1, 2, 3, code ! - Cycle 1 activities - Lesson 1.2. Challenge: Programming an avatar's movements along a route


By combining instructions from the previous lesson, students design a program to create a complex route for an avatar.

Key ideas
 (see Conceptual scenario)


  • The machines all around us simply follow "orders" (instructions)
  • By combining several simple instructions, we can perform a complex task


  • To command machines, we invent and use languages
  • A program is written in a language that both humans and machines can understand.


  • A program is a combination of instructions.

Inquiry-based methods



For each group:

  • An avatar
  • A poster on A3 or A2 size paper with a 3x4 grid
  • Several copies of the instruction cards from Handout 1 (copied or drawn by the students during the previous lesson)


Program, language


30 min




Before this lesson, the teacher should prepare or have the students prepare several copies of the instruction cards from Handout 1 (in all, six copies of each instruction card will be required for the entire sequence).

Teaching notes:
For preschool students, plan to have a set of instruction cards and a grid for each student (or student pairs). Kindergarten students can begin to work in groups of four.


Starting the activity

As a class, review the conclusions from the previous lesson: By giving instructions, you can move the avatar where you want around the grid. The teacher reminds the students what they did at the end of the lesson: compile the instruction cards one after another, without removing any of them. The teacher introduces the term "program": a program is a set of instructions.

The teacher presents the grid to the class and places the avatar on one of the corner squares. They ask the class to create a program that will help the avatar go home at the opposite corner of the grid (the avatar and the house are each on a grid square).




Experiment: Create a program for the avatar (in groups)

The students are split into small groups, each with its own avatar, a grid, a program strip and enough instruction cards (four copies of each) to program the avatar's movements. The teacher asks them to find two different routes to guide the avatar home. The students combine their instruction cards and test their routes to see if the program works.

On the left: Caroline Fayard's kindergarten class; on the right: Jessica Mazoyer's preschool class, Paris.


Group discussion

The teacher asks each group to present one of their programs. There are multiple possibilities. For example:


At the end of the lesson, the various programs are shown on the board. The class concludes that sometimes there are many ways to get the same result.

The teacher explains that these cards form a language that (in our game) can be understood by both the avatar and people: it is a "programming language."



The class summarizes together what they learned in this lesson:

  • By combining several simple tasks, we can perform a complex task.
  • A program is written in a language that the avatar and students can understand.


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