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Melissa Sokol

Melissa Sokol

The Robot Bookworm: Library Storytime with Cubetto

Dayton Metro Libraries - Coding with Cubetto

Melissa Sokol has been a Children’s Services Librarian for Dayton Metro Libraries in Ohio, USA for the past 7 years.  She enjoys providing storytimes and programming that are age-appropriate and interesting to children from birth through to 5th grade.

Earlier this year my library bought two Cubettos plus Adventure Packs with extra coding blocks to use for preschool storytimes.  Our storytimes are designed to serve children aged 3-6 and follow a pattern of opening dance song followed by four stories that share a theme, and a craft or activity to expand upon that theme. With the help of the Adventure Packs (containing themed maps and storybooks), we can use Cubetto as our extension activity after any storytime that involves robots, maps, outer space, the ocean, deserts and teaching children to follow instructions.

Preschool technology in libraries

Dayton Metro Libraries have been investigating ways to incorporate technology skills into our storytimes for the past year, so when I saw an article about Cubetto I knew we had found a winner. While Cubetto is a wonderful learning tool for coding and logical or sequential reasoning, the main appeal to me was that it did not involve the use of a screen.

The kids loved Cubetto and can’t wait to play with him again!

My library branch is located in a suburb of Dayton and parents here tend to put a strict limit to the amount of screen time their child can have in a day, so I wanted to be mindful of that while looking for ways to explore technology with my preschoolers.  So far we have brought Cubetto out after a storytime about robots, and it is safe to say the kids loved him and can’t wait to play with him again!  

Incorporating Cubetto into storytime

I set out the maps and demonstrated the different elements and what they could make Cubetto do. Then the kids split up between the maps and started taking turns trying to make him go somewhere. There were squeals of delight as he navigated his mat and more than one child asked if they could take him home.

One teacher could not believe how many teachable skills this one toy could provide

I encouraged the parents to sit with their kids and support them, but to try not to give out any answers if their child had a particular goal in mind. Several of the younger children present were content to let the older ones set the blocks in the control board as long as they could be the one to push the button! One of the session parents is a third grade teacher, and while all the children were playing with Cubetto she came to me and exclaimed that she could not believe how many teachable skills this one toy could provide.  

Adapting the Playset for your learning environment

I plan on writing shorter stories for Cubetto in the future and have my preschoolers take turns making the story elements take place on the mat. What I love the most about Cubetto is the way he is teaching my preschoolers about taking turns, cause and effect, and perseverance if they make a mistake and he ends up on the wrong square. But what I love best is that in order to motivate my children to learn all these things and more is that I just have to say: “Do you want to play with a robot?”  So far the answer has always been yes!

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