What A Beebot Wants... Designing games starting from children's own ideas.

Our Year 2s are amazing people! Anthropomorphism, is not only a WOW word, but has become one the key motivating factors in the way these yongsters have engaged their imaginations in working with their BeeBot Friends.

I wanted the children to think about ways in which we could introduce their new found friends and how they work to other children in school. I opened the session with what we had already learned about BeeBots, we now knew they loved to dance, but what else did Beebots like to do?

Using a Smart Notebook, in which we have been cummulatively documenting our work and ideas, not just as lesson activities and group games, but through photos and children's comments, we began a discussion and brainstorm of what BeeBots might like to do in their spare time. Using images of the children at work, and a few that came from Anthony Evan's Blog, we explored the idea of BeeBot Pastimes. Perhaps they might like to party, collect pollen, get dressed to go out, taste different foods, sleep in their beds go to school or visit friends are just a few of the suggestions that the children made. We extended this discussion to think about how the bots might go about doing these things. How would they get to their party? Where would they go to taste or eat their food? Where would they find their pollen? How would they get to school, and what might they pass on the way? What things would they have to do before they left their house for school?

Using some of these ideas as a stimulus, I suggested that all of their ideas seemed to involve collecting things, and perhaps what BeeBots might like most of all was to go on treasure hunts. From here I introduced the next challenge task, to design a game to play with younger students in the school using the BeeBots. I showed them a map I had made, where we could use BeeBot Procedures to visit fairytale characters, and asked for suggestions about how we might play the game. What would happen if we replaced the Characters with things we do when we get ready for school in the morning. Interestingly this game suggests ideas very like a task I have just done with year 6 children when working on flow charts. The children began to suggest ideas about how the Bot could travel around the grid or map, finding and putting on or collecting his clothes in the correct order. In essence, this game would involve the students in concretely inputting procedures, to carry out a real life process, what older children were currently doing more abstractly in Flowol.

The remainder of the session was spent making their game boards. Inputting single step procedures and making BeeBot footprints by drawing around their "friends" where they stopped. These "footprints, " will act next week as the grid, which they will decorate to form the context for their game and next time they will also make moveable cards which can be placed about the mat to design and redisign routes for the BeeBots to follow. I am very excited about this, as not only has the activity stimulated the children, with the motivation of sharing these with others, but has also highlighted some of the possibilities for using BeeBots with colleagues. There are a wide variety of commercially available BeeBot mats, but somehow the idea of children playing and sharing games that they themselves have made adds that extra dimension. I can't wait to see where their imagination takes them, and how they develop their ideas to realisable game designs to use with their friends. This task is evolving a purpose all of it's own which from which I am beginning to see a deeper understanding of input and output evolve than would have been possible through the use of commercial mats alone.

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