Mr. Wilcox student dragonfly

Fifth grade Introduction to Computer programming using Processing - PCS

Since 2014 Peabody Charter School has been using Processing to teach basic computer coding in a year long curriculum. This work was jointly designed and focuses on helping students feel empowered to tackle text based programming in a fun and creative way. The curriculum takes students through a sequence of exercises focused on developing their understanding of the 2D coordinate system, slowly building up their confidence through self discovery, spatial puzzles and creative exercises. As student's confidence with the 2D grid grows and their understanding of commands increases, more complex shapes are introduced and slowly additional computing concepts are added (variables and conditionals).

As the school transitioned to chromebooks, the curriculum has shifted to doing most of the work using online Processing editors. Specifically, this editor.

Paper worksheets help guide students through the exercises (which last 1-2 weeks depending on student progress through the exercises) and allow them to reflect using pencil and paper to further their knowdlege.

Current exercises include:
The beginning
Introducing Color
Circle Puzzles
Base Code for grid
Rectangle/Triangle Puzzle
House Puzzle
Base code for house
Color puzzle and pumpkin
Introduction to Variables
Creating your own Variables
More fun with Variables
Introduction to Random
Introduction to Conditionals
More fun with Conditionals


Initial lessons with 5th grade (2014):
Peabody Charter School 5th grade Links


Related work with some other spatial puzzles in 6th grade (2015):
Peabody Charter School 6th grade Links


The intial work was documented in a 2015 SIGCSE poster: Eighteen Hours of Code with Fifth Grade Students

Note that in general, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
Creative Commons License

Contact info:
email: zwood "at" calpoly.edu
and John.Wilcox "at" PeabodyCharter.net

Z. Wood home page