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Hugo Mathers

Hugo Mathers

Cubetto in the Community: Orchard Primary School, UK

Orchard Primary is an outstanding state school in East London, which has invested in several programs to make coding an official part of their ICT curriculum. Cubetto presented Orchard with a perfect opportunity to introduce basic programming concepts to their youngest Key Stage 1 students.

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Institution: Orchard Primary School
Location: UK
Session leader: Ruth Woodward, ICT Primary School teacher
Age group: 5-6 (Key Stage 1)

“Programming is about understanding that an unambiguous sequence of instructions results in a specific outcome. Being able to teach this without the usual barrier of language, and moreover, a relevant toy that is tactile, and worked without a screen, was just great.”

How did Orchard incorporate the Cubetto Playset into their program?

The workshop involved a 30 minute introductory session, where they built their first algorithms, and practiced creating a queue of instructions with clear and unambiguous commands, as well as understanding how important the order of instructions actually is.

Time is a luxury no educator or school really has. Finding an “immediate” resource for teachers that was also really effective and fun for the students is difficult. Cubetto’s immediacy is an easy win in that respect. Getting started was fast, and children instantly enjoyed playing, even if the session was short.

What particular aspect of Cubetto worked well for this activity?

First of all it was just plain fun. The little robot was evidently loved by all students. What also really worked was the tangible aspect of it all. Because there was no screen to look at on this particular activity, the physical involvement of children really helped engagement and attention.

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And what about the challenges involved?

The first challenge was “getting it” immediately for the educator, which was really no problem because the set up is minimal, and Cubetto’s tangible interface is intuitive even for an absolute novice.

Would you recommend the Cubetto Playset to another school or teacher?

Absolutely. Ultimately it’s fun, it’s quick to set up, and the Board element really opens up a lot of teaching opportunities that complement other resources.

“The experience was even more physical than really expected, and pleasantly so. Play quickly moved from just making programs with the blocks, to children dancing and jumping and moving around with the Robot, which you don’t get with onscreen tools.”

How did students respond?

Children were in immediate awe of Cubetto, formed in instant bond with the small character, which made the learning of sequencing meaningful for them, and quite effective.

How did staff members respond?

The staff were relieved at how easy set up was, and ultimately pleased at how straight-forward and focused play with children was.

What were the main outcomes?

Children clearly understood the sequence in which directions were given to Cubetto mattered. Telling him to go left, then forward was different than telling him to go forward and left. They collaborated to create the right program as opposed to working in isolation, corrected each other’s mistakes. They understood the definition of an algorithm in very simple terms, and could relate it to other examples outside the Cubetto Playset.

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