Preparation is necessary before using equipment like Roamer
and Turtle with young children. The following article has been adapted
from "Have Big Track will GO" written by Margaret Harris and Margaret
Williams both Advisory Teachers in Devon. Published in the early 1980s
it relates their experience of using Big Trak with young children. Many
of the principles are suitable for use with young children the Roamer
and the Turtle.
Before introducing the Roamer or the Turtle in the classroom you will
have to decide where and how to use it.
Space: A large, clear area is essential. Children need enough
room to move around and to move the robot different distances and in
different directions. Suitable locations are the school hall, an empty
classroom or even a corner of your own classroom.
Children: It is important to organise the children so they
obtain maximum benefit from their activities.
A class lesson to introduce the robot is often appropriate, but children
are best motivated by hands on experience.
Children can work as a class, in groups or as individuals. Shy, unconfident
children will benefit from activities on their own. Most children
will benefit from working in small groups. This avoids queues of impatient
children waiting for their "turn" and encourages discussion and co-operation.
Many language skills will develop in this situation. The groups should
be organised so that all children have a chance to participate.
Recording Programs: Children should be encouraged to record
their instructions and programs for the Roamer. The program sheets provided
with the Roamer can be freely copied for this purpose. Recording helps
children to think about what instructions they key in and provides a
record for both teacher and pupil.
When younger children first encounter a Turtle or Roamer, they may not
have the language or understanding necessary to instruct it. The following
exercises will help them with Forward, Back and turn commands.
Copy Cat: Give two children an identical set of coloured bricks
and place a screen between them. The first child makes a pattern with
the bricks and then gives instructions for the second child to make
the same pattern. The children then change roles and repeat the game.
This encourages children to use spatial language.
Forward and Back: Children hop, jump or skip around the hall,
possibly to music. At a signal from the teacher they stop. The teacher
then gives an instruction like, "Move forward five steps", or "Jump
back eight steps".
This game could be developed to include turning. For example, "Let
me see your face", "Face the wall with the door", or "Let me see your
back", then "Move forward...", etc.
Left and Right: Younger children are often confused about left
and right. There are several ways to help them remember.
The class could make bangles and wear them on their right wrists.
Children can play "Simon says, 'Touch your left leg' etc". Children
can skip, hop or jump around the hall, then be asked to turn right
or left and move forward or back a number of steps.
Crossroads: Mark out some crossroads on the floor. At the end
of each road place something to represent a forest, a castle, a lake
and a village. Children can instruct each other to get from one place
to another, for example, from the lake to the, village. This game could
be played in pairs. One child wears a blindfold and the partner gives