Written by Guest Writer – Bess Naughtin
I’m always on the lookout for picture books that help me unpack the digital technologies curriculum, so I was really excited to stumble across ‘How to Code a Sandcastle’ by Josh Funk'.
Funk is a software engineer and children’s book author and for some strange reason, never considered combining these two skills until writing this book. It’s a match made in heaven if you ask me!‘How to Code a Sandcastle’ is the story of a young girl named Pearl who is at the end of her summer holidays and yet to successfully build a sandcastle. When she calls upon her robot friend to help her out, Funk starts seamlessly unpacking the concepts of sequences, loops and branching as Pearl gives the robot instructions.
After reading the story, I gave students some code of their own and we headed to the sandpit. I’d prepared a sequence of pictures (from the book) for the Preps to follow and the 1/2s were given the same pictures as well as a flowchart that matched Pearl’s instructions.
Students could then choose which “code” they wanted to follow as they built their own sandcastles. Ideally I would have given them some Scratch-style blocks to follow but my graphic design skills (or lack thereof!) let me down!
A follow up lesson, which I called ‘How to Design a Sandcastle’, shifted the focus a little to include more design technologies. In this lesson the students used iPads to film time lapses of themselves designing their own sandcastles.
I think this is a great way to document projects and share understandings (especially when students are building with LEGO or other construction materials) and it worked particularly well in this lesson.In short, this book is funny, clever and relatable enough to make tricky concepts not seem so tricky. It’s sequel, ‘How to Code a Rollercoaster’, will be released in August and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!
‘How to Code a Sandcastle’ is available for online purchase at Booktopia.