4 Key Things to Know When Coding Your First Project

4 essentials when coding your first project

We’ve learned some lessons the hard way over the past couple of years when it comes to teaching kids to code.

This is Chapter 5 of our ebook “A Brief Introduction to Programming.” Click here if you want to download the entire ebook for free.

And rather than have you repeat them, we wanted to take some time to share some of the essentials to running a success programming class. Click here if you want to read about lessons our students have taught us over the years.

How to structure your class

Make sure to start by wowing your students with what you made because it will get their brains turning about what’s possible for them.

You can also share the student projects found in books (like our ebook) or on your YouTube page. Usually, at this point, they’re itching to get on a computer and try it for themselves.

Don’t let them!

Instead, explain the shape functions that are available to them.

Shape Function Infographic

Right-click to download this infographic

Show them your outline, and have them draw out what they want to make and label the shapes on their outline, just like you did when you learned.

Example of what students can make when they learn the Shape Functions

Students respond well to seeing that you’ve followed the instructions that you’re giving. I’ve gotten scolded by a student or two for skipping the labeling step and moving right on to programming.

Now, it’s time to get coding!

After the outlines are ready, open up the Code Naturally app and program along with your student as you teach them how each command works. Your students will be more attentive since they already that they’ll need those functions to bring their projects to life.

Have all of your students navigate to the Code Naturally App. It’s easiest if you put the link into Google Classroom or e-mail it directly to them. If that’s not possible, just have your student Google Code Naturally, Click “Looking for App?”, and finally, click “Try out our editor?”

Give them 20-30 minutes to program all of their shapes. Remind them of the following while they get coding. They should be making mistakes, and they should be discussing the errors with each other.

Things to remember when programming your first project:

  1. Syntax is important! Functions won’t work if capitalized when they shouldn’t be or vice versa. You have to have parentheses around the parameters required for each of your shape and design functions.
  2. Don’t forget the semicolon and don’t forget to hit run.
  3. Use two slashes (as in ‘//’) to write a comment for yourself. This helps to organize your code, and the computer will ignore everything after the slashes on that line.
  4. Have fun! Hopefully, you’ll make some mistakes, make adjustments, and continue working at it until it matches up with your outline.

Have them present their work to each other once projects are complete. Students often explain how their ideas transformed due to the constraints they faced.

If you have more than a 1-hour chunk with your students, repeat this process with all of the color & design commands that you’ve learned. Students discover how to layer polygons to make more complex shapes and ultimately make gorgeous illustrations.

Have students download an image of what they’ve made so they can have an artifact of their first completed project. We recommend sharing their projects via Twitter, Facebook, or e-mail. 

Thank you so much for reading and getting your students coding.

It’s a memory that they’ll cherish as they continue their academic careers. You provided an opportunity for your students to create something that they designed using 21st-century skills and tools that prepare them for the fast-changing world around them.

Resources like our Shape Function Infographic are available when you download our free ebook – A Brief Introduction to Programming!


Brief Introduction to Programming eBook