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4 Energetic Distance Learning Lessons for Back to School

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Back to School Distance Learning Lessons

Although back-to-school in 2020 will look different, there’s still plenty of opportunities to provide your class with super fun, challenging, and unique distance learning lessons to boost excitement and engagement. In this post, we will highlight our favorite 4 distance learning lessons for elementary and middle school.

Alix Gallagher, the director of strategic partnerships for Policy Analysis for California Education, explains in a recent Washington Post article that schools need to focus on designing distance learning lessons around what gives kids meaningful interaction and what fulfills their social needs. She recommends using a variety of different ways to deliver lessons, like a video recording or live video, plus interactive activities for actively engaging with the lessons.

At Unruly Splats, we couldn’t agree more and our own back-to-school distance learning lessons deliver a mixture of hands-on coding and activities for active play.  All of our latest distance learning lessons and activities are designed to be student-facing with step-by-step instructions that work in remote, in-person, or hybrid learning environments. These 4 popular activity packs combine the fun of active, physical play with cool coding and technology concepts. If this sounds like a classroom environment you’re looking forward to creating, read on!

1) Morse Code Activity Pack

Samuel Morse, born in Charleston, Massachusetts, was a painter and scientist who took an interest in the telegraph and set out to work with colleagues, Leonard Gale and Alfred Vail, to improve its functionality. Morse Code was created as the system to deliver messages across the single-wire telegraph. The code assigned numbers and letters in the alphabet to a series of dots and dashes based on frequency of use. Letters used often, such as “E”, got a shorter code, while letters used less frequently, such as “Q”, had a more complex code. Operators were able to hear and interpret the code by listening to the sequence of clicks in the receiver and then translate the messages for the recipient. 

Our Morse Code Activity Pack offers four unruly distance learning lessons to get students coding funny messages to share with each other. The last activity is inspired by mad libs where students have to crack the secret code! The lessons in this pack build on each other and start by creating dots and dashes using sound or lighting up the Splats. The later activities introduce how to create functions to package the code which makes creating the messages easier. These are great for middle school level and don’t require physical Splats.

Each activity features a handy dandy video tutorial to help everyone follow along. Get students coding in no time Splat!

2) Musical Splats Activity Pack

In this activity pack, students are challenged to code musical songs on the Splats app. These activities are great for elementary students and build in difficulty. The first activity starts by using blocks to create drum and symbol sounds to create beats and the 2nd and 3rd activity use a system called MIDI to actually code different notes to create a song! With MIDI, Each music note is assigned a number and can be played using a variety of different instrument sounds.

distance learning lessons for coding music and creating songs with MIDI
Each musical note on the MIDI scale is assigned a number which allows students to code their own songs using the Splats app

Using this system, students can create their own totally unique songs with the Splats app. Each distance learning lesson also comes with a video explanation so students get a step by step walkthrough. Here's an example of our video for the third activity, Splats Band, where students create their own song.

All of the distance learning lessons in this pack are designed to be student-facing and work in both virtual and in-person learning environments for the 2020 school year. These activities are perfect for self-paced learning and great to get students moving to the beat. Here is a video below of students in Ms. Truesdale's music class using Splats to create songs.

3) STEM & Fitness Activity Pack 

While our Musical and Morse Code activity packs are focused on creating music and messages in our app, our STEM and Fitness Activity Pack  includes active exercise time away from screens! You can have your students do these activities synchronously on your classroom calls or asynchronously at home.

Through these distance learning lessons, students will learn to code a countdown timer and stopwatch to build their own fitness circuit. Examples of activities include how many jumping jacks they can do in 30 seconds or how long it takes them to fo 20 pushups. Students can track their progress in the Splats Fitness Challenge Log. Students can also build randomization into their fitness machine by lighting their Splats a random color and then using our chart below to see which exercise is associated with what color.

distance learning lessons for fitness and stem
In the STEM and Fitness distance learning lessons, students can code their Virtual Splats so it lights up a random color which is associated with an exercise

There is also a video demonstration of each exercise so students can practice their best form!

For students who aren't as interested in the physical fitness part of coding with Splats, there's the "found art challenge" which has students run around to find objects of a certain color in their house based on the color that Splats are flashing. They have a certain amount of time to put all those objects together into their own interpretive art piece! The last distance learning lesson is a robot dance party where students can bust out their dance moves to get sweaty. Each color is associated with a dance move - think dance dance revolution, unruly style!

4) Social Emotional Learning Activity Pack

Games are only as enjoyable as the people playing them. Therefore, it’s important for students to have the right mindset and attitudes when playing games together. Social-emotional skills such as demonstrating good sportsmanship and effective communication go a long way towards making sure everyone feels included and has fun!

Our SEL Activity Pack is designed to focus on the core CASEL (The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) competencies of self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. Throughout the lessons, students are asked to focus on two questions:

1) Did I learn something?
2) Did I have fun? 

This pack includes distance learning lessons that focus on communal play (virtual or in person) rather than programming and therefore we’ve made all the programs available to download. We also provide an SEL checklist for reference and suggested lesson plans. 

distance learning lessons for SEL and collaboration
All of the activities in our SEL distance learning lesson pack include a worksheet with discussion questions and an SEL checklist

Games include in this distance learning lessons pack include the fan-favorite "Would You Rather" and fun puzzles that encourage students to collaborate to solve problems. Get your students collaborating and working together whether they are remote, in-person, or hybrid this 2020 school year.

There are so many options to bring some unruliness to the classroom through distance learning lessons this 2020. Share your approach with us on Twitter with the hashtag #WeAreUnruly or email us at info@unruly-studios.com with the lessons you’re excited about bringing to the classroom to get kids moving this year! 

Unruly Studios makers of Unruly Splats, programmable, stompable floor tiles that help kids learn fundamental coding skills through recess-style play. Best for elementary and middle school students from PE to science or coding class, a great addition to the classroom for active STEM coding and play!

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