CS Discoveries - independent learning

I’m a homeschool mom - brand new to code.org. My son is zipping through the CS fundamentals course. I’d intended him work on it occasionally throughout the fall, but it looks like he’ll finish the whole thing in a little over a week. Is CS Discoveries a logical next step? Can he take this course independently as well? I have zero CS background, and don’t have the time to keep up with him. But he’s loving this and I want to support it. He’s almost 9, highly gifted, very mathy. Thank you!

Very cool to hear that homeschool families use code.org! It’s an AMAZING resource/tool! One of the best things about the curriculum is that you don’t HAVE to know anything about CS to teach it!

I’ve used code.org Fundamentals for the past 3 years with my 1st - 5th grade students (I am a computer science teacher in a Catholic preK-8 school. Last month, I completed a week-long training to teach CS discoveries.) I have a few questions/comments that might help you decide what to do next. Please forgive me if these are things you already know!

  1. Did your son start at Course A and progress all the way through Course F?

  2. As he was working, did you “spot check” his progress? You can do this at any time, in any course, and on any lesson. Look at the top of his screen where it gives the lesson number, lesson title, and small circles with numbers in them. Look to the right for the orange downward-pointing triangle with “more” written underneath. Click that. All of the circles and diamonds should be dark green if he’s completed that puzzle. Light green means complete but the solution could be improved, yellow means incomplete, and white means not yet begun.

  3. Did he complete all of the challenges? You can find those by clicking on the “racing flag” at the top of the screen.

  4. If he’s done all of the things mentioned above, has he completed projects in the Sprite Lab, Artist, App Lab, and Game Lab?

  5. Next, I’d suggest having your son work on Hour of Code tutorials at https://code.org/hourofcode/overview.

  6. Not a code.org resource but also a GREAT place for your son, is scratch.mit.edu
    "With Scratch, you can program your own interactive stories, games, and animations — and share your creations with others in the online community.
    "Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century.
    “Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. It is provided free of charge.”

As you can guess, I suggest you hold off on CS Discoveries. As teacher-mom, I’m thinking that you should be more involved in that course, and I’d suggest doing the unplugged activities. I’d be happy to continue this conversation if you like.
Happy coding!


Hi! And thank you! This actually helps a lot. He’s about halfway through the CS Fundamentals Express Course, and started less than a week ago, hence my panic over what next. There’s no way I can keep up! But the progression you suggest sounds really straightforward,
and helps with a direction. And should buy me some time to find some further help through our charter, library, etc.

Also, I went in and it looks like all the diamonds and circles up to this point are dark green, except for the last one he did today (first time he found it hard). It looks like he has not done any of the challenges (circles containing a racing flag are

Thanks again!

So happy I could help!

So, based on what you just wrote, I suggest getting him out of the express course and have him
jump into the course that corresponds to where he is in express. There’s so much to learn, and he doesn’t have to be in a rush to learn it all in a week! :grin:

I’d love to stay in touch and help out whenever I can, if you’re interested. I’m really passionate about this stuff…there’s so much value in having kids learn to code—even if they have absolutely no interest in doing it as a career!


Hi Cecilia!

My impression was the express course is designed to be done independently, whereas the individual courses corresponding to grade rely on the teacher to help with execution? I’d planned (and need) this to be an autopilot piece of his curriculum :woman_facepalming:t2:.
He’s a gifted kiddo who’s been known to do this before - take something and run. I can’t always run with him (I try to with math for now). That said, it does seem there’s still a good bit of stuff to chew on just in the list you gave. And the fact that he
hit a hiccup yesterday has me optimistic :joy: (also an excellent opportunity to work on that challenging perfectionism) maybe he’ll slow down a bit.

Thank you!


Hi, Heidi!

Actually, Express is made up of bits and pieces from all of the courses. So each of them can be done independently, and your son can get more practice with all of the skills. But, at any rate, it sounds like he—and you—are doing great!


Cecilia F. Resweber
Computer Science Teacher
St. John Paul II Catholic School

Hi Cecilia!

Ah ok, I thought there were unplugged activities that needed to be done with the teacher, and the teacher has to check the work for those. But that’s good to know if we need to slow down.

Thank you again!


You’re right, there are unplugged activities (in the ovals on the dropdown “checklist” when you click the downward-pointing triangle on the student screen) but you can skip those. I’ve skipped them for 3 years, because I had my students work at their own pace. (This year, though, I’m going to do the unplugged activities!)

Good to know! So he could essentially work the same way he is now, but at a slower pace? Just more puzzles/instruction per topic? He stopped a couple of days ago on Lesson 13, task 9 - Conditionals in Minecraft. And he’s been distracted by other stuff, so that’s
helpful in slowing him down. Do you know where we should jump in given where he’s at now? He had some trouble with this task, so it may be helpful to re-start at a similar place in another course?

Thank you again! I really appreciate the help! There’s a teacher at our charter who runs some coding classes, and I’m planning to talk to him when school starts in a month, but it’s nice to have some guidance now:))

Exactly! It looks like the lesson he’s on is in Course E, Lesson 3: Conditionals in Minecraft: Voyage Aquatic. (Code.org recommends Course E for 4th grade, just FYI.)

If your son is interested in other self-paced coding resources, I highly recommend Rapid Router: https://www.codeforlife.education/play/rapid-router/

It’s a UK site. It’s great, IMHO. Even my middle school students enjoyed it, once they got to the higher levels. You can register as a teacher, or your son can register as an independent student.