Computer Science, Creative Thinking, K-5, Parenting, Problem Solving, Teaching Tools

Gifts for the Gifted – Dash and Dot

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.

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Image from

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.


Apps, Computer Science, Creative Thinking, Education, Games, K-5, Problem Solving, Teaching Tools, Websites

Wonder League Robotics Competition

If you have the Dash and Dot robots, you have probably received a few e-mails from Wonder Workshop describing the upcoming Robotics Competition.  I highly recommend that you consider entering a team (deadline for signing up is 11/1/15)!   This set of 7 missions looks like fun and a great opportunity for collaboration and problem solving.

All of the missions must be recorded and submitted together by 12/1/15.  The winning team (which can be 1-6 people, ages 6-11, supervised by an adult) will win an all-expenses-paid “STEM Field Trip” to California!  The top 4 teams will receive a Dash robot for every member of their team!

You need at least one Dash and one Dot robot to participate.  If you don’t have these fabulous robots, the competition page gives you a coupon code for $20 off an order of the pair.

My students love these robots, and there are even more apps to use with them now than when they first debuted.  This summer saw the release of the “Wonder” app, and last year “Tickle” app integrated Dash and Dot into the hardware that you can control with a mobile device and block programming.

For more information and the first 6 missions, which you can start now, visit the website now.  Remember, you must sign your team(s) up by 11/1/15!

My students trying to program Dash.  For more information, click here.
My students trying to program Dash. For more information, click here. For a fun geography lesson with your Dash and Dot robots, take a look at this post. And, to read about our Maker Club Robot Olympics last year, check this out.


Apps, Computer Science, Education, Geography, K-5, Social Studies, Teaching Tools, Writing

A Dash for Treasure

Full disclosure – our class received a Dash and Dot package from Wonder Workshop for review.  

Last month I posted an article about the new additions to our classroom, Dash and Dot (and Fitzgerald).  Since then, the school Maker Club, our Robotics team, and my 1st graders have been learning more about the features of these robots.

My 1st grade GT students are learning about different countries around the world.  Before digging into that research, I wanted to make sure they understood the difference between countries and continents, and had a general understanding of their locations.  We have a giant map of the world on our wall, but I thought Dash and Dot might be able to help us by taking their own virtual trip around the globe.  I ordered this vinyl map for the floor from Amazon.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 6.55.38 PM

My daughter helped me to write an adventure for Dash that took him to every continent. (Yes, she came up with the idea for the Shoe of Honesty in the story – which the students found quite hilarious!) As I read the story out loud, the students took turns programming Dash at each juncture using the Blockly app.

A Dash for Treasure

The synergizing and problem-solving were phenomenal.  They took their task of guiding Dash very seriously.  They learned about angles and programming logic.  And, in the meantime, they learned their continents and compass directions.


My daughter and I deliberately stopped the story before the end. When we got to Dash’s “uh-oh” the students were in complete suspense.  It took practically no prompting from me to get them to write their own endings and to illustrate them.

You can see the endings the students wrote below. (Click on the image to see a larger version.) Don’t be confused if you see “Fitzgerald” in some of their stories.  We have 2 Dashes, so one is named Fitzgerald.  The students are very attached to both, and get upset if all of the robots are not included!

If you are interested in downloading a copy of the slide show with the story and programming prompts, click here.  Here is the PDF of the writing page the students used.  Thank you to Susan Prabulos (@fabprab) for the awesome graphics!

Apps, Computer Science, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Education, K-5, Teaching Tools

Dash and Dot – and Fitzgerald

In the interest of disclosure, I did receive the “Wonder Pack” for free so that I could review it for this blog.  

Wonder Workshop recently contacted a few bloggers to see if we would be interested in reviewing their new robots, Dash and Dot. Knowing my students would be more than happy to test out anything new, I readily agreed.  Within a week, I had a package at my doorstep that included the two robots and all of their accessories.

Meet Dash and Dot from Wonder Workshop
Meet Dash and Dot from Wonder Workshop

In the meantime, our PTA had also purchased a Dash robot for our Maker Studio, B.O.S.S. HQ.  This led to our first challenge – coming up with another name.  When you connect your robots with the iPad, you don’t want to them to have the same moniker or confusion will ensue.  So my daughter suggested the name Fitzgerald, which seems to delight my students.

Dash and Fitzgerald have made their appearances to my 5th graders, 1st graders, and Maker Club (2nd-4th) so far.  I am allowing everyone to explore the robot features a bit before I start giving the students some programming challenges.

Currently, there are 4 free apps that can be downloaded for use with Dash and the small companion robot, Dot.  The robots are compatible with iOS and Android – but not all of the apps work with all devices, so be sure to check out this page to find out if you have the means for controlling your robot.

The “Go” app is the first one all of the students try.  It allows you to connect with the robots, do some customization of colors and sounds, and remotely drive your robot.

The “Path” app is fun for more driving and creative thinking.

“Xylo” is an app that can be used only with Dash and the xylophone, which must be purchased separately.  It’s a bit tricky to calibrate the robot to play.  However, once you get everything set up, there are several pre-loaded songs that can be played.  Even more exciting is the ability to compose your own songs for Dash.  (You can see the video of one song a 1st graders insisted on programming on his own below.)  You can also direct Dash to move at certain points in the song.  In essence, you can have your own little robot marching band.

“Blockly” is where your students will really be able to have fun.  Using programming blocks similar to Scratch or Hopscotch, they can direct Dash to react to your voice and perform other numerous other interesting actions.  Susan over at “The Digital Scoop” has already come up with some great challenges for her students to use with Blockly.  You can view the first two here and here.  I think Blockly is the app that will have the most sticking power with these robots with lots of potential for creativity and learning more about programming.

In addition to the xylophone, another interesting accessory is the smartphone holder.  Before the break, one of my students rolled Dash around to various classrooms, with my phone attached to its head while it scrolled, “Happy Holidays” and played “Jingle Bells.”

We haven’t tested out the Lego connectors, yet.  But those are bound to spark some interesting inventions, I have a feeling.

So far my students haven’t really played with Dot.  Although Dot can be programmed a bit, and interacts with Dash, Dot has no wheels. You can see some ideas for Dot’s use here, but my students haven’t gotten to that point yet.

I will keep you posted with the further adventures of Dash, Dot, and Fitzgerald.  I have a feeling their stories have just begun…

Photo Jan 09, 9 53 34 AM Photo Jan 09, 10 04 46 AM Photo Jan 09, 10 19 22 AM



Apps, Computer Science, Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Parenting, Teaching Tools

Meet Dash and Dot – Again

Over a year ago I posted about a couple of cool new toys that were being crowdfunded by a company called, “Play-i.”  They were adorable robots that could be controlled with bluetooth devices and even programmed using block programming.

A lot has happened in a year.  The company is now called Wonder Workshop.  The robots are now called Dash and Dot.  But the appearance and functionality are the same.

And they are finally available.

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image from

I haven’t had a chance to review the pair yet, but they are already getting quite a bit of press around the web.  I decided to post about them today because, if you are interested in purchasing from Wonder Workshop, December 16th is the deadline for receiving your product by Christmas.

What I see looks very promising – a chance for children to code, problem solve, and create with cute robotic pals.  These aren’t Lego robots (but you can purchase brick connectors to make them adaptable to Lego bricks and Minstorms).  They are playful and full of personality, and will have great appeal to the younger set.

See what you think!