Set your writer’s side free with National Novel Writing Month!

Join the US team in participating in National Novel Writing Month throughout November and write to your heart’s content!

There’s a million stories inside us, all just waiting to be told. But it’s up to each of us to let them out! You’re not alone in wanting to share your story: this month, something HUGE is taking place in the world of writing — it’s National Novel Writing Month!

Every year, writers and storytellers in the US spend the month of November writing their own stories with the aim of completing a first draft by the end of the month. But writing isn’t the only way to tell a story, so we want to challenge your Code Club members to unleash their storytelling skills and harness their coding skills to create an original story in Scratch!

This challenge presents a brilliant opportunity for young people to explore not only their creative writing skills, but also to develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills by using Scratch to build interactive stories and animations. It will empower young people to share their thoughts and ideas, and to express what truly excites them.

Get started: Pick a genre and plot

It’s easy to get intimidated by the blank page, especially when you’re trying to come up with an original story on your own, but there are a number of ways to make it easier for your club members to begin this challenge. To start, it might be helpful to have your coders think about what genre they want to explore. Genres can loosely be described as:

  • Fiction – a story where most, if not all of the details, are created from your imagination
  • Nonfiction – a story where all of the details are true, meaning everything actually happened
  • Poetry – a story written in “lines” and “stanzas”, rather than paragraphs, and that can sometimes rhyme
  • Drama – a story that is usually acted out in a play, musical, ballet, etc.

Next, get your students to think about their favorite story; this can help them find inspiration for what type of story they want to tell. And once they feel good about their idea, they can start putting their story together for their coding project!

Write your heart out

Once your club members are happy with their story idea, the next step is to create a Scratch project where they can bring their story to life and share it with others. Check out this project card we’ve made with writing-themed projects to help your coders explore different ways they can code their story. As always with coding, the possibilities are endless! Maybe they’ll want to format their story as a comic or have it acted out on a theater stage with different sprites playing each character.

However they choose to tell their story, we want to see it!

Three projects to help your coders

Check you’ve got the write stuff

This challenge is designed to take place over the course of the entire month of November, so it’s important for your coders to keep track of their progress. We’ve created a checklist to help them make sure their project has all the necessary elements, and when they’re ready to share their tale, your authors can upload their projects to our dedicated storytelling Scratch studio. 

  1. Pick a genre for your story
  2. Brainstorm an original story idea
  3. Come up with an exciting title
  4. Start writing your story
  5. Complete a first draft of your story
  6. Create a Scratch project where you can share your story
  7. Proofread your story and check your code 
  8. Upload your story to our Scratch studio
  9. Share your project on social media using the hashtag #MyCodeClub
  10. You’re done! 

Let your writer’s side shine! 

We have an inkling that this challenge is going to be full of page-turners! We’d love to see how your students get on with this, so make sure to use the hashtag #MyCodeClub to share what your Code Club is working on!

Bring out the spirit of collaboration in your club with Delmar Code Club!

We took a virtual trip to Delaware, USA to catch up with Delmar Code Club and learn about their experience so far as a new club!

For Delmar Code Club’s co-leader, Daniel Rice, the impetus to start this club was his science education fellowship and a nudge from his professor to “do something”.

Mr. Rice’s answer to that “something” was to start a Code Club in October of last year. He partnered with co-leader Peter Burnham, the engineering teacher at their school, and together they envisioned what is now Delmar Code Club. 

Photo credit: Mr. Mark Connelly

Mr. Burnham firmly believes that “coding is the future” and even though he came to the club with very little coding experience, he felt that their club had “the right mix of people to get everything together”. 

That mix of people consists of seven students, all bringing their own unique skills to the club. Their names are Sam, Logan, Christine, Ben, Eagan, Julianna, and Jackson. We were very lucky to get the chance to hear from both Julianna and Jackson about their experiences alongside their club leaders. 

Julianna has been coding on her own since the 5th grade and shared that she had been looking for coding opportunities in school for a long time when she was encouraged to join Delmar Code Club.

Jackson, on the other hand, has been interested in engineering since the 6th grade. “In our high school, there was never really any kind of class geared towards engineering aside from Mr. Burnham’s class,” he said. “I was excited to hear that there was a Code Club coming up and wanted to try it out.” 

Kicking off the code with Python

To start, the Delmar Code Club met virtually and began working with programming languages like Python and the Turtle drawing library, which resulted in a snowflake designing contest where the students tried to beat Mr. Burnham.

“We had the community vote on which one they liked the most,” said Mr. Rice about the outcome of the contest. “All the kids actually beat Mr. Burnham.”

The club continued exploring other projects under the instruction of Mr. Rice and Mr. Burnham until one particular project prompted Jackson to ask his club leaders if they could take it to the next level. What started as them programming a game using Python’s Turtle library ended up becoming a fully functional arcade cabinet run by a Raspberry Pi computer that can play just about anything they wanted.

Collaboration at its finest!

This is where the true collaborative spirit of Delmar Code Club began to blossom. Some students, like Jackson, took to designing the build of the cabinet itself while others, like Julianna, focused on the code. Everyone had a skill to offer and was also willing to learn something new in order to complete this project. 

Photo credit: Mr. Mark Connelly

When he initially heard about Jackson’s plans, Mr. Burnham said, “I definitely thought it would’ve been too hard, but it really didn’t turn out to be as bad as I would have figured.” Mr. Rice agreed, and said that he was determined to keep an open mind and to never tell his students “no” when they brought their ideas to club sessions. 

“I was a little bit scared when Jackson said we could build this,” Mr. Rice said. “But with Mr. Burnham being a great builder and Julianna being a great coder and Jackson taking the reins, we got it done and I think we have a fantastic piece.” 

To celebrate the club’s achievement, they held a go-kart racing game competition that was open to the entire school, which was a huge hit.

Looking ahead with Delmar Code Club

The future of their club holds many exciting things: 3D printing, a robot derby, and even more game design. For a club that’s only in their first year, Delmar Code Club has accomplished so much, all while navigating the ever-changing circumstances of the pandemic.

With such a small group being able to complete so much, it goes to show that anything is possible so long as you have what Mr. Burhham would describe as “kids who want to do the work”. 

If you’re thinking about starting a Code Club or even relaunching a paused club, know that even with the limits we’re all facing, you still can accomplish many exciting things. Mr. Rice’s advice? “Just keep going as far as you can!”

Visit our website today for more information on how you can get a Code Club started near you! 

Our Code Club global tour — find out what we learned!

Over the last year, our global Code Club team has missed being able to make in-person club visits. Seeing our clubs’ creativity, enthusiasm, and love of coding first-hand is a massive inspiration to us.

This year, the team decided to take a tour of the world to visit clubs online, and in some countries in person, to see how everyone is getting on. Here are a few highlights!

First stop…the USA!

Kevin, our Club Program Coordinator for North America, joined educator David Slavin at his online club session at Pajaro Valley Virtual Academy, in California.  

The club members he met were enthusiastic, polite, and keen to share their ideas. They were also excited to learn more about how they could share their coding creations as part of Coolest Projects.

Kevin reflected on his visit:  

“I can’t imagine how difficult it has been for educators and learners to have had to transition to online learning so abruptly, but to see these students bursting with curiosity was inspiring!” 

Let’s head Down Under!

Nicola Curnow, Program Manager for Code Club Australia, has been able to resume in-person club visits and joined Ferntree Gully Club in Melbourne. This club thought about what they have learnt at Code Club and decided to build a school newsletter using their HTML knowledge! 

“When I visited they were working on formatting and editing the newsletter. The teachers and volunteers did an amazing job working together to build the newsletter for their community.”

Approximately 4800 miles away in India…

Vasu, our Club Programme Coordinator in India, had the exciting opportunity to go online to see a hybrid club at Core Programmers Academy in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India. In the session, some children took part in the classroom, while others joined online from their homes.

Vasu enjoyed seeing the club in action and the leader had planned the session perfectly to help the young coders interact and learn alongside each other.

Vasu said:  

 “It’s great to see that the Code Club India community is working so hard to continuously stay updated with different models of learning in this ever-changing new world!” 

Vasu joining the Core Programmers Academy from her home

Meanwhile, in the UK

Zoe, Programme Coordinator for Code Club UK & Ireland, popped online to visit Rugby Library in Warwickshire, where their creative coders were enjoying launching into space with Astro Pi Mission Zero and racing to the finish line of Scratch module one with Boat race!

“It was wonderful to see the kids working independently through the projects and feeling confident to ask for help. I had so much fun and loved when Hazq showed me his super cool Boat race project!”  

The Scratch game Boat race

What we learned 

What shone brightly throughout these visits, is how well everyone has adapted during these challenging times. The resilience of the Code Club community has been nothing short of inspirational.

There may be less noise in an online session, but the fun learning environment where coders can continue to explore and be creative, is still very much alive! 

Visit my club

You can get in touch to invite us to visit your online club. We would love to see and celebrate your amazing achievements, so please share them with us on Twitter at Code Club UK or Code Club World using the hashtag #MyCodeClub!