Honey Run Teacher Uses ‘Osmo for Schools’ Program to Teach Coding in Summer School

July 23, 2021 / Educator Resources

QUICKSBURG — Kathryn Staton is teaching math and reading this summer at Honey Run Elementary School (formerly Ashby Lee Elementary School), and she decided to do something a little different — teach her rising third graders coding, or computer programming.

During the school year, Staton is the school’s technology teacher and has taught coding to her pre-K-4th grade students for the last seven years.

“Being the technology teacher I always try to sneak in some computer science somewhere along the line,” Staton said on Monday morning. “So I created the ‘Summer of Code.’ So we’ve done coding every week.”

Her eight students spend around 30 minutes per day coding with videogames on the school’s iPads.

Staton has used the Osmo for Schools program, which has various games students can play and learn from.

“Coding is like a vegetable,” Staton said. “It’s good for you. They don’t even realize how much they’re learning and it’s just fun. If you can have a student learn as much as they are while having fun it’s a win-win.”

This is the last week for the six-week summer school class. Staton said she tried to do different things each week.

During the first week, students played a dance game.

“It was like a dance studio,” Staton said. “So they had to create their characters and have dance moves.”

In the third week, the students learned Blockly Games, which are block-based programming lessons, which include trying to work through a maze.

In the fourth week, students learned how to use CodeSpark Academy, which allows students to make their way through Donut Detective levels and teaches them sequencing and how to create a story or game with a code.

The last two weeks, the class has played a game called Osmo for School’s Coding with Awbie, which is most of her students’ favorite game. The students string together commands to guide the character, Awbie, to collect strawberries and go through forests, caves, jungles, beaches, a snowy mountain and a volcano.

Staton said she asked the students what they have learned and “They were telling me about patterns. They can solve problems.” 

“They can get Awbie to gather all the strawberries. I don’t think all the verbiage is there yet, but they know there’s a lot of learning going on,” she said. “They’ve also learned how to work together, because some of the kids, they’ll be out for whatever reason and they’ll come in and be like ‘oh what are we doing?’ And a whole bunch of them will flock to them and be like ‘oh we’re doing this’ and show them.”

Student Uriyah Payton, 7, said Awbie was his favorite game and he was already on level 3. Uriyah said he’s enjoyed learning coding.

“I like figuring out puzzles,” Uriyah said. “Learning how to solve problems.”

Student Jonathan Funkhouser, 8, said he enjoyed playing a game involving music.

“It teaches us music and what the pattern is,” Jonathan said. “You can make patterns with coding. Coding games for kids can make patterns or help us understand patterns.”

Coding isn’t the only thing Staton’s students are doing, as she also teaches them basic math. Jonathan said he’s learned how to tell time during the last six weeks.

“I’ve learned quarter past the hour and quarter til,” he said.

During the school year, Staton said she has about 15 to 20 students per class and she spends approximately two months on coding. She also has an after-school coding club.

Even though the students are very young, Staton said it’s important for them to learn about coding at an early age.

“Even if they don’t become programmers or even in the computer science field, it helps them with basic skills that they need,” she said. “Problem solving, how to work together with other people. There are many skills that they learn from coding that don’t necessarily apply to coding.”