Activities for pupils with special educational needs

The following activities, while suitable for all pupils, have been specially designed for teachers of children with special educational needs (SEN). They focus on developing computational thinking core skills in a fun, accessible way and can be easily adapted by teachers.

Dance Move Algorithms
In this fun activity pupils make up a dance routine and create the instructions (an algorithm) for a partner to follow.

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes Algorithms
In this activity lesson pupils create a set of instructions (an algorithm) to sing a well-known song. In doing so they also use debugging and repetition.

Bee-Bot Route Decomposition Activity

The aim of the activity is for the class to create a program to control a single Bee-Bot, or similar floor robot, around a complex course. The pupils achieve this by decomposing the route into sections in small groups, creating the algorithm in smaller steps for their own section and then programming the whole route into the Bee-Bot as a class.

Getting Ready for School Decomposition Activity

In this activity pupils will sequence the act of getting ready for school by decomposing the activity into smaller steps. In doing so they will create an algorithm – a sequence of instructions to complete each task. This activity comes with 9 Communicate:in Print resources to support your teaching.

SEND Scratch Tinkering Activity 

In this activity pupils will tinker with the program Scratch through guided questioning to find out how it works and then adapt to make their own activity. Support and extension worksheets are provided to differentiate within your class along with exemplar Scratch files for your pupils to explore, before having a go at their own!

Musical Sequences Activity

In this lesson pupils will create sequences of colours to make music. In doing so they will learn about algorithms as sequences of instructions, and that the order of the instructions is important. This activity comes complete with a ready-made Scratch Colour Piano and Scratch Shape Piano to allow support and extension for different pupils.

SEND Bee-Bot Basics Activity

In this series of activities pupils learn to create short sequences of instructions (algorithms) and enter these as very simple programs on the Bee-Bot floor robots (or similar). They learn how to spot and correct errors in their program (debugging). Resources include a programming mat, command cards and Communicate:In Print files.

Computing for SEND – Guidance Document

This guidance is for teachers of pupils with special educational needs who are working below National Curriculum levels, although it will have relevance to all teachers of SEND. This document:

  • discusses the importance and relevance of teaching Computer Science to SEND pupils
  • explores teaching ideas for Computational Thinking
  • presents a revised version of the P Scales for Computing.

Sorting Objects Activity

In this lesson pupils sort objects according to their features and develop their ability to spot patterns. Some pupils may also create rules for their patterns and in doing so work with algorithms. This activity is supported by a picture cards, a ready-made Scratch project and Communicate:In Print resources.

Story Sequencing Activity

In this lesson pupils will identify and sequence events from a familiar story or song. In this way they will learn that the order of events is important. Using differentiated worksheets and picture cards, pupils work in groups or individually to identify the correct order of animals in the song There was an old woman who swallowed a fly.

Creating Patterns Activity

In this activity pupils look for patterns, complete sequences and create their own patterns. There is the opportunity to develop their understanding of algorithms by making instructions for others to recreate their patterns. This activity comes with differentiated worksheets, a Communicate:In Print file and an ActivInspire Flipchart file.

Lego Building Algorithm Activity

In this lesson pupils create a simple model (out of Lego or similar) and then take photos to create instructions (an algorithm) for other pupils to recreate their model. By removing one block at a time they are decomposing the problem into manageable steps. You may wish to split this lesson into two depending on your pupils.

River Crossing Activity

Pupils solve the traditional problem of a farmer trying to get a chicken, fox and corn across a river by acting it out. In doing so, they develop their logical reasoning skills. The activity can also be used to develop understanding of algorithms, decomposition and debugging. Pupils take on the different character roles and act out the different scenarios. The activity is supported by accessible, image-based materials and ideas for adaption are included.

Shopping List Activity

In this lesson, based around the practical scenario of creating a shopping-list, pupils identify the ingredients they need to make a cake. In doing so, they develop their skills of abstraction as they pick out the important information they need to make their cake and ignore any unimportant information. The activity is supported by differentiated, editable worksheets.

House Patterns Activity

In this lesson pupils identify similarities between different houses and then use them to create their own house. In doing so, they are developing their skills around spotting and reusing patterns. Teachers are provided with ways of differentiating the activity according to their pupils’ needs, including introducing simple sorting activities for those requiring more support and ideas for extension into Scratch for those working at higher levels. There are also ideas for adaption for pupils with visual and audio impairment.