Birthday Challenges

Publication date: October 20, 2022

By Maria Tsapara, Msc, PhD Cand. Univ. West. Macedonia, Early Childhood Educator, Leading Teacher EU Code Week, Scientix Ambassador, ICT Trainer; And

Katerina Spitsa, Med, Msc,, Early Childhood Educator, Leading Teacher EU Code Week, Scientix Ambassador  

On the occasion of the 10th birthday of the European Code Week we created five Birthday Challenges in order to invite not only our students, but also educators both in Greece and in the rest of Europe, to participate with their students. We wanted to engage with as many people as possible, inspire all of them and give the educators the chance to cultivate their students’ computational skills in a more attractive and playful way.  

The idea is to give them the opportunity to replicate the challenges and create their own choreographies, birthday cards with encoded messages, to “cook ” delicious plasticine cakes and help ALLY, the EU Code Week’s virtual assistant, to collect all the ingredients in order to make a birthday cake and conduct their unique birthday song. Through a collaborative padlet (a sort of online post it wall) all the participants will have the opportunity to share their activities and challenges in turn with the other participants, as well as sharing their choreographies, encoding their secret messages of the birthday cards and singing the happy birthday song in a different way. 


Code your birthday card 

Through this activity students could create a birthday card and a digital birthday card for the 10th anniversary of EU Code Week, only using the web 2.0 tool canvas in order to create the digital Birthday Card. They co-created their secret code letter values using symbols, numbers, colors and lines, brainstorming about what “birthday wishes” they wanted to write and then encoding the message by using the secret code letter values. 


Happy Birthday Dance 

In addition, and to celebrate at the fullest the special occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the European Code Week, we created a choreography that can be replicated with any other students, by using the song “Happy Birthday”. This activity does not require any special equipment, as it is an unplugged  one: all the teachers will have to do is to discuss with your students about your choreography and make your own dancing movements. We recommend the following steps:  

 Make flashcards of them and mix them in order to create your dance.  

  • “Decode” the choreography by “reading” the cards and dancing them in the same order you combined them.  
  • On a worksheet, you can replace the images of your movement with shapes / colors / lines / arrows and create the code of your choreography. Videos and photos of the dance will be uploaded on the collaborative Padlet with its code of figures. The teams that will participate can ‘read’ each other’s code and exchange choreographies.  

Ηappy birthday plasticine cake 

In this activity students create their own delicious plasticine birthday cake. They can write or draw and follow a step by step recipe to make the cake. For example: 

  1. Choose 3 colors of plasticine and make 2 round balls of each one 
  2. Press them so as to create small pies 
  3. Choose a pattern and place one coloured pie on top of the other, e.g: 1st pink, 2nd green, 3rd blue
  4. Add the 2nd pink pie on top and then the 2nd blue pie 
  5. With the green pie, create some small balls and place half of them around the bottom of the cake and the rest on top of it
  6. Finally, add 10 candles

Help ally to make a birthday cake 

Help ALLY the EU Code Week’s virtual assistant to make a birthday cake. This activity can be done with or without a robotics kit. The teacher draws the grid on the floor  with classroom materials (paper tape, chalk, newspapers) or in a carton (for the robotic kit) whereas the children are divided into small groups: one child of the team decides on the beginning and the end of the route and places the card of ALLY at the beginning and the cake at the end. If you use a robotic kit you can use  a beebot to transfer ALLY or to transform the beebot to ALLY. Then the cards of the ingredients are  placed on the grid. The main goal is to help Ally to gather all the ingredients in order to make a Birthday Cake for the 10th Anniversary of EU Code Week. The first team will  place the cards (ingredients). The second team will plan the route (by using direction arrows), the  third team will program ALLY (beebot)/or the kid Robot. Clearly teams can have other roles and they can also change roles during the activity. 

Happy birthday song 

Students visit the following site, choose the instruments, follow the pattern below and create the birthday song remake. They can also change the tempo and add some drums as well.