Let Them Experiment

It's the end of October, and we're really just starting a deep dive into the Bee Bots. If you're anything like teacher-me you have to keep reminding yourself, "Slow down. Let them be little. Let them play." Would I love it if we were already using the Bee Bots to sequence stories and learn about counting on? Sure, but what do my kids love?

They want to experiment! They want to watch the Bee Bot's lights go on and off. They want to try the Bee Bot from different starting points (not just the carefully designed teacher starting point... I should have known better on that one). They want to run the Bee Bots into one another to see what happens. They want to lick the Bee Bot (yes, apparently this is a five senses exploration of robots).

When asked how I start teaching coding, I would say that the very, very beginning is not a teacher-led process. With the Bee Bots, with ScratchJr, or with whatever medium you're using to introduce your young students to coding, it has to begin with play. I do my best to model the basics for my students so that they don't get frustrated, but for their first experience I am there as an observer and questioner. I repeat to myself many times over, "Sit on your hands. It is not your turn," and I take notes of what they are doing so that I can teach some next steps during a later lesson.

So today my students played. I learned a lot about my students' abilities to communicate with each other, solve problems, work as teams, and persist. And I held off on "doing the teaching" until I had to sanitize a sad Bee Bot (which I'm sure did not taste good, but I don't have the four-year-old bravery to try that particular experiment).

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