# Digital Technologies-Programmable Toys (Week 2)

Today I explored more of the benefits of programmable toys within the classroom environment. They can have a really positive impact on the children. They have the possibility of improving sense of direction as the children have to distinguish from right, left, straight and back.  They can develop concentration and problem solving as well as improving their skill in writing down instructions. It can boost creativity as there are a lot of possibilities of art lesson plans with programmable toys (Janka, 2008).

“In the field of mathematical development, children should develop the ability to describe simple journey and instruct the programmable toy in order to develop positional language and estimation.” (Janka, 2008, p.2)

A programmable toy called ‘Bee-Bot’ is a widely used toy in the classroom. It involves setting down  specific directions for the toy bee to move in. Lydon (2008) states that in her classroom 12 out of 28 children were capable of using the Bee-Bot right after hearing instructions for it which she did not expect. It shows that the Bee-Bot increases independence and is straight forward to use for the children.

“[Floor robots in the classroom] help with the development of skills such as a logical sequencing, measuring, comparing lengths, space orientation, and expressing concepts in words.”  (National centre for Technology in Education, 2012, p.1)

It is shown that a simple toy can have a huge advantage for the children and is a widely used technology within the classrooms for children at all different stages.

We had the opportunity (in small groups) to create our own maps for the bee-bots to move on which could be used in the classroom. Our team took an approach to focus on shapes. We were able to connect what the shape looks like visually and their connection within the shapes we find in our day to day life to the properties and names of the shapes. We done this by separating the paper into 12 different section and in each one a different shape was drawn but as an object so for example a circle was drawn as a clock. We then made questions cards with different properties of shapes with they then had to identify and move the bee-bot to that specific area. From my own reflections of the task I think this is a much more fun and interesting way to teach children maths-it also really helps to develop problem solving skills as even as adults we had to think about the answers.

References-

Pekárová Janka(2008) Using a Programmable Toy at Preschool Age: Why and How? [Online] http://www.terecop.eu/downloads/simbar2008/pekarova.pdf [Accessed: 16th January 2017]

Alison Lydon (2008) Sharing Good Practice: Robots in Early Education.   [Online] https://oponoa-programmeertalen.wikispaces.com/file/view/BeeBot_article.pdf [Accessed: 16th January]

NCTE (National centre for Technology in Education) (2012) NCTE Floor Robots – Focus on Literacy & Numeracy. [Online] http://www.ncte.ie/media/NCTE_Floor_robots_focus_on_literacy_numeracy_primary_12-06.pdf  [Accessed: 22rd January 2018]