TEC Play and Lesson Plans: T+M in STEM: Coding and Computational Thinking

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Developmentally appropriate practices must guide decisions about whether and when to integrate technology and interactive media into early childhood programs.-the NAEYC/Fred Rogers Center joint position statement on Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs (2012)

Coding and computational thinking can often feel overwhelming to fit into a busy early childhood program and some early childhood educators may be uncomfortable teaching young children to code for a variety of reasons, including not having prior experience with coding. As you’ll see in these hands-on play and lesson plans developed by our TEC Mentors (many of whom were new to coding and robotics) these concepts and experiences can be meaningfully and appropriately integrated into early childhood programs in many different contexts with a variety of early childhood materials and technology tools. Educators can confidently introduce and support coding and computational thinking when they have access to resources supporting their own learning.

TEC Center’s associate director, Tamara Kaldor explains how to introduce these concepts in her blog post, The T In STEM: Creating Play-Based Experiences That Support Children’s Learning Of Coding And Higher Order Thinking, published by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). In this post, Kaldor explains what coding and computation thinking are, which early childhood developmental skills support coding and computational thinking, and ways you are probably already integrating it into your classroom or early childhood program.

NOTE: When you are reading their plans scroll through the whole plan as many educators have added pictures that can be quite useful.

As you read these plans note that many of them use photography and video that include images of children. The TEC Center promotes and believes that children have the right to know how and where their images and voices will be used and the right to refuse sharing their images, voices and work online.

Before you take pictures or video of children remember to:

    • talk to your school leadership first about your plans
    • ask parents/guardians to sign a release form provided by the school or program
    • ask each child for permission and tell children how their images will be used
    • protect a child’s privacy and digital footprint by putting a shape or positive emoji over a child’s face before sharing it on social media platforms to protect a child’s privacy
    • Before sharing images of children with parents and caregivers make sure to review guidelines for protecting their privacy with parents, including reminding parents to
      • ask for permission from your child if you can post an image, video or project online and respect your child’s wishes
      • share with care and post images of only your child online
      • be positive and a good digital citizen by posting only positive comments, photos and videos a child would be proud to show someone later in life-never shame your own child or another child online

Here are 3 coding and computational thinking play or lesson plans developed by our TEC Mentors:

  • How Robots Move: Introduction to Coding, Developed by Meghan Kopfer, Preschool educator
    • Ms. Kopfer introduces the terms “coding”, “code”, and “program” to her preschoolers in this play and lesson plan by harnessing the students’ prior experiences with technology. This lesson plan meets the students where they are at in their learning, allowing the children to apply their background knowledge to new concepts in a developmentally appropriate way.
  • Carpet Time Coding, Developed by Janet Kusinski, Kindergarten educator
    • Introducing coding does not require a screen or any digital technology, as Ms. Kusinski proves in this lesson plan introducing coding to her Kindergarten classroom. Ms. Kusinski introduces coding in a simple way, focusing on foundational skills such as directionality, sequencing, and patterns.
  • Coding and Seeds, Developed by Kristina Navarro, Second Grade educator
    • Ms. Navarro’s second-grade students explore screen-free coding, storytelling, and research and inquiry as they intentionally code for seed dispersal. The complexity of coding and computational thinking play and lesson plans could vary greatly depending on the students’ abilities. Ms. Navarro suggests ways to modify the plan to meet the needs and abilities of all students.

Photo courtesy of Ms. Navarro

Additional related resources:

Find more Early Childhood Tech Integrated Play and Lesson Plans from TEC Mentors here.
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