Code Monkey would be a perfect fit for that learner who has a little bit of coding knowledge, but is driven to learn more. This site uses text-based coding, not just blocks, which can help learners transfer to coding languages much more easily.
You can see my list of 10 more awesome Coding Apps for Kids here, too.
Unplugged Coding For Kids Activities for Hour of Code
As important as it is to learn about Computer Science and Coding, I don’t think it all has to be done on a device! Check out some fun ways to celebrate Hour of Code without a screen!
If-Then Coding Game is a modern take on Simon Says where kids play computers and one programmer gives them their instructions. Click over to learn all about the coding language we included.
You can even grab a printable set of the rules for the If-Then Coding Game. Simply fill out the form below and you’ll be ready for sub plans, scouts, after school fun and more.
FREE! PRINTABLE IF-THEN
CODING GAME RULES
Human-Robot Activity is as fun as it sounds! The lesson plan gives you a great step-by-step process to follow, but be sure you leave time for laughter – there will be plenty of it!
In December, the hottest post on Left Brain Craft Brain is Candy Cane Coding! Kids love crafting their name with binary into fun candy canes.
Code Your Name Bracelet would be such a FUN way to talk about binary code with my daughter! She would love the fact that she gets to wear the product of her efforts!
Variable Drawing is a great way to introduce an important concept to both coding and math to the kids. Plus this activity inspires their creativity with printable thought starters.
fuzzFamily Frenzy looks like SUCH a fun game! I think I know what we will be doing the next nice day we get! Part obstacle course, part puzzle, all learning? Yes, please!
Color by Coding is a quick way to add the basics of binary to their next coloring session. Kids will have fun deciphering the color codes with ASCII and then coloring this astronaut and moon scene.
To have this fun printable activity emailed to you, simply fill out the form below.
FREE! ASTRONAUT COLOR
BY CODING PRINTABLE
Computer Science Activities for Hour of Code
Not all Hour of Code activities have to be coding-based! Here are some other ideas for activities that involve celebrating computer science, but maybe not through code! Please note, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This is at no cost to you.
Makey Makey is a line of products that will bring out the inventor in anyone! Use sensors, circuits, and everyday objects to create anything your little learner can imagine! We love building pianos out of bananas and more!
Snap Circuits are kind of like this generation’s Tinker Toys or K’Nex. Learners can snap together blocks of circuitry to solve problems and build exciting new projects! They have been a favorite in our house for years because of their ease of use. Newer kits add some programmable elements, too.
Kano kits are a wonderful all-in-one set! With easy-to-follow color-coded instructions, your little learner will feel like a computer wiz “making” their first computer!
Check out these other Technology Projects for Kids, too!
STEAM Activities for Hour of Code
What would Hour of Code be if we didn’t do something artistic? Boring. The answer is boring. Here are some easy ways to make coding and computer science come alive with creativity!
Ozobots are wonderful little robots that your little learner will adore! The Evo is the more advanced of the two – with more features like sounds, colors, and sensors. Follow different colored lines, use colors to code different movements, or decorate your little bot any way you (and your little one) like! It’s one of my favorite easy ways to add art to coding.
If you’re looking for something perfect for home, Osmo is a series of tablet enabled activities and add-ons filled with STEAM. The Osmo Masterpiece app is a tracing activity on the loosest sense of the word. Learners will find their visual-spatial skills tested while drawing anything from the library of available options to a picture the learner takes with the camera of the device. Osmo Super Studio helps favorite stories come to life with your little one’s specific creative touch! There are four different options to choose from, but each one comes with a special pad where budding artists can decorate parts of the story and watch their animations come to life!
No matter how you choose to celebrate Hour of Code, you will be helping your little learner develop a deeper understanding of computer science and computational thinking. We may not know what coding languages will be around in 10 or 15 years, but we do know that a computational thinking approach will help our kiddos be ready for anything their careers might throw at them. How will you be celebrating Hour of Code??