Inspired by the move many students have made to remote and hybrid learning as a result of COVID-19 disruptions this year, the theme for this semester’s event is centered around digital education and interactive learning, primarily for early elementary (kids in grades PreK-2). These young learners are just starting out on their educational journey; many may have started their first school year ever on a computer, outside of the classroom, away from friends and their teacher. That’s a tough way to get used to school. But we believe that our intrepid coders—armed with problem-solving skills, creativity, and coding—can help!
We’re asking our coders to use their smarts and skills to help other kids: how can we make learning fun and engaging for young students? How can we use technology to introduce them to new ideas, help them understand tricky concepts, or to reinforce what they’ve learned so far? Another way to think about it might be: If you could teach your younger self anything, what would it be? And how would you teach it?
We’ve put together a list of some potential subjects and concepts that most early elementary students learn. While this is not intended to be all-inclusive, we hope it provides you with some ideas when selecting the topic you want your project to teach.
- Numbers and counting: Can you help a student learn their numbers and count 1 through 10? Can you add a challenge level to teach them to count up through 20?
- Basic addition and subtraction: Using the numbers 1-10, teach a student how to solve beginner math problems like 2+4, 3+6, 5-3, and 8-4.
- Identifying shapes: Help students recognize and name shapes like a square, circle, triangle, rectangle, cube, cylinder, pyramid, and more.
- Simple word or visual math problems: Use words and images to teach a student a math problem. For example: Brad saw 2 birds. Then he saw 4 more. How many birds did he see in all?
- Recognizing uppercase and lowercase letters: Teach a student the difference between upper and lowercase letters, from “A” and “a” to “Z” and “z”.
- Matching uppercase and lowercase letters: Can you help a student learn how to pair uppercase and lowercase letters like “Aa,” “Bb,” and “Cc”?
- Consonant and vowel letter sounds: Use audio or sound clips to teach students letter sounds, then help them identify pictures that start with that sound. For example: /n/ is the sound of the letter “n” in “net”. Check out this video to hear the correct sound for each letter as it should be taught.
- Beginning reading and spelling: Teach basic consonant-vowel-consonant words such as “cat,” “fed,” “bit,” “hot,” and “cut” using picture matching or letter pairing.
- The five senses: Help students identify each of the five senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell.
- Seasons and weather: Teach students the difference between the four seasons or different types of weather, such as rain, sun, and snow.
- Identifying emotions: Use emojis, sprites, or other icons to teach students how to recognize different emotions and when they might feel those emotions.
- People who work in your neighborhood: Help students identify and learn more about the people who serve their communities like postal workers, firefighters, doctors, and more.
Once you have your project selected and are registered to participate, and then you’re ready to begin working. Here are a few tips from our team on how to create a project that will truly help other kids learn:
- Approachability: When creating your project, it's best to assume that students cannot read independently at all. This will allow for the greatest number of students of different ages and skill levels to interact with your project.
- Use clear visuals: Young kids can easily become overwhelmed by too much to look at, so try to use simple, clear visuals and images that won’t overwhelm the viewer.
- Provide easy-to-follow directions: Make sure directions are simple to understand, limited to a few steps at most, and either read aloud or provided using simple images or words. Remember: most kindergartners are still learning to read!
- Keep rules simple: Offer rules that are easy to follow and not overly complicated.
- Take your time: Learning happens at all paces, so try to slow down games, actions, and timers to make sure kids can keep up.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, good luck and get coding!