Grade 1 – Structures and Mechanisms

Lesson Summary: Students will create an animated story demonstrating actions that can be taken to minimize waste at home.

Curriculum Expectations: These expectations are intended to highlight the many ways in which this lesson could support the curriculum. It is neither expected nor necessary for teachers to address all of these expectations at once. Teachers are encouraged to select the most relevant expectations based on their unique context and intentions for the lesson.

Science & Technology


Language - Writing

Overall Expectations

A2. use coding in investigations and to model concepts, and assess the impact of coding and of emerging technologies on everyday life

A3. demonstrate an understanding of the practical applications of science and technology, and of contributions to science and technology from people with diverse lived experiences D1. assess the impact on people and the environment of everyday objects, including structures, and the materials they are made of

Specific Expectations

A2.1 write and execute code in investigations and when modelling concepts, with a focus on creating clear and precise instructions for simple algorithms

A2.2 identify and describe impacts of coding and of emerging technologies on everyday life

A3.3 analyse contributions to science and technology from various communities

D1.1 identify the kinds of waste materials produced by humans, and plan and carry out a course of action for minimizing waste in the classroom or at home, explaining why each action is important

Overall Expectations

C3. solve problems and create computational representations of mathematical situations using coding concepts and skills

Specific Expectations C3.1 solve problems and create computational

representations of mathematical situations by writing and executing code, including code that

involves sequential events

C3.2 read and alter existing code, including code that involves sequential events, and describe how changes to the code affect

the outcomes

Overall Expectations

  1. Generate, gather, and organize ideas and information to write for an intended purpose and audience

  2. draft and revise their writing, using a variety of informational, literary, and graphic forms and stylistic elements appropriate for the purpose and audience;

Specific Expectations

    1. identify the topic, purpose, audience, and form for writing, initially with support and direction

    2. generate ideas about a potential topic, using a variety of strategies and resources

    3. gather information to support ideas for writing in a variety of ways and/or from a variety of sources

    4. sort ideas and information for their writing in a variety of ways, with support and direction

    1. write short texts using a few simple forms

2.3 use familiar words and phrases to convey a clear meaning

2.4 write simple but complete sentences that make sense

3.4 use punctuation to help communicate their intended meaning, with a focus on the use of: a capital letter at the beginning of a sentence; a period, question mark, or exclamation mark at the end

3.8 produce pieces of published work to meet criteria identified by the

teacher, based on the expectations

Breaking Down the Coding Expectations in Science & Technology:

In the Grade 1 Science & Technology curriculum, there are 2 coding related expectations:

A2.1 write and execute code in investigations and when modelling concepts, with a focus on creating clear and precise instructions for simple algorithms

A2.2 identify and describe impacts of coding and of emerging technologies on everyday life To paraphrase these expectations and express them in plainer language, students are being asked to:

Both expectations will be addressed through the project.

Learning Goals: We are learning to write code to create an animated story to teach others about reducing waste at home

Success Criteria:

  1. I can use basic start blocks and movement blocks to code my characters to move

  2. I can add a background to my project that makes sense with the dialogue

  3. I can explain sequence in my own words

  4. I can explain algorithms in my own words

  5. I can share strategies to help others reduce waste at home

STEM Profile:

What does it mean to protect the environment? Reducing our waste is just one strategy, but there are so many steps we can take to make a difference. Indigenous peoples have long held knowledge about how to best take care of the earth, and Winona LaDuke is just one of them. Winona LaDuke is an enrolled Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe) member who currently lives on the White Earth Reservation in what is now known as Minnesota, USA.

Winona has dedicated her life to protecting the lands of Indigenous peoples and has founded multiple activist groups, such as Honor the Earth, that focuses on environmental issues. In 1996 and 2000, she ran for Vice President of the U.S. as the nominee of the Green Party in the USA. Winona continues to work tirelessly to protect Indigenous peoples and our environment.

Like Winona, we will be teaching others about the importance of reducing our waste and protecting our environment.

Minds On:

  1. Students will have different experience levels when it comes to coding.

    1. If students have never experienced coding before, please watch the “What is Coding?” video.

    2. If students have experienced coding before, have a quick discussion in which students share their definition of coding. Some responses to look for include:

      1. Coding is the language that computers speak

      2. Coding is how we talk to computers or get computers to do what we want

      3. Coding is the instructions that we give to a computer

  2. Introduce the idea of an algorithm, which is a set of steps we can give to a computer so it can perform a task. You may want to watch this video to further explain the idea.

  3. Similar to the concept of an algorithm is the concept of a sequence. A sequence is the order in which you write your code and the order matters. Think of a recipe to make a cake; if the steps are put in the wrong order (think back to the algorithm), the cake will come out all wrong. When writing code, a task needs to be broken down into smaller steps and put in the right order for the algorithm to be successful.

    1. Discussion: Can students think of a time when they did the steps of a task in the wrong order? What happened?

  4. Brainstorm with students ideas for their story. This can be done in small groups or as a whole class. Sample prompts include:

Planning Our Project: Provide students with the animated story project planner and encourage students to create three to four scenes that demonstrate different ways to reduce waste.

Students should create a rough sketch of what will happen in each scene by writing a few words or a sentence describing what happens in the scene. Teachers may wish to provide a list of words from which to choose, a scribe, or other assistive technology to support students.

Creating Our Project: Please see the “Sample Code” section of the lesson for screenshots and a full video showcasing a

sample project and all its code.

  1. If you have not used Scratch Jr before, please consider watching the videos at the following links in order to understand the basics of the platform:

  2. In the first page of the project, add the first background using the Change Background button (5).

  3. Choose the main character and begin writing the code to move and animate the character. Students are encouraged to use the “Say” block from the purple “Looks” menu to add dialogue to their story or to record and add a sound from the green “Sounds” menu to add audio files to communicate orally. Students can also add multiple characters, and even design their own characters using the Paint Editor, if they wish. Make sure that all of their blocks of code are connected to a trigger block, such as the “Start on Green Flag” block.

  4. When students are ready to create their second scene, add another page.

  5. In the second scene, add a background, characters, and write the code. Remember that the code for each character and on each page is created separately. Students can copy a character and its code, if needed.

  6. When students are happy with their second scene, go back to page 1. In the code for the character whose code ends last, use the “Go to Page” end block to specify the page project. If students have already added multiple pages, make sure to choose the correct page (look for the #). This will trigger the next scene to start automatically.

  7. Repeat for scenes 3 and 4.

  8. To play the story, press the Green Flag button. Students are encouraged to use Presentation Mode to make their story full screen.

    Sample Code:

    Option A: Video

    Option B: Screenshots


Sharing Our Work/Consolidation: Students can share Scratch Jr projects using these steps.

  1. Students should be provided with time to share their projects with others and to engage in self and peer assessment. This can be done in a variety of different formats, including a gallery walk, whole class presentation, or “trading” their project with another student. Students can provide feedback in a variety of ways, including written and verbal. A variety of feedback options and templates are available in Appendix A.

  2. An important aspect of assessing student understanding is focusing on the process, not the product. While it is important to have a final product that functions as intended, students are often asked to produce something within a limited time frame; therefore, it may be the case that, given more time, a student would be able to produce a fully functional product.

    To assess learning, teachers can conference with students throughout the creation of their projects using the anecdotal prompts in Appendix B and documenting these discussions using an anecdotal observations chart. Teachers are encouraged to consider the troubleshooting strategies used by students throughout the project, their ability to explain how their project works, and what they might do differently in the future.

  3. A rubric can be used to evaluate the final product. This and other assessment and evaluation tools can be modified, as needed.

    Low-Tech/No-Tech Modifications:

Appendix A: Self and Peer Feedback

Appendix B: Anecdotal Prompts

Throughout the time when students are creating their projects, teachers are encouraged to circulate and conference with students to discuss their projects and progress. The process is just as, if not more, important than the final product when it comes to coding, so this is key to truly understanding a student's understanding.

Key Concepts

Students should be able to identify, name, and explain key coding concepts in their own words; for example, sequence can be described as “the order in which you write your code matters”. Conditionals can be described as “if-then statements that give your computer options to choose from.” The wording may be unique to each student, but they should be able to explain the concept.

Suggested Prompts:

  1. Can you tell me what you know about  ?

  2. Can you show me where in your code you used  ? How does it work?


There may be times when students “stumble” into the “right” answer in their code without fully understanding how they got there, while another student may have a project that isn’t working the way they intend, but they know exactly why and are able to very clearly articulate the steps they would take to fix the issue, if they had more time. Just because a student’s project is not working exactly as they want it does not necessarily mean that they don’t understand so it is important to take the time to discuss with students.

Suggested Prompts:

  1. Can you tell me what this section of your code does?

  2. It seems like this section of code isn’t working the way you want it to. Why do you think that might be? How might you fix it?

  3. What would happen if you made  change?


    In the world of code, a lot of mistakes are going to be made. Not only is this completely normal (and it happens to professional computer programmers all the time), but it is actually HOW we learn to code. To move from making the mistake into learning from it, students need to develop and utilize effective troubleshooting strategies. If a student just sits there staring at their code for a week trying to figure out an issue without ever asking for help, they are not demonstrating effective troubleshooting strategies. Effective troubleshooting strategies that students may demonstrate include:

Suggested Prompts:

  1. Can you tell me about a time where your code wasn’t working the way you wanted it to? What did you do to

    fix it?

  2. It seems like this section of code isn’t working the way you want it to. Why do you think that might be? How

    might you fix it?

  3. What are some mistakes you made when creating your project? What would you do differently next time?