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Volcano animations

Unit of work

5 lessons


7-11 yrs

This series of five lessons is aimed at students aged 8-9 years. Through a mixture of fun unplugged and programming activities related to animations, pupils develop their understanding of decomposition, flowchart algorithms and repetition. They then write, program and test an animation showing volcanic eruption using the LEDs on the BBC micro:bit.

Computational thinking:




Design & technology:

Product design


Physical geography



Overall key learning

  • can analyse problems in computational terms, and have repeated practical experience of writing computer programs in order to solve such problems
  • can evaluate and apply information technology, including new or unfamiliar technologies, analytically to solve problems
  • are responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information and communication technology

Additional skills

Creative thinking, collaboration, problem-solving, debugging.

Lesson 1: Animation & decomposition

In this 'unplugged' lesson pupils are introduced to the theme of animation and produce a thinking map based on the subject. They then develop their understanding decomposition by planning a dance sequence and creating a flipbook animation.

Key learning:

  • To understand decomposition
  • To use decomposition to create a dance sequence
  • To create a flipbook animation of a dance sequence
Lesson 1 details

Lesson 2: Flowcharts & repetition

Pupils write a simple flowchart algorithm for their dance sequence. They then follow their algorithm to write a program using the BBC micro:bit MakeCode editor and explore how repetition can be used to create an animation.

Key learning:

  • To understand the use of repetition
  • To write simple flowchart algorithms using repetition
  • To write programs based on algorithms using repetition
Lesson 2 details

Lesson 3: Planning eruption animations

In this ‘unplugged’ lesson pupils plan a volcanic eruption animation using the BBC micro:bit. They decompose the process into stages and write a simple flowchart algorithm. 

Key learning:

  • To decompose a process into stages
  • To construct simple flowchart algorithms
  • To use repetition in algorithms
Lesson 3 details

Lesson 4: Programming eruption animations

Pupils follow their algorithm and write a program to create their volcanic eruption animation using the MakeCode editor.

Key learning:

  • To follow an algorithm accurately to write a program
  • To use repetition in a program effectively
  • To test and debug programs and algorithms
  • To review learning
Lesson 4 details

Lesson 5: Reflection & review

ln this ‘unplugged’ lesson, pupils reflect on their learning by decomposing the steps they took to create their animation and record this using a thinking map.

Key learning:

  • To understand and explain decomposition
  • To use decomposition to review learning
  • To reflect on learning
Lesson 5 details