BEE BOTS, Coding, Computer Science, Tech in the Classroom

Bee Bot (Plugged and Unplugged) – Place Value

I LOVE Bee Bots! Such as simple tool to teach and reinforce coding skills (plugged or unplugged). After completing the sorting network (unplugged) with several third grade classrooms, I wanted to return, but this time I wanted to share a plugged activity.

As with any tool or resource that I share with my teachers, I always begin with the learning objective. Why do you want your students to use this tool? How will the tool enhance the lesson?

For this lesson, it was to practice rounding numbers, then integrate CS by coding the Bee Bot to each digit of the rounded number. Sounds fun? It sure was!

There are several ways students can complete this acitivty.

They can answer each of the 12 questions, then check their answers with the provided QR code, then code the Bee Bot.

Or answer one question at a time, check, then code. This lesson takes about 90 minutes to complete. Obviously it will depend on your class and their needs.

Once students completed the task cards and were ready to go, I had them come sit with me on the rug and I provided them a plastic sleeve with a “My Program” page and a white board marker. I place the Bee Bot mat in front of me and brought out a Bee Bot.


I talked about what a programmer is and what is an algorithm. We then looked at our answer for the first question (7,540). I modeled how we were going to write an algorithm for each problem, then program the Bee Bot with our algorithm.

Once our “My Program” page was complete, I place the Bee Bot on the “Start Here” square. I then programmed the algorithm that we just wrote. I typically move the Bee Bot as I input the program.

After I model the first question, students were placed in five groups to complete the rest of their paper.

Grade 3 Place Value and Rounding

It was a FUN activity, but most importantly they had the opportunity to practice place value in an authentic manner, further cementing this knowledge into their brains!

Interested in trying this lesson out in your classroom, Let’s Round Avocado!

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BEE BOTS, Coding, Computer Science

Sorting Networks (Unplugged) – Place Value & Rounding

Sorting Networks (Unplugged) – You ever wonder how computers work together to solve problems. Working with a 3rd grade teacher, we decided to integrate CS into her math unit on place value. I was invited in to review place value with her students, then demonstrate how a network of computers work together to solve a problem. Using a lesson I found on, students practiced putting numbers in order from least to greatest.

Sorting Networks

For this lesson, I purchased a painter’s tarp from Harbor Freight ($16.99) and an oil based sharpie ($7.99) from Michael’s. I then created a sorting network mat that I can use over and over again. I’m also created a 5×4 grid on the back to use for additional unplugged activities.

Word of caution! Make sure that students are careful walking on the mat so that they will not slip.

Here is the lesson plan. In all, it took about 45 minutes.

3rd grade students using the sorting network mat

For this activity, six students were chosen and were placed on the right side of the mat and given a number. The other students in the class were at their seats and had to write the six numbers from least to greatest on their desks.

Following the arrows, each student then move to the next correct rectangle.

This is where the students practice collaboration, communication, problem-solving and critical thinking. Once a pair of students were on each of the next three rectangles they had to compare numbers, the lowest number went left, the higher number went right. This continued until they were on the left side of the mat.

This was a challenging activity. It required students to go back and debug their program multiple times before getting it correct.

Plans for future use of the sorting mat:

  • Timeline
  • Telling Time
  • Birthdays
  • Map skills
  • ABC order

Can you think of any other?

Click HERE, to check out the Bee Bot (Plugged) Place Value activity for these 3rd and 4th grade students.

Students checking their answer w/ a QR code before coding the BEE BOT!

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Coding, Computer Science, Professional Development

Coding – Unplugged and Plugged

This past summer, I had the opportunity to dive a little deeper into computer science (CS). I tried to wrap my head around how it should look at the elementary school level. What I decided after reading, watching, listening, and discussing with others is that it should be hands-on, interactive, and developmentally appropriate.

Hands-on – This does not mean that you need coding tools to teach computer science. Just that the activity and/or lesson is student-centered.

Interactive – Student should have the opportunity to experience computer science at the concrete, representation, and then onto the abstract stage.

Developmentally Appropriate – That’s right! You do not want to “put the horse before the buggy.” Students should have ample opportunities to learn and experience computer science through unplugged activities (see image below) before plugged activities (see image below) are introduced.

Unplugged – An activity that can be conducted without the use of computers or electronic equipment.

Sorting Network – Unplugged
Student used the Sorting Mat to sort their numbers from least to greatest.

Want to read more about this unplugged activity click HERE?

Plugged – An activity that involves a coding tool (Scratch, Bee Bots, Spheros,, Dash, etc…)

Student created a city, then coded their Sphero to visit several places throughout the city.

Want to read more about this plugged activity click HERE.

As you begin your journey into computer science or you may have already jumped right in, just a reminder that CS is not necessary adding one more thing to teach, but allows you to teach in way that seamlessly integrates probleming solving, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration into your instruction.

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Computer Science

What is Computer Science?

If you are reading this, you have asked yourself this question, what is computer science? If you are a K-12 educator, two of the most recent buzz words that are going around are “computer science.” If you are anything like me, those two words caused complete and utter terror within my brain, but then, as I typically do, I set out to conquer that fear!

So what did I do you may ask? Well, first off, I took it upon myself to read, read, read, and then read some more. I read books about coding, I scoured the internet in search of more info about computer science and how to integrate into the curriculum. I even made a Pinterest Board to save all my resources.

But what I found most useful was to create a visual that allowed me to put computer science in perspective (see image below). This is for my use only. I needed something that represented the meaning behind why computer science is mainstreamed now.

Making Sense of Computer Science

Innovation, Creativity, Expression and Career Readiness The “big idea” is that we want our students to be career ready, we want them to be able to express themselves, to be innovators and have a medium to create.

Computational Thinking & PBL – We want our students to be able to think computationally. We want them to be able to break bigger problems into smaller more manageable parts. We want them to be able to analyze a situation and look for patterns. We want them to be able to remove any unnecessary parts of a problem and make one solution work for multiple problems. Finally, we want them to be able to provide step by step instructions on how to do something.

Click HERE, to learn more about Computational Thinking.

STEM & STEAM – Interest is STEM in the classroom has exploded in the past 10 years or so. We now know that we need to ensure that we are providing students learning experiences that encompasses an interdisciplinary and applied approach to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math.

Computer Science – This is where computer science comes into play. In essence, in my opinion, I believe that computer science is solving real-world problems and creating solutions using computers. In a world where technology is now ubiquitous, our students need to be equip to be producer of information rather than consumers.

Programming and Coding – This is where I ran into some conflicting information. Everyone had a different opinion about the meaning of these terms. However, I found that keeping it simple and separate was the best option for me. Programming is writing instructions for a computer to perform and coding is programming with a tool.

I must say, taking the time to think this through provided me the needed insight to intentionally and purposefully educate others about computer science. I see the “big picture” and why it’s important for students to be developing their CS skills at the elementary school level. We are growing their problem-solving skills, their ability to communicate and collaborate, and their ability to logically work through problems and create solutions.

Computers science is just a means to work faster and more efficiently and effectively.

I would love to hear your thoughts about computer science! Please feel free to leave a comment!

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