The Box Variable Activity

Run simple programs that involve variables and assignment on a computer made of students.

Students with boxes act as variables as values are copied between them following the instructions of the program. You physically demonstrate the creation of variables, how accessing a variable involves taking a copy of its value, and how storing values in a variable destroys any previous value stored.

The key thing is to think of a variable not just as a box but as a box with integrated shredder and photocopier. This unplugged activity reinforces this metaphor.

Learn about:

  • programming
  • assignment
  • variables
  • values
  • declaration
  • initialisation
  • sequencing


This session comes with linked activity sheets and ‘story’ write-ups that you can download:

This activity works well on its own but can naturally be used with the Assignment Dry Run Activity.

Back to activities

2 thoughts on “The Box Variable Activity

  1. Hello ..
    Really Many Thanks for these posts , It will help me more in my faculty to help my students in concepts understanding …
    but I have only one question , can I use these materials for commercial uses ?
    Many Thanks and waitinf for your reply

    • Hello – we’re delighted to hear you’re enjoying our information. While you’re welcome to use the material with your students I’m afraid it can’t be used for commercial purposes.

      Best wishes,

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