5 Ways to Teach Programming Like The Hobbit

teach programming like the hobbit

Wait a second; I know what you are thinking.  What on earth does instituting a programming curriculum in your class or school have to do with The Hobbit? Well, as it turns out, quite a lot actually.

Venture Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Don't be afraid to embark on an adventureRecently, after reading the story of Aimee Morgan, a Stanford University Libraries archivist who first learned to computer program at the age of 35, I began thinking about how it is never too late to:

Begin something new, push aside all apprehensions, let down the sails, raise the flag, and set course on an epic adventure towards uncharted lands.

With that in mind, I am by no means encouraging you to walk out of your front door, commandeer the nearest vehicle, and embark on a quest to slay dragons (unless this has always been your goal).  I am, however, urging you to develop in areas outside of your comfort zone.  For many, this means teaching programming.

Bilbo would have jumped right into a programming curriculum if given the chance

In The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins is a small, eclectic, and reserved character that is reluctant to change his ways.  When initially presented with the opportunity to join in on a fantastical journey to regain the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo refuses, as this would force him into a world that he was neither prepared for nor felt comfortable in.  However, after spending some time soul searching, Bilbo ultimately opts into the quest, and becomes an integral part of an adventure that will forever be a part of hobbit lore.

Leap Into Programming
Take the first leap into programming

For many, integrating coding into your classroom lesson plan or school curriculum requires this type of “Bilbo moment.”  Like our favorite protagonist, many educators often harbor feelings that computer science and technology is part of a world in which they are simply unprepared for, or to which they do not belong.  However, based on the teachings of The Hobbit, and from personal experience talking to teachers using Kodable, the hardest part of integrating technology and programming into the classroom is, like anything else, just taking that first step.  When speaking with educators who are considering making the leap towards a programming curriculum, but are still hesitant, I often cite the following quote:

“Never be afraid to try something new.  Remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic.”

Programmers can read, write, and understand code, but teachers know best how to translate this material to their students in a language that they can grasp, and most importantly, engage with.  Certainly, some programming knowledge is always helpful, but introducing the fundamentals of coding, and showing students the amazing things that they can do with code is something that every teacher can understand.

Utilize your strengths when teaching codeFlex Your Muscles

As hard as it is to believe, not having a background in computer science or programming can often be your greatest asset.  In The Hobbit, Bilbo’s lack of survival training and inexperience in battle became his most useful tools, and led him to find the ring, save the dwarves, aid in defeating Smaug, and recover the Arkenstone.  On the other hand, the dwarves stubborn reliance on their combat training often get them in trouble, allowing Bilbo to introduce creative solutions.

The beauty of learning to code is that you can use the skill in any industry you find interesting.We need diverse programmers  More than anything, computer science needs artists, fashion designers, or those with a passion for social justice.  Showing students that you can use code in every subject from English to environmental science will help prepare a generation of young students for the challenges of the 21st century.  Coding to solve problems shows students how they can use computer science to help make our world a better place to live.

Don't be afraid to let go of your fearsDon’t Be Afraid to Let Go

In The Hobbit, Bilbo was forced to let go of his fears and reservations.  He let his natural instincts and talents lead him to greatness.  Don’t be afraid to let go of your students, and allow them to become immersed in programming.  Great programmers like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates taught themselves to code.  You can facilitate your student’s coding education by encouraging them, but you don’t need to have all the answers.  A programming curriculum like Kodable engages students so they can get started with programming education on their own.  So, what do students need most?

They need you teach them innovation, and help them understand how they can creatively apply, utilize, and further their programming talents.

Make Lifelong FriendsBilbo made lasting friends, and you can to when you begin teaching programming

Bilbo did not make his journey alone, but had great friends help him along the way.  You do not need to be alone in your journey either.  When we started Kodable, there were very few people teaching kids to code.  We started a biweekly Twitter Chat called #KidsCanCode to be a community for people to talk about programming education.  There are dozens of teachers who join regularly to talk about struggles and triumphs of creating their own programming curriculum.
Join a community of programmersOnce Bilbo established that he was fully committed to his journey, he never once regretted his decision to leave his comfortable home in the Shire.  Instead, he relished the friends that he made, the experiences they shared, and the positive impact that his actions had on his surrounding community.  Similarly, I promise you that your decision to introduce a programming curriculum in your classroom or school is one that you will never regret.

Enroll in a Kodable Education Plan

Kodable: Programming Basics for Kids 5+

Here at Kodable HQ, we enjoy the occasional complexities in life, but we mostly prefer to keep things simple.  Sound familiar? 🙂  

After a year of talking with teachers using Kodable in their classrooms, we discovered that we needed to rework our approach to coding education, and fashion a programming curriculum that is equally as beneficial for students, but easier for teachers to manage.

Well, we ran back to the lab, performed some tests, and created plans to meet the needs of educators using Kodable!  Kodable Education Plans are available in every version of Kodable, and provide teachers with the proper tools to better serve their students and adequately manage programming curriculums in their school.  We have created plans to help you use Kodable with your students at your comfort level: Free Kodable Teacher, Kodable Class, and Kodable School.

Kodable Teacher Accounts

Make the Most of your Programming Curriculum with Personalized Lesson Plans:

Kodable Teacher Accounts are free and enable you to easily monitor and cater to an individual student’s needs, allowing for a more effective classroom coding experience.  You can create a Kodable Teacher Account within Kodable or here!  Then just log in on the app to begin using these educational features:

Add students to classes with Kodable

Organize students in classes, and manage student profiles from within the app or on kodable.com.

Introducing Kodable Class

Enroll in a Kodable Education Plan

Organize a Complete Programming Curriculum with Kodable Class

Kodable Class is an app designed specifically for education use, and makes it easier than ever to introduce the basics of programming to your students.  If you previously purchased Kodable Pro, you can be grandfathered into the new Kodable Class plan when you update to version 5.0.

Develop Comprehensive Lesson Plans with Kodable Class Regardless of Your Programming Experience:

Taking the first step towards programming education can be intimidating, especially if you have limited or no programming experience. Kodable Class can help alleviate these fears, providing subscribers with complete access to all of Kodable’s Learning Guides.

Consult the Kodable Learning Guides for:

An Explanation of Kodable’s Basic Coding Concepts •  Recommended Classroom Activities •  Answer Keys to Every Level

 “I am an Administrator or Technology Instructor, and I want to bring Kodable Class to all of my students”

 Instituting a school-wide programming curriculum? Kodable School Accounts are designed with the unique needs of a school or district in mind.

Kodable Class is designed specifically for teachers and students

Kodable School includes all of the benefits of Kodable Class, as well as upgrades for larger curriculums:

Unlimited Student and Class Profiles • Professional Development from the Kodable Team • Administrator Accessibility – Grant permissions to those who need it at different levels within your school or district (Coming Soon)

Kodable School provides complete access for administrators

Learn More About Kodable Class


Learn More About Kodable School


Or Download the Free Version of Kodable

Download Kodable on the App Store

4 Ways To Make a Kodable Fuzz

Students, parents, and teachers all enjoy the warm, fuzzy company of the fuzzFamily. It is no surprise that we get tons of requests for tips and tricks on how to make them. I decided to compile a list of all the ways you and your Kodable kiddos can enjoy a real life fuzz!

I’d also like to give a special thanks to the awesome teachers who went above and beyond for their students and decided to come up with their own ways of making a fuzz. Their examples are included here as well.

Coloring Sheet Fuzz

The easiest and most frugal way to create a Kodable fuzz is with our fuzz coloring sheet. Download the PDF and start coloring your own!

Create a Fuzz

Yarn Pom Pom Fuzz

Thanks to Agnese Addone and Caterina Moscetti, the CoderDojo Roma students all got their very own fuzz!

The pom pom fuzzes seem pretty simple to create. You can watch the youtube video or follow the steps listed below.


  1. Cut out two round pieces of cardboard. Make sure they are the same size.
  2. Cut out a hole in the center of both pieces that is the same size. You’ll end up with two cardboard rings.
  3. Wrap yarn around both pieces of cardboard starting by going through the center, like in the picture below. Keep wrapping until the entire ring is covered.
  4. Cut each piece of yarn all around the ring using the two pieces of cardboard as a guide. Be sure to hold the pieces of cardboard securely while you cut, so they don’t come apart. Start with yarn to create fuzzes
  5. While the pieces of cardboard are still attached, wrap a piece of yarn very tightly around the center of the yarn ball. Tie it tight, and cut off the remaining yarn.
  6. Remove the cardboard, and fluff the pom poms. Add eyes and a mouth and you have an adorable pom pom fuzz!

Foam Ball Fuzz


I was inspired by this tutorial, and decided to make my own fuzz to travel with us to schools, events, and keep me company at my desk. The supplies for the entire fuzz cost less than $10 at Michael’s.

You’ll need:

Gather your materials to make your fuzz

  • Scissors
  • Eye Lash Yarn
  • 2 Straight Pins
  • Glue ( I used super glue, but regular craft glue or fabric glue will work great too.)
  • Pink and black felt
  • 20 mm oval eyes
  • 4 inch foam ball (in the floral section at craft stores)


  • Hot glue gun
  • Max hold hair spray
  • Needle and thread that matches the tongue color

Once I had all of my supplies, it took me less than ten minutes to make blueFuzz. The original tutorial used hot glue, but I don’t have a hot glue gun, so I opted to use pins to secure the yarn instead. So far they have stayed very secure.

Stick the pin through the yarn several times, wrapping the yarn around the pin each time you “thread” it. Then, pin the yarn to the foam ball.

Stick the pin through the yarn

Wrap the yarn around the foam ball until you do not see any more white.

wrap the yarn around the foam ball

Use the second pin to secure the end of the yarn. Be sure to “thread” the yarn more than once, wrapping it around the needle each time. Then stick the needle in the foam ball. This works best if the needle is the same color as the yarn, so it will not show.

Secure the pin in your Kodable Fuzz

Optional: Since I didn’t use hot glue to secure my yarn, I decided to use hair spray to give my fuzz a little extra hold. I sprayed him pretty well all over with aerosol hair spray . The only draw back to this is that he can no longer attend bonfires, as I’m pretty sure he will spontaneously combust near an open flame. ;P

Glue on both of the eyes. You’ll need to hold them in place for about 30 seconds.

Glue the eyes on your Kodable Fuzz

Cut out the mouth and tongue. Before you glue or stitch them, hold them up to the fuzz’s face to make sure you’re happy with the size, shape and tongue placement. This took me a couple tries.

Create the mouth of your Fuzz

Optional: I decided to stitch the tongue to the black mouth piece to give it a bit more definition. I started at the top of the tongue and used a dark pink thread. I back stitched so it was all one solid line. I stopped half way to the end of the tongue, so it will still stick out a bit.
Glue the mouth on and hold it there for 30 seconds.

Stitch the tongue to the black mouth piece

Optional: Depending on which fuzz you decide to make, you may need to trim up the fur so it looks less frizzy. My blueFuzz still needs a trim, but I think he looks pretty good either way.

Furry Fuzz

Create a Furry Kodable Fuzz

This is the most realistic fuzz I have seen so far. Jeanne Reed and her daughter made diamondFuzz. I am very impressed at their creative talents! She looks fabulous. For more details take a look at Jeanne’s tutorial here.

Join the Hour of Code with Kodable

This was originally posted on the Kodable Blog on December 5th, 2014. Learn some of the basics of programming for FREE in only an hour by helping the fuzzFamily navigate the Technomazes on the planet Smeeborg! blog4img1

No experience needed.

Kodable is completely self-guided. Kids five and up can enjoy playing Kodable on their own, with a friend or with an adult’s help. Kodable for iPad (free) Kodable Unplugged How it works Kodable is an iPad game that introduces kids to programming concepts in a fun and inviting way. Kids must drag and drop commands to program their Fuzz to complete each maze they encounter. Each new concept is introduced with a guided tutorial.


No iPad? No problem!

We’re excited to offer students without an iPad the option to learn programming basics “unplugged”! The fuzzFamily Frenzy is an exciting game where kids must program a partner (their robot) to complete a simple obstacle course. Check it out! If you’re curious how to use this with your class, you can read one teacher’s example here!

What is Hour of Code?


The ‘Hour of Code’ is a nationwide initiative by CSEdWeek and code.org to introduce computer programming to 10 million students and encourage them to learn programming. Kodable is proud to be a curriculum provider for the Hour of Code on the iPad and “unplugged.”

Why choose Kodable to learn to code?


Kodable is the first step in learning to code. Students are guided through new concepts in a fun and familiar way. They are introduced to sequence, conditions, loops, and programming logic in the first 30 levels. These are concepts used in every programming language. Learning the fundamentals first makes it easy to learn more advanced platforms like Scratch later.

Kodable offers resources for teachers and parents.


We include the Kodable Learning Guides that are your guide to teaching with Kodable. In the Kodable Learning guides we explain the concepts your kids are learning and how they fit into programming. We also include activity ideas, explanations of how to play the game, and an answer key! See one here

See the original post here: http://www.kodable.com/2013/12/05/join-the-hour-of-code-with-kodable.html

How to Participate in a #KidsCanCode Twitter Chat

Kodable Twitter Chat

For the past month, I have been hosting a weekly programming education Twitter chat on Tuesdays at 8pm EST called #KidsCanCode. Every week, there are new participants who are unsure about what a Twitter chat is or how to participate in one. So here is a quick guide to Twitter chats!

What is a Twitter chat?

Twitter chats are like an online party where groups of people with similar interests come together at a designated time to talk about a specified topic. Some chats occur weekly, some are bi-weekly such as #KidsCanCode, and others are monthly. It all depends on the moderators and the amount of participation.

The chats take place using a common hashtag. Using a hashtag allows anyone on twitter to follow the conversation. It is like a key word that links tweets together.

#KidsCanCode Twitter Chat

Here’s an example of what you might see when you click on the #KidsCanCode hashtag. All of these people used “#kidscancode” in their tweet, therefore Twitter lumps them together so you can read everything in one place.


How to participate in a Twitter chat

To participate in a Twitter chat you can use Twitter or some other Twitter software. I prefer to use TweetDeck or Hootsuite, because they allow you to open multiple columns.

Set up a column for #KidsCanCode in your TweetDeck

I usually keep one column open for the chat I am currently in, and one next to it with all of my interactions. I like this layout because I can see the chat while also seeing the separate conversations I have going on. You’ll find your own preferences as you get used to chatting on Twitter.

Once you install or create a free account on Hootsuite or TweetDeck, you need to create a column for the chat. In TweetDeck, you can do this from the side panel.

  1. Click the magnifying glass, and type in the hashtag for the chat you want to follow.  For example, type in #KidsCanCode. Search for #KidsCanCode
  2. When the chat comes up, click “Add Column” button at the bottom of the window and a #KidsCanCode column will appear.                                        Input the hashtag #KidsCanCode

How Twitter chats work

Now that you’re set up and ready to begin your first chat, it is important to know how they work. Twitter chats come in many different formats. Some chats are question and answer, others are focused on a guest, some are broken into conversation segments, and others are a free flowing conversation.

Most education related chats such as #KidsCanCode follow the Q and A format. I’ll go over participating in this format, since these are the ones I prefer and have the most experience doing.

The moderator will have 5 or 6 questions prepared for the chat ahead of time. Every few minutes they will announce a question using one of the following formats.

  • Q1: What is your favorite color? #colorchat
  • QUESTION1: What is your favorite color? #colorchat
  • ——> Q1: What is your favorite color? #colorchat

When you see the question, you can respond using “A” and the question number.

A1: My favorite color is purple! #colorchat

It is important to include the hashtag at the end of each of your tweets so everyone can see it.

Some final tips

Twitter chats are a lot of fun, especially when you find a group of people you really enjoy. Hang in there and try a few different chats to find a group you click with.

Here is a list of all the education related chats that are available.

Larger chats like #edchat and #edtechchat move very quickly, so don’t worry if you fall behind at first. Eventually you will get the hang of it.

Join us for #KidsCanCode!

Now that you know all about Twitter chats, get out there, start tweeting, and join our #KidsCanCode chat!

Thank You

Thank You from Kodable

This was originally published on the Kodable blog on October 16, 2013

We started Kodable because we wanted to help prepare kids for a bright future by helping them learn a valuable skill. We are amazed at the positive impact Kodable has had on programming education in such a short time.

Since we released Kodable in the App Store last November, kids in over 70 countries have begun learning how to program. Kodable has allowed students in kindergarten all the way to 8th grade begin their programming education. The best part – over half of them are girls! Teachers are empowered with a tool to enable them to teach programming, and parents are bonding with their kids over a common interest. We are thrilled to be the first step so many take on their journey to digital literacy.

So, I’d like to thank all the parents, teachers, aunts, uncles, grandparents and others who are teaching the kids they love to program using Kodable. You all are great! Keep it up! You are truly helping children form a brighter future with the concepts they learn in Kodable.

We created this blog as a way to keep you connected as we continue to grow and challenge your kids in new ways. You can come here for help, humor, programming information, Kodable news and more! We want to make this a place to learn, share and grow, so don’t be afraid to give feedback. We want to hear from you!


Coding for Kids | 5 Reasons to Teach Kids to Code

Thinking of teaching kids to code or planning a coding curriculum? At Kodable, we believe coding is a huge part of every kids future. Here are 5 reasons we think it coding is so important!

Here are the best reasons to teach kids to code

Enroll in a Kodable Education Plan to teach kids to code today!

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