Writing Programs: Teaching Basics (Age 5+)

Level 1 - 2 commands

Level 1 – 2 commands


Lightbot Jr is a programme that develops coding skills incrementally. Here we focus on Level 1 (Basics). There are only 2 commands: “Forward” and “Light”. The very clear on-screen instructions gradually fall away as the player progresses through each stage aiding independent learning and problem solving skills.



  • Interactive whiteboard
  • www.lightbot.com
  • iPads 1:2 pupils (not essential)



To begin to understand the importance of precise commands. To begin to understand the benefits of checking a program as you write it.

Using an interactive whiteboard, run through the first ‘game’ or program with the whole class or group. Point out the on-screen commands. If the pupils have low-level reading skills instruct them to follow the on-screen ‘hand’ guide. A third command, “left”, is added in stage 4 so it’s up to you if you want to introduce this too or stick with just 2 commands (stages 1-3).

When you feel happy for them to go off and investigate by themselves, ask them to work in pairs. Whilst one creates Lightbot’s program, the other should keep a tally of  how many goes it takes his/her partner to write the program correctly. Explain that this shouldn’t include test runs i.e. pressing the green ‘play’ button’ whilst writing the program to check it, only the number of times they press play to test the completed program.

(The ideal is to get it in one go and they will probably know this instinctively, but it’s up to you if you tell them this).

When they’ve finished, discuss with them what they’ve learnt. Here are some questions (and answers!) you may like to discuss:

  1. Why is it a good idea to ‘test’ the program after each command? So that we can correct it if it’s wrong.
  2. Why is making corrections after you’ve written the whole program more difficult? Because I have to delete all the command that come after the mistake, even if they’re correct.
  3. What’s the hardest thing to remember? It’s not the number of squares but the number of steps you have to count. You have to remember to tell Lighhtbot to light up the square, it doesn’t happen automatically when he stands on it.


When you and your class are ready, move on to Lesson 2: Multiple Commands

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