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Computational thinking

A comprehensive guide taken from the Quickstart guide to what computational thinking is and what it might look like in the primary classroom. It involves classroom activities which include:

  • Writing algorithms and looking for patterns (generalisations) in comparison to other students’ algorithms.
  • ...

The Intelligent Piece of Paper

In this activity from the CS4FN team, learners are introduced to algorithms in the context of artificial intelligence. They are challenged to beat a ‘piece of paper’ at a game of noughts and crosses. By following a simple algorithm, the piece of paper becomes very difficult to beat. The algorithm is a sequence of...

Patterns Unplugged: Reusing Recipes Activity

This 'unplugged' activity by Barefoot Computing, introduces pattern recognition and the idea that algorithms can be repurposed. Cooking recipes are analysed to find parts that are common to more than one. Reusable parts are then borrowed to create new recipes which the children share with the class. Additional...

Logical Number Sequences Activity

Combining maths and computational thinking, this Barefoot Computing activity for upper primary uses linear number sequences to introduce algorithms in computing. Children work collaboratively to apply logical thinking and pattern recognition - key concepts used across the Barefoot Computing project. While using...

2D Shape Drawings Activity: an Introduction to Debugging Algorithms

This Barefoot Computing activity for upper primary goes deeper into the concept of algorithms, using logical reasoning and debugging to find errors and to improve accuracy and efficiency. By following instructions, children create diagrams constructed from simple shapes. They are asked to identify errors in the...

Introduction to Algorithms

The algorithm song, sung to the tune of Frere Jacques, can be used to introduce the words algorithms and debug to key stage 1 children.

The ‘algorithm or advice’ PowerPoint is a mock quiz whereby children use their understanding of algorithms to state whether an image is an algorithm or just advice. Children...

Lego Building Algorithm Activity

In this adaptable lesson plan by Barefoot Computing, children create a simple model (out of Lego or similar) and then take photos to create instructions (an algorithm) for other children to recreate their model. By removing one block at a time they are decomposing the problem into manageable steps. Teachers may...

Guess the algorithm

A simple and easily adaptable idea to introduce how algorithms work by allowing students to work out algorithms by a guessing game without the use of a computer. The activity is based on function machines that are used in mathematics at primary school but the level of difficulty can be amplified depending on what...

Are computers clever?

This activity is designed to assess whether or not children understand that although computers can sometimes look clever, they do not actually display any intelligence. They are asked to compare a computer with a human and then describe how both the computer and the human cope with the unexpected.

Theresa...

My school day: introducing computer science ideas at KS1

This flexible activity could be used for introducing a number of computer science ideas:

  • Abstraction: before introducing these cards, can the children draw or verbalise a simplified day in their life?
  • Sequences: can the children put the events in order?
  • Decomposition: can the children...

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