Computing is now a core part of the UK primary school syllabus. You don’t have to use computers to teach all the topics though, and even if you have no computing background as a teacher you may be surprised how much you know!
We have created a spin-off from cs4fn for younger students to find out more about the fun side of computing called A Little Bit of cs4fn. It is still being developed, but already has areas on Spies, Superheroes, Robots, AIs and more.
Most of our activities are adaptable for primary school audiences, but here we pick out a few that are particularly suitable or that we have used variations of ourselves in primary schools (mainly with Year 5 and 6 but also with younger children).
- Pixel Puzzles
- Solve simple colour by number puzzles and gain a deeper understanding of image representation and compression.
- Learn about pixel representation of images, algorithms, data representation, compression, logical thinking, computational thinking.
- The Tour Guide Activity
- Devise a tour that gets a tourist from their hotel to all the city sights and back to their hotel.
- Learn about algorithms, sequences of instructions, graphs, data representation, computational thinking, requirements.
- The Knight’s Tour Activity
- Solve a puzzle where you must find a way for a knight to visit every square on a board exactly once.
- Learn about graphs, data representation, generalisation, abstraction, pattern matching computational thinking, graph traversal algorithms algorithms.
- The Intelligent Piece of Paper Activity
- Take part in a test of intelligence against an intelligent piece of paper!
- Learn about algorithms, artificial intelligence, computational thinking.
- The Invisible Palming Activity
- Do a trick where you magically move a card from one pile to another by palming it invisibly!
- Learn about algorithms, computational thinking, human computer interaction.
- The Swap Puzzle Activity
- Solve a puzzle, coming up with an algorithm that your team can follow faster than anyone else.
- Learn about algorithms, computational thinking, testing, efficiency.
- The Create-A-Face Activity
- Get the class programming a giant robot face – made of students.
- Learn about programming, if statements, simple object-based programming, human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence.
- The Emotion Machine: Create-a-Face Card
- A simple card cut out that turns into a programmable robot face that can express different emotions.
- Learn about programs, sequences, decomposition, algorithmic thinking.
- Spit-Not-So Activity
- You play a word game showing that “due to you computational thinking skills” you are brilliant at it.
- Learn about data structures, human-computer interaction, computational thinking.
- Magic: The Four Aces Activity
- You do a magic trick where you steal all the Aces from a volunteer without anyone noticing.
- Learn about human-computer interaction, usability, designing to prevent error.
- Magic: The Teleporting Robot Activity
- You put together a jigsaw that has 17 robots, but then put it together again and now it only has 16.
- Learn about computational thinking, human-computer interaction, usability, designing to prevent error.
- The Microwave Racing Video Activity
- You show a video where people race different microwave designs to see which is easiest to use to do a simple task. Design does make a difference!
- Learn about human-computer interaction, usability, usability evaluation.
- The Sodarace Evolution Activity
- The class engineer a creature to try and win a race and then let evolution loose.
- Learn about computational modelling, evolution, abstraction, algorithmic thinking, genetic algorithms.
- The Soda Constructor Physics Activity
- Play with Soda constructor – a drawing program with the laws of Physics built in, where you can engineer creatures.
- Learn about computational modelling, the laws of physics, abstraction, computational thinking, gravity, friction, springs.
Booklets and other Downloads
- Artificial Intelligence: But where is the intelligence?
- This booklet explores what intelligence is and how we might create machines that are intelligent. It was created for students in Years 5- 7 (aged 9-12). It is based on a series of workshops run with Year 6 students over several years and links to many of the above activities.
The BBC’s Cbeebies Playtime app is a good way to start programming from as young as 3 or so. The Nina and Neurons: Go Digital game involves changing one instruction in a sequence to get the robot past the obstacles.