Five Ways to Teach Coding Without Technology

Coding and computational thinking are increasingly becoming part of our children’s education. For adults, though, coding may still be a mystifying skill. A recent article describes five ways to teach coding without using a screen or technology. Whether you are a parent or teacher, comfortable with programming or not, you can use these approaches to help your child develop coding and computational thinking skills.

  1. Real-Life Routines: Any process that has repeated steps can be thought of as a program. Whether it’s getting breakfast on the table or getting ready for bed, you can help your child break down the steps of the process. Once that’s done, you can work with your child to look at the steps and think about ways to make the order quicker or more efficient.
  2. Cooking: Every recipe is like a computer program, providing a set of inputs, process steps, and actions to reach the desired goal. Even if your child isn’t old enough to handle a kitchen knife, you can have the “program” you to do the steps they aren’t old enough to handle yet. Should the final product not be quite right, you can work with your child to “debug” what went wrong with the recipe.
  3. Simon Says: Simon Says is a simple game that encourages programmatic thinking. If there is no “Simon says…” at the start, the instruction is invalid. Valid instructions need to be clear. This can be a gentle introduction for younger children.
  4. Tangible Programming Toys: Toys that incorporate, like the Montessori-inspired Cubetto or Lego MindStorms, can engage children through exploration of what programming does by letting them create and modify their own programs. While many such toys are expensive, if you have a Minecraft fanatic in your house, there are many free and low-cost tools to let them explore coding within the Minecraft world.
  5. Treasure Hunt: Building and executing a treasure hunt can provide a fun way to have your child create their own program of instructions. Whether it is putting together a handmade paper puzzle to get the next clue or having a gatekeeper who can give the next clue once a task has been completed, a treasure hunt can give your child the joy of watching their program be executed in real time.

Check out the original article for more ideas on how to incorporate coding and computational thinking into your child’s day.

Photo © 2014 by Jeff Jackowski under Creative Commons license

National PTA School of Excellence Sign-Ups Open Now

Show your community that something important is happening at your school—a new kind of welcoming process that extends beyond the building and into the homes of families who now feel prepared to help support their child’s success.

Become a National PTA School of Excellence! This recognition program supports and celebrates partnerships between PTAs and schools to enrich the educational experience and overall well-being of all students. Enroll at between now and October 1.

What does it take to be recognized as a National PTA School of Excellence?

By enrolling in this program, your PTA and school administrators are making a year-long commitment in identifying and implementing an action plan for school improvement based on PTA’s National Standards for Family-School Partnerships. Schools that exhibit improvement are honored as National PTA Schools of Excellence, a distinction that spans two years.

As a National PTA School of Excellence, your PTA and school will gain local, national and statewide recognition. On top of that, your PTA will be eligible to earn the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Award. This is National PTA’s highest honor recognizing effective family engagement strategies and includes a $2,000 grant.

Enroll Today!

Visit or call (800) 307-4782 for assistance.

New Resources from National PTA

One of the advantages of being a PTA is having both a state and a national organization to help provide resources and tools to make your job as a PTA leader easier. National PTA has recently released two new resources to help you recruit new membersand to show your appreciation to teachers.

New Membership Resources

Membership is at the heart of PTA. Members allow us to do great things for children in our schools and make our voice more powerful when we speak to legislators. To help PTAs recruit and retain members, National PTA has created three new flyers(scroll down and expand links at the bottom of the page). The flyers are targeted at three different audiences:

  • General Audience (for policymakers, advocates, and outside organizations)
  • Families and Educators (for families, caregivers, and community members who share the mission of helping every child succeed)
  • Parent and School Leaders (for local parent and school leaders such as teachers and administrators)

The flyers are available as fillable PDFs in both color and black and white and in both Spanish and English. All of the flyers have a fillable graphic box for your PTA logoand text box for contact information on the front. The families and educators flyer also has a customizable membership form on the back.

Teacher Appreciation Week Resources

Teacher Appreciation Week is coming up May 7-11, and National PTA has new resources to recognize those VITs (Very Important Teachers)at your school. Teachers do so much for our children every day, and the effect they have on children’s lives lasts for decades. Almost every adult can immediately name a teacher who made a difference in their life.

National PTA has created several resources to help PTAs show their appreciation for all that teachers do with a collection of editable resources, including:

Use the #ThankATeacher hashtag to promote what your PTA is doing for Teacher Appreciation Week, and keep an eye on National PTA’s One Voice blogand PTAOurChildren.orgfor other ways to celebrate your school’s teachers.

Advance Illinois Launches Equity Dashboard

The new Evidence-Based Funding (EBF) model for school fundingin Illinois has had the first $350 million payment delivered earlier this month. This new funding begins the process of improving Illinois’s worst-in-the-nation funding equityby targeting the largest increases in state funding to the districts furthest from an adequate level of funding based on the EBF formula. Illinois still has a long way to go until every school district is adequately funded, but this payment represents an important first step on that journey.

To help families and communities understand what the new EBF model means in terms of money for their local school district, Advance Illinois has created an Equity Dashboard. The interactive dashboard allows you to see an overview of state funding levels, a comparison of school districts across the state, compare student demographics, and lookup your local school district to see its current level of funding and how the new funding will affect the district.

Photo © 2003 by Jacob Edwardunder Creative Commons license.