Back Up Plans for the Computer Lab

How do you ruin a tech teacher’s day in six words or less?

“The WiFi is down.”

“The computer cart wasn’t plugged in.”

“These students lost their computer privileges.”

“The computers need to update.”

“We need to borrow your room.”

What do all these statements have in common? The fact that you’ll find ideas to help you get through these scenarios right here. These back up plans for the computer lab will wait patiently in the bottom drawer of your desk, ready to save the day.

Unplugged technology activities are the perfect solution!

What are Unplugged Technology Activities?

Unplugged technology activities are ventures which accomplish technology standards without using devices. Luckily, many of the ISTE and CSTA standards that students need to attain do not require one in every lesson.

In fact, you can introduce and practice many other basic computer science concepts and skills without ever touching a device. Introducing students to the concept of passwords, understanding that certain activities have sequenced steps like computers have algorithms, and practicing working and playing with strangers respectfully can all be done without screens.

Unplugged Technology Activities To Try Out

The Technology Back Up Plans Bundle has almost all of those back up plans included in the weekly visual plans that I send out. They are perfect for grades K-5 technology teachers in the computer lab. Here are a few of the highlights:

Students practice the alphabet by matching individual letter keys to their places on a keyboard in a file folder. There are 4 different keyboard layout options included as well as uppercase, lowercase, and beginning letter picture key pieces. Prep once and use forever!
42 task card style discussion prompts to use with upper elementary or middle school students.
Use these activities as a crash course to understanding what an algorithm is, how to write one, follow one, and decompose one. Two types of printable activities ask students to color pictures following an algorithm. I even included a simple assessment.

This board game practices If/Then/Else language while students move their pirate characters through a path filled with obstacles. Can they get their treasure safely back to the port?
Binary Code, Hexadecimal, and Morse Code Encoded Messages with silly phrases as well as technology facts. This packet would be perfect as bell ringers and for early finishers too!
Students color 5 worksheets with icons that represent different ways the cursor or pointer can look.

More Easy Unplugged Technology Back Up Plans

Your students are going to love learning about the parts of a computer while building their own on paper! In addition to the lift-the-flaps laptop, there is a matching page with definitions of the computer parts. You can use the included pictures to guide you through putting the computer together, but it can also be totally customized to meet your needs. You can make it as simple (a coloring activity) or as complicated (learn and label the computer parts) as you need it to be.
These Mouse Practice Work Mats are also available in Fall, Winter and Spring themes, and even have a version for Trackpad Gestures.
Have students code a dance, then act it out. This unplugged activity is a hit with older students!
Make a tech free coding game featuring paper arrows.  You can have them use a Twister mats marked with a start square & covered with various stuffed animals or other small toys. Make picture directions of which item to go to 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. You can have students put arrows on the mat, then off the mat, then write them on the board to slowly increase the difficulty.

Tips for Teachers

  • Once you have picked out a paper technology activity or two that you want to have on hand as back up plans for your computer lab, go ahead and actually print out the resources. No one wants to be running to the copier when they are in the middle of implementing Plan B.
  • What good are carefully prepared resources if you can’t find them? Decide exactly where you will keep your backup plans, and stick to that spot.
  • As for most paper resources, laminating helps keep resources fresh and reusable. For paper resources that students need to write on, dry erase markers work very well on laminated surfaces.
  • When you have an extra class period for just one or a few groups of students, use the back up plans instead of starting something new or getting off schedule.
  • When you need a substitute unexpectedly, use the back up plans for quick and easy prep.
  • When a student loses privileges on their device, pick a printable back up plan so that they’re still getting a tech lesson.
  • If you still have your devices but your lesson plans were foiled in some other way, consider looking at these 15 Meaningful Activities for Short Lesson Periods in the Computer Lab. You can also turn to educational websites! Check out the posts on our favorite Free Online Games to Reinforce Elementary Math Skills, Free Online Games that help make Reading Fun or mega lists of free educational websites for Elementary, Middle School and High School.
  • Want those weekly visual plans I mentioned sent to you? Click here to get them. Unplugged Activities for all grade levels is another great place to check for projects to keep in that folder of back up plans for the computer lab.

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