Jude Moir, P7 teacher at Echline Primary School, describes a very successful coding week run by his school just before the summer holidays:
Last session Primary 4/5 and Primary 5 took part in a week-long interdisciplinary project that involved them devising and creating their own computer games.
The children were working in groups of 4 and had to decide on certain roles; Programmer, Head of Advertising, Story Director and Art director. Workshops were given throughout the week to help the children achieve success in their roles.
The children used Scratch to program their games, and were free to create a game in any way they liked. We were fortunate enough to have the expertise of Games Designer Andrew Knight, who was able to guide the children to create exciting games and help with any bugs that crept up throughout the week.
The children were working towards an exhibition of their work at the end of the week where they would have a stall set up with their computer game, and other classes from around the school would visit to try out the exciting games. Advertising was a really strong element of the exhibition and teams had made posters, leaflets and costumes to make their game stand out.
The teams were voted on under the following categories: Best Advertising, Best Game and there was also an Industry award voted for by Andrew Knight and Will Wright who were our visiting games design professionals, as well as Erin Mercer, a recent graduate of the Abertay Computer Design course. The children were also very excited when a photographer from the local newspaper came in to take pictures.
On the exhibition day the children also had the chance to try out Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that allowed them to explore the world of Minecraft.
The week was such a positive experience and on reflection the children identified teamwork, problem solving, ICT skills, literacy and art as the skills that were developed.
From a teacher’s point of view the experience was fantastic. The children were motivated, engaged and hard-working throughout the whole week. They showed resilience and persistence in the face of problems and worked together as teams to overcome any issues. My confidence with computers and Scratch was definitely an advantage, however the children soon overtook me in terms of mastery of the processes involved in creating a game.
If you are planning a similar project, or if it is something you would be interested in, I would recommend spending a bit of time letting the children explore Scratch first (or any other program). This allowed them to develop their confidence before working towards a more extended project.