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Unplugged Intro to Coding for Kindies

By Alicia Kim
Pre K-K
English Language Arts,
  • Programming
Tools & Languages

Key Coding Concepts

  • Algorithms
  • Debugging
  • Sequences



A step-by-step set of operations to be performed to help solve a problem



Finding problems or ‘bugs’ in code and solving them



Identifying a series of steps for a task. Computers and Scratch read and perform commands in order from top to bottom

This is a three part lesson plan focusing on the language of location, which is a great way to introduce basic coding concepts. No technology needed!


  • Chart paper, masking tape, an easel and a marker.

Before the lesson...

  • Review Key Coding Concepts and ensure you are confident describing them to your group.
  • Check-out “Peg+ Cat: The Penguin Problem" by Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson. ISBN-13: 978-0763690731 (Youtube Read Out Loud here).
  • Tape a grid onto your carpet using masking tape. Each cell should be big enough that a learner can stand in it. A 5x5 grid should work well. (A solid shower curtain with a grid taped on can be used in this activity, multiple shower curtains can allow learners to be placed in small groups for more time on task for each learner.)
  • Fold two pieces of paper in half. One piece of paper should say "start", while the other paper says "finish" or "end"
  • Place manipulatives on your grid as "barriers". For example, a stuffed animal or a ball- something that can sit in a cell.
  • Watch this YouTube video on how it may all look.

You can choose to break this lesson up into two or three lessons depending on your learners’ needs.


Let learners know you will be reading a story about penguins solving a problem using movement and directions. Talk about what the words movement and direction mean and ask for specific examples of directions (e.g., forward, backwards, side-to-side, left, right). Then, get everyone to stand up and do the motions of the directions the class has discussed. You can even do this as penguins! This is a great way to incorporate daily physical activity during your lesson. Once the kids have settled down, let them sit back on the carpet and repeat some of the motions with just their hands (e.g., move your hands up, move your hands down, move your hands forward) this is to encourage your learners to calm down and get ready for the read aloud.


Read "Peg+Cat: Penguin Problem".

Once finished reading, on a fresh piece of chart paper, write down and draw the words of movement the learners have noticed in the book they just read. Suggest they add any the book has missed. This is your anchor chart so make sure it's clear.

Optional: You can choose to divide this lesson plan up into two. If you think your learners can handle the next part of the lesson, continue on. That said, it's nice to have this as two lessons.

If you split your lesson up, go over your anchor chart, reviewing the words and their definitions. Also consider reviewing the story they read last time.

Get your learners to sit around the grid. Remind them the carpet rules and to respect the grid (no peeling the tape!). Place the "start" card on one end (corner) of the grid and the "end" card at the other end of the grid. Tell the learners to use words from the anchor chart to guide you from the start card to the end card. The kids who are telling you where to go are the programmers and the person on the grid is a gamer.

Try again with a learner as the gamer. The educator will be the programmer. The educator can try writing down the directions on the board or chart paper as the programmer.

The last step is to add barriers like stuffed animals or other learners into the cells. The programmer must use movement words to avoid these barriers. You can decide whether your learners are ready to write down the programming direction in a sequence or if they can only handle saying directions verbally.

Work Session

Assign learners to be the programmer and the gamer. Have them take turns.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this lesson, learners will be able to use language of location to move manipulatives (e.g., objects or people) from one spot to another.

Assessment Ideas

Have learners write down the sequence on a strip of paper. Ask the educator/another learner to try doing the sequence.

You can also ask the learners to say the directions for you to see if they understand the language of location.

You could also assess if your learners understand cardinal numbers (e.g., move three steps forward).

Have little cards with directions on it in arrow form so that learners can lay out the directions instead of drawing them on a piece of paper. You can use "littlecodr cards" if you have them.

In any part of the lesson, add more objects for learners and set up conditions, like "If you are in front of an object, jump 3 times".

Language: Read “How to Code a Sandcastle” by Josh Funk. Create a chart with learner input that lists new coding terminology presented in the read aloud. Discuss how Perl had to break down her problems into steps for the robot. Have learners create their own sequence on paper of how to build a sandcastle. After they are done drawing, have learners explain their sequence to a peer orally and see if the partner can act it out.

Photo by Naomi Shi from Pexels.


Unplugged: Human Coding Grid (Meghan Zigmond)

How to Code a Sandcastle | Read Aloud | Read Along | Kids Books (ReadaRoo Kids)

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