The super helpful tech specialist at my school bought a second bee-bot, and sent the one I dropped and broke right back to the company. They fixed him up and shipped him back to us within weeks. That meant we had two!
Here’s how my early elementary students used bee-bot in the last few weeks of school:
- We read Paul Galdone’s Little Red Riding Hood and discussed sequence. Then, we placed different images representing different parts of the story on different spaces of our activity mat. The children re-told the story by taking turns directing bee-bot to the first thing that occurred, the second, etc.
- We also used bee-bot to practice reading call numbers. Different call numbers were placed on each mat space, and then children would receive a prompt, such as “Drive Bee-Bot to a picture book that is fictional and has an author whose last name begins with W.” Once bee-bot arrived at a space, the rest of the children would assess how bee-bot did [with a thumbs up (yes!), thumbs down (no), thumbs to the side (I don’t know) system]. This motivated discussion and evaluating “how bee-bot did” (instead of how the child programmer did) helped us focus on learning and less on mistakes.
- We made the most of having 2 bee-bots. We would start them at different spaces and then have them “race” to a particular spot on the activity mat. This helped children problem-solve not just how to get bee-bot to his destination, but to consider multiple paths and to select the path that had the shortest number of commands.
In my students’ end-of-year library surveys, there was a definite trend: exploring with bee-bot was a favorite experience, and many children said it helped them remember what we learned together. The last week of school, I even had a child bring in this:
It is Bigtrak Jr, a toy originally sold in 1979 that has a lot of bee-bot similarities. On the day when the child came in with this, what choice did I have? We celebrated our year of learning by programming Bigtrak Jr around the floor of the library, discussing how we could create a new mat out of butcher paper that was scaled to his “steps” (he had much larger steps than bee-bot), and having a whole lot of fun.