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.

Code Club is 10 years old!

 2022 marks ten years of Code Club, a HUGE community achievement.

To mark this amazing milestone, we’re bringing the community together for a two-week coding extravaganza! Put 16 to 27 May in your calendars, and help us celebrate. 

Looking back

Back in April 2012, Code Club co-founders, Clare Sutcliffe and Linda Sandvik published our very first blog announcing the launch of Code Club. Three hundred sixty-five blogs later, we’re celebrating our 10th birthday! 

Tamasin Greenough Graham, Head of Code Club, reflects on where we’ve come: 

“Code Club was really inspired by the idea that kids coding after school as a hobby could be just as normal as going to a sports club. I’m so proud that we have achieved that. 

Code Clubs are now in schools across the world and each week that number continues to grow. Schools now see having a Code Club is just as important an offer to young people as having a sports club. That is something that the team and I are incredibly proud of.”

Code Clubs from across the world

From its inception, Code Club has always provided a fun and supportive space for children to learn and get creative with code. 

Each week, across the globe, we see that lightbulb moment when learners make their first blocks of Scratch code come to life and realise that they have the power to create their own stories, games, animations, and more.

A NEW birthday Scratch project

To help us celebrate, our amazing content team have designed a new birthday Scratch project for your Code Club to have fun with. In this game, your coders will create a simple game where you hit a piñata to release tasty birthday treats and reveal a Code Club celebration message. 

Read on, and see how your club can work on this project at our global codealong party!

You’re invited to our codealong party

The highlight of our birthday will be an online global codealong party on Thursday 26 May. We’re inviting your club to join the Code Club team live from across the world to code our fun birthday project in Scratch

There will be several one-hour codealong sessions running throughout the day, and the event will be open to all schools, community groups, and children, regardless of whether they usually attend Code Club. 

Take a look at our registration form, see which codealong session time suits your club the best, and sign up!

Get Code Club party ready! 

Every birthday requires a party! We’ve created a downloadable party pack containing everything your club needs to host their own party, which includes printable stickers, a coding crossword, and party hats! All you need to do is invite your coders. 

Get ready to put your party hats on and help us mark a decade of coding fun!

To mark this achievement, we want to hear your memories. However big or small, share them with the Code Club community on social media using the hashtag #CodeClubIs10.

New year, new resources! Welcoming well-being in 2022

Here at Code Club, we’ve been talking about our New Year’s resolutions. Like many people around the world, our focus this year will be on our health and well-being.

In this blog post, we’ll be sharing how we plan to look after ourselves, each other, and you — our amazing Code Club community! Spoiler alert: It involves three new resources for you.

As we welcome 2022, we want to talk about what we can do to look after our mental health this year. Focusing on good mental health is an excellent New Year’s resolution and it ties in brilliantly with Children’s Mental Health Week, which takes place next month (7–13 February). 

Last year, the team got active to help our physical and mental well-being. We put on our walking shoes to take part in a virtual walk from London to Delhi that took 12 months and 14,251,903 steps! We also had a go at yoga and practised mindfulness to help us stay healthy.

To help us continue with our well-being mindset, we’ve been thinking hard about how we can support the health and well-being of our clubs in the coming months.

NEW well-being project collection

Following the success of our project collections in 2021, we are excited to launch a new project collection all about health and well-being. Each project has step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow to help young coders and educators to learn together and develop their coding skills! 

The Relax and stretch project is an ideal beginner Scratch project. Your coders will motivate people to stretch and exercise regularly throughout the day. 

Your confident coders can work on our Mandala project to create beautiful images by repeating geometric symbols. This is known to be a relaxing and mindful activity, and your young people can make their own mandalas in Scratch with this project.

Mandala Scratch project

And there’s more!

Our NEW Scratch and Python word searches are now live. We hope that your young coders enjoy them as much as our team did! These resources are not only great offline activities, but also encourage mindfulness and a moment of calm for coders in the classroom. 

So whether you are coming back to Code Club after a break or simply want to focus on well-being in your club this term, check out these new resources.

If you’re based in the UK, the USA, India, or Ireland, head to your dashboard to download these three new resources. If you’re based outside of these countries, head to our Code Club International website and find the collection and word searches inside your Club Organiser Pack.