Hopscotch is a free app created specifically for the iPad that introduces students to programming using a visual touch interface and drag-n-drop code blocks. With bright colors, friendly characters and a library of different functions and programming statements, Hopscotch is an excellent way to introduce the logical concepts of programming to learners.
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A Quick Look
In this video, educator Paul Hamilton steps through the simple creation of a program in Hopscotch and discusses some of the magical moments that occur when kids learn to code.
1. Start unplugged
Before launching into code with your students, try some offline or unplugged programming lessons first. This will give them a better understanding of the mindset that is required to program, as well as help them see real world applications for coding. This offline lesson from code.org called My Robotic Friends is a perfect starter, requiring only paper, pens and a few plastic cups.
2. Make some digital art
It’s important for student motivation to see signs of progress early on in the coding process. One of the simplest ways to help students see results early is to have them create simple drawings using their Hopscotch character. Take a look at this example video where Hopscotch is being used to draw shapes.
3. Make mathematical concepts meaningful
Math can often be quite an abstract subject to teach students. Programming can help visualize a lot of mathematical concepts as well as provide a practical use for Math theory learned in class. Try using Hopscotch to teach negative numbers, decimals or x/y coordinates on a plane. Once students are comfortable with these basic concepts, they will begin applying Math in all sorts of practical ways to develop their own programs.
4. Creating a game
Building a game can be an extremely complex task, requiring teams of engineers, designers and programmers. Make sure when embarking on game making with your class that you set realistic expectations with students. They won’t build Minecraft on their first go, but try and set small achievable game mechanic tasks such as animation, scoring and probability that students can build on as they progress.
5. Pair programming
Pair programming is a popular software development technique where two programmers work from the same machine. This can be an a very useful solution for classrooms who are not 1:1 or who have only a few iPads between the whole class. Have your students team up on an iPad using Hopscotch. It can be a great way for students to share knowledge and help each other as well as provide an opportunity for real collaboration.
Links and Next Steps
- Hopscotch Transition Guide and Curricula – Resources for teachers
- Hopscotch: Hour Of Code Screencast – Video (25 min)
- Preparing for STEM Lessons on Coding with Hopscotch for iPad
- 5th Graders Build Games with the Hopscotch App – Some examples
- 7 Year-old Computer Programmers– Hopscotch and coding tips
- Dr. Em gives her advice for kids making games – Video (3 min)
- Hopscotch in the Maths Classroom – Math applications
- Getting Started with Programming using Hopscotch
- Computer Science Unplugged Classroom Resources
- My Robotic Friends – Great ‘unplugged’ coding lesson activity
- eBook of challenges for students using Hopscotch