Grade Levels: K-3

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades K-3, students watch the BrainPOP movie Computational Thinking and discover how to solve a problem by breaking it down into smaller parts and creating steps to solve it. Then they will explore the concept of decomposition through a variety of hands-on activities.


Students will:

  1. Break down a task into small parts.
  2. Create steps to solve each part of a problem.






Lesson Procedure:

  1. Explain to students that computational thinking is a way to understand and solve problems by breaking them down and creating steps to solve them. Tell them that computational thinking is helpful for writing computer programs, but people use it to solve every day, non computer problems, too.
  2. Write the word “Decompose” on the board. Have students say the word with you. Ask if anyone can guess what it means. Write their ideas on the board.
  3. Display an image of a pizza pie on the whiteboard. Ask students what are the steps for making pizza.Have them turn to a partner and come up with a list of steps. Encourage them to put the steps in sequence and to be specific.
  4. Explain that what they’ve just done is “decompose” -- they broke down a problem (making pizza) into smaller parts or steps.
  5. Now have students think of another problem or task we break down into steps. Call on volunteers to share their ideas. Select one of the ideas and ask the class to think of ways we might break down the problem or task. Model your thought process to help students get started. Then let them continue and write their steps on the board.
  6. Next, tell students they will now watch a movie about another problem, and see how Annie and Moby decompose to solve it.  Show the movie Computational Thinking to the whole class.
  7. After the movie, ask students to identify the problem and how Annie and Moby decomposed, or broke it down into smaller parts.
  8. Divide the class into pairs. Instruct one student in each pair to teach his/her partner a secret handshake that includes four steps. The student is to teach the secret handshake to the partner step by step. Once the partner understands the handshake, have the pair share their handshakes with the class.
  9. Finally, ask students to describe what it was like to teach the handshake to their partners. Have them explain what they did so their partner could learn it.

Extension Activities:

  • Activity Challenge students to follow commands to make a pattern, identify a problem in the pattern and correct it.
  • Game Students match each problem to its solution in this matching game.