October 23, 2018
By Catherine Crider

Lesson plan

ABC Coding

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Students will be able to identify the order of letters in the alphabet.

(5 minutes)
  • Call students together.
  • Have students sing their ABCs as they settle into their spot on the rug.
  • Then, have students turn to a partner and do a think-pair-share about everything they know about codes.
  • After chatting with their partner, have each partnership choose one fact to share with the class. Focus back together as a whole group to share this knowledge.
(10 minutes)
  • Explain to students that they will need to crack codes in today’s lesson.
  • In order to crack these codes, they will need to really know the order of the alphabet.
  • Write the letters A, K, and Z on the board. Ask students what letter comes at the beginning of the alphabet? What comes at the end? What comes in the middle?
  • Repeat again with the letters C, J, and W. Continue to repeat as many times as necessary.
  • Write all the letters of the alphabet on the board. Have students count to 26 as you write one number under each letter in order from A to Z. Leave this visible for the rest of the lesson.
  • Explain to students that this will be the code and that the code is in alphabetical order.
  • Ask students to choose a word they would like to write in code.
  • Spell the word on the board. Then, demonstrate how to translate this into numbers.
(10 minutes)
  • Pass out pieces of paper and pencils/pens. Have students write their names.
  • Working in partners have students translate their names into code and choose one of the coded names to exchange with another group. Can the other group crack the code and figure out the name?
  • Have students come back together to debrief the experience. Do students feel they could code and decode other words?
  • Explain to students that they will be coding and decoding words from the classroom word wall. They will be given a chance to code a word, exchange with a partner, and try to figure out what word their partner wrote.
  • Before sending students off to work, remind them of any expectations for independent work periods (i.e., soft voices, no running, etc.). Make sure that students do not have any questions before heading out. Remind them of where the code is posted.
(10 minutes)
  • While students are working, any adults should be circulating the room, taking anecdotal notes, answering questions, and assisting students as needed.
  • It can be helpful to play soft classical music in the background to keep student talking to a miniumum.


  • For students who would benefit from a little extra assistance, it can be helpful to use partnerships as a scaffold. Alphabet charts and number lines can be helpful visual aids for this lesson.


  • For students who need more of a challenge, try assigning letters only odd numbers or even numbers. Students can also try coding full sentences.
(5 minutes)
  • Anecdotal notes about student participation and accuracy can be taken during large group and independent work times to track student progress toward the lesson’s objectives.
  • After the lesson, students can be shown various letters from the alphabet and asked to put them in order to determine if the lesson’s objective was met.
  • For an additional form of assessment, students can be assigned to create some coded messages at home.
(10 minutes)
  • Call students back together.
  • Have students share about their experiences with the alphabet coding activity. (Did they get faster as the activity went on? Did anyone have a specific technique they liked to use? Did anything stump them?)
  • Write two letters on the board. Ask students which letter would come first in the alphabet. Would it have a higher or a lower number than the other? Which number would come later in the alphabet? Would it have a higher or lower number? Continue to play rounds of this game with various letters.
  • Close by having students sing their ABCs and count to 30.

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