Switched on Computing - Take your first easy steps with Microsoft

Switched on Computing: Take Your First Easy Steps with Microsoft has been written to help schools to get started with computing at Key Stages 1 and 2. Each unit has clear guidance for teachers and plenty of creative ideas for bringing each project alive in the classroom. They are a series of easy-to-follow mini projects for Key Stages 1 and 2 for the new National Curriculum for computing.

The Switched On Computing materials have been written by teachers and trialled by both teachers and children to ensure they are accessible by all and effective in developing computer science skills in children as young as five.  They are divided into a separate unit for each year group from Year 1 to 6 and aim to help encourage logical thinking and problem-solving skills. They include activities which will benefit children’s learning beyond the classroom, simultaneously inspiring teachers with ways to get the best from their classes under the new curriculum.

They have been sent out to schools and are also available to download here.


The projects are great units to use within the class and can also give ideas as how to extend these in other ways.

Alissa Chesters, ICT Co-ordinator at Oakdale Infants has been looking at the Year 1 and 2 units within her school.  They began in Year 2 by  sharing an example of some instructions that helped the children to carry out a task e.g. tying your shoe laces. They moved on to explain to the children that computers are also able to carry out tasks by following sets of instructions called ‘algorithms’. We can tell a computer what we want it to do, and a related algorithm will tell the computer how to do it.

They then modelled  how to carry out some tasks within programs on the interactive whiteboard, such as opening/closing a document. They explained  to the children that they were  going to write an algorithm that showed them how you as the teacher get to school. This was modelled showing the children how to number each step and use imperative verbs at the beginning of each sentence. The children were  then challenged to create their own algorithms for getting to school.

Here Alissa explains what she did:
I introduced the new Microsoft units to the Key Stage One staff separately. I sat and worked with the Year 1 teachers when they were looking at how to incorporate the ICT Unit with their theme. The unit on creating a virtual gallery fits in nicely. All the staff has all been very keen to try the new units and were very happy with the links they have been able to create with other subjects such as Art and Literacy. One problem that was flagged up was that we didn’t have enough digital cameras in school for the children to be able to use them effectively. I took this issue to the Head and Business manager and they began the process of pricing up a class set of cameras. We have decided to have one set kept centrally that has to be booked in and out for lessons.

The Year 2 team are making digital cookbooks and we have found that it has fit in perfectly with our Non-fiction writing and instructional text work in guided reading.

Staff comments:

“Easy to use and informative but still gives you the freedom to be creative with your lessons.” Mrs Linning Year 2

“Fun and exciting to teach once you know what you’re doing”. Miss Hegarty Year 1

It would be great to hear how you have been using the Units within your school



computing, microsoft, Switched On Computing

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