08 Jul

Cubetto!

This half term I was very lucky to borrow three of these fab Cubettos! 

The Cubetto is unique, not only because of it’s gorgeous aethestic feel but because it is designed to introduce coding to the youngest members of your school.

The instructions are placed, in sequence, in the unit and the then bot itself ambles along wirelessly doing exactly what you’ve told it to. The unit allows children to physically manipulate their touchy-feely wooden instructions,  and to experiment. It allows for the creation of a sub-routine and it allows EYFS children to explore problem solving and storytelling using tech without screens.

Firstly, it will not look out of place in any nursery or EYFS setting – it is just gorgeous. So well made and chunky.  It follows the same principles of a Bee Bot, but the commands are entered separately and physically. It really does make Bee Bots look like plastic rejects.

I started by asking my Y5/Y6 Digital Leaders to play with it, and then they were able to share it with the younger classes. Cubetto comes with a mat and a storybook (see their site for more options about this) – these are just brilliant ideas and a real starting point that many a busy teacher will love. As it happens my pupils set about writing their own stories for Cubetto – and I had to dissuade them from designing their own mat… We then set about looking at what coding we could actually achieve and plan learning for the younger ones.

The result? The children talking about logic, ordering of instructions and reading the Cubetto story to the younger children. One of the first things they did was to see how long Cubetto’s range was (answer – very long!) – and then to see if they could create an ‘infinite’ loop… The younger children loved to try the challenges – asking themselves questions and then using this in their writing. (Did Cubetto get to the mountains? )

Nowadays in these budget-conscious times the Cubetto represents a lot of bang for your buck – the well made resource (with great grippy wheels that work on all kinds of terrain!) – the whizz-bang of wifi and robotics and the genuine opportunities for learning. For being able to feel and see your instructions before your robot tries them out. I love having these in school and will definitely attempt to purchase some once our loan has finished!!

17 May

Computing in the Early Years (and beyond!)

Right from Key Stage 1 we are beginning to investigate simple algorithms and to investigate computer programs.  In reception and EYFS then,  giving children the chance to experience activities and objects which encourage the correct use of technology-  (experience the world around them) – is important. Think useful, colourful and fun!!

Bee Bots!

eyfs1

Often overlooked! Or tucked away in a cupboard somewhere without charge… For that reason I recommend this set of rechargeable and self contained Bee Bots!
Use with maps on the floor to link with topics – e.g Desert Island Treasure or Road.

  • Great for linking to topic maps and stories.
  • Versatile – link to instruction writing or leave as play

 

Remote Control Cars

Sounds simple, but these will encourage pupils to think in terms of instruction following, and develop direction, motor skills and control.

  • Can be linked to topics and stories in a similar way to Bee Bots.
  • Encourage group working and talking whilst play.

eyfs2

 

Make use of the whiteboard!

The 2 Simple City is a great environment for simulation and play. However it could be as simple as leaving your smart board software up there so they can play. However a quick search will find many online games aimed at this age group that can be linked to topics. Try Poisson Rouge or looking at the TES iBoard – some of which are free.

  • Use a rota for the children who are allowed on the whiteboard, maybe with a timer so that other children get the chance.
  • Many of these activities can also be left on the classroom computers.

 

EYFS5

 

Recordable Props!

I’ve really begun to like the wide variety of classroom props around that let you (or the pupils) record their own message. My favourite are the recordable pegs which let children record explanations and ideas linked to classroom work, or in storytelling corners. Gives a lovely personal touch to the classroom. You can also get little push buttons which allow you to leave oral instructions for activities, or children to practice their talk before writing.

eyfs6

 

Laptops / Tablet Computers

Discussions around ‘what’s best’ for younger hands / eyes / experiences aside try and think what would fit best within you school environment. I always recommend a mixture are available for the children to use – and for computers you can get some lovely smaller mice and colourful keyboards. On Android and ipad there are plenty of apps that can be used, and some very safe covers to protect from water / dropping etc. Plenty of the apps I’ve looked at here fit in well with early users, too.

Links – note there is a wide variety of shops / sites which sell this equipment! Recommended just to get started:

TTS 

Focus Educational

The WhiteBoard Blog (because it’s fab for all whiteboard use!)

TES iBoard

Please leave a comment if you can recommend any other equipment / programmes for the early years environment!