Branching databases can be a tricky concept to teach, so try some of these ideas to help your children’s understanding.
1) Play Guess Who – Ask all of the children in the class to stand. The teacher should choose one of the pupils in the class without saying who he / she has chosen. One of the pupils must ask the teacher ‘Yes / No’ questions about the person who has been chosen (e.g. do they have blonde hair? are they a boy?). Children who don’t match the description should sit down (i.e. if a child asks, “Are they a boy?” and the teacher replies, “Yes”, the girls don’t match the description and so should sit down). As more questions are asked, the pupils should be able to identify which pupil has been chosen. This is an enjoyable starting activity which encourages children to phrase their questions carefully. Who can identify the chosen person in the lowest number of guesses? You could also get the children to play the real game if you have one available.
2) Drawing on the playground – Organise the children into small groups (max 6-8). They should stand on the playground as one group together. Ask the children to think of a question which can be used to split them into two smaller groups (e.g. are they a girl?). Write this question on the playground using large chalks and draw two arrows with YES next to one and NO next to the other. The children should travel along the arrows which match their description (e.g. girls go along the ‘Yes’ arrow, and boys go along the ‘No’ arrow). Each group should then split themselves again by asking a new question (e.g. Are they wearing glasses?), writing the question, drawing arrows and having the children travel along the new arrows. Continue until there is only one child at the end of each arrow. By doing this, the children will have made their own branching tree which could be copied / photographed as evidence!
3) Sorting sweets – When teaching children about branching databases, try starting with something that they are familiar with. I usually use sweets as they have a range of different properties which can be used when sorting (e.g. packet colour / packet size / flavours / shapes). The children are usually familiar with them, too, so they can think of questions really easily! Once they are comfortable sorting objects like these, try sorting more difficult items.
Have you taught a good lesson about branching databases? If you have any good ideas, post your suggestions in the comments area below!