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12 Computer Science Activities for Elementary Students
Source: Irina Kajtez

Looking for some computer science activities for elementary students? Good, you’ve come to the right place!

While demand for IT experts is growing globally, and while children are getting introduced to computers and other electronic devices from the youngest age, it’s, therefore, reasonable to start learning computer science very early, which is why we have prepared some great suggestions for interesting computer science activities for young pupils.

A good method was developed for children to understand the computer science, it is more and more widely used, and that is learning computer science without a computer! This method, also known as the unplugged computer science, has shown great success, and it is also widely used in the number one country in education, Finland. That’s why we have focused both on activities you can do on a computer, but also ones children can do without them. If you prefer the former, then also check out 6 Free Coding Websites for Kids to find some fun and educational animation for your children.

There are many ways by which elementary school children can have fun and simultaneously learn computer science, usually organized in the form of a game. That can be a computer game, or as we mentioned above, games and activities that do not involve computers. These activities are also great for developing logic and fast problem-solving skills in children.

Computer science activities are an introductory approach to children demystifying programming and bringing it to fun and simple level. There are many books and guides for teachers and parents on computer science both with and without using a computer in activities. For some guidance on the vast choice of computer science activities for elementary students we started off with Google CS First, Kids Codecs and CS Unplugged. Perhaps the CS Unplugged gives the best overview of computer science activities without a computer, we have picked the most interesting of them, but be sure to check out the others too.

We’ve tried to choose some fun activities from different spheres of computer science, like algorithms, data manipulation, coding, graphics, etc. Let the fun start, and take a look at some interesting computer science activities for elementary students.

12. Adventure on the High Seas

This computer-based activity consists of pupils animating the boat and the sea. It is a great introduction to the Scratch programming language, and it only takes about 40-50 minutes to finish the activity.

11. Treasure Hunt

This is a playground game where children run around trying to complete the pirate’s map to reach the goal – find the Treasure Island. This game consists of going between participants collecting data in order to fulfill the map of connections, and this way get to understand the finite-state automaton (FSA). You will see the activity’s details in the video below.

10. Three Word Stories

This is also an “unplugged” activity which can involve only two people. The goal of this game is to make your partner get the hidden word by explaining it with three other words.

9. Move the Turtle

This is a fun game for iPhone and iPod. By playing it, children learn certain commands which lead them to simple and more complex operations, procedures variables, etc.

8. Gumball’s Coding Adventure

This is a great coding activity, and yet another one of the Scratch activities. It is a great classroom activity and recommended for students of 10-13 years of age.

7. Knight’s Tour

This is basically a mathematical problem, and the basics are that you move the knight on the chessboard (or some other board) in a manner that knight moves in chess, but in a way that it visits each square precisely once. You can also get detailed instructions and tips from here.

6. Binary introduction with Lego

Everyone likes Lego. Now, you can even use it for computer science activities for elementary students just by playing with Lego. Apart from many activities you can do with Lego, we have chosen learning the binary alphabet. With the help of this sheet you will just need 2 colored bricks, and you can start writing in binary by putting the bricks together.

5. Error Detection

This is an intriguing “unplugged” activity, which is actually a magic trick, that helps pupils realize how error detecting in computers functions. To see how the trick works, take a look at the video below or download this free PDF instruction.

4. Sorting Algorithms

Yet another great “unplugged” activity. It explains how sorting of data in computers work. This activity can be done in many ways, but we have picked the nicely explained one, where participants sort containers by their weight.

3. Space Chem

This is a computer puzzle game. It is based on mixing certain “chemicals” in order to create certain molecules. Apart from being fun just as a game, it is constructed in such a way that players go through it by using some programming methods.

2. ComputerCraftEdu

Yes, the famous Minecraft. This is a great way for kids to understand the basics of programming and computational thinking that’s behind the Minecraft in a fun and easy way. In order to launch ComputerCraftEdu (which is free), you will need MinecraftEdu or Minecraft already installed on your computer.
12 Computer Science Activities for Elementary Students

1. Count the dots

This activity is put in the first place of our list of computer science activities for elementary students just because it is so simple. It enhances the understanding binary system, and it will be easy for anyone who simply knows how to count.

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