Lesson 1: What is computational thinking?

Pupils learn that computational thinking is made up of four pillars (abstraction, algorithm design, decomposition and pattern recognition) and apply these skills in a carousel of unplugged activities

Before the lesson

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Learning objective

  • To understand that computational thinking is made up of four key strands

National curriculum

Pupils should be taught to:

  • Use logical reasoning to explain how some simple algorithms work and to detect and correct errors in algorithms and programs
  • Design, write and debug programs that accomplish specific goals, including controlling or simulating physical systems; solve problems by decomposing them into smaller parts

Success criteria

Cross-curricular links

Attention grabber

Main event


Pupils needing extra support: reinforce the new vocabulary by connecting it with the activities, e.g. for abstraction – get them to reflect on the skill of picking out the most important features of an object to draw it in its simplest form.


Pupils working at greater depth: encourage to consider other examples of when they have used computational thinking e.g. perhaps using RUCSAC to solve maths word problems.

Wrapping up

Assessing pupils' progress and understanding


Created by:
Cat Lamin,  
Computing specialist
Cat was a committed primary school teacher for twelve years. After starting her independent consultancy ‘Crossover Solutions’ she has travelled to Argentina, Brazil and America to share her wealth of knowledge of computer science with other teachers. Her enjoyment for…
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