Why is robotics awesome? Because it can fit ANYWHERE in the curriculum. It’s problem solving, critical thinking, cooperative learning, collaboration, play, exploration, creativity, and grit… all in one. It’s often thought of as an afterschool program or an enrichment. But robotics should be part of the everyday classroom. Why? Because it has so much to offer.
Please don’t think of it as “one more thing to add in.” It’s not another “subject.”
Some of my favorite robots for the youngest learners are definitely the BeeBot and Dot & Dash. They provide entry-level fun, but can be made more challenging instantly, with a few tweaks to your course, objective, or mat.
Incorporate Literacy: Kids are enjoying great books all the time, right? Then use those stories to incorporate robotics. Dash can be driven via the app Go, and once students have the hang of driving him, they can use additional apps to code his route. Print pictures from the book, spread them out by attaching them to plastic cups and ask students to retell the story by driving Dash through the book. I’ve also used Rosie’s Walk with BeeBots, and the Hungry Caterpillar. We won’t stop there – books make the perfect subject for robotics and young children.
Make it Mathematical: Measure how far Dash can travel in 10 seconds. Measure how far he can go in 20. Estimate how long it will take him to travel from your classroom door to the water fountain. Have kids design a course for Dash – and they’ll have to use some measurement if they plan to use coding. BeeBots are based on 15 cm squares, like the Hungry Caterpillar mat above that I created. Older kids could do multiplication and advanced math by creating a mat like this. How many trips around the board is a mile? That would be fun to figure out.
Other possibilities, toss play money around on the floor. Drive Dash to the coins or bills. If he circles the money, students get to add the total to their “bank.” They could see how much money they can collect in five minutes. For added practice, create a graph of money collected by Dash each day.
Diary of a Robot: Students will love writing stories about Dash. Dress him up in costumes and make him a center. Take some fun photos of him around town. Students can select a photo and write or tell a story about Dash.
Social Studies: Whether kids are learning about community workers or careers, ask them to create a course for Dash as a “doctor” or a “police man.” They could draw pictures to place around the floor that show Dash working as that career. Then, they can share their course with each other and drive Dash on his journey “working” through a day in the life of that career.
Additionally, North, South, East, and West are easily taught using code. Place the compass rose on your mat and students can get more specific. Have kids write directions for Dash to drive to the playground. That’s a challenge!
Don’t have robots in your classroom yet? Make some arrow cards for students to line up to tell another person how to move. The cards could also be drawn on wooden blocks. Students line up the code, then have a partner follow it. Boards similar to the BeeBot mat above would be perfect for kids to practice on. You can even download this book from Code.org and find arrow cards and cut and paste sheets inside. Have students act out each other’s code will help them practice reading the code and writing it. Plus, it’s fun to pretend to be a robot, right? Of course it is, whether you’re five or thirty five. Or maybe that’s just me.