What I learned running my first Code Club

Join us as we dive into an inspiring journey! This summer, Sarah, our Community Coordinator for Wales, launched a Code Club in South Wales at LIwynypia Primary School. Discover what Sarah learned during this coding adventure. Over to you, Sarah!

Head shot of Sarah standing in front of an old wooden door.
Meet Sarah!

Helo, I’m Sarah, Community Coordinator for Wales. In this role, I am here to support you, our community, and help you run your Code Club with ease, confidence, and as little preparation time as possible, so you can concentrate on providing an environment that is fun, relaxed, and nurturing.

The support we provide is guided by community feedback — comments, requests, and suggestions from educators and young coders. But it’s important that we have on-the-ground experience to fully understand the challenges, and joys, of running a Code Club. This is one of the reasons I decided to start a Code Club this summer.

What I discovered while running my first Code Club

These are the eight things that I learned by running a Code Club.

1. Do the projects you find fun! Code Club is not about ticking boxes or monitoring progression, it’s about fun and creativity. There’s no correct project to start with, so just choose a project you’re comfortable with, and that you think will get the children excited.

2. Set the scene. I started each session with a fun, 5-minute activity to get the children laughing and demonstrate that this isn’t a formal class. I can’t recommend this enough!

3. Don’t worry about finishing the projects — there’s always next week! Some of the projects took much longer than anticipated; Paint box, I’m looking at you! We would have happily continued that project for three sessions if we had more time.

4. There are many different ways to run a club. We ran the club as a codealong for the first three sessions, before moving on to independent working. I sat at the front of the class demonstrating each step using a projector, and the children followed along. Run the club however it works for you and your coders.

Sarah on a GoogleMeet call.
Sarah hosting a codelaong

5. Be flexible. Disrupted travel kept me away from the school for two sessions. Instead of cancelling, we moved the club sessions online those weeks. Although it was much easier to facilitate the club in person, we changed the format to suit us and ran the sessions as a codealong. The children still had fun, and we didn’t have to cancel.

6. Offer choices. Letting the young coders lead the session can be scary, but by offering choices, we can share ownership of the club with the children without giving up all control. Here are some things you could try:

  • Ask what type of project they want to create: a chatbot, an animation, a game, or a storybook.
  • If they enjoyed an activity, bring it back the following weeks. We did a KAHOOT! quiz at the start of every session — there is a huge number of pre-made quizzes to choose from.
  • Let them work with a friend. Collaboration is an important part of coding.

7. Use a Scratch Teacher Account. It makes hosting a show-and-tell much easier if you can access the club members’ work through the linked Teacher Account — and boy, do the children enjoy sharing their work! I recommend selecting a maximum of two projects to showcase each week, or turning the final session into a showcase that parents and guardians can attend.

8. Certificates make a great reward. Rewards are a great way to motivate, engage, recognise achievement, and build confidence in your coders. Check out the huge selection of certificates on your dashboard, including our four new skills-based certificates!

Four certificates, in Welsh on a green background.
These certificates are available in English and Welsh

Explore the support available 

To help you get Code Club–ready, I’d encourage you to download our Club Organiser Pack.  The club organisers’ guide is full of tips to help you feel confident running your club sessions. Have fun with the Code Club bingo card, and celebrate your #MyCodeClub success stories with our educator social cards and GIFs. You can find the pack on your dashboard under ‘Resources’.

Five resources from the Club Organiser Pack.

If you have any tips that could benefit the rest of the community, I’d love to hear them. Get in touch at hello@codeclub.org.