At Ridge Park Elementary (RP) School, students as young as kindergarten combined dancing and programming for a Coding Dance Party in their technology class. 

picture of shark and emojis next to colorful block code

Block coding helps children better understand how computer programming works. 

The goal of the project was to build a "dance party" with personalized animated characters, dance moves and scenes through block coding. The students used sequential code, loops to simplify the code and event triggers that make the code interactive. In kindergarten and first grade, the students worked together to build a class dance party. Second graders each "remixed" existing code to make the programming their own, and third graders each built their own code from scratch. 

"It's important to learn coding because it's fun, and you can use coding in your life," said RP Third Grader Braden Robinson. "You can become a programmer when you're older."  

Learning programming 

In the Colonial School District, weekly elementary technology classes use coding as an introduction to computer science. 

"The goal is to help the students to move beyond simply using technology to controlling and creating with technology," said RP Technology Teacher David Caruso. "They are also learning fundamental skills like problem solving, sequential thinking, logical thinking and creativity."

The Coding Dance Party is one of the projects from "One Hour of Code" — a worldwide effort held each December to encourage students to spend sixty minutes doing programming. Colonial uses the One Hour of Code projects found at code.org to practice and extend the skills the children already learn in technology class. 

children spread out and dancing in a classroom

Kindergarteners mimic the dance moves of the characters they programmed together.

"What I like about coding is that, after you make all your lines of code, you can test it. If it doesn't work, you can redo it," said RP Second Grader Kellan McCune.   

"I am just amazed at the perseverance the students demonstrate daily," said Mr. Caruso. "These tasks are meant to be challenging, and it's simply amazing to see them meet these challenges head on with smiles on their faces. They definitely get frustrated at times, but they never give up."

Creating a supportive environment

The sense of community in the classroom allows the students to take risks and know they will be supported — and successful.

"What I like about tech is that Mr. Caruso always helps you if there is something wrong with your code or if you can't figure it out," said RP Second Grader Stella Stoffere. "I do Dance Party every day after school. I show my mom and dad, and they are like, 'how do you do that?'"

In addition to learning coding, elementary students also explore digital safety and citizenship, robotics, and circuitry, as well as creativity and design.