Using coding bots in your classroom is a fun way to get students excited about programming. If you’re wondering why learning to program is important for young learners, I address that in my blog post “My Favorite Coding Apps for Kids.” Take a peek to learn more!
In a nutshell, teaching programming in your classroom is all about preparing students with the building blocks they’ll need in the future workforce. These skills also hit those higher order thinking concepts that will help kids develop logical, step-by-step problem solving skills. In fact, using programming resources geared towards young learners will give your younger students the foundations they need to make bigger connections later when it’s developmentally appropriate.
Getting young students to engage in critical thinking can be a challenge. This is exactly why coding bots rock! The moment you give a student a bot, they’re easily engaged and willing to do whatever it takes to get that little guy moving and working. This will put their critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and math skills to work at the same time, all while they just think they are having fun!
Primary Level Coding Bots
Dash and Dot- Wonder Nation offers several bots that are great for young learners ages 6 and up. Dot is a fun little bot who helps children create without limits. With the Dot Creativity Kit, students can transform Dot from the outside in. You can add fun stickers to the outside of Dot, or use the building brick connectors to create a structure with legos. Then, using the apps, kids can teach Dot new tricks. Dot also works with his robot friend, Dash, who can draw, build, and even launch balls at targets with perfect accuracy.
Dot’s starting price is around $80 and Dash is around $150. You can purchase them here: https://store.makewonder.com/collections/products-accessories
Botley- Botley was developed for children as young as 5 to be able to code as soon as they open the box. There’s no tablet or computer required! This bot comes with lots of games, puzzles, and mazes that allow kids to think creatively and solve problems. While playing with Botley, kids will learn basic coding concepts like algorithms, loops and debugging. Free lesson plans are available online for teachers to integrate Botley into their lessons.
A Botley Coding Classroom Set starts at $300.
Code and Go Robot Mouse- Jack is a fully programmable robot mouse who lights up, makes sounds, and can go at two different speeds. Jack has colorful buttons that match coding cards for easy programming. The Code and Go set comes with an activity guide and 30 double-sided activity cards. Jack can also be used with the STEM Robot Mouse Coding Activity Set.
The Code and Go Mouse starts at $30.
Ozobot- Evo by Ozobot is a one-inch bot that can be used either screen-free or on-screen for block coding. Color-coding allows young students to code by using just markers and paper. Color coding is a great starting place for younger students who are new to programming. It helps them learn simple coding concepts like cause and effect and debugging. Students can also engage with on-screen coding using a computer or tablet. The on-screen options allow students to learn on 5 different levels ranging from pre-reader to master. This allows you to individualize the learning to each skill level in your classroom.
Evo Educator Entry Kit (with 1 bot) starts at $100. And the Evo classroom bundle starts at $1,500. They can both be purchased here: https://shop.ozobot.com/
Organization is KEY!
Let’s be real for a teeny tiny moment, shall we? We spend so much money on “flashy new things” for our schools but let’s face it… they don’t always get used! Teachers are busy and don’t have time for anything that will be too difficult to set up or complicated to implement. So, if we want these wonderful learning tools to be used in our schools, we need to make them accessible to everyone. Every “robotic experience” should be successful not only for our students but for teachers too. ?The key is simple… ORGANIZATION!
Take a look at how I organize robots at my school. This cart makes it easy to roll everything from class to class. I turned an ordinary cart (that I purchased on Amazon) into a charging station by attaching charging docks with zip ties. Easy peasy and quite effective!
Which Coding Bot Is Right For Your Students?
When choosing what coding bot to purchase, think through your specific classroom needs. Think about if you want multiple bots for all students to use at once or just one or two for students to use at rotating times throughout your class period. Bots can be a great hands-on learning station for students to use in small groups if you do not have enough for the entire class. Be mindful that some of the above options offer classroom bundles while others are just single items.