Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Foos - coding from 5 years old

Hello folks!

I'm really excited to share my latest discovery with you. We've been making a big effort to get the children in our school coding. The classes with children aged 8 onwards are currently using Scratch to code. This is going down a treat! They absolutely love it! The teachers are using the free lesson plans developed by LERO as a guideline. You can log in and download them for free from here. The great thing about these plans is that they give open-ended challenges so children can work on the same concept in their own way.

However, we felt the younger classes weren't quite ready for Scratch just yet. We wanted something a bit easier to introduce the basics first. I went hunting and stumbled upon The Foos (developed by CodeSpark). It was exactly what I wanted for my 7 year olds and it's also suitable for younger children too. It is a fantastic way to work on developing logical sequences and problem-solving (If you're in a PYP school, it perfectly fits the definition of learning through inquiry!).

Here's a quick video intro where you'll see how different blocks can be put together and you can use loop functions and "if" commands.

Before I continue, I'll mention the best part - there is a 147 page curriculum available for free from The Foos website. Each lesson in the curriculum has a particular focus. They recommend which levels of The Foos to play to reinforce this learning and they provide resources to do "unplugged activities." Don't worry if you, as a teacher, don't feel confident about coding. The curriculum guide lays out all the required coding language simply. By working through the lessons yourself, before doing so with the children, you should feel fully confident!

I'm going to introduce The Foos to my class after the Christmas holidays. I am certain that they'll love it. I tried out the lesson plans myself, playing each of the associated levels and I got completely hooked. I even brought the iPad home one weekend to continue doing it! If a teacher can get sucked into it so easily, I'm sure the children are going to love learning in this way! In fact, I'm pretty sure they won't even know they're learning because they'll be too busy having fun. 

In my school, each child has an iPad so we're going to use the free Foos app. It's also available for free in the Google Play Store for those of you who are android users. The Foos is available to use online for those of you with computer rooms. Please note that they recommend using Internet Explorer, Firefox or Opera (I was using Chrome and it's not supported) and you'll need to download the Unity3D browser plugin.

Please comment below if you've been using The Foos and want to share your experiences!

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