In this lesson, students continue extending what they are learning about weather by using simple coding software to program a weather event. Students will be able to make the sun set or rise, send a tornado spinning across a field, or create a thunderstorm. There is no limit to the weather they can direct!
To showcase unit learning by coding a simple weather event in ScratchJr.
Each student will create a simple program showing one of their understandings from the unit on Conditions, Weather, and Climate.
We can show some of our understanding of the weather unit by using a technology tool. Today I will demonstrate, and you will follow along in a program called ScratchJr. ScratchJr helps us make a computer program to show our understanding of simple weather and climate concepts.
First watch how I choose a setting and character and give the character instructions using ScratchJr. Then, use the ScratchJr app to make your own program.
Demonstrate how to use ScratchJr to make the sun set. Kids will catch on quickly and they can then program their own weather event. Popular weather events with my kids involved tornadoes in all kinds of settings.
Students should have an iPad and should follow along, thus duplicating the sun setting. After that, they will be off and running. Expect the kids to experiment with all the functions and to make some hilarious programs in only a few minutes.
I like to do this lesson with Grade 3 students and it is often their first experience with coding. I’ve never had a child fail to produce a coded program. They all get it because the work is visual. And, I’ve had brilliant success with EAL kids. Only a little language? No problem. You do not need to read or write in English to do well with ScratchJr. In this sense, the lesson is very EAL-friendly.
Thumbs up or down if you enjoyed using technology to show your learning. Shall we try to do this kind of lesson again? (You should get 100% “Thumbs Up.”)
Wrap up by having the children share their coded weather events. If you can, project the coded programs onto a screen so that all of the children can see.
- 1:1 tablet computers. There is a work-around if you do not have access to tablet computers, but you’ll need to install some special software. Find the workaround with “Andy Android Emulator” here: http://www.scratchguide.com/how-to-run-scratchjr-on-windows-and-mac/
- Ability to project your tablet so that the kids can see and follow along.
- Chairs facing the screen. I reconfigured the classroom and put the tables away for this lesson so that the kids would be seated “theater style” and could easily share their programs with each another.
- App, downloaded and installed on your devices.
- Here is a link to the ScratchJr. website in case you would like to visit. https://www.scratchjr.org/ I have found the website very helpful each time I have visited.
This lesson is going to get loud and wild! The kids’ creativity runs somewhat out of control very quickly. After coding a weather event they will want to code silly/funny scenes. Let them!
You will obviously need to do a bit of work in ScratchJr yourself before this class. Don’t hesitate, jump right in. If you don’t know ScratchJr, you need to. Make the investment now and then you’ll be able to keep a small coding station in the library.
Coding is a 21st Century skill, and all you need are the basics to work with your students. The kids can do this and learn basic block coding in a 45-minute lesson. I’ve done it with them many times.
ScratchJr was named one of the Top 10 Tech by School Library Journal in 2016. You need to have it in your librarian toolkit if you don’t already.
ScratchJr was designed for 5-to-7-year-old children, so third- and fourth-graders will find it very easy!
Coding, Computer Coding, ScratchJr, Weather
- The Official ScratchJr Book: Help Your Kids Learn to Code, by Marina Umaschi Bers and Mitchel Resnick