Who wouldn't love a cute little bee zooming around a mat, solving
puzzles with your help? Focus Educational Software Ltd. created
Bee-Bot Lesson: Activities 1 and 2, and Shell Designer, with the
purpose of providing primary and middle school students with a
fun way to learn directional language, visual-spatial skills, programming,
and problem-solving skills through a variety of activities. Bee-Bot
is the star of the show with his black stripes and cute bee face.
The basic idea is to have the child maneuver Bee-Bot around a mat
(or picture), and arrive at the destination. He can go forward,
backward, turn right, turn left, or pause, each in one-space intervals.
Each activity has a colorful mat, and directions about where Bee-Bot
needs to go to complete that activity. Some activities are very
easy and straightforward, like counting how many objects are shown,
and moving the Bee-Bot forward that many spaces on a numbered mat.
Some are more complicated, such as maneuvering him around a mat
of a town, stopping and pausing at different places in the town.
Some even have obstacles to avoid. Each mat has several activities,
so the child can progress as their skill increases.
There are many options for viewing the mat, such as leaving it
flat or in 3D, rotating it, zooming in or out, and even seeing
things from Bee-Bot's perspective as he moves around the board.
The child can program and watch each move step-by-step, or program
all of the moves before trying the sequence - which is much more
challenging. You can also print the sequence and mat, in order
to check the student's work. There is an online Bee-Bot Learning
Centre with some helpful videos, explaining some of the fundamentals
of the programs. The two Lesson Activity programs are identical,
except for the activities themselves. There is also a shell designer,
where you can change how the Bee-Bot looks. The Shell Designer
is included in the two Lesson Activity programs, so you would not
need to buy this separately. You can use a variety of graphics,
or design your own, and can change them in many different ways
to give your Bee-Bot his own special look. Don't tell your students
they are actually learning quite a bit through this activity; just
let them enjoy it! You can also make your own mats and activities,
such as using a map as a mat, and having students move Bee-Bot
to different cities or states, etc.
My seven-year-old son, Zechariah, helped me test the Bee-Bot programs.
I was glad that I had played with it a bit before introducing the
concept, as it was a little hard to figure out at first. While
not incredibly intuitive, it was simple to use once we got the
hang of the controls. With a little guidance, he was able to figure
out most of the controls and activities. My little scientist went
to work, testing what would happen if he did this, or that, and
watching the results, always adjusting as he went. You could practically
see the wheels spinning in his fertile little mind! He completed
the easier activities quickly, but had to think carefully for some
of the harder projects. He loved making new shells for Bee-Bot
with many creative patterns and shapes. These are great programs
that could be very helpful for homeschoolers who want a creative
way to practice a wide variety of skills.
Focus Educational Software Ltd. also created In The Picture Quizmaker
to help teachers and parents label photos or diagrams. The process
is very simple: start with a graphic or diagram, and click on the
appropriate areas to add labels. For example, in the Editor program,
start with a picture of the human skeleton. For each bone that
you want the student to review, click and add a label with the
bone's name. Save when completed, and the student can open the
file in the Viewer program, where they can complete the activity
but not make changes. The student clicks on each blank label and
chooses the correct answer from a pull-down menu. The program is
very easy to use, although not terribly powerful. For example,
it does not record the student's answers for the teacher to evaluate
later, which would be very helpful. The possible uses are nearly
endless. You could make diagrams for science, maps for geography,
time lines for history, etc. Students could create their own labeled
graphics, which would be an excellent learning activity. In The
Picture Quizmaker provides a very simple way to accomplish a very