TKP Tips: Teaching the SmallBasic HOUSES recipe

This is generally the second recipe the kids work with (the first one is SQUARE – and there are lots of tips and videos on how we teach programming generally, i.e. using Agile methods and specifically for that first recipe on TKP here.  Please go there FIRST if need be.

In this blog post, I’ll talk about how to teach the second recipe – HOUSES.  Also we sometimes add the short recipe 4SQUARE as a fill-in to this unit.  I’ll talk more about that later on this page.


I’ll start with a reminder.  All recipes have (or will have) 5 parts.  To teach a full-set for each recipe takes between 60 and 90 minutes, depending on the skill of the kids, teachers, number of kids, etc…Each recipe is designed to teach one-to-three core programming concepts, such as For loops, If statements, Subroutines, etc…The recipe library is sequential (easy-to-hard, top-to-bottom) and can be found here.

The parts of the HOUSES recipe are as follows:

1) Recipe – guided line-by-line translation, to teach core concepts. For HOUSES, you are building on what the kids learned in SQUARE (core IDE and language concepts such as objects, methods, etc…) and For loops.  In HOUSES we work on mastering the idea of variable creation and assignment and also that of subroutines.  We have recently simplified the core recipe to more narrowly focus on the these core ideas.  A teaching video for the core HOUSES recipe is below. Also we’ve published ‘Cheat Sheets’ for each recipe, which give you the translated code and the order to teach (line numbers) so that the kids can run the recipe after each line translated and get visual feedback.  Go here (scroll down) for the HOUSES ‘cheat sheet’.

2) Variation – instructor – led verbal refactoring and modifications to add concepts to the solution. Next we have the original HOUSES recipe video, which we now recommend as a variation.  This adds more subroutines and you can also introduce the “If” construct as time allows.

3) Recap – presented by the instructors, re-do the recipe to reinforce core concepts

4) Quiz – facilitated–pairs reach 100% mastery by working together. Remember to do a recap, instructors repeating the recipe BEFORE you get the kids started with the quiz.  We’ve also made a teacher-video of the quiz segment.  If some of the pairs finish early, this is a great time to let them try out the 4SQUARE recipe as a fill-in. More info at the botton of this post.

5) Homework – same as quiz. Finally, if you have time, you can facilitate the students in doing the homework for HOUSES.  This can also be done as an ‘at home’ assignment if need be.  The video below gives you some facilitation tips.  As with the quiz, if a pair finishes early, have them try the 4SQUARE recipe.

6) Xtras – we use the 4SQUARE recipe as a fill in when teaching this unit.  We also have a teacher training video for this one.

We are really excited about the growth of TKP.  We welcome feedback on the how we can make these videos better for you as TKP teachers.

Happy teaching!