Linking code to literacy with The 13-Storey Treehouse

Learn how Leeds Libraries have adapted their Code Clubs and established a thriving online coding community as part of their #LibrariesFromHome offer. 

This online offer has given young coders from across the city the chance to be involved in a collaborative project linking code to literacy with the book The 13-Storey Treehouse. 

Lee is sat down, looking into the camera. In front of him is a laptop and on the screen you can see he is working on a Scratch project.
Young coder Lee who took part in the project

Linking Code Club to literacy 

Leeds Libraries looked at how to link Code Club to literacy, reading for pleasure, and their wider online offer #LibrariesFromHome — particularly their e-borrowing service and Lego Club.

The team were keen to create a project inspired by a book that was available via the e-borrowing service, to encourage Code Club participants to borrow and explore the book to get ideas for their code.

Deciding on the book 

The 13-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton became the book that inspired the creation of the club’s first multilevel platform game. The book was also selected as the theme for the libraries’ online Lego Club, which allowed the team to cross-promote their online offers and reach a wider audience.

Mark Kirkby, librarian at Leeds Libraries, shares why this book offered the perfect opportunity to create a collaborative online game:

“The different levels of the treehouse in The 13-Storey Treehouse provided an ideal structure for a platform game allowing us to showcase all our Code Club participants’ coding together in one project.”

“Club members were encouraged to take the setting and game narrative ideas from The 13-Storey Treehouse, and draw upon their experience of Code Club projects such as Dodgeball for the platform game content, and Create your own world for creating multilevel games.”

Collaborating online 

For the young coders to collaborate, the team created a Scratch Class with a Treehouse Challenge Studio for club members to upload their coded levels to. Instructional videos were added, members could use the Studio to leave comments, and the team could track the progress of the project too. 

Throughout the project, the team communicated with the young coders through instructional talk-through films, written guidance, and Zoom calls. 

The finished game 

Have fun playing the finished game and let the team at Leeds Libraries know what your favourite level was by tweeting @leedslibraries and using the hashtag #MyCodeClub

Level one of The 13-Storey Treehouse game

“Freya (12) and Lars (9) have really enjoyed it and it’s given them something to do and new skills to learn in lockdown. Lars says it’s ‘very, very, very fun’. He also used his Scratch projects to earn his Cubs Digital Maker Staged Activity Badge! Freya got really into her Harry Potter projects this week and had a lot of fun with them.” 

Freya and Lars sat on a sofa, Freya has a laptop on her lap. Both are smiling
Code Club members Freya and Lars

We asked the team for their top three highlights: 

  1. “The book acted as a real source of inspiration. It was a joy to see the crossover of reading and coding in action.” 
  2. “From drawing their backdrops to creating their own sprites and obstacles, the sheer creativity of club members amazed us!”
  3. “Adding that final block of code to complete the project and bring all their hard work together was very satisfying!” 

What’s next? 

Liam Garnett, librarian at Leeds Libraries, shares what they plan to do next: 

“We want to create animated stories using sprites from Leeds Museums and Galleries collections using their My Learning resources. Backdrops have been chosen from the Leeds Library and Information Service photographic archive, Leodis.”

Leeds Libraries’ online Code Clubs are sponsored by CityFibre. If you live in Leeds learn how you can take part in their online challenge.

If Leeds Libraries have inspired you to set up an online club, we have resources to support you. Take a look at our guidance for clubs or listen back to our community calls.

If you want to know more about Leeds Libraries’ online offer, contact Liam and Mark.

Meet the children of Code Club learning to code from home

This year we’ve seen the curious minds of young coders rise to the challenge and adapt quickly to an online coding or virtual Code Club experience. Even if their Code Club has been paused, they’ve found clever ways to continue to develop their coding skills. 

Their resilience and creativity has shone through and it’s now time to hear what they’ve been working on and celebrate their achievements!   

Say hello to Luna 

Luna from the UK is 10 years old. During lockdown she’s been using her skills to teach her sister Skye to code. 

Here is how Luna introduced Skye to coding: 

“I gave Skye the first project I ever did to practise on when I first joined Code Club so she could see how it worked. I like to put together mini projects and experiment.”

Check out Luna’s project, it made the Code Club team smile a lot! 

Luna and Skye sat side by side at a kitchen table looking at a laptop

Hiya to Logan and Ryland!

Brother and sister Logan (10) and Ryland (8) are part of the CSI Code Club in the US. We asked Logan what new skill he learnt while taking part in his online Code Club: 

“I learnt how to make things bounce.”

Ryland who has recently taken up coding shared why she now loves to code: 

“I love coding because if I can do coding, I can design new things!”

Logan summed his Code Club up in three words: awesome, amazing, and creative.

Ryland said her Code Club leader was loving, caring, and helpful.

Ryaland and Logan are standing in the garden. Both smiling and Ryland has her arm over her brothers shoulder.

 مرحبا مصطفى  (Welcome Mustafa)

While at home Mustafa, aged 9 from Iraq, has enjoyed taking part in the Digital Making at Home activities as it helped him develop his coding skills. 

“Digital Making at Home is really amazing and I really enjoyed it.” 

With his dad Ali — who set up Al-Ayn Code Club — they set about recording Digital Making at Home projects in Arabic to make them accessible to their Code Club community. 

Mustafa is sat with his dad Ali at a table facing the camera. Both are wearing Code Club T-shirts and there is a laptop on the table.

Meet Xanti

Xanti, aged 9, has been attending the online Cranmere Code Club in the UK. Over the last three months, she’s worked on this maze project. We asked Xanti what inspired this project: 

“I have a friend who makes loads of maze projects and I wanted to give it a go, I couldn’t work out how to make the key unlock the door but I made a list and added the key.”

She describes Richard, her Code Club leader as funny, helpful, and imaginative.

Xanti is stood in her bedroom, she has a big smile on her face and a bow in her hair.

हेय रिचर्ड (Hey Richard!)

Richard, aged 14, attends Infant Jesus MHSS, Kalpakkam, in India. Richard loves creating with code: 

“I love creating animations and I feel like coding is my platform.”

When his club went online, it challenged him to learn more by himself:

“I learnt using variables more proficiently and also to use motion effects in the projects. I’m also learning to debug by myself.”

Richard is sat at his laptop working on a Scratch project.

Take a look at our club guidance, sign up for an upcoming community call, or watch back one of our recent webinars on topics from how to guide and engage your learners online, to introducing web development in your club. 

Don’t forget to share your Code Club stories with us on Twitter at Code Club UK or Code Club World and use the hashtag #MyCodeClub

Be inspired by Code Club Canada and their response to the pandemic

Head of Code Club UK and Ireland Lucia Manzitti has been finding out how Code Clubs around the world are keeping kids coding during the pandemic. Recently she spoke to Maddy Bazett, Program Owner of Code Club Canada.

Getting Code Club Canada online!

When schools and community spaces started to close across Canada, Maddy and the team knew they needed to rise to the challenge. They wanted to make sure that kids attending Code Clubs could keep coding from home, and that others new to coding had the opportunity to have a go!

The team’s quick reaction enabled them to set up free online Code Club sessions within the first week! At first, they were launched as a public drop-in model, but this was soon adapted to attendees having to preregister for a school term. Code Club Canada set up six coding sessions and a final sharing session both in English and in French, to offer support to learners speaking either language.

Lucia was interested to know how parents reacted to the change in sign-up, from public drop-in to preregistration, and the more structured content: 

“Parents appreciated the structure and what to expect from the next session. Knowing the details put parents’ minds at ease, they could now count on something consistent. As weeks went by we noticed that there were repeat children and parents attending the sessions.” 

An online session explained 

Every session is hosted on Whereby, and has a facilitator instructor and a moderator to monitor members’ questions and chat. This team comes from KCJ, a bilingual Canadian charity whose mission is to give every Canadian child access to digital skills education, and who support Code Club Canada with their mission. 

Lucia asked Maddy how they planned their sessions:

“We needed some structure, instructors needed to know what to prepare and it made sense for us to utilise the Code Club curriculum and the progression of a programming language through a module.” 

The young learners mainly work on Scratch and Python projects as the experience is entirely within the computer. Maddy shared that from the 17 March to 14 May, members have spent a total of 763 hours coding online with Code Club Canada! 

Members try out the Code Club Rockband project in Scratch!

How did learners adjust to an online experience? 

A live online Code Club provides a different learning environment for members compared to an in-person club. While before members were used to buddying up with a friend to work through projects, they now work online, independently, and sometimes with a parent. 

Facilitators shared how learners had become more dependent on the step-by-step instructions, and got used to working on a split screen and switching tabs. With time, they became more confident, interacting with the facilitator, sharing their screens, and using their mic to ask questions. 

An online Code Club still provided an opportunity for young coders to share their cool projects with their peers. But rather than their peers being from their school, they were often from a completely different part of the country.

“We have heard back that kids are very excited when a club member is from another part of Canada and are in awe and ask: ‘How are you here, from somewhere else?”

Even in these strange times, Code Club is still helping people to connect. 

A message from Maddy on setting up an online club 

“Definitely try it! Even if you start with one online club or post pre-recorded sessions for your community to use and engage with. I think people are very appreciative in this time of free, fun and accessible content that kids can spend time on, especially when it’s educational.

And potential future volunteers gain confidence in seeing how a session is run (and that it isn’t so hard!) before they commit to starting one themselves.”

If Code Club Canada has inspired you to set up an online club, we have lots of resources to support you. Take a look at our club guidance or listen back to the community call series. 

To keep up-to-date on Code Club Canada, you can and follow them on Twitter or like their Facebook page.