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Coding Story Time!

Hardware vs. Software

Educators & parents: You can do this Hour of Code Activity as a class or students can work on it independently. If you have any questions or need help, email

Students can learn the difference between hardware and software through reading and discussing this picture book story. You can find the pdf of full story by clicking here; it also includes printable worksheets students can do afterwards.

For a read aloud version of the story, you can use this video:

Want to have a larger discussion about hardware and software? Here's some additional information you can use:


When studying computer science in universities, students have to choose which one they want to focus on. Do they want to build faster and smaller computers? Or do they want to make programs for those computers? As we saw in the story, both are important-- what do you think is more interesting to you?

Hey kid. I'm a computer. I have a HARD life.

- Team Hardware

Computer hardware includes the physical parts of a computer, such as the keyboard, screen, processor, memory, data storage, etc. Computer hardware used to be HUUGE! In the 1950s, the first fully-functioning digital computer, the ENIAC, used to take up a whole room. It had to be operated by a team of technicians, and it cost more than $7 million to build. Although impressive for the time, ENIAC could only to simple calculations-- not much different than a tiny pocket calculator today. Thanks to improvements in hardware, we can make faster computers than ENIAC fit into a watch.

But sometimes hardware gets neglected. Many computer users don't know much about their processor, memory, or any other physical parts of the computer.

The kids loooove me! "YouTube, YouTube," they yell.

I tell them, "More SOFTLY please! No need to scream."

- Team Software

Software sometimes gets all the attention. Software includes all the programs we use in computers, such as games, apps, videos, photos, music, etc. These are programs with instructions telling the hardware what to do. For example, YouTube (software) tells your phone screen (hardware) to display high quality videos. Or Spotify (software) tells your speakers (hardware) to play music. Without software, hardware would just sit there, doing nothing.

So, which one is more important? Without hardware, you couldn't run software. Without software, hardware wouldn't do anything. In the end, they both rely on each other.

If you liked this story, we also have other coding related stories for kids. You can check out the story "Let's Play with the ScratchJr Kitten" and others on our YouTube channel.