This week has been genius week in eighth-grade keyboarding! We’ve finished our portfolios and it is time to celebrate. We have 3d printing, robot making, and all kinds of building going on. But today, I’m writing about one of my favorite tools for teaching coding quickly, Dash and Dot. Scroll down to enter the giveaway contest!
These Wonder Workshop robots make it easy to learn to code in my STEM lab.
Out of the Box Coding with Kids
So, out of all of the items I had available, Dash and Dot from Wonder Workshop were the ONLY ones which I didn’t have to help my students figure out. I literally took the Wonder Pack and handed it to my students to open and start using. I said,
“Here are two robots, Dash and Dot, there are apps on the store you can use and there are a lot of attachments and cool things, go for it. Show me what you can do.”
In moments they were driving the robots, adding attachments and playing the xylophone. I’ve used Dash and Dot before but they have something new, the catapult.
I was fascinated by the catapult and they struggled a little. I didn’t intervene, I just said,
“I wonder if you all are hard working enough to figure out the catapult.”
It took longer, but soon they were throwing things across the room. (In a good, non-hurtful way, of course.)
Cool Lesson Plans to Help Kids Learn to Code
I've been using Dash and Dot for over two years now with kids of all ages. I often point them to the Dash and Dot curriculum page to figure out what they can do with them.
For example, it was rainy one day and a student asked what Dot could do. He found out how to program Dot to play Hot Potato. Then, as they played, he enjoyed changing the speed and timing to make the game different each time. We ended up with ten kids at break programming and playing their own “high tech” version of the low tech hot potato game. So much fun!
Why Do We Help Kids Learn to Code?
As I’ve shared before, coding is an important skill for students to learn. We want our students to think computationally. I don’t want students playing games – I want them to MAKE games. I don’t want students using apps, I want them MAKING apps. Likewise, I want student making, creating, and melding their environment. While I use dash and dot with older students and they love them, these cute toy robots are targeted to K-5 students.
I believe these robots make an excellent addition to:
- Classroom maker space
- Summer camps and robotics experiences
- Summer enrichment
- STEM labs, STEAM labs, and FAB labs
- Any elementary classroom
Apps for Dash and Dot from Wonder Workshop
There are many apps you can use to program the Dash and Dot which include:
- Wonder App – This is the basic app to control Dash and Dot. Students can program, drive, and do other things with the wonder app. This is usually the first app they get.One of the favorite things my students do is take a phone and put it on the smartphone app and Facetime with it. They used another phone to drive Dash. We hook up the phone that is Facetiming with Dash back on my big board. So, the students can literally drive Dash around the school and say hello to people and talk via Facetime. It was their own virtual presence! We had lots of conversations after they hit on this. And they were just tinkering. They go much deeper into programming with this basic app.
- Blockly – If students have used Scratch, Blockly will be very simple. This is our favorite coding app. You can do simple things with it, but you'd be surprised at the advanced things older kids will figure out.
- Xylo – This app lets Dash play the xylophone. Musically inclined students enjoy this.
- Path – This app is a little more advanced but students learn about sensors and events by using this tool. For example, you can have students teach the robot to follow a path, but to move and go around obstacles. We talk about “self-driving” cars when using this app. You can get into some pretty advanced concepts in a simple way. While you might not want to use the “big words” like control flow and algorithm design, students don't need to know the words to do these things.
- Go – This app help students get started with Dash and Dot and teaches them how to play. While my older students start with the Wonder App, when using these with younger kids, you'd probably want to start with Go.
Dash and Dot Wonder Pack Giveaway Contest
So, if you want to make coding a dash, get the robots Dash and Dot from Wonder Workshop. Here's the link to their teacher portal to learn more.
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