Lesson 6: MINECRAFT Hour of Code

Overview

In this lesson, learners of all ages get an introductory experience with coding and computer science in a safe, supportive environment. This lesson works well for any students old enough to read (ages 6+). Younger learners will probably not finish the tutorial, but will have lots of fun working through the puzzles for an hour. High school students will mostly finish the tutorial and have some time to play on the free play level at the end.

Purpose

This lesson introduces the core CS concepts of coding and programming (using blocks), as well as simple debugging techniques.

Agenda

Activity (30-45 minutes)

Getting Started (5 minutes)

Wrap Up (5 minutes)

Assessment (2 minutes)

Extended Learning

Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Define “coding” and “computer science”
  • Identify key computer science vocabulary
  • Identify places to go to continue learning computer science and coding

Preparation

One Week Before Your Hour of Code

One Day Before Your Hour of Code

  • Print one or more of the Exit Ticket examples at the end of this lesson plan, or create your own.
  • Each student who completes the activity should receive a certificate. Print one for everyone in advance to make this easier at the end of your Hour of Code.

Vocabulary

  • code - (v) to write code, or to write instructions for a computer.
  • Debugging - Finding and fixing problems in an algorithm or program.
  • Program - An algorithm that has been coded into something that can be run by a machine.

Support

Report a Bug

Teaching Guide

Activity (30-45 minutes)

Challenge your students to complete the MINECRAFT tutorial.

Depending on the age and ability of your students, you might consider:

  • For younger students, we suggest you break your class into pairs and ask each group to work together to complete the tutorial using pair programming.
  • For learners in the middle grades, we find that working independently on tutorials works well. Sometimes it helps to allow students to choose their own tutorial. If students aren't interested in MINECRAFT, they can get a similar experience with the Code with Anna and Elsa or Star Wars tutorials.
  • For older or adult learners, the MINECRAFT tutorial works extremely well either as an independent challenge or a pair programming activity.

Teaching Tip

Be sure to play through your chosen tutorials yourself, before asking your students to attempt them. That way you’ll know what to expect and can make decisions about whether to let students choose their own tutorial, or if you want to assign tutorials based on student needs.

If a group or individual finishes early, they can attempt another tutorial by visiting code.org/learn.

Getting Started (5 minutes)

Setting the Stage

Welcome students to class and very briefly introduce the day’s activity.

Say: “Today we’re going to spend one hour learning to code. Has anyone here heard the term “code” before? What does it mean?”

Students might mention that a “code” is like a secret message, or that it’s related to computers in some way.

Teaching Tip

One way to introduce the Hour of Code if you are not very familiar with coding yourself is to show one of our inspirational videos. Choose one you think your students will find inspiring, and share it now. For young learners, we suggest “The Hour of Code is Here.”

Explain that in computer science, “code” means a set of instructions that a computer can understand. Let students know that today, they are going to practice “coding,” “programming” and “debugging”.

Define:

  • Coding means to write code, or to write instructions for a computer.
  • Programming, similarly, means to write code or instructions. Today, you will program with blocks on the computer (if you’re using an online tutorial) or with pen and paper (if you’re using an unplugged activity).
  • Debugging means to check code for mistakes and try to fix errors.

Teaching Tip

You’ll want to spend very little time front-loading or introducing your Hour of Code. Especially with young learners, it’s best to jump in as quickly as possible. Too much explanation or lecture at the beginning tends to spoil the fun, and fun is the whole point!

Wrap Up (5 minutes)

Debrief

Ask students to reflect on the day’s activities. What did they learn about coding? Programming? Debugging? How do they feel about computer science and code after spending one hour exploring?

Celebrate

Explain that you are spending one hour coding today, because this week is CS Education Week, and millions of other students across the globe have also been learning one Hour of Code this week. Congratulate students on being part of this world wide movement.

Give each student a certificate with his or her name on it.

Next Steps

Let students know that if they enjoyed today’s activity, they have many options for continuing to code. Encourage students to visit code.org/learn for a list of options, or, if you’re planning any of the extension activities that follow, tell students what’s coming next in your classroom.

Assessment (2 minutes)

Give each student an “Exit Ticket” and ask them to summarize what they learned today, how they felt, or what they experienced. Students can draw, write or express themselves in any way they feel comfortable. Collect an “Exit Ticket” from each student on their way out of the room. If you like, you can post the “Exit Tickets” on a bulletin board or some place prominent in the school as a reminder of your Hour of Code.

Extended Learning

Beyond an Hour of Code

After your Hour of Code ends, there are many ways to continue teaching computer science in your K-5 classroom. Here are some ideas:

  • Teach the Code Studio Computer Science Fundamentals courses. These four courses are designed for young learners. Students work their way through a series of puzzles that teach them to code, and educators have access to engaging lesson plans that help make the learning coming alive. Code.org offers free professional development for these courses, online or in-person.
  • Invite a computer science expert to talk to your class about his or her work. Don’t know any local computer scientists? Reach out to a volunteer on our volunteer map