Education Through Entertainment

Unplugged - Classroom Coding DIY Activity to Do With Your Students

Posted on Mon, Dec 20, 2021

Coding is necessary for building amazing technologies and designing complex computer programs, but Mobile Ed Productions has a way to teach basic coding skills to your students with no technology required and only one household object: a deck of cards. 


Coding is the basic task of giving a computer a set of instructions to execute in a certain order, also known as creating algorithms. As technology use has increased and become a part of our modern society, learning to code has become an increasingly important skill for students of all ages and can teach students other valuable skills along the way. Though coding typically occurs on computers, this activity does not require any tech and is accessible to many. Through this activity, your students will begin to understand how computers, software, and games work on their most basic level. 

In this project, students will learn about: 

  • Coding: Sequential thinking 
  • Algorithms: Creating and following instructions 
  • Debugging: Problem-solving 

(Image provided by

What You’ll Need: 

  • A deck of cards
  • Floor-safe tape
  • A few small toys
  • Prizes (optional)

What To Do: 

  1. Break up students into groups of two.
  2. Place your deck of cards on the floor to make a 7x7 grid on the floor. Use your tape to secure them down. 
  3. Place toys (or other objects) randomly throughout your grid, as seen in the above photo. 
  4. Designate a start and finish line on your grid with tape, a sticker, or another object. 
  5. Place your “robot” at the start line. 
    1. TIP: Try using a car or action figure for your “robot” so that students understand which direction their robot is facing, but any object will do.
  6. Have one student “program” a code on a piece of paper using graphics (arrows) or written instructions on a piece of paper that will get their “robot” to the finish line for a prize. Do not move the robot yet. The code should avoid obstacles and not skip over any cards! 
  7. Have another student check their code by testing it. The “programmer” will read their instructions while the “robot” moves across the grid. Be sure to debug the code if there’s a problem getting to the finish line!
  8. Take turns being the “robot” and the “programmer”, where one student creates the one code and another student checks it. 
  9. Create a new grid and begin over again!

ADVANCED VERSION: Have students write a code using graphics or written instructions in advance of making their grid. Their robot will come across obstacles, and the students will have to debug the code to get to the finish line. 

This activity is inspired by 

Want to take coding to the next level with your students? Mobile Ed Productions’s STEAM Museum Program is one of our extremely popular museums and allows for various hands-on activities that teach coding, 3D printing, gears, structures, energy, and much more! Let your students explore 12 different STEAM-related activities that have brought hundreds of smiles to students’ and teachers’ faces. Not to mention, your students will no doubt be fascinated by our life-like, talking robot, Nao!

Our team looks forward to connecting with you at 800-433-7459, or contact us here. Contact us to see our availability and to answer any of your questions. 

Topics: DIY, programming, Arts and Crafts, classroom activity, coding