Unplugged Coding Lesson – Discover Loops in Computer Science

Lesson on programming loops

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Objective

Students will explore the concept of loops in programming through an engaging and interactive activity that does not require the use of computers. They will learn how loops can be used to repeat actions efficiently.

Materials Needed

  • A simple song or chant that can be repeated
  • A large poster board or whiteboard
  • Markers or crayons
  • A set of “Loop Cards” prepared in advance, each depicting a fun action (e.g., “Jump”, “Clap”, “Spin”)
  • A “Loop Counter” – a small box or container to hold objects (e.g., marbles, blocks) used for counting loops

Lesson Duration

45 minutes

Lesson Overview

This lesson plan introduces the concept of loops, a fundamental coding structure that allows actions to be repeated multiple times without having to write out the instructions for each repetition. Through physical activities and visual aids, students will understand how loops work and how they simplify tasks.

Introduction to Loops (5 minutes)

Begin with a simple explanation:

  • A loop in coding tells the computer to do something over and over again, a certain number of times or until a condition is met. Imagine if we wanted to clap our hands 10 times, instead of saying “clap” 10 times, we can use a loop to say “clap your hands 10 times.”

Warm-up Activity: Song Loop (5 minutes)

  • Teach the class a simple song or chant.
  • Sing the song once, then explain that if you wanted to sing it three times, you could use a “loop” instead of starting over each time.
  • Sing the song three times as a class, counting each loop out loud to reinforce the concept.

Loop Cards Activity (15 minutes)

  • Activity Setup:
  • Scatter the “Loop Cards” face down around the classroom.
  • Place the “Loop Counter” objects in a central location.
  • Activity Instructions:
  • Divide students into small teams.
  • Each team picks a “Loop Card” and decides how many times they want to perform the action (between 2 to 5 times).
  • They collect the corresponding number of “Loop Counter” objects to represent how many times they’ll repeat the action.
  • Teams take turns performing their actions, counting out loud each repetition to demonstrate the loop.

Drawing Our Loops (10 minutes)

  • Use the poster board or whiteboard to draw a visual representation of loops.
  • Activity Instructions:
  • Invite students to come up and draw a circle (loop) on the board.
  • Inside the circle, they draw symbols representing the actions they performed (e.g., a hand for clapping).
  • Beneath or beside the circle, they write the number of times the loop should run (their chosen repetitions).
  • Discuss how this visual representation helps us understand how many times an action is repeated in a loop.

Reflection and Discussion (5 minutes)

  • Ask students to think of other situations where loops might be useful (e.g., brushing teeth, doing exercises).
  • Discuss how loops in coding can help programmers avoid repeating the same instructions over and over.

Conclusion

Through songs, physical activities, and visual aids, this lesson plan introduces third-grade students to the concept of loops in coding. By understanding how loops can repeat actions multiple times efficiently, students gain insight into how computer programs are structured and simplified. Encourage students to continue exploring coding concepts through everyday activities and imagination.

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