Let’s get back to Code Club safely

Move over August, September has arrived and Code Club has a range of exciting new options to help you restart your Code Club safety.

Guiding you through options

We’ve developed a framework to guide you through which option will suit your club’s current situation. The options are flexible, to allow you to pick and combine elements that will work for your club and venue. 

Members from the Code Club community have kindly shared their learnings and experiences on the options, and provided top tips for getting back to coding this September. 

In-person sessions

When you are ready to restart your club, in-person sessions will run as normal, following guidelines from your local health authority and safeguarding for your venue. Hear how Richard Hayler from Cranmere Code Club in the UK is preparing his club for in-person sessions: 

“We’re really looking forward to when we can resume our in-person sessions and are working with our school on the safest way to do this.”

Online sessions

During August, Rohima and Christina from the Code Club team had fun running online sessions for the Raspberry Pi Foundation. An online session is run by an educator or volunteer; it takes place at a regular chosen time and runs using video conferencing or live-streaming tools.

If your club is considering running online sessions, take a look at the advice from Rohima and Christina: 

  • “Be prepared in your setting — check the sound on your laptop is working, plug in your charger, and have the club window open so you can start promptly.” (Rohima) 
  • “Don’t worry if you only have a couple of children turn up, embrace it. They are there because they want to be, make it a fun place to be, you may just inspire a future coder!” (Rohima)
  • “I learned how different it was to do group coding online vs in person. In some cases, your role is to just check in with kids every 10–15 minutes and facilitate the sharing. Sometimes, it’ll be quiet, so talk to your group about having music!” (Christina) 
  • “Remember to be patient with yourself, participants, and parents, especially with the first session. You’re going to learn so much during the first session that will make your second, third, and fourth session run super smoothly!” (Christina)  

Remote activities

We checked in with D&G libraries in Scotland who are regularly sending out remote activities from the Digital Making at Home programme to parents via their Facebook page. They’re then on hand to answer questions and offer support when needed. 

Here’s what a parent said about the activities:   

“My son really enjoyed the coding club over the summer, he had done a little before and picked up how to do it very quickly. It was fun and interactive and he has been back time and time again trying new things.”

Keeping your club flexible 

The pandemic is keeping us on our toes, and we know that clubs may not always be able to run consistently in-person, online, or remote activities. Leeds Libraries used a pick-and-mix approach to running their Code Club, read about how they got on.

We encourage you to feel confident to pick and combine the options according to what best suits you and your venue.

Take a look at our ways to run a Code Club page for everything you will need to get your club back up and running this September, including new resources, the framework, and updated safeguarding guidance. 

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.

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.