Activity Introduction

Quick summary: This is a STEAM lesson, which adds the Arts to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). To find out more about STEAM and STEM, click here. In this lesson, students will learn block coding without the use of a computer. They will make use of simple, familiar symbols to create step-by-step instructions to control the movement of a classmate or character. This lesson can be used as an introduction to coding or to reinforce block coding skills in a new context.

This STEAM lesson demonstrates how science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics are interrelated. The lesson requires students to draw on and develop skills from all areas to complete their project.

Learning intentions: Students will…

  • … know that block coding is a type of computer programming.
  • … be able to apply block coding techniques to give simple sequences of instructions.

21st-century skills: 

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 1 and 2 Digital Technologies

  • Recognise and explore digital systems (hardware and software components) for a purpose (ACTDIK001).
  • Recognise and explore patterns in data and represent data as pictures, symbols and diagrams (ACTDIK002).
  • Follow, describe and represent a sequence of steps and decisions (algorithms) needed to solve simple problems (ACTDIP004).

Year 1 Mathematics

  • Recognise and classify familiar two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional objects using obvious features (ACMMG022).
  • Give and follow directions to familiar locations (ACMMG023).

Year 2 Mathematics

  • Describe and draw two-dimensional shapes, with and without digital technologies (ACMMG042).
  • Interpret simple maps of familiar locations and identify the relative positions of key features (ACMMG044).
  • Investigate the effect of one-step slides and flips with and without digital technologies (ACMMG045).

Year 1 English

  • Understand that language is used in combination with other means of communication, for example facial expressions and gestures to interact with others (ACELA1444).
  • Understand that there are different ways of asking for information, making offers and giving commands (ACELA1446).
  • Engage in conversations and discussions, using active listening behaviours, showing interest, and contributing ideas, information and questions (ACELY1656).
  • Use interaction skills including turn-taking, recognising the contributions of others, speaking clearly and using appropriate volume and pace (ACELY1788).

Year 2 English

  • Understand that language varies when people take on different roles in social and classroom interactions and how the use of key interpersonal language resources varies depending on context (ACELA1461).
  • Understand the use of vocabulary about familiar and new topics and experiment with and begin to make conscious choices of vocabulary to suit audience and purpose (ACELA1470).
  • Listen for specific purposes and information, including instructions, and extend students’ own and others’ ideas in discussions (ACELY1666).
  • Use interaction skills including initiating topics, making positive statements and voicing disagreement in an appropriate manner, speaking clearly and varying tone, volume and pace appropriately (ACELY1789).

Syllabus outcomes: MA1-1WM, MA1-14MG, MA1-15MG, MA1-16MG, EN1-1A, EN1-7B.

General capabilities: Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Capability.

Relevant parts of Year 1 and 2 Digital Technologies Achievement Standards:  Students record design ideas using techniques including labelled drawings, lists and sequenced instructions. They design solutions to simple problems using a sequence of steps and decisions.

Relevant parts of Year 1 Mathematics Achievement Standards: They describe two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional objects. They use the language of direction to move from place to place.

Relevant parts of Year 2 Mathematics Achievement Standards: They interpret simple maps of familiar locations. They explain the effects of one-step transformations.

Relevant parts of Year 1 English Achievement Standards: They interact in pairs, group and class discussions, taking turns when responding. They make short presentations on familiar topics.

Relevant parts of Year 2 English Achievement Standards: When discussing their ideas and experiences, students use everyday language features and topic-specific vocabulary. They use a variety of strategies to engage in group and class discussions and make presentations.

Topic: STEAM.

Unit of work: STEAM Made Simple – Primary

Time required: 120 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: medium – the level of teacher scaffolding will vary based on students’ prior experiences with coding and giving/receiving single-step instructions.

Resources required:

Keywords: STEAM, STEM, coding, blocks, commands, directions, step-by-step, instructions, digital.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • ... know that block coding is a type of computer programming.
  • ... be able to apply block coding techniques to give simple sequences of instructions.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... follow simple block coding sequences.
  • ... create simple block code sequences.

Teacher content information:

STEAM Education

Over recent years, the importance of STEM has been heavily promoted and discussed within fields of education. This has been within the context of ensuring that the next generation of students are provided with relevant knowledge and skills for the 21st century. STEM acknowledges the importance of the interrelated nature of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and the prominence of these skills in a world of continuous technological advancement.

What was missing from this original acronym, however, was an acknowledgement of the vital importance of artistic and creative thinking. The abilit

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