This storybook coding activity pairs a lovable little mouse with Christmas algorithm art to teach preschoolers what algorithms are, practice listening and following directions, and learn how a computer receives information.
What is an Algorithm?
An algorithm is a defined list of steps for performing a task. In the book, Merry Christmas, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff, Mouse has a specific order of steps that he follows to decorate his tree. This unplugged coding activity for preschoolers uses those steps to define what an algorithm is and create some cute algorithm art. Algorithms are also a fun way to teach listening and following instruction skills. Anything process can be turned into a fun algorithm activity!
Merry Christmas Mouse Storybook Coding Activity for Preschoolers
For this activity, you can print the Storybook Coding Activity worksheet – Scroll down to get your copy it’s just above the purple author box.
You can also use the ornament pieces provided to do this activity, but it’s more fun to draw as you go! You can also draw a large triangle with ten smaller triangles in it to avoid printing altogether. Each group of ornaments goes into its own triangle and the last triangle is for Mouse.
Before you get started, explain to your child that you will be giving them instructions that they will follow to decorate Mouse’s Christmas tree just like you would give a computer instructions. The trick is that they have to follow those instructions without asking questions because computers can’t ask questions! This is a tough one, so make sure to read your algorithm slowly without giving them any extra detail.
Merry Christmas Mouse Algorithm
The best part about this activity is that you already have the algorithm in your book! Here is the algorithm simplified that you can read to your child. Be sure to break between steps to give them time to do that task. If you are drawing the ornaments on your tree, you can give your kids the book to help draw the ornaments.
- Put one star on the Christmas tree.
- Add two angels to a triangle.
- Add three snowflakes to a triangle.
- Add four reindeer to a triangle.
- Add five snowmen to a triangle.
- Add six toy soldiers to a triangle.
- Add seven robots to a triangle.
- Add eight little elves to a triangle.
- Add nine mittens to a triangle.
- Add ten rockets to a triangle.
- Add Mouse to a triangle.
Why are Unplugged Coding Activities Important?
Unplugged coding activities are designed to build the foundation of coding.
These activities are essentially games and lessons that teach children how to think logically about objects, how to break down large tasks into smaller tasks that are easier to complete, and how to identify errors.
Working hands-on makes coding concepts tangible and unplugged coding activities are ideal for young coders.
Unplugged coding activities are pretty easy to set up and support basic math concepts like patterns and sequences.
Why Teach Preschoolers to Code?
Computational thinking can be used to solve problems in almost all areas of our lives and helps kids develop some pretty great life skills that can apply to a variety of situations.
A computational thinker approaches problems by:
- Experimenting and playing to solve a problem that might have more than one possible solution
- Working together with others to reach a common goal
- Persevering when faced with a difficult problem
- Finding and fixing errors in complex problems
- Designing and making solutions for open-ended problems
- Understanding their own strengths and weaknesses
Teaching toddlers and preschoolers to think like computer programmers only strengthen their ability to interact and make logical connections with computers as they grow.
Unplugged coding activities offer parents and educators a unique opportunity to get children as young as 2 started with logical thinking activities without the need for a computer.
Related Unplugged Coding Activities
- Christmas Algorithm Art Unplugged Coding Activity
- Christmas Sudoku Logical Reasoning Activity for Kids
- Get Started with Algorithms and Code Your Art!
Toni is a makerMOM with a mission to make STEAM activities accessible, affordable, understandable, and fun for parents to teach their kids through play. She believes that making mistakes and getting messy are some of the best ways to learn and encourages her four kid coders to never lose their sense of wonder.
You can Toni, her fantastic four, and a ton of low-prep STEAM lessons, unplugged coding activities, kid crafts, and free worksheets at Our Family Code.
More Unplugged Coding Activities on Rainy Day Mum for Preschoolers
Another Christmas Coding Activity create a Coded Bell Chain inspired by The Polar Express.
Use nature to inspire a coding activity and replicate the dances of the bees.
Work on code with the phases of the moon.
More Activities and Crafts for Kids Inspired by Merry Christmas Mouse
- Make some glittered Snowflakes with your Toddlers and Preschoolers.
- Create Pretty Mouse Angels for the Christmas Tree.
- Practice using a 10 Frame as you decorate the tree along with Mouse in Merry Christmas Mouse.
- Make Peppermint Cream Mice enjoy with the kids.
Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, teacher, mum, and home educator from the UK. She loves getting creative, whether it is with simple and easy crafts and ideas, activities to make learning fun, or delicious recipes that you and your kids can cook together you'll find them all shared here on Rainy Day Mum.