Around this time of year I post a gift recommendation each Friday as part of a “Gifts for the Gifted” series. The title is a bit misleading, as it might imply that the gifts are only for children who have been endowed with the label, and that is certainly not true. Just as with any gift, you should select a product that suits the interests of the receiver. These lists of potential gifts that I provide are ones that I feel will be engaging for children who enjoy problem solving and/or creativity.
Our first product in this year’s Gifts for the Gifted recommendations is the lovable pair of robots, Dash and Dot.
Wonder Workshop, the company behind Dash and Dot, knew exactly how to encourage youths to program and create when they put these robots on the market. They definitely have the cuteness factor wrapped up, and they were designed with so much versatility that will keep imaginative children occupied for a very long time.
Wonder Workshop provides a suite of free apps that can be used with the robots. “Go” allows users to start with the basics in controlling the robots. “Path” is a game that can be played. “Xylo” is for Dash to play a xylophone (a separate accessory), and “Blockly” offers the opportunity to control the robots using block programming language similar to Scratch.
The recently release “Wonder” app presents more complex programming, which a good reader should be able to master by going through the “Scroll Quest” tutorial portion of the app.
In addition to the xylophone designed for Dash, another fabulous accessory pack you should consider adding on is the “Building Brick Connectors.” Add these to your robots, and you can build Lego costumes for them, chariots, and whatever else you might imagine.
Wonder Workshop provides excellent support (one of our Dash robots sadly crashed and they immediately replaced it), and tons of ideas for using Dash and Dot. The company has a teacher portal with lessons that incorporate the robots. (Full disclosure, I wrote one of these lessons, but did not receive any payment for doing so.)
Currently, there is a Wonder League Robotics Competition in which some of my students are participating. The deadline for signing up has already passed, but I would recommend downloading the missions that are posted for even more Dash and Dot activities.
Dash and Dot are suitable for students up to about 5th grade. My 1st and 2nd graders think they are absolutely adorable and treat them like class mascots. The upper grades also anthropomorphize them. “Oh my gosh! He’s so cute! Look, he’s coming right up to me and looking at me!”
If you are purchasing Dash and Dot for home, I would recommend that you play with the robots along with the child. They will get much more enjoyment with the guidance of an adult.
And you might just fall in love with the Dash & Dot Duo yourself 🙂
For Gifts for the Gifted recommendations from past years, check out this page.