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Language and Communication use switches to turn something on or off  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


To know that certain actions produce predictable results, for example, using a switch to play a message.

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Early years skill:Technology
Early years typical range:8-20m
P-scales/Curriculum skill:ICT
P-scales/Curriculum level:P4
TAP skill:Expressive Language
TAP level:TAP24
Pre/Nat. Curriculum Area:not specified
Pre/Nat. Curiculum Standard:not specified
Section:Early Years (0-5yrs) info; Primary (5-11yrs) info; Secondary (11-16yrs) info; Post School Education info; Adult info
Activity/strategy name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity and comments
Keeping cool: learning to sustain an action

Fan, (with optional ribbons attached)

Mains switch control box

Configure the controller so that the fan is on as long as the switch is held down.

Hold down the switch and let the child/adult feel the breeze. Let them do the same.

The child/adult should experience holding down the switch and feeling the breeze. On release the breeze stops.

State, "On" and "Off" as you and the child/adult press and release the switch.

Learning to use a switch to turn a device on

Fan (as above)

Set switch controller so the fan runs for a given length of time.

Demonstrate pressing the switch to turn the fan on then lifting your hand. Let the child/adult experience the feeling of the draught. When the fan stops press it again.

Encourage the child/adult to press the switch to turn the fan on.

Repeat this a few times until you are sure the child/adult understands the cause and response.

As either of you press the switch say, "on." When it stops say "off." Show them the effect of the breeze, blowing your hair or rubbing your arms because it is cold.

Switching a device on and off

(Do this in a subsequent session after the child/adult has understood the process in the above activity).

A device to control, for example:



computer monitor

bubble machine

Change the controller so that the switch turns the fan both on and off.

Demonstrate switching the fan both on and off with subsequent clicks.

Let the child/adult experience turning the fan both on and off.

Let the child/adult turn the fan on and off modelling the vocabulary as you go.

Reinforce this learning with different devices at different times and places.

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