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Don’t Catch The Cold

By Caitlin Davey
Grades 1-3
Science and Technology,
  • Computing and Networks
  • Technology and Society
Tools & Languages

Key Coding Concepts

  • Debugging



Finding problems or ‘bugs’ in code and solving them



A computer virus is a piece of software that causes malfunction or issues on a computer machine. A computer virus can infect or transmit to other computers usually with the same operating system.


Operating system

An operating system is the visuals of the computer you see when you use it. It supports the basic function of the computer like opening emails, saving files, displaying/saving photos.



A computer system is the complete computer made up of all its parts. This includes both hardware, the physical part of the computer (like the keys), and software, the visual part of the computer (what happens on the screen).






The ‘Don’t Catch the Cold’ activity compares biological viruses to technological viruses. Learners will explore the similarities and differences between these viruses.

  • Plan to adjust the game as need be for your classroom environment. Alternatively, a classic clapping game like ‘Stella Ella Ola’ might work as a way to get learners started playing the game.


  1. After reviewing the immune system or body system, explain and define a computer system.
  2. Prompt learners by asking them what the parts of the computer are. Make a list of answers on chart paper to display.
  3. Ask learners about some of the programs or things they might DO on a computer.
  4. Explain a computer operating system.
  5. Explain what a computer virus is.


  1. Have learners sit in a circle.
  2. Explain to learners that they will be playing a clapping game where there will be one learner who leads or sets the pattern of the game.
  3. Instruct learners that there will be another learner who is trying to subtly break the pattern. They will be the virus!
  4. The rest of the learners will, after a set amount of time, try and guess who the virus is and who the leader is.
  5. Have learners close their eyes. Select one learner to be the leader and one learner to be the virus.
  6. Have learners begin to clap their hands on their knees.
  7. Watch as the learners try and see who is making/breaking the pattern.
  8. After the game has gone on for about 5 minutes, see if learners can guess who played the leader and the virus.
  9. Explain that when we try to solve a problem on the computer, we call it “debugging”.

What was fun about the game? Was it easy or hard to be the leader? How about the virus?

How are computer viruses different from viruses in our bodies? How might they be similar?

Listen to this episode of the podcast Brains On to learn more about the common cold.

Technology/Society: Discuss how you can protect your computer from viruses. Record answers on chart paper.

Discuss the importance of creating a secure password and not sharing your password with other learners. After the discussion watch the video ‘Strong Passwords’ for more tips.

Have learners watch ‘Operating Systems’ (13:35 mins). This will provide learners with a brief history and explanation of operating systems.

Music: Have learners create their own clapping / rest sequence and teach it to the class.

Stella Ella Olla Action Song Demo (Themes & Variations)

How do you catch a cold? (Brains On)

Strong Passwords (First American)

Operating Systems: Crash Course Computer Science #18 (Crash Course)

Creative Commons 144/365 by Anna Gutermuth

Teach lessons that are tied to your existing curriculum!


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    Explore lessons based on components

    The K-12 Computer Science Framework

    Although learning how to build digital projects is a key part of Computer Science education, students should also learn a wider set of skills and competencies that will help them to harness the power of digital technologies as both creators and consumers. A comprehensive approach to K-12 Computer Science education includes learning about the following five focus areas:

    View Framework ➝


    By the end of high school, students should be able to create a simple computer program.

    Computing and Networks

    By the end of high school, students should understand and be able to use the tools and devices commonly used to build digital projects.


    By the end of high school, students should be able to explain how we use computers to create, store, organize, and analyze data.

    Technology and Society

    By the end of high school, students should be able to explore the ways in which technology and society have mutually shaped each other.


    By the end of high school, students should be able to apply design principles to the digital projects they create.