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Over the past few months, I’ve been really looking at trying out some coding with Dexter. He doesn’t get much one to one time with me as the girls are younger and much more demanding of attention – and he’s out at school for most of the day.
We’ve had a little play with Scratch and we’ve recently got to grips with the LEGO WeDo kit, but recently Amazon got in touch to tell us about their Hour of Code: Dance party as part of Computer Science Education Week (that runs from the 9th-15th December) and we were excited to get involved and find out more.
What is Hour of Code? What’s it all about?
Hour of Code: Dance party is a free online coding tutorial aimed at introducing children across the world to coding. It has been co-created by Amazon with non-profit organisation Code.org as part of Amazon Future Engineer.
#AmazonFutureEngineer is Amazon’s childhood-to-career programme that inspires children and young adults to try computer science. It’s a two-year programme and it includes many more elements that can benefit secondary school students and university students in the world of STEM too.
The idea is simple really, you follow through the short lessons that explain different code blocks and how to use them to animate your dance characters, change their looks and the backgrounds etc. Once you’ve worked your way through those lessons, you can put your new-found knowledge to the test and have a go at creating your own Dance Party.
How do we take part in the Hour of Code: Dance Party?
The beauty of the Hour of Code: Dance Party is that anyone, even from as young as the age of 4, can take part – Now obviously a child that young might need help to read the code blocks and instructions but the dragging and dropping of blocks, choosing of characters etc, that’s all them!
You can do this as teachers in your classrooms, you can do this at home with your children or even as part of a club – it doesn’t matter who or where you are, you can take part. You don’t even need a computer because there is an ‘unplugged’ offline version here – and what’s better, is you don’t need to have any experience in coding – it’s perfect for complete beginners!
To get started, head to code.org/dance and click start. Here you’ll watch a short introduction video that will take you through your toolbox, your play space and your workspace. There are about 4 of these videos throughout the process that explains various sections of the lessons, so pay attention because these are really helpful.
There are LOADS of songs from artists from Nicki Minaj, to Keith Urban to Panic! at the Disco and the dance characters you can choose from are varied enough that you can easily find one you like from frogs and dogs to unicorns and aliens.
Want to see how we got on?
Dexter loved putting together his dance video and his face literally lit up when we got through the lessons and he was able to print himself a certificate! He can’t wait to take that into school and show his teacher.
He understood the tutorials and listened really well to the videos and enjoyed flicking through the options to pick different dance moves and backgrounds. He is only 6 at the moment so I had to help him with some of the reading and point him in the right direction of the code blocks he needed but he pretty much did the whole thing himself. It’s amazing to see how much he picked up in just over an hour and code.org is definitely a website we’ll be returning too for more coding fun.
We’ve put together a short video of our experience so please do have a look and check out our process. You can find what we created towards the end of the video.
Are your kids into coding? If they’ve not done any before, will you be taking part in the Hour of Code: Dance Party? I’d love to know how you get on so do pop back and leave me a comment if you do!
If you’re thinking of taking part, visit code.org/dance any time during the 9th and 15th of December (Computer Science Education Week) and use #HourOfCode when sharing online so that others can check out your awesome moves!
You can find out more about the #AmazonFutureEngineer program by visiting AmazonFutureEngineer.co.uk