We teachers are already teaching coding and programming, even in Foundation Stage across Northern Ireland. By teaching simple instructions (algorithms in programming terminology) to new P1s in September, we are setting foundations for children in developing knowledge of instructions, how to follow them and perhaps construct their own instructions further down their journey through primary school. Problem solving skills have been a focus on many a SDP and Numeracy Action Plan over the past 5 years. This process begins even in the Foundation Stage, another key skill that can be developed through coding and programming apps on the iPad.
The apps above (Scratch Jr, Lightbot and Daisy the Dinosaur) are perfect to introduce coding and programming to children, even as young as P1 and P2. You may have heard the term recently coined as ‘Digital Natives.’ This applies to children born within the last 5 years. With the introduction of a number of mobile devices in the home in the same period, young children are learning the skills of using a mobile device from a young age.
If you as a teacher are unsure of how to introduce coding and programming to your Foundation Stage class, be assured that your pupils may already possess the skills to access these apps already. Another thought that you may have is, ‘These apps are great, but why should I use them? Do they develop any skills or link to the curriculum?’
The answer is yes. The following are extracts from the Northern Ireland Primary Curriculum, relating to the core areas of Literacy and Numeracy:
As you can see from the screenshot above from the app Daisy the Dino, a simple set of instructions have been created. The instructions have programmed the dinosaur to move forward 3 times, turn around, jump, and move forward once. You can see that this encompasses some of the statutory requirements I mentioned above.
I’m not suggesting that as a teacher you stop using your effective strategies for teaching the above requirements. Using these apps is just another way, or another strategy you could employ in the classroom. It could possibly engage a reluctant learner along the way, or, it could appeal to child with a visual or kinaesthetic learning style.
I hope that this helps you if you are thinking about using coding and programming apps in the Foundation classroom.