Coding in Kindergarten? Introducing coding to kindergarteners can be a challenge! Do you have devices such as iPads or computer for the students? Do you want kindergarteners to have extensive screen time? Can the students read the commands needed to learn to code? These are just a few of the issues that I had to consider when wanting to bring coding into the kindergarten classes. The kindergarteners at the O’Quinn Schools in Charleston, SC have five iPads in each class for academic enrichment. The students play games and explore apps to enhance their educational experiences. These app are primarily used for reading, math, science and social studies. At O’Quinn School, screen time matters. They believe strongly that kids should be kids and not tied to a screen. When I proposed adding coding in the curriculum, I had to teach and demonstrate sample lessons to the administrators and teachers. I presented three different options: Ozobots, Lego robotics, and Osmos. I am pleased to share that all three are now a part of the kindergarten classes!
How did kindergarten learn to code with Ozobots? I spent three different 30 minute class periods in each of the kindergarten classes. In between each scheduled teaching time, the students had the robots to use in various ways. I left follow up activities and also shared resources with the teachers so they could make and find their own activities.
Class 1: Into to Ozobots. During this class we talked about characteristics of a robot, what coding means and brainstormed ways they thought coding was used. The students got to know their Ozobots. We talked about sensors and how the Ozobots moved. The students used markers to draw lines and observed what happened. (The Ozobot Bit comes with a booklet of activities and some of these are what we used for the classes.) We completed #2 (Tips for Drawing Lines), #3 (Make the Connection), #4 (Which Way), and #5 (Light Show). After each activity, we talked about what they observed and their experiences. I left #6 (Light it Up) and #7 (Ozobot Color Codes) with them to do until the next class.
Class 2: Patterns and Code by Numbers: First, we reviewed what we already knew and learned about Ozobots. Then we talked about patterns and how the colors put in patterns represents codes. We looked at #8 (Code Reference Sheet) and #9 (Tips for Drawing the Codes) and talked about how these patterns represented the different codes. The students practiced coding patterns with lesson #10 (Code Creator) and #11 (Code by Numbers). We discussed how creating the patterns makes codes and how the Ozobots respond to those codes. I left my own versions of these activities with the teachers to use for exploration until the next class.
Class 3: Patterns for Speed and Direction: The first aspect of this class was to review all that we have learned so far about Ozobots. I was pleased that the students were familiar with terms such as coding and sensors. The students completed a scavenger hunt that introduced the code for directions. Together we practiced coding the patterns for right, left and straight. We also practiced six different patterns for speed. The students then got in groups of 3-4 around a large sheet of butcher paper to showcase all they have learned. They wrote their names, drew pictures and tied in code all throughout. It was absolutely amazing to see what the kindergarteners were able to do! I left paper with the teachers as well as extension activities and ways to tie Ozobots in to reading stories, completing story maps, and more.
What is an Ozobot? The easiest way to answer that questions is to click on the Ozobot site. Ozobot gives the description stating, “ Ozobots Evo and Bit use sensors to follow lines and read Color Codes you make with markers (or stickers!). Choose from Speed, Direction, Cool Moves codes, and more. (Tip: use Color Codes on white paper only!)” Ozobot robots are very versatile. They can be used with markers and paper as well as iOS and Android devices. This truly is a robot for everyone! The two different options for robots are the Evo and the Bit. If you want to purchase Evos, they currently sell for $100 each. Click on the BUY EVO for more info. The Bit sells for $60. Click on BUY BIT for more info.
Here is a brief comparison of the robots:
EVO: $100 each, 4 color code markers, coding stickers, activities, charging cord, OzoBlockly iPad program, ages 9+, Bluetooth enabled, social capabilities with friends, numerous tricks, 7 LED lights, optical sensors, wheels and motor, proximity sensors, and speaker
BIT: $60 each, 4 color code markers, coding stickers, activities, charging cord, OzoBlockly iPad program, ages 6+, 1 LED light, not supported by Ozobot Classroom, optical sensors, wheels and motor