Switched on Computing: Year 1

Unit 1.1 We are treasure hunters

This unit introduces the idea of algorithms with programmable toys and hunting for treasure and looks like a lot of fun!

Hardware needed: Bee-Bots, possibly microphones to record instructions.

Software/apps needed: Bee-Bot app (free on iOS, not currently on Android)

I discovered that if you swipe right on the Bee-Bot app, you get to another section where you can herd a sheep into a pen and collect eggs. This would be great to link to a farm topic, or extend the more able Year 1s or use with Year 2s in a mixed class. Watch out for the minxy sheep that can be a pest to try and herd!

Unit 1.2 We are TV chefs

This unit builds on the idea of algorithms, and gets the children being creators of digital media – starring in their own cookery show. For schools with iPads, this is an ideal way of using them – the ease of filming and editing is something that becomes a bit more challenging (but still achievable) with 5 and 6 year olds on a camera and PC.

Hardware needed: Camera or iPad to record video, PC/laptop/netbook or iPad to edit it

Software needed: Windows Movie Maker or iMovie

Setup needed: Either a class blog or a class page on the school website to upload the finished videos to

iMovie costs £2.99 to purchase but is well worth it; however, it will mean that we really need to get the VPP (Volume Purchasing Programme) set up with Apple. Currently, I am exploring ways that schools can purchase VPP credit with purchase orders, rather than the credit cards / Click and Buy which Apple have offered so far. It looks like this will become reality later in 2014, so fingers crossed!

When a looked at Windows Movie Maker in 2011, I was convinced that to use it, you needed to have a Windows Live account to sign in. Having checked it out again this week, I am pleased to say that you definitely don’t now. Note that Windows Movie Maker doesn’t come with Windows 7 by default and needs to be downloaded from here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows-live/movie-maker#t1=overview. Be sure to turn off any other Windows Essential software that you don’t want to install (e.g. OneDrive, Messenger, Mail etc).

Possibly the best bit of preparing for this Unit is watching Phil Bagge’s SandwichBot outtakes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leBEFaVHllE

Unit 1.3 We are painters

This unit gets children illustrating traditional tales with their own drawings to illustrate an eBook. Again, the emphasis is on children as creators of digital media.

Hardware needed: PC/laptop/netbook

Software needed: Tizzy’s First Tools or Tux Paint or Microsoft Paint to create the pictures; Microsoft Word or Powerpoint to create the eBook

Setup needed: Chance to upload the finished eBooks to the class page on the school website or class blog.

The Tux Paint software which is suggested is great, open source software that looks very child-friendly and easy to use. Note that when you install it, you are presented with a config file which gives you customisable setup options. I am definitely going to make sure the “Enable Sound effects” box is unticked in the setup process as otherwise, it’s a little noisy!

tux paint config

This unit could also work as well on iPads, creating the pictures in a free drawing app and then importing them into an eBook creator. One of my schools has recently been using a free app called Our Story (free on iOS) from the Open University which has worked well for eBook creation.

Unit 1.4 We are collectors

Hardware needed: PC / laptop / netbook

Software needed: Powerpoint to create the collections of images, Google Chrome to set up a custom search.

This unit gets children searching the web for pictures of animals and creating Powerpoint files, moving onto simple binary (Yes / No) sorting. I learned from this unit that it’s possible to set up a custom Google search at http://www.google.com/cse where you can specify web pages which are included in the search. Incidentally, setting the custom search up worked much better in Google’s Chrome web browser than it did in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (v11).

I like the way that this unit models best practice in using Creative Commons collections of images and suggests online image galleries. If my schools had an intranet or VLE, I’d definitely be creating a page of links to these. In the meantime, I might look at setting them up as Favourites and distributing them via Group Policy.

Unit 1.5 We are storytellers

Hardware needed: Microphones or tablets to record the story & sound effects, PC/laptop or iPad to create the talking book

Software needed: Audacity to record on a PC / laptop, an app to record on iPad, Powerpoint to create the talking book on a PC / laptop, and then an app to create the talking book – maybe Our Story again, or Book Creator Free (free on iOS)

Of all the units so far, this is the one I have the hardest time envisaging how it will work. It might quite easily link in with Unit 1.3 and the children could produce an illustrated, talking eBook as a longer project using the same software and hardware for both units.

Unit 1.6 We are celebrating

Hardware needed: PC / laptop / netbook and a printer

Software needed: Microsoft Powerpoint, Microsoft Paint or Tizzy’s First Tools

Setup needed: Chance to upload the finished eBooks to the class page on the school website or class blog. Also the card templates on the year 1 CD-ROM will need copying to the school network so that the children can access them.

Teacher CPD

  • Creating a Google Custom Search
  • Understanding Creative Commons / copyright

All in all, Year 1 looks like a great introductory year with lots of emphasis placed on digital citizenship, being a creator of digital media and understanding algorithms. The children will become familiar with Microsoft Word and Powerpoint and start developing keyboard skills and mouse skills to draw pictures and type text.

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