Introducing Pixie across the curriculum
Reception and Year 1
Activity 1: Introducing the Pixie
Introducing the Pixie: careful handling, switching on, clearing memory
Pressing the key to move forward: estimating distance and counting steps
Pixie-sized cardboard rectangles, 11 cm long
The whole class sat in a circle with the class teacher and classroom assistant at half way points. We looked at the shape of the Pixie and the buttons on the top. Children predicted what they thought the buttons would do. We tested this and discovered nothing happened. The children realised that this was because we had not switched the Pixie on.
The children were taught how to turn the Pixie on, clear its memory and care for it. They learned to treat it almost as a class pet, understanding that it is an expensive piece of equipment that will suffer if dropped or not cared for. Each time it is used, the Pixie needs 'feeding' with electricity from a special plug. A link was established with other electrical devices that children have encountered. Safety when using electricity was also reinforced.
Initially, we used only the Forward, Clear Memory and Go buttons. Children took turns to send the Pixie to someone sitting opposite them in the circle. This involved a great deal of predicting, estimating and counting. We quickly had to establish how far Pixie was moving each time so that the children had a visual unit to estimate against. Children were encouraged to listen to the 'bleep' that sounds every time a button is pressed, and to count along with this.
I offered children a rectangle of card the same size as the Pixie, to use as a guide. They worked confidently and supported each other, offering suggestions, corrections and reminding their peers about clearing the Pixie's memory each time.
The activity was time consuming, as each movement gave rise to discussion and the need to apply varying amounts of correction. This was an opportunity to talk about and use numbers, and a range of mathematical vocabulary:
Forward, backward, opposite
How far? How many times? How much further?
Too far, not far enough.
The activity also provided an excellent opportunity to conduct observational assessments as children applied counting and estimating skills previously taught. The classroom assistant and I both kept notes which were later used to plan number work. There were some surprises, regarding children's misconceptions and also the extent to which they could successfully use, apply and adapt the knowledge they possessed.
Reception children often found it difficult to remember to stop pressing the Forward button. After estimating a distance, a child would press the button repeatedly until someone else intervened. This was remedied by using number cards. Once the forward movement had been agreed, the child had to select the correct number. The chosen card acted as a visual cue to stop counting.