Lesson plan

My Robot Friend

What is a robot? What can robots do? Computer programmers tell robots what to do by creating a sequence of commands. In this lesson, students work in pairs to program a robot to act out the story from the mini story book *My Friend.*
GradeSubjectView aligned standards

Students will be able to program a robot to move forward and speak audibly about the process.

(10 minutes)
  • Read the mini story My FriendAloud to students.
  • Have students talk to their elbow partner about the book and some of the thoughts, feelings, or ideas they had after reading the book.
  • Invite two students to act out the dialogue from the book:

    • Student 1: “Who will play with me?”
    • Student 2:“I will play with you.”
    • Student 1:“Who will run with me?
    • Student 2:“I will run with you.”
    • Student 1:“Who will jump with me?”
    • Student 2:“I will jump with you.”
(5 minutes)
  • Show students one of the educational robots. Ask several open-ended discussion questions to pre-assess their knowledge of robots, such as:
    • "What is a robot?"
    • "What can a robot do?"
    • "How do we make robots move?"
  • Explain to the students that these robots are controlled by commands created by computer programmers. Today, they are going to be computer programmers.
  • Computer programmers are problem solvers. The problem they are going to solve is figuring out how to make the robot move forward.
(5 minutes)
  • Tell the students: "Your job is to work in pairs to make the robot move forward." Demonstrate how to turn the robot on.
  • Show the students the buttons on the back of the robot. Ask, “What do you see?” Ask the students to describe the symbols on the buttons and guess how the robot works.
  • Explain to the students that they will soon have a chance to press the buttons and figure out how to make the robot move forward. They are computer programmers who are going to program these robots using commands.
  • Discuss strategies, such as trial and error.
  • Ask students to think about a problem they solved in the past. How did they solve it? Have them discuss their answers in partnerships speaking clearly and loudly enough for their partner to hear.
(20 minutes)
  • Divide students into pairs. Give each pair a robot. Invite students to play with the robot and figure out how to make it move forward.
  • To make the robot move forward, students will need to complete three steps: Turn the robot on, press the forward arrow button, and then press GO. Most year one students will be able to figure out this sequence through trial and error after just a few minutes.
  • Once students have figured out how to make the robot move forward, challenge them to act out the sequence in the story My Friend. Have them express their ideas clearly and loudly.
    • Student 1Will ask the robot, “Who will play with me?"
    • Student 2Will program the robot to move forward, toward Student 1.
    • Then Student 2Will say, “The robot will play with you.”


  • For struggling students, demonstrate how to program the robot by pushing the buttons in a specific sequence such as “forward, back, go.”


  • For students who already know how to program this type of device, challenge them to make the robot move in various shapes and patterns, such as travel in a square or move in a zig zag pattern.

Educational robots include Bee-Bot and Code and Go Robot Mouse

(5 minutes)
  • Circulate the room and observe each pair of students working together.
  • Measure student success by whether or not each student is able to make the robot move forward without assistance from a peer.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students to reflect on their problem-solving experience.
  • Discuss: What was fun about this activity? What was challenging?
  • Invite peer-to-peer feedback by asking, “How did your partner help you learn?”

Ann Gadzikowski is an author and educator with a passion for challenging children to think creatively and critically. Her recent book Robotics for Young Children won the 2018 Midwest Book Award for best educational book. Ann developed her expertise in robotics, computer science, and engineering through her work as early childhood coordinator for Northwestern University’s centre for Talent Development. She has over 25 years of experience as a teacher and director of early childhood programs, and currently serves as the Executive Director of Kindergarten of the Arts, a Reggio-Emilia inspired school in Madison, Wisconsin.

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