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Make the most of your robotic friend

It was one of the hits of BETT and has an award to show for it too. Chris Drage looks at how you can get even more from your Bee-Bot Money Mat Pounds 26.99

CVC Mat pound;26.99

Snakes 'N' Ladders mat pound;29.99

Giant UK Map Mat pound;19.99

Giant World Map Mat pound;19.99

Football Stadium pound;38.50

All Purpose Floor Mat 1m x 1.5m Pounds I4.99

TTS, Nunn Brook Road, Huthwaite, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire NG17 2HU Tel: 0800 318686

Bee-Bot was one of the heroes of the BETT 2006 educational technology show last month. Mind you the diminutive bug (floor robot) wasn't exactly an unsung hero as it carried away a BETT award. However, once your pupils have got the idea of how to program Bee-Bot to move around - a basic requirement for control technology - the next step is to get them to apply that knowledge and to create problem-solving situations for them to attempt.

To make life easier and to give a variety of contexts TTS, the creator of Bee-Bot, has launched a range of activities which are sure to engage children in fully tactile learning. The bonus here is that the range on offer is truly cross-curricula. Here are some tasters.

Starting with the Money Mat, children must direct Bee-Bot around this mat to find the different coins. This is a highly adaptable scenario that can be used for coin recognition, money values and money calculations in numeracy.

The CVC Mat comprises 48 very attractive and well-designed images which can be used for activities like matching pairs, find-the-rhyme, medial, final or initial sound by directing Bee-Bot to the corresponding image. The images are simple and clear and have been tested on children for easy recognition.

Traditional Snakes and Ladders takes on a new twist with the Snakes 'N'

Ladders mat. It has been adapted to be used with up to four Bee-Bots. Using their Bee-Bot as their board counters, children can use programming and sequencing skills to move up the ladders and down the snakes. Even a large dice is included.

With the Giant UK Map Mat Bee-Bot could even assist Barnaby Bear on his travels around locations in the UK. It can find the towns, cities and villages. Similarly, with the Giant World Map Mat children can accompany their Bee-Bots on adventures round the world - great for helping them identify continents, countries and seas.

For pure fun the Football Stadium is a tad more expensive but they will love you for it. Up to six Bee-Bots (3-a-side) take to the field for a head-to-head encounter on the 90cm x 120cm mat. It comes complete with miniature plastic goals and plastic ball. If you think this is bit of a wasted activity just think about what's involved... Finally, to satisfy those who encourage children to design their own activities (or you may have some of your own) the All Purpose Floor Mat enables anyone to make their own Bee-Bot mats. This one comes complete with plastic pockets and dice and the possibilities for creating scenarios are endless.

There are many more activities we have no space to cover here, and still more in the pipeline. Bee-Bot activity mats must surely be the most motivating and captivating means of challenging children to exercise the programming skills they learn with Bee-Bot. Thoroughly recommended.

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