Programming in the classroom

(first published on

Recently there have been some national debates about what schools should teach as part of the ICT curriculum and a high profile has been given to programming. Programming in schools isn’t new and builds on work they will already be doing. It starts in early years with work on instructions, positional language and knowledge of machines and devices that can be controlled in the world around us. Much of this early work doesn’t need to involve technology at all but there is lots of technology that can be used to support it. Floor turtles and computer based resources can be programmed with simple instructions or complex sequences and there are several free applications. On this page there are resources to support programming for pupils of all ages.

Useful information about using Roamer / Logo / Floor Turtles and

Online Tools

There are tools online that can be used to support work in control and programming.

Control Unit from Naace allows primary pupils to control an onscreen robot:

The TES iboard ICT resources include many that can be used to support positional language, instructions and control.

Free Programming Applications


What teachers say:

“it’s excellent. Children pick it up quickly and enjoy it.”

“yeah really great there are some brilliant resources with the site.”

Most people had used this with KS2 or higher but I was encouraged to try it with younger pupils

“Used with Y5, I’d give it a go with KS1 – Challenge them and see how they go! :-)”

“I delivered Scratch to a local feeder primary earlier this year, kids loved it”

Scratch is a free application that allows users to use programming language to create interactive stories, animations and game. Information, support and examples of projects can be found the Scratch website:

The online community for educators is at:

Start by downloading the application from:

A reference guide for getting started with Scratch is available:

An excellent page of tutorials from the basics to more complex games is available on

Other useful sites


What teachers say:

“Would use Kodu with KS1, and scratch with KS2….my opinion”

“Much more suitable for younger ones!”

Kodu is a free basic programming tool from Microsoft that allows users to create their own worlds and program Kodu and other objects to interact with it. It’s a great way to create interactive games. It works using either a mouse and keyboard or an X Box controller.

More information is available at:

Start by downloading Kodu from

A useful educators’ kit with support materials and videos can be found at:

There are also some tutorials within the Kodu Application, the later ones get a bit confusing until you realise that each tutorial appears twice, the first version sets the challenge the second version (which will end in the word SOL’N) provides the solution.

There are some useful videos on You Tube explaining how to get started. A good place to start is this simple Kodu game tutorial (using keyboard)

Other useful sites

Coding and Copyright

Copyright is an issue schools have to consider whenever pupils or staff create materials, coding is no different.

The NEN Copy Rights and Wrongs website includes an article describing how coding works with ‘intellectual property’. If you use code to create an original programme or app when would you use copyright and when would you use a patent? –  this is something that older students, teachers and schools need to be aware of.


Other Information

Inspiring pupils about computer science, an account of a recent event:

If you are using iPads or iPod Touches you can get Bee-Bot apps from iTunes

If you have any useful information or links about programming use the comments to let me know.


About jackcl

E learning consultant in the North East interested in teaching and learning, innovation and new technologies
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