Primary School Children Code HTML

Whack a Witch

At the code club I run at my local primary school we took a little diversion from Scratch this week and tried our hands at a little HTML and CSS.

The children were very excited about creating their first web page so off we went.

This is what we set off to achieve:

  1. hand code the raw HTML
  2. create another document to define the style information
  3. download images and sound files
  4. add the images and sound files to the page
  5. link the HTML to the CSS file

You might think that asking a group of primary school children to open up notepad (yes, you heard right Microsoft Notepad with no syntax highlighting or other niceties) and complete the above tasks a bit foolish but that’s just what we did!

The children readily accepted that the images were in separate files, the style in a separate file and that our html would link these all together.

The worst problem we had was due to Notepad as it doesn’t easily let you have more than one file open at a time without popping a new window and it has this annoying habit of filtering all your files so that you only see those ending in .txt. Even worse it tries to save all your work with a .txt extension. Not rocket science but an unnecessary hurdle to getting your first web page to behave.  I’m really hoping that the IT company will relent and let us have a proper text editor, a free one like Notepad++ would be just great.

The second problem was of course attention to detail.  We have a lot of misspelt tags, unclosed tags and text just in the wrong place.  The children were a little frustrated at first but I think that they learnt one of the best things about coding: the satisfaction of getting something to function correctly after having had to work hard to get it right.  One child even got a bit emotional when it wouldn’t work but you should have seen her punch the air and shout “YES!” when finally her HTML started to do as she commanded!

My next mission is to get their pages onto the school website, this sounds easy but I know that this will be my challenge!  I wish I could get this to happen quickly as seeing the children’s pages online would make us all so proud!

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