I have been running a Coding and Robotics Club at my school, St Aidan’s AGS Junior School, Brisbane, for a couple of years now. One of the best ways to inspire children I have found is through ‘books’.
I use both fiction and non-fiction to inspire our girls in library lessons. These ideas and skills can then be transferred into the Makerspace Zone and into Coding and Robotics Club. I have listed some that I like to share with my students and that I have available for them to borrow. By sharing these books and stories during library lessons and having them on display, interest in programming and learning to code is constantly promoted—so all kinds of creations can happen!
You can read more about what I kind of projects my students and I get up to on my blog TinkeringChild.com.
This has to be the favorite! The Hello Ruby website is a fabulous resource with plenty of follow up materials. I spoke recently here how the girls made paper laptops from the resources. The book is both fiction and non-fiction as it has a story of the quest Ruby’s father leaves her to solve and then unplugged computational thinking activities to do at the back and online!
This book recently released by Paul Hamilton is a story of Ralph who wants to be a wizard when he grows up, unlike his friends who want to be doctors, architects etc. As a wizard, he interacts with everyday situations and family members. Paul has cleverly linked the outcomes of Ralph’s interactions to the concepts in computational thinking and coding. On his website, Paul has teacher notes to help guide coding activities to inspire young children.
This is a great reference book to help understand parts of computers and coding. I used it when our girls dismantled a laptop in the Makerspace Zone. This post has more details about the book and check out the video below too!
This is a fabulous book written by Mitch Resnick (creator of Scratch) & Marina Umaschi Bers which helps teachers and parents guide their children in using the app, ScratchJr. It has a complete overview of everything ScratchJr is capable of. Children can create their own animations, interactive stories, and games and at the end of the book move into Scratch itself.
This book is good for primary middle-aged children as it has comic style stories to set the scene for introducing programming fundamentals which enable children to make playable games. The instructions are clear with step by step explanations of the code.
Usborne book Coding for Beginners using Scratch has been exceptionally popular with our students. It introduces Scratch with simple explanations and tasks to complete. Students can make simple games and animations. The Usborne Quicklinks site has video and plenty of guidance in using Scratch. Although it is a UK site there are plenty of Scratch activities which are universal.
Using stories to inspire coding, fixing and making in the library is what we are all about so Clink by Kelly DiPucchio fits the bill! It raises many issues aside from robotics and coding, social issues which can be discussed. The story focuses around Clink, who doesn’t seem to fit in; he is not the latest design in robots and is always left behind in the store. Clink eventually find a home where he is fixed by his new owner, Milton. Stories are a great way to get children excited about robots. You can watch and listen to the story here.
Jeremy Kubuca now has three books which help explain computer science concepts suitable for upper primary and lower secondary students. He uses tales to give meaning to key concepts. This first book is a quest; Princess Ann needs to save the kingdom, but along the way, she needs to build a war chest of computational knowledge to survive the challenge. Many of the tales are on Jeremy’s blog. The second book Best Practice of Spell Design is a quest where Marcus the wizard demonstrates how important clear, readable programs are essential to succeed. The latest, CS Detective is a detective story using algorithmic tools to solve the crime!
The House of Robots series by James Patterson has humor, relationships and problem-solving within family and school situations where havoc often prevails! This is great for getting middle primary students engaged with robots or even inspire them to try out robotics in the first place!
This book can be shared with students or used by parents for a fun activity day to create and inspire making robots following comic style instructions in a story format. Viviane Schwarz develops practical and creative skills in this workbook. It’s a fabulous way to create ‘unplugged’ robots which can then lead to building WeDo LEGO robots!
12. Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage: A Mystery with Hoverbots, Bristle Bots, and Other Robots You Can Build Yourself by
The Nick and Tesla series by Steve Pflugfelder is great for children in middle primary who are fascinated with science and robots—or for those who aren’t! Either way, this will enchant imaginations. In this particular story, the siblings have to foil an unpleasant employee by making robots, including bristlebots, which are always a favorite with our girls! These books are great to promote making in our Makerspace as well as promoting robotics.
13. Boy + Bot by
Not forgetting our little people…this is a lovely book about the friendship between a boy and a robot. Understanding how each survives is at the heart of this sweet story. It can certainly be used to introduce BeeBots or Cubetto where ‘on and off’ switches enable robots to work.
LEGO Mindstorm NXT Discovery book helps understand the many features and capabilities of this robotics system. It provides instructions and assistance using the software to program the brick and how to create and build various robots. Great for beginners.
15. The LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Laboratory: Build, Program, and Experiment with Five Wicked Cool Robots!
This book will be getting plenty of use next year as we will be using LEGO EV3 more. Here is a link to our involvement in FLL 2016. Daniele Benedettelli describes how to use gears and beams, motors and sensors, and programming blocks to create sophisticated robots. The girls just love programming EV3’s and NXT’s.
I’ll finish with this book which can be used to inspire making, as told by a robot! Leo the Maker Prince teaches children (both young and old) about 3D printing by following Carla and Leo’s journey through Brooklyn. Leo is a walking, talking robot who happens to be able to print (in plastic) any object that Carla draws. The other robots have their own special capabilities: Hi-Ho prints in metal, Sinclair can find and print objects from a huge catalog of designs, and the others (including AL1C3-D, IRIS-5, and NiXie) have unique talents, too. Readers can come along for the journey, too: all the objects in the book are printable one way or another. Terrific to share with our girls as they design and use our 3D printer.
Of course, there are many more books out there already and new books are being released all the time… what are your favorites?
Feature image courtesy of Unsplash, jesse orrico.