Robots in Storytime

Bee-Bot, Programs

beeoneI believe the easiest approach when it comes to using new technology is to incorporate it into a program you are already doing. Sometimes it feels too daunting to design an entire new program around some fancy new thing. Sometimes you don’t have room on the schedule to add that new fancy program. Other times you don’t have the physical room needed to add that new fancy thing. A simple solution is to find approachable technology that adds-on and/or supplements what you already do. For me that regular program to try things in is storytime.

Robots was our theme for my library’s storytime sessions this week. I thought, it would be fun to let kids play with a real robot – so I pulled out the Bee-Bots. See reviews for the Bee-Bot, here and here. I love them because they are an approachable hands on technology for any age. (And they are also adorable.) 

Why does this work in storytime?

  • I am a proponent of hands on activities during storytimes. They help develop motor skill and control at a lot of ages.
  • The Bee-Bot is very good at teaching sequencing and if/then relationships – which we teach with stories, flannels and rhymes – why not try a hands on way too?
  • I like giving little ones autonomy. Letting kid’s pick what buttons they want to press helps them begin to explore.

 How we did it?bee2

This is the hard part. The idea of doing something nontraditional in storytime can be scary or some might even look down on it. But my view is there are always unknowns with small children, so why is this any different? Why not explore sequencing by using the Bee-Bot instead of a flannel?

The storytimes we used Bee-Bots with were our 1,2,3 Storytimes which have kids ages 1-3 with their caregivers, and our Together Time which is kids ages 3-5 with caregivers. (Yes you can do this with Toddlers.) 

I drew a flower on a poster board. The middle of the flower was a circle just enough to fit Bee-Bot – that was his starting point for the activity. Each petal had a different color and pattern, so we could also work on colors and patterns while we did Bee-Bot.

We started the Bee-Bot activity towards the end of each storytime. Since we have two Bee-Bots and two librarians for most of our storytimes, we were able to split into two smaller groups. Each parent and child have a turn to interact with Bee-Bot. It is actually a very good circle activity and the kids worked on patience and turn taking – which is another developing skill for this age range. We explored with Bee-Bot for about ten minutes, then came back together as one group and did our ending song.

This went really well and the parents really enjoyed seeing their kids interact. Bee-Bot is such a great tool for younger kids, so why not try it in a storytime?

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Bee-Bot Command Cards: ideas for use

Programs, Reviews

A follow-up to the Bee-Bot Review:

Yesterday on Twitter, my fellow robot enthusiast Sharon asked: “If you have a beebot, how are you using the cards? Feeling like they aren’t needed. Showing vs. doing, doing wins, right?” I responded, “I think you could use them to set up a route, point A to point B, if it advances one card-length.”

I didn’t want to leave it at “if,” so today I tested the Bee-Bot against the cards, and it does indeed advance one card-length. I’ve only used the Bee-Bot with the youngest of toddlers so far, and they truly do like pushing the buttons and watching things happen. As a way to keep them engaged a little longer, I’ve tried to get them to plan out Bee-Bot’s route, such as, “Have it move from here to knock down that stack of Legos” (appealing to their destructive tendencies). I think that’s when the cards become useful, as a tangible way to plot out a course and as a measuring tool for how far the Bee-Bot will advance.

Review: Bee-Bot

Bee-Bot, Programs, Reviews

beebotRobot Basics

  • What is it?

From the user guide, “Bee-Bot is an award-winning programmable floor robot with a simple, child-friendly layout which is a perfect starting point for teaching control, directional language and programming to young children.”

  • What’s in the Box?

The Bee-Bot includes, the Bee-but, a USB charging cable, a set of command cards, and user guide.

  • How Much?

Bee-Bot sells for $89.95 and has a variety of accessories you can purchase. There are also classroom sets. Visit http://www.bee-bot.us/ for more information.

  • Age Range?

Toddler and up.

  • How Did We Acquire it?

ILEAD Grant funds.

Ideas for Use

Bee-bot is very accessible for younger kids. The robot is incredibly child friendly and also very approachable. We used it along with Tiggly Shapes for a Toddler Try-It session, which is for kids between 2 and 3 years old. I can see using this little guy in a variety of ways. You could build a storytime like program around some coding concepts like sequencing, loop, and if/then that includes Bee-Bot. I also think if you have a play space in your library you could have Bee-Bot available for general use. Or if your library circulates kits at all, Bee-Bot would be an excellent addition.

Time Involved

Bee-bot was easy. Everything you need comes with it. I didn’t use the cards at all. But if you wanted to create more elaborate programs, you might spend some time organizing the cards. Otherwise, I can’t see spending a ton of time needing to prep Bee-Bot.

One-time or Recurring Program

I think you could do either. I plan on using Bee-Bot sporadically throughout the year.

Skills Needed

Can you push buttons? Then you are good to go.

Good Stuff

Bee-Bot was awesome. The kids loved him. I made sure that every child who wanted to give Bee-Bot a whirl had a chance. They were really amazed that they had the ability to “touch” a robot and could even tell him what to do. I completely let the kids decide how they wanted the Bee-Bot to move. I did have to tell them what the different symbols meant. I often was saying, “press a few orange buttons, then press the green one so we can see what he will do.” I’m not sure they understood the concept of directionality yet, but they certainly got the if/then concept. They very much recognized that if they pressed the orange button and then the green one, the robot would react.

Frustrations

I’m not sure I get the cards. I can see how they would be helpful in a classroom setting and for older kids. But they really were not needed for my age group.

Ending Thoughts/Observations

This was a fun way to learn. I really like when kids can do things hands on. I myself am a hands-on learner, so I completely get the need. I am working on creating more ways for kids to experience tactile learning during library programs, and Bee-Bot really is a great little tool. I’m excited to use it more and share it with coworkers. I loved Bee-Bot! When you often work with the younger set it is sometimes challenging to think of ways to build programs around coding concepts, it does not always feel like you have the resources you need. Bee-bot is a wonderful tool and incredibly approachable for those who are not sure where to start.

Overall Rating

Super awesome!