Best Cybersecurity Lessons and Activities for K-12 Education

Best Cybersecurity Lessons and Activities for K-12 Education

Since 2003, the Month of October has been recognized as National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCPS). It started as a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance. It was created to ensure that every individual stays safe and secure online.

The rate of cyber-attacks and crimes are rising worldwide due to increased social media usage, cloud storage, digital downloads, mobile and online payments. Computers and mobile devices are especially sensitive to malware, ransomware and phishing attacks to which children fall prey often. In comparison to other major industries, research claims that the education sector ranked last in terms of good cyber security performance, making it very important than ever aware students about cyber security and allow them to take responsibility for their internet safety, especially at presents as learners are locked up in the home after the COVID-19 outbreak and had to make a sudden transition to online education, it has become essential to teach them about cyber security for their safe and secure internet use.

We have compiled a list of the best cyber security lessons and activities for K-12 students.

CodeHS Introduction to Cybersecurity (Vigenere)

CodeHS is a one-year class designed specifically for secondary school students. This introductory program is ideal for beginner students in computing. It includes learning about digital citizenship, cyber hygiene, cryptography, software security, basic networking principles, and systems administration.

Scratch Animation

Designed especially for ages 8 to 16 but is ideal for people of all ages. Scratch animation allows users to create Scratch projects in various settings, including homes, museums, schools, libraries and community centers. Scratch can be used to code their own interactive stories, animations, and games, and while doing the same, they learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively. Educators incorporate Scratch into a wide range of topics and age groups.

Kids Code Jeunesse

Kids code jeunesse (kcj) is a Canadian bilingual, non-profit organization that aims to give every Canadian child access to digital skills education, focusing on girls and underserved communities. KCJ wishes children in Canada to have an opportunity to learn computational thinking through code effortlessly.

Code.org Cybersecurity - Simple Encryption

The Code.org cyber security has eLearning lessons or standards-aligned classrooms intended to teach students the basics of encryption, such as why it is essential, encrypt, and crack encryption. As with all code.org lessons, a comprehensive teacher's guide, activity, vocabulary, warm-up and summary are included.

The platform also has Code.org Rapid Research - Cybercrime that teaches about the most common cybercrimes, how to deal with them, and the basics in this standards-aligned lesson from the Code.org curriculum team. You can also check Cyber.org Cybersecurity Lesson for Grades 10-12, a comprehensive cybersecurity course covering threats, architecture and design, implementation, risk, regulatory and more. Including Cyber.org Events that allow you to explore upcoming Cyber.org virtual events, such as the Introduction to Cyber Security, cybersecurity activities for beginners, Cybersecurity Career Awareness Week and more.

Common Sense Education Internet Traffic Light 

This Common Core-aligned first-grade lesson teaches its users basic Internet safety with a fun Google Slides presentation/activity. You will also find instructions for a Traffic Light game in class and a video, a pamphlet of poems and take-home resources.

CyberPatriot Elementary School Cyber Education Initiative (ESCEI)

To begin with CyberPatriot Elementary School Cyber Education Initiative, you need to fill up a brief request form, download a digital ESCEI 2.0 kit, and are ready to create a plan for your cyber security instruction. This platform also has a free digital kit that includes three interactive learning modules, supplementary slides, an instructor's guide, an introductory letter describing ESCEI, certificate templates and more. It is an excellent start to your K-6 cyber security curriculum.

Do not Feed the Phish

Another good lesson from Common Sense is that Do not feed the Phish teaches how to protect themselves from Internet scams. Taking a playful approach to a serious subject, this comprehensive lesson on standards includes a warm-up and wrap-up, slides, questionnaires and more. 

Faux Paw the Techno Cat

The questionable puns and animated animal characters such as Faux Paw the Techno Cat are great at engaging young learners in an important topic. It lets you follow the adventures of this technology-loving polydactyl puss via PDF books and animated videos as users learn with difficulty how to navigate digital ethics, cyberbullying, safe downloading, and other tricky cyber topics.

Science Buddies Cybersecurity Projects

It is one of the best sites for comprehensive and free cybersecurity classes. Each lesson contains general information, materials, step-by-step instructions and customization tips. Ranging from the intermediate to the advanced level, these eight lessons examine airspace hacking (i.e. computers with no connection to the Internet -- yes, they can be hacked!). The actual security of security issues, SQL injection attacks, the actual status of "deleted" files (hint: they are not removed), and other fascinating cybersecurity issues. Free account required.

Best Cybersecurity Games for K-12

ABC: Cyber Five

This is an animated video introducing five basic Internet safety and security rules, explained sincerely by Hippo and Hedgehog. Once kids are done watching the video, they can try the multiple-choice practice quiz or test. This is perfect for young learners.

Cyber Start Go

CyberStart Go features a superb selection of free cyber games sorted by difficulty level and subject. Easy play is ideal for young students and beginners, while more complex play is an exciting challenge for more advanced students.

Education Arcade Cyber Security Games

Arcade-style cybersecurity has five arcade-style cybersecurity games which provide an adventurous look at digital security issues such as password infringement, phishing, sensitive data, ransomware, and email attacks.

Internet Safety Hangman

The traditional Hangman game, updated for the Internet, provides an easy exercise for kids to test their knowledge of basic Internet terms. It is most suitable for younger students.

Interland

From Google, the architects of most of the Internet as we know it today comes this stylish animation game with sophisticated graphics and music. Users are encouraged to navigate the dangers of Kind Kingdom, Reality River, Mindful Mountain and Tower of Treasure, learning important Internet security principles along the way.

picoGym Practice Challenges

Host of the annual cyber picoCTF ("capture the flag") competition, Carnegie Mellon University offers dozens of free cyber security games that challenge and engage college and high school students. It allows for free account creation.

Science Buddies Cybersecurity: Denial-of-Service Attack

What happens with a Web site during a denial-of-service attack? How do computers get involved in these attacks without the consent of the owner? More importantly, how do we prevent those attacks? This fun game lets the user explore critical cyber security concepts in this NGSS-lined pen and paper game for high school students.

Central Statistics Online — a leading information source for chief security officers and senior executives, recently examined industry surveys and research studies to understand the current cyber security landscape.

As per their cyber security findings:

  • Every minute, $17,700 is lost due to phishing attacks.
  • 94% of malware is delivered via email.
  • 63% of companies said their data was potentially compromised within the last year.
  • 60% of data breaches involve vulnerabilities that could have been avoided.

Thus, making it necessary to be aware of internet users and keep them as safe and secure as possible.

About the Author
Author: Saniya Khan
Saniya Khan I am Saniya Khan, Copy-Editor at EdTechReview - India’s leading edtech media. As a part of the group, my aim is to spread awareness on the growing edtech market by guiding all educational stakeholders on latest and quality news, information and resources. A voraciously curious writer with a dedication to excellence creates interesting yet informational pieces, playing with words since 2016.

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