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Literacy games KS2 – Robotics for SPaG and handwriting practice

Help your LKS2 children improve literacy with step-by-step processes... using robots 

  • Literacy games KS2 – Robotics for SPaG and handwriting practice

What’s great about working with robots in the classroom is not only the reaction from the children – it’s one of the best behaviour management tools I’ve ever used – it’s also that there are so many really helpful online teaching resources that you can tap into whatever level you and your class are working to.  

I had never used a robot before introducing one to my class, so it was a really interesting learning curve for all of us, and the children enjoyed the fact that I was learning with them. 

We used Marty the Robot because Marty looks and moves like a human, which the children connected with, but there are other basic spherical or wheeled educational robots out there, too. 

To begin, we went right back to basics, looking at the process of offline programming, what coding is, and then familiarising ourselves with the app that came with the robot. 

But as the term progressed, I found that rather than just a novelty, or a lesson in its own right, we could use the robot to help augment other areas of the curriculum, especially literacy.  

Recontextualising literacy

When it comes to fiction or non-fiction writing, there’s a huge amount of structure involved. From ‘Beginning, Middle, End’ to the finer details of persuasive prose, there are multiple steps to consider.

This can be tricky for some pupils to master, especially if they’re not comfortable with handwriting or spelling. The step-by-step process of coding can help with this hugely. 

As a hands-on experience rather than an abstract theory, working with a robot can give pupils the tools to verbalise or write using their own writing process outside of a pencil and paper, with some added coding knowledge!  

Realising there are multiple ways to be creative can help a lot of children become more involved in literacy exercises than they otherwise might be. 

I hope the following will help you with some ideas to combine robotics with literacy, adding an extra sense of fun (for you and your class):  

  • Mark making/pencil control/early writing
    Get the children to draw routes and then program a robot to follow them. Their routes could be based on their walk to school, to the park, or even on their favourite shape.
  • Presenting
    Ask children what their favourite thing about the robot is. What question would they most like to ask it? You can go around the class getting pupils to answer different questions, and later on asking each other questions. This helps develop skills including listening and talking, turn taking, discussion, sharing thoughts and opinions, and effective questioning.
  • Playwriting
    Provide a block of code for the robot to walk through, and ask pupils to create a storyline or script to match the action (or vice versa, where you provide a simple script and children must create the movement to match).
  • Persuasive writing
    Create a poster or advert for the robot that could be used in magazines and catalogues. Why should people use this robot? What makes you excited to learn with it?
  • Spelling and vocab
    Write vocabulary (spelling words, WOW words, common words etc) on coloured pieces of card, and ask pupils to use their programming skills to get the robot to the correct word. For example, you could ask them to find an adjective, or even a specific word they might be struggling with. To help with constructing words, write single letters on cards, ask the children to program a route out to spell out the words they are learning.
  • Celebrate progress
    Many robots like Marty can be programmed to do a dance on a particular colour of card, so children will be able to see straight away when they have the correct answer to activities such as the spelling game above. Turning the often-dull process of spelling and vocabulary into a robot dance party will engage even the least interested children – trust me!

Colleen Lynch is a Primary 4 (Y3) teacher at St Mark’s Primary School in North Ayrshire, Scotland. Follow Colleen on Twitter at @misslynch90.

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