Unplugged Coding Lesson – Understanding Conditionals

programming lesson on conditionals

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Objective

Students will explore the concept of conditionals in programming through an interactive, computer-free activity. They will learn how conditionals can be used to make decisions based on different conditions.

Materials Needed

  • A set of “Conditional Cards” prepared in advance, each with a simple condition written on it (e.g., “If it is sunny,” “If you are wearing blue,” “If it is a weekday”)
  • A “True” bucket and a “False” bucket
  • Small objects or tokens
  • A large poster board or whiteboard
  • Markers or crayons

Lesson Duration

45 minutes

Lesson Overview

This lesson introduces the concept of conditionals, a fundamental coding structure that allows actions to be performed based on whether certain conditions are true or false. Using physical activities and decision-making games, students will understand how conditionals work and how they guide decision-making in programming.

Introduction to Conditionals (5 minutes)

Begin with a simple explanation of conditionals:

  • Conditionals in coding are like making decisions in real life. If something is true, we do one thing; if it’s false, we might do something else or nothing at all.

Warm-up Activity: Conditional Simon Says (10 minutes)

  • Play a game of “Conditional Simon Says” to introduce the idea of making decisions based on conditions.
  • Give commands using the “Conditional Cards.” For example, “If you are wearing red, touch your toes.”
  • This activity demonstrates how conditionals work by having students perform actions based on whether the condition applies to them.

Group Activity: True or False Game (15 minutes)

  • Activity Setup:
  • Place the “True” bucket on one side of the room and the “False” bucket on the other.
  • Scatter the “Conditional Cards” face down around the classroom.
  • Activity Instructions:
  • Divide students into small teams.
  • Each team picks a “Conditional Card” and decides if the condition is True or False.
  • Based on their decision, they place a token into the “True” or “False” bucket.
  • Discuss why they chose True or False, introducing the idea that conditionals depend on evaluating conditions.

Drawing Our Conditionals (10 minutes)

  • Use the poster board or whiteboard to draw visual representations of conditionals.
  • Activity Instructions:
  • Invite students to come up and draw a simple flowchart: a box (condition) leading to two outcomes, labeled “True” and “False.”
  • They can use symbols or pictures to represent the actions taken for each outcome.
  • This activity helps visualize how conditionals lead to different paths based on the truth value of a condition.

Reflection and Discussion (5 minutes)

  • Discuss how conditionals can help make decisions in coding, similar to decisions we make every day.
  • Ask students to think of other real-life examples where they use conditionals (e.g., “If it rains, I will take an umbrella.”).

Conclusion

Through games, physical activities, and drawing, this lesson plan introduces third-grade students to the concept of conditionals in coding. Understanding how to make decisions based on conditions is a crucial step in learning to program, and these unplugged activities provide a foundational grasp of this concept. Encourage students to continue exploring coding concepts and to recognize how these principles appear in their everyday lives.

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