Category Archives: Teaching and Learning

Digital Technologies | 16.1.18

Programmable Toys

Today’s session involved learning about programmable toys and, in particular, Bee-Bots. We looked at the history of programmable toys, the benefits of using them in the classroom and the links to the Curriculum for Excellence.

Programmable toys being used in the education system dates back to the 1960s when the programming language Logo was created by Seymour Papert. This involves controlling the ‘turtle’ (arrow) to draw lines on the computer screen. We were able to give this a try in class today – it was really interesting to use and find similarities between this and the Bee-Bot. We also got the chance to use the Bee-Bot app on the iPads – this is a great tool to use in schools that might not have the physical Bee-Bots.

The benefits of programmable toys are seemingly endless: Janka (2008) claims that these types of toys are “a good example for developing knowledge and understanding of the contemporary world”. Janka (2008) also states that programmable toys help children to “develop the ability to describe simple journey and instruct the programmable toy in order to develop positional language and estimation.” Lydon (2008) claims that children “gained independence faster than anticipated” when using Bee-Bots. The benefits are inter-disciplinary: The National centre for Technology in Education (2012) say that floor robots such as Bee-Bots help with “development of skills such as logical sequencing, measuring, comparing lengths, space orientation, and expressing concepts in words.” Other benefits include: there is instant feedback gained by the learner; their problem solving skills are developed; it is a hands-on lesson; the pupils experience challenge and enjoyment; the learner is in control and has the platform to be creative.

I found it really interesting to think about all the different ways these toys could be used in the classroom to support a vast range of learning. When using programmable toys, it is important to keep in mind the Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes (Es&Os). To ensure that the child is receiving the most from the lesson, a teacher should make sure the lesson is targeting at least one or two of the Es&Os, if not more. Es&Os should be the bones of a good lesson, and the success criteria should be made clear to the pupils at the start and end of the lesson.

As a class, we were challenged to come up with a lesson in groups, using Bee-Bots, with a numeracy focus. My group and I used a treasure hunt theme, incorporating the 3 times table: the idea was the the learner would start at the ‘ship’ square, and would have to complete the sum on that tile, in this case 3×1. Once the learner had gotten the answer, they would look for the card with the answer on it, in this case they would look for the card with the 3 on it. If they turn the card over, they would find instructions on where to go on the map, using the points of the compass such as north, south etc. The learner will have to answer different 3 times table sums in order to eventually reach the treasure.

The hunt included some obstacles, such as the shark which you cannot pass! This encourages the learner to use problem solving skills and also brings more enjoyment to the game.

We even made a little eye patch to immerse the Bee-Bot fully in the game!

I thoroughly enjoyed learning about these programmable toys and can’t wait to take what I have learned into a classroom soon!

I have included a small clip of the the Bee-Bot in action!


ICTopus Article (2008) Sharing Good Practice: Robots in Early Education by Alison Lydon.


[Accessed: 20th January 2018]


Janka, P. (2008) Using a Programmable Toy at Preschool Age: Why and How?


[Accessed: 20th January 2018]


NCTE (National centre for Technology in Education) (2012) NCTE Floor Robots – Focus on Literacy & Numeracy.


[Accessed: 20th January 2018]


Placement Experience

During my two week block placement, I was based in one of two P6 classes. The class was at full capacity with 33 pupils, which gave me an insight into the difficulties that this can bring to a teacher. I’m definitely glad I got to experience this early on in my journey to becoming a teacher, and hopefully this means I will be more equipped to deal with big class sizes in years to come. It was also evident to me that due to the needs in the class, the teacher had to take on more of a nurturing role than she would normally. This also gave me a great insight into the complexities of a large group of children and how to cope with varying needs in the classroom. I am keen to develop my knowledge of Additional Support Needs in the classroom and how to support pupils in the appropriate way.  I am also glad I got to witness days that didn’t go 100% smoothly, as this happens often in reality, and how teachers coped with hic-ups in a calm and collected manner – a skill that is crucial in being a primary teacher.

I spent the first week in the P6 class, getting to know the pupils and familiarising myself with their class routines. I got the opportunity to have some responsibility of the class and small groups, i.e. taking their spelling assessment, bringing in the lines in the morning and after break/lunch, leading a group in practically working out a problem solving question with hula hoops. My second week was spent getting a taste of other stages in the school – I got the chance to work with nearly every stage. This gave me a real understanding of the different teaching styles needed for different levels within a school. It was genuinely interesting to see different approaches of teachers from class to class, and I hope to take these inspirations on board to develop my own professional teaching style.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time on placement: it allowed me to put the theory I have learned so far into practice and gave me a context for my future learning. I think it will be easier to understand new concepts as I can relate it back to a realistic setting.