Computational Thinking Puzzles for Primary Pupils

Develop Primary Computational Thinking Skills With Puzzles

Computational Thinking Puzzle Book

Computational Thinking Puzzle Workbooks

Computational thinking is at the heart of the statutory programme of study for Computing:

A high quality computing education equips pupils to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world (DfE).

Since the introduction of the National Curriculum for Computing in 2014, schools now teach computing from the age of 5 and have developed curricula to meet their statutory obligations; however many lack a focus on developing computational thinking skills favouring, instead, to concentrate on the programming, or coding, objectives. In this post, I discuss computational thinking in more detail and how teaching it helps children become problem solvers which is important not just in computing but is an essential life skill.

There has been much research into the benefits of puzzle-based learning. Puzzles help children develop general problem-solving and independent learning skills.

According to Badger et al. (2012) engaging in puzzles means that pupils:

  • take personal responsibility;
  • adopt novel and creative approaches, making choices;
  • develop modelling skills;
  • develop tenacity;
  • practice recognition of cases, reducing problem situations to exercises.

Additionally, in solving puzzles pupils use and apply a range of strategies that cross disciplines in entertaining and engaging ways.

So what does any of this have to do with computational thinking? By selecting the right variety and complexity of puzzles, children will independently practise and develop the fundamental computational thinking skills of decomposition, abstraction, generalisation and developing algorithms.

This will enable them to find solutions and apply those already found to different problems, in different contexts. All of this helps lay the foundations for pupils to become effective problem solvers.  Skills that are increasingly important, as discussed in this post, given the digital world we live in and the need to prepare pupils to solve as yet unknown problems using tools and technologies that do not yet exist.

ERA 2017 Award

Best Educational Book

UPDATE: iCompute’s Computational Thinking Puzzle Workbooks 1-4 have been shortlisted for prestigious ERA (Education Resource Awards) 2017 for Best Educational Book.






Badger, M., Sangwin, C, J., Ventura-Medina, E., Thomas, C, R.: 2012, A Guide To Puzzle-Based Learning In Stem Subjects, University of Birmingham.



Cross Curricular Computing Resources

Enrich learning with a cross curricular approach to primary computing

CT Poster

Click to download the poster

Computing is one of the most fundamentally cross curricular subject areas in education.  It’s about using technology, logic, creativity and computational thinking to solve problems that cross all disciplines.  It requires the systematic breakdown (decomposition) of both the problem and the solution.  We need to prepare pupils for how to live in an increasingly digital world by equipping them with the knowledge, understanding and skills to solve as yet unknown problems using tools and technologies that do not yet exist.  We can work towards achieving this by using computing as a means of making sense of the world and using what the children learn in computing across the curriculum.

The best primary practice includes a blend of rigorous, discrete, subject teaching and equally effective cross-curricular links.  Both approaches are needed for effective learning to take place, to enable children to make links between subjects and to set learning in meaningful contexts.  Using computing throughout the primary curriculum offers a way to enrich and deepen learning through engaging, interconnected, topics.

I have put together a selection of free resources and links to others to help teachers get started with ideas and inspiration for enriching learning and exploring computing through a rich variety of media and technologies in cross-curricular contexts.

cross curricular computational thinking

Click to download poster

Computational Thinking





Cross Curricular computing

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Free Cross-Curricular Computing Planning (Download)





Cross Curricular Podcasting







cross curricular CT Diary

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Free Computational Thinking Diary (Download)





Cross curricular QR Codes

QR Codes enable mobile learning

QR Codes in the Classroom





Cross curricular Robotics