October half term coding workshops

Over the summer we delivered many coding clubs and workshops at some of the libraries in North Somerset. After a short break, we are pleased to be able to offer a couple of workshops in the forthcoming October half term.

Coding in Minecraft

The Coding in Minecraft workshop will be held at Portishead library on Tuesday 25th October 2022.

This workshop will start your child on their coding journey. We will be introducing your child to coding using one of the most popular gaming platforms for young people. It enables children to be creative, learn problem solving skills and learn to code while playing in a safe environment.

This is not a course to teach how to play Minecraft but rather how to modify a Minecraft world with code, create small games and interact with one another. Along the way, children also develop problem solving skills by solving coding puzzles.

The workshop is suitable for beginners and all coding abilities. More information and how to book.

Game Pixel Design

The Game Pixel Design workshop will be held at Yatton Library on Thursday 27th October 2022.

If your child loves playing computer games, why not let them create them too! This course will show the children how to design and make a game. They will draw their own characters and create a story for their game.

Everyone is welcome. Older students (Year 6, 7 and 8’s) will create a more complex game which they will be able to publish.

For more information and how to book.

Minecraft continues to inspire children

Coding in Minecraft

Minecraft has been a part of growing up fro many children – my daughter included. The game has also evolved into an educational resource – with many subjects now taught – at least in part – through the platform.

Learning computer science within Minecraft has been available for quite some time using the RaspberryPi and the Python language. However, in 2017 Microsoft released a set of programming tools accessible for students and educators via is Minecraft Education Edition.

At Codingbug, we have been using Minecraft to learn to code. Children who are familiar with Scratch will find coding in Minecraft a familiar welcoming environment.

During the 2021/22 academic year, our Minecraft coders learnt how to modify a Minecraft World, created mini-games, and automated builds with code. Yes, in Minecraft it is easier to create a wall with code than it is to ‘mine’ it and build!

Coding in a 3D game is harder than coding a 2D game, but the children rise to the challenge and nothing seems daunting or complicated when you can play and interact with it afterwards. Furthermore, the children love being able to see their friends’ avatars and collaborate with one another.

Our next Coding in Minecraft course for primary school children returns this October half term (2022) and we look forward to having more hours of fun building with code.

Learn to code at libraries

Over the first six months of this year we partnered with North Somerset Libraries to deliver a series of ‘in person’ coding clubs and workshops for young people. The programme was over-subscribed, attracting many children from different parts of the district. This was heartening given the disruption caused by the pandemic.

Attendance didn’t drop off through the course programme so I need to give a big thank you to all the parents and carers who ferried their children to the library venues – and the young people themselves, for their enthusiasm and commitment.

Thank you to those who have shared their feedback so far.

Here’s a quick visual summary of the programme!

Make a Chatbot in Python (Feb 2022 )

Children coding a chatbot in Python

A 3-hour workshop where the students created their first chatbot in Python. This workshop took place at Yatton library.

Introduction to Wearable Technology (Feb 2022)

Children learning basics of electronics

A 3-hour workshop where the children learnt the principles of Wearable Technology and made a badge that lit up. This workshop took place in the library at The Campus in Worle.

Web Design (March 2022)

Children building a website.

The children learnt to code in HTML and CSS and made a website about an imaginary pet. This coding club was delivered over 6 weeks at the Healthy Living Centre in Weston-super-Mare.

Create fun Apps with JavaScript (March 2022)

Children coding Apps in JavaScript.

A 6-week coding club on how to make interactive Apps. This course took place at Nailsea Library on Saturday mornings.

Physical computing with the micro:bit (March 2022)

Children coding with the micro:bit

Coding with the micro:bit was a coding club delivered on Saturday mornings at Yatton library – again, over 6 weeks. The pedometer was a real hit!

Make a Minecraft game in Scratch (April 2022)

Children coding a Minecraft game in Scratch.

A 3-hour workshop where the children learnt how to make a Minecraft game in Scratch. This workshop took place at Weston library.

Paper circuits (April 2022)

Children building a paper circuit.

A 3-hour workshop where the children learnt basic electronics concepts and made an electronic circuit for a greeting card. This workshop took place at the Healthy Living Centre in Weston-super-Mare.

Learn to code in Scratch (May 2022)

Children coding in Scratch.

An introduction to the Scratch programming language. This course took place over 6 weeks and by the end of the course the children had created a game which they could interact with. The course took place at The Campus in Worle.

Learn to code in Python (May 2022)

Students learning to code in Python

Learn to code in Python was another 6 week course for late primary and secondary school students. This course was delivered at Weston library. A big clap to those teens who got up early on those Saturday mornings… and remained wide awake during the lessons πŸ™‚

Introduction to the RaspberryPi Pico (June 2022)

Making a traffic light system with the RaspberryPi Pico.

Physical computing with the RaspberryPi Pico. This was a 3-hour workshop where the children learnt to code a traffic light system. This workshop was delivered at Nailsea Library.

What parent’s said about our courses:

He loved it. Thank you so much for the opportunity. It’s definitely sparked a passion.

He absolutely loved it. He created a blushing cactus. He was really proud of what he created. Thank you so much.

She really liked it and enjoyed attending the course very much. She has been using the things she has learned at home.

My son really enjoyed coding club, and learnt a lot from it. He continued to practice what he had learnt at home. Now his younger brother is keen to learn!

He really enjoyed the sessions and was keen to show us the apps he’d created. He had previously only done a little coding in Scratch so learnt a lot. He liked being creative with coding, making apps that reflected his interests and sense of humour. Thank you for these sessions.

She was keen to go each week, a sure sign of the fact she was engaged! She has an interest in coding from doing Scratch at school and was pleased to show us what she had learned.

Both of my girls really enjoyed themselves. They were proud to show me what they had made when they got home and both said they would love to do another workshop one day. Thank you!

He is happy with it. He is into coding and Phyton is one of the hard things to learn. He learned so much from these lessons.

Scratch continues to inspire children

Scratch is a high level block-based visual programming language, which has inspired children around the world to code. As Scratch turns 15 in May 2022, we want to extend a virtual ‘thank you’ to MIT for providing us with such a fantastic coding tool and wonderful Scratch community.

Unlike other block programming platforms, Scratch is easy to use for a 7 year old, yet it has the complexity to keep a 15 year old engaged for hours. We have taught scores of children in North Somerset, some of whom have now chosen to take GCSE and A level computer science. I know that Scratch has played a key role in their respective journeys.

As with any coding environment, knowing some of the principles of computer programming will help young people to get the most of the application. We help them along the way through our coding clubs and other activities, and would encourage every parent out there to give their children an opportunity to code.

Coding helps children problem solve, develop their computational thinking, and vital digital skills.

This term we’re running a Code in Scratch online course suitable for children in Years 3 – 6.

Learn to Code Programme

We are delighted to be working with North Somerset Libraries to deliver a Learn to Code programme for children aged 8+ across five libraries in the district.

Make a Chatbot in Python workshop

Learning Python
Children coding in Python

The first of our workshops took place during the February half-term where the children learned to program their first chatbot in Python. The room was busy and it was heartening see see so many young teenagers rising early and giving up a whole morning to learn to code. I was also pleased to see younger members of the group weren’t daunted by the Python code editor!

One Year 9 student proudly shared with me that she has chosen to do Computer Science GCSE because she had loved coming to our coding club at Backwell Junior School. I was so chuffed to hear this and of course I wished her every success as she embarks on her CS GCSE.

Introduction to Wearable Technology Workshop

Introduction to Wearable Tech

Our second workshop on Wearable Tech took place at the Campus Library in Worle. We filled every single place. Our session started with an introduction to the world of wearable tech and some demonstrations of wearable tech items. The room got noiser as the children started to make their first electronic circuits. It soon became an electronics playground as the children quickly grasped the basic concepts culminating in them all creating a wearable illuminated badge.

Back to coding in school

This first term of a new year Codingbug is looking forward to going back into North Somerset schools. It will have been almost two years. We’ve been busy delivering online lessons since the first lockdown in March 2020 and know that some children have missed out.

If your son or daughter attends either Yatton Schools or Mary Elton School in North Somerset, you can now register for after school coding lessons starting next week.

I missed not giving out stickers at the end of the term and seeing the children learn how to use a USB stick (if they don’t know already!)… so I couldn’t be happier to be back at school.

We need to equip our children with the skills to navigate the digital world and ‘digital literacy’ is just as important a skill for our children to learn as reading and writing.

It’s never too late to start.

Online coding clubs

Since March 2020 we have been offering learning opportuities online tailored to suit different ages and abilities.

Primary


Our Coding in Scratch courses are suitable for children in Years 3 – 6. Every week, they create new projects carefully designed to help them grasp the key principles of computer programming. Each term, the children are challenged with puzzles that nurture and build their computational thinking skills. Our Scratch courses are ideal for any child starting their coding journey or for the more advanced coder who needs to be challenged a little more.

This acedemic year we’ve added a new course to our offer – Coding in Minecraft – in which the children learn to code inside the Minecraft environment. This course does not teach Minecraft, but rather how to use code to automate builds and make modifications to a Minecraft World and change game play. The children use block programming to achieve this, making it ideal for beginners.

Secondary

Our courses for secondary school students are designed to provide opportunities to learn to program in different coding environments, and to expand their knowledge using Python and JavaScript – two of the most popular computer programming languages. The students develop an understanding of the language as well write lots of code to make games and small applications. They get to collaborate with each other and develop their problem-solving skills. A new Creative Coding course starts in January 2022.

We also offer block programming for secondary school students as part of our Make Arcade Games or Make Web Apps courses. These courses are suitable for students in Years 7 – 9 and designed to help them learn more about the principles of computer programming and how to design and prototype a game or App.

With all our courses our aim to help students develop their coding skills… and have an enjoyable time while learning.

Reflections on online learning

A day after the first lockdown was announced and schools in the UK were temporarily closed, we were prepared enough to pivot quickly to deliver our lessons online. So, 18 months’ on, I wanted to share some reflections on the experience of teaching coding to children online.

The first and most obvious thing to note is that the children were able to continue their coding journey uninterrupted. Moving entirely online has also enabled them to gain exposure to new platforms and accelerated the learning of new digital skills.

As I’ve writen previously, learning to code is like learning to swim; as the children get exposed to and become more confident navigating between different coding environments, they develop problem-solving skills and computational thinking.

Older children now have a very good command of the technology we use for the lessons. They are comfortable giving presentations and showing others how their projects are evolving week by week.

Unfortunately, while some younger children have not been able to join us online, those that have are all doing amazingly well – thanks in part to their parents and carers who in many cases haven’t been far away and able to assist with keyboard and computer skills! I cannot thank them enough.

I’m very proud of our secondary school students who have been coding throughout the pandemic. They have learned Python, Game Design, App Design and JavaScript. They can now write code to a good standard. They have learned programming, how to collaborate and solve problems.

Your children are all doing you proud.

A new term is just around the corner and all our courses are now open for registration.

Web design for kids

During the last term of the academic year we offered the web design course for primary school children in KS2. Most of the children attending were in Year 5 & Year 6 and were already familiar with text based coding.

It was very challenging for the children to get started with HTML & CSS but once they understood the basic syntax, it was relatively easy for them to create their first web page. The theme of the course was to create a website about a pet or ‘virtual pet’. The course focused on teaching the children how to plan and prototype their website, then add the code to make it display on the browser and finally add the CSS to add the design elements.

We don’t use templates or existing code, so it was great to see a variety of websites that were built from scratch. They learned about image formats and file sizes, how to place the elements on a web page and create their own designs by adding CSS code.

A big well done to all the children that participated.

Here are some of the results:

  • Website created by a 9 year  old
  • Wed design for children
  • HTML page design for children
  • My virtual pet by a 10 year old
  • web design for primary school children
  • Wed page created by a 10 year old
  • Website created by a 10 year old
  • Website created by a 9 year old
  • Website created by a 9 year old
  • Website created by a 10 year old
  • Website created by a 10 year old

Check out our Autumn courses

Programming skills for young people

I’ve now been teaching Scratch to children for over 8 years and am very pleased to see some of those children deciding to take Computer Science at GCSE.


For primary school children, I use Scratch, which is a block programming language developed by MIT. They now hosts millions of projects created by children worldwide. It has transformed the way we teach computing to children.

Children gradually journey from learning to use the keyboard to creating games and animations with Scratch. It doesn’t happen overnight; it is like learning to swim. It takes perseverance, patience and practice.

A few lessons in Scratch at school or one ICT lesson every fortnight is in my view not enough if we want to nurture the next generation computer scientists. Likewise, one term of coding club is not enough to gain the digital skills that children need to navigate the digital world.

We also need parents fully engaged so they can help and encourage their boys and girls to take up coding. Being able to use a smart device or a play console is something that most children are used to doing (as ‘consumers’), but we need to teach them how smart devices and computers work.

Codingbug teaches children coding skills using Scratch, JavaScript and the Python programming language. We develop their logical and computational thinking and encourage them to collaborate. We encourage creativity and play and help connecting the missing dots.

We offer online coding clubs to help to deliver just that.