Today I took a look at the CodeWise card game from Prowise, a deck of cards that can be used to teach early elementary students the basics of coding.   I was introduced to it by Pauline Maas, the author of the game as well as several books on coding and programming.

CodeWise is basically a series of cards that have simple visual instructions on them.   No words at all, so there aren’t any language barriers (catch that ELL teachers?).  A group of students selects cards from the deck and arranges them linearly.   Then a different student comes in and plays ‘the robot,’ who has to follow those instructions to the letter.   Some of the cards have choices, like put on a prop, and others have commands that will vary situationally, like If -> Then statements.   Most of the cards have some empty white space that can be filled in using dry erase markers.   That way a ‘move forward’ card can become ‘move 5 steps forward’.   There are even completely blank cards so the students can come up with their own ideas from scratch.

It’s such a simple concept, but there’s so many things I love about it.   I like that it gets the kids MOVING.   And not just in a ‘I’m standing while programming my Sphero’ kind of way, but in a kinesthetic way.   The kids are interacting with their programs and physically acting them out.   For kids who are just getting started with programming, I think it would be a fun way to get their feet wet and a great introductory activity for students to lead into more complex schemas.

If you’re interested in ordering them you can reach out to Chris Pociask at ELB Global and he can hook you up!   In the meantime though, if you like the idea you can always make your own.   Or you can try your hand at the digital version of it that Prowise has in their Presenter tool (you can see a demo of this in the video below).  I think it’s a fantastic lead in to traditional block programming (if you want a slew of examples of block programming, check out this fantastic post by Alfred Thompson).

Do you have any physical coding activities that you’re a fan of?  I’d love to see more examples of ways to get kids out of their seats while learning about programming.