Here are my top recommendations for computing activities you can do at home. I will share a mix of activities that children in Early Years to Year 6 can access independently either on a range of devices or unplugged, meaning no device is needed.
The 3 areas of computing that I will cover are:
CODING – Activities that teach children about programming and understanding algorithms.
DIGITAL CREATIVITY – Ideas for using multimedia skills around the house.
ONLINE SAFETY – Games children can play that help remind them about staying safe.
Understanding Algorithms is about creating and following step-by-step instructions. This is essentially code in its basic form.
Early Years – There’s a great app called Busy Bundle which teaches children control skills and how to use arrows to control a helicopter. Most schools have also purchased BeeBots, a programmable robot with simple controls. While you’re at home, your child can practice using this Beebot app.
Key Stage 1 – There are excellent unplugged activities on creating sequences and algorithms at Barefoot Computing. I recommend Dance Moves where children will make up a dance routine and create the instructions for a partner to follow. The interactive learning games are also great fun for learning new concepts and problem solving like a computer. Coding Safari is also a terrific app to download for Key Stage 1.
Key Stage 2 – Rapid Router is a brilliant free website with 109 levels of coding tasks with clear instructions on what to do. This resource can take children all the way through to Key Stage 3 objectives. There are some great apps to download too including Lightbot Code Hour and Fix the Factory from LEGO. Every keen coder should open a free account on Scratch 3.0. Although it is an open coding platform rather than levels, there are some fantastic tutorials you can follow to get you started. Finally check out Switched On Computing’s Learn to Code free activitiy where you can have a go at programming a Micro:bit micro controller.
If you’ve got a phone or tablet, get filming! Make a movie, a trailer, a nature documentary or a news report. There are some brilliant apps such as iMovie and Apple Clips that make editing so easy. This is great for any age as it’s really simple to insert clips and then rearrange, crop, add filters, add soundtracks and even titles and credits. I had fun the other day using ReverseMovieFX with my 5 year old to create a backwards movie!
Early Years – Get children to go on a photographic treasure trail. You can teach them how to take a good photo and see if they can snap a picture of something green, soft, living, needs power or edible… You can choose different categories and then review the pictures.
Key Stage 1 – Just2Easy is a great online platform where children can write, draw, animate or mix the skills to make an e-book. This can be used to record other activities they might be doing or topics they are learning about in other subjects.
Key Stage 2 – A really fun activity for older children is creating their own digital comic strip. I recommend Storyboard That as it has a huge range of characters and settings that can be edited and manipulated. You can use 6 frames for free!
There are some great animation apps they can also explore including Chatterpix, Puppet Pals and iMotion.
It is safe practice to always monitor what your child is searching or playing online. Be aware of games where there are chat functions which would enable them to talk to strangers. Make sure they have safe usernames that don’t reveal parts of their identity and read the PEGI rating on games for age suitability. If you need to report online safety issues, visit the CEOP website.
If your children are using search engines, it is safer for them to use ones like Swiggle or Google Kids rather than Google.
If your children would like to find out more information about online safety or would like to play some games, I recommend Band Runner for younger children and Interland for older. You can also download a free Online Safety at home leaflet from Switched on Online Safety.
I hope you find these ideas useful, stay safe and enjoy your learning.
James Fraser is Computing Specialist and consultant from London. He is currently teaching at a large primary school in Wembley. For more ideas, follow him on twitter @EatSleepICTRpt or at facebook.com/EatSleepICTRepeat.