For week 2 of digital technologies, we concentrated on programmable toys. We were given the task to choose a curriculum experience and outcome and to create an activity using a bee-bot that could help to support and develop upon this learning. I was looking forward to this task as I thought it would be very enjoyable. I have little knowledge when it comes to programmable toys as I rated myself a two on my self-assessment. I feel I know the basics and could be able to use them quite well, but I would still struggle a bit. Therefore, I was excited to develop my knowledge on this subject. I feel it will be an extremely effective tool to use while teaching as there are many benefits when it comes to using these, which I will further talk about in this blog post.
For this task I worked in a group of three which I found very helpful as we could easily bounce ideas off each other and help develop different idea to make them better. Even though I was in a group it still took us a little while to decide what experience and outcome to focus on. At first, we had the idea to do different colours. For example, the children would be asked what red and blue made and would have to programme the bee bot to move to purple. However, we could not find an experience and outcome that went with this, so we had to think of something else. It took a few ideas before we stuck with one, but we eventually choose to do create a mat that was to do with time. The experience and outcome we choose was “I can tell the time using 12 hour clocks, realising there is a link with 24 hour notation, explain how it impacts on my daily routine and ensure that I am organised and ready for events throughout my day. MNU 1-10a” (Curriculum For Excellence, 2015, p. 48). We choose this outcome as we felt it would be a different and creative way to incorporate learning time.
The mat was four 15cm squares by four 15cm squares. On the bottom left square, the word “start” was written as this would be the point where the bee bot would start. Then on each alternating square there would be a time on either an analogue or digital clock. Along with the mat we also made cards that said different times of the day such as breakfast or bedtime. The child would have to match the card with the specific time of day this would happen at and then
programme the bee bot to move to that specific square. We felt like this was a good way for children to see how time links with their daily routine and also develop their skill of being able to tell the time.
I was really looking forward to doing this task as I knew it would be fun to create our own mat and to use the bee bot. I believe if I enjoyed doing this, I’m sure pupils in the classroom would also enjoy this. However, I do feel it would be quite time consuming creating this as depending on the size of class or group of children more than one mat may have to be made. For the task, I was proud of our overall idea and happy with the outcome as I believe children would enjoy using this and it would also develop their learning at the same time. Although if I was to change anything, I think I would make multiple digital and analogue clocks and stick them to the mat with blue tack so that the times can be moved around. This can also allow different times so the mat can be used more as the children will have to use their time skills rather than just learning where the right answers were placed on the mat. Overall, I believe using programmable toys in the classroom is a really important and useful tool as it can develop so many different skills. Since you can create your own mat you can specify it to certain subjects. We did ours on time but you could easily create a mat to help teach grid referencing, money, spelling etc. therefore this is so useful as it can be used multiple times.
Benefits of Programmable Toys
There are many benefits that come with programmable toys. They can help to introduce the main ideas in a fun and simple way (NCTE, 2012). This will allow children to learn this new concept easier as it may be more enjoyable for them. Programmable toys can also encourage children to work well in groups and can help them to talk about the task with others (NCTE, 2012). This is extremely important as it will help to develop the pupil’s skills in working with others and will help them to understand what they are doing better as the can help each other. They can also help to develop comprehend the modern world (Janka, 2008). This will help children become accustomed to digital technologies because these are now used in our everyday lives and it is important that we know how to use them. Using programmable toys will also develop cross-curricular links. However, even though there are many benefits of programmable toys I do feel that children could get carried away with them and just play with them rather than do the activity. Though I still feel that the benefits outweigh this and would make sure to keep an eye on the children to make sure they are actually doing the activity.
Overall, I believe that programmable toys will be extremely useful in the classroom as it will be a more enjoyable way for children to learn. It can also create many cross curricular links as they can be used to teach many different topics. This task went really well and enhanced my understanding of how I can use programmable toys in the future. Although creating the mats may be time consuming I think the overall outcome will outweigh this as it will be a very useful way for children to learn.
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: 20th January 2019]
Janka, P. (2008) Using a Programmable Toy at Preschool Age: Why and How? [Online]http://www.terecop.eu/downloads/simbar2008/pekarova.pdf [Accessed: 20th January 2019]