Lesson 1: Happy Maps


At the root of all computer science is something called an algorithm. The word “algorithm” may sound like something complicated, but really it’s just a list of instructions that someone can follow to achieve a result. To provide a solid base for the rest of your students’ computer science education, we’re going to focus on building a secure relationship with algorithms.


Getting Started (15 min)

Happy Maps


Wrap Up

Extended Learning

Anchor Standard

CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards

  • CPP.L1:3-04 - Construct a set of statements to be acted out to accomplish a simple task (e.g., turtle instructions).


Students will be able to:

  • Arrange directions to reach predetermined goal
  • List steps to move character around a map
  • Predict where character will land, given a list of steps



For the Teacher


  • Algorithm - A precise sequence of instructions for processes that can be executed by a computer


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Teaching Guide

Getting Started (15 min)


This lesson has one new and important word:


Algorithm - Say it with me: Al-go-ri-thm
A list of steps that you can follow to finish a task


  • Ask your students for directions to the chalkboard.
    • If they start shouting simultaneously, explain that you can only hear one instruction at a time. Call on students individually if that helps.
  • When you reach the board, ask for instructions to draw a smiley face.
    • Again, request one step at a time.
  • Explain that many tasks can be described using a specific list of instructions. That list is called an algorithm.
  • Challenge your students to work together in small groups to come up with algorithms for their single-step and double-step mazes.

Teaching Tip

Students can work in pairs to create the adventures, then work in pairs to solve the adventures of others. If this feels too chaotic you can work together as a class and create the adventure on a document camera, then work together to solve it.

Happy Maps

Single-Step Adventure


  • This worksheet helps teach students how to think ahead in order to plan a short route from the Flurb’s start location to the final location, just one square away.
  • Print out an activity packet for every group (ideally 2 to 4 students) and cut the Maps apart. Leave the arrow symbols for the students to cut apart.
  • Explain the rules to the class, making sure to emphasise the new word "algorithm."

Flurbs are happy, fuzzy little things.

Flurbs love to eat fruit. Fruit is hard to find in Flurb Town. Use the maps to help the Flurb find some fruit.

Work with your group to decide which direction the Flurb needs to step to get to the fruit.

Directions for Class:

1) Cut out an arrow for each member of your team.

2) Start with Map 1 to help the Flurb look for fruit.

Which way should the Flurb step to get to the fruit?

3) Have each member of your group put an arrow next to the map to vote for which way the Flurb should step.

4) If not all arrows are pointing the same way, talk to each other and decide as a group which way the arrow should point.

5) When your whole group agrees on a direction, your team can share your answer with the teacher.

6) If your answer is correct, move on to the next map.


Move the Flurbs

  • Hand out the worksheet titled "Move the Flurbs" and allow students to complete the activity independently after the instructions have been well explained.

Wrap Up

Flash Chat: What did we learn?

  • Did you feel like you were actually telling the Flurb what to do?
  • What would it be like to control a robot that way?
  • What would you create if it were that easy to tell a computer what to do?

Lesson Tip

Flash Chat questions are intended to spark big-picture thinking about how the lesson relates to the greater world and the students' greater future. Use your knowledge of your classroom to decide if you want to discuss these as a class, in groups, or with an elbow partner.

Vocab Shmocab

  • Which one of these definitions did we learn a word for today?

"Breaking something into exactly two pieces"
"A list of steps that you can follow to finish a task"
"The plastic coating on the end of a shoelace"

...and what is the word that we learned?

Extended Learning

Use these activities to enhance student learning. They can be used as outside of class activities or other enrichment.

Create Your Own

  • Allow the students to guide you toward solving a problem (that you provide) one step at a time. Point out that every time they make a step, the rest of the adventure gets easier. If the students are still excited by the exercise, give them a more complicated configuration to solve.

Flurb Flash

  • Cycle quickly through single-step puzzles on your projector. Have the students hold up an arrow card or simply point in the direction that they think the Flurb should move.
  • Levels
  • 1
  • 2
  • (click tabs to see student view)
View on Code Studio

Student Instructions

View on Code Studio

Student Instructions

Standards Alignment

View full course alignment

CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards

CPP - Computing Practice & Programming
  • CPP.L1:3-04 - Construct a set of statements to be acted out to accomplish a simple task (e.g., turtle instructions).
CT - Computational Thinking
  • CT.L1:6-01 - Understand and use the basic steps in algorithmic problem-solving (e.g., problem statement and exploration, examination of sample instances, design, implementation and testing).
  • CT.L1:6-02 - Develop a simple understanding of an algorithm (e.g., search, sequence of events or sorting) using computer-free exercises.
  • CT.L2:3 - Define an algorithm as a sequence of instructions that can be processed by a computer.
  • CT.L2:6 - Describe and analyze a sequence of instructions being followed (e.g., describe a character's behavior in a video game as driven by rules and algorithms).

ISTE Standards for Students

1 - Creativity and Innovation
  • 1.c - Use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues.
2 - Communication and Collaboration
  • 2.d - Contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems.
6 - Technology Operations and Concepts
  • 6.a - Understand and use technology systems.

Common Core English Language Arts Standards

L - Language
  • 2.L.6 - Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using adjectives and adverbs to describe (e.g., When other kids are happy that makes me happy).
  • K.L.6 - Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts.
SL - Speaking & Listening
  • 1.SL.1 - Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
  • 1.SL.2 - Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
  • 1.SL.5 - Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
  • 2.SL.1 - Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
  • 2.SL.2 - Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
  • 2.SL.5 - Create audio recordings of stories or poems; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
  • K.SL.1 - Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
  • K.SL.2 - Confirm understanding of a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media by asking and answering questions about key details and requesting clarification if something is not understood.
  • K.SL.5 - Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.
  • K.SL.6 - Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.

Common Core Math Standards

G - Geometry
  • K.G.1 - Describe objects in the environment using names of shapes, and describe the relative positions of these objects using terms such as above, below, beside, in front of, behind, and next to.
MP - Math Practices
  • MP.1 - Mathematically proficient students start by explaining to themselves the meaning of a problem and looking for entry points to its solution. They analyze givens, constraints, relationships, and goals. They make conjectures about the form and meaning of the solution and plan a solution pathway rather than simply jumping into a solution attempt. They consider analogous problems, and try special cases and simpler forms of the original problem in order to gain insight into its solution. They monitor and evaluate their progress and change course if necessary. Older students might, depending on the context of the problem, transform algebraic expressions or change the viewing window on their graphing calculator to get the information they need. Mathematically proficient students can explain correspondences between equations, verbal descriptions, tables, and graphs or draw diagrams of important features and relationships, graph data, and search for regularity or trends. Younger students might rely on using concrete objects or pictures to help conceptualize and solve a problem. Mathematically proficient students check their answers to problems using a different method, and they continually ask themselves, "Does this make sense?" They can understand the approaches of others to solving complex problems and identify correspondences between different approaches.
  • MP.2 - Mathematically proficient students make sense of quantities and their relationships in problem situations. They bring two complementary abilities to bear on problems involving quantitative relationships: the ability to decontextualize—to abstract a given situation and represent it symbolically and manipulate the representing symbols as if they have a life of their own, without necessarily attending to their referents—and the ability to contextualize, to pause as needed during the manipulation process in order to probe into the referents for the symbols involved. Quantitative reasoning entails habits of creating a coherent representation of the problem at hand; considering the units involved; attending to the meaning of quantities, not just how to compute them; and knowing and flexibly using different properties of operations and objects.
  • MP.6 - Mathematically proficient students try to communicate precisely to others. They try to use clear definitions in discussion with others and in their own reasoning. They state the meaning of the symbols they choose, including using the equal sign consistently and appropriately. They are careful about specifying units of measure, and labeling axes to clarify the correspondence with quantities in a problem. They calculate accurately and efficiently, express numerical answers with a degree of precision appropriate for the problem context. In the elementary grades, students give carefully formulated explanations to each other. By the time they reach high school they have learned to examine claims and make explicit use of definitions.
  • MP.7 - Mathematically proficient students look closely to discern a pattern or structure. Young students, for example, might notice that three and seven more is the same amount as seven and three more, or they may sort a collection of shapes according to how many sides the shapes have. Later, students will see 7 × 8 equals the well remembered 7 × 5 + 7 × 3, in preparation for learning about the distributive property. In the expression x2 + 9x + 14, older students can see the 14 as 2 × 7 and the 9 as 2 + 7. They recognize the significance of an existing line in a geometric figure and can use the strategy of drawing an auxiliary line for solving problems. They also can step back for an overview and shift perspective. They can see complicated things, such as some algebraic expressions, as single objects or as being composed of several objects. For example, they can see 5 - 3(x - y)2 as 5 minus a positive number times a square and use that to realize that its value cannot be more than 5 for any real numbers x and y.
  • MP.8 - Mathematically proficient students notice if calculations are repeated, and look both for general methods and for shortcuts. Upper elementary students might notice when dividing 25 by 11 that they are repeating the same calculations over and over again, and conclude they have a repeating decimal. By paying attention to the calculation of slope as they repeatedly check whether points are on the line through (1, 2) with slope 3, middle school students might abstract the equation (y - 2)/(x - 1) = 3. Noticing the regularity in the way terms cancel when expanding (x - 1)(x + 1), (x - 1)(x2 + x + 1), and (x - 1)(x3 + x2 + x + 1) might lead them to the general formula for the sum of a geometric series. As they work to solve a problem, mathematically proficient students maintain oversight of the process, while attending to the details. They continually evaluate the reasonableness of their intermediate results.