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Snap
block models

Integrating Digital
Technologies

Years F-2

DT+ Mathematics


Create a model using snap blocks 1 block high and create a code so someone else can build your model. This lesson was kindly provided by Jackie Tither a teacher in Tasmania who implemented the lesson with her year 2 class.


Unifix block models

Image credit Jackie Tither


Suggested steps

  1. Students create a model using up to 20 snap blocks. Encourage a range of designs so that you have many variations across the class.
  2. Ask students to write a code so that someone else can build the exact model with the same colours and number and position of blocks. Feel free to use the sample template provided here and in the 'Resources' section of this page.
  3. Discuss colour code key and using directional arrows. Provide grid paper for students to complete the task of developing a key and writing their code. Refer to Jackie Tither’s reflection of this lesson.

    Colour key

    Credit: Jackie Tither

    Coding language

  4. Considerations before setting the task:

    This task requires an understanding of symbols/coding and of sequencing.

    White head with blue jigsaw piece in place of a brain,
    • Symbols/Coding - the student needs to understand the concept that symbols or letters can represent other ideas such as colours or words. For example, in Level 2 below, the letter G represents the colour Green. This is defined in the 'Key'.

    Outline of a white brain on a blue background
    • Sequencing - the student needs to comprehend that some activities require steps and that some steps are repeated. For example, making a sandwich requires a series of steps to be performed. For repeated patterns, clapping or dancing has repeated movements to be more appealing.
  5. Instructions (with Differentiation)

    This activity can be adapted to suit a range of skills. Students can begin at Level 1 and demostrate understanding at each level or you (or they) may choose which level to start from. Further, you can make accomodations at each level (some examples provided below).

    The level of difficulty could be increased as follows and presented using a gaming analogy. When explaining the task use a combination of verbal and visuals.




  6. Extension Activities

    Brain and brain stem outline on blue background

    As a further challenge students create a 3D model with more than one level and/or more than one block wide. This is an open-ended task that allows for a variety of model shapes and configurations. Provide isometric paper to draw their model and develop the code. Refer to Jackie Tither’s reflection of this extension lesson. Refer to Jackie Tither’s reflection of this extension lesson.

Discussion

  • Why is the colour code important?
  • How can we represent directions?
  • How can we indicate the START and END of the solution?
  • How can we improve our coding instructions?

Students may realise that there is often more than one way to describe how to make a given pattern, and that some methods of coding are more efficient than others.

Why is this relevant?

This task requires students to use computational thinking.

Firstly, to code the solution they need to decompose the problem. They create a model, develop a code, someone follows the code, finally the replica model is created. If a replica is not created the code may need revision and modification.

One of the key concepts within the Digital Technologies curriculum is Abstraction. Abstraction involves hiding details of an idea, problem or solution that are not relevant, to focus on a manageable number of aspects. In this task the coder focusses on the colour and position of the blocks in their model. Other details are irrelevant.

Central to this task is the student creating a sequence of steps (Algorithm) for someone to follow to create a replica of their model. Typically, students will use arrows for directional instructions and a colour code to inform the person following the code of which colour to select.

Pattern recognition is also a key element of this task both in coding and decoding the solution.

Resources

Snap blocks

1cm Grid paper (free download)

Isometric paper (free download)

'Create a program to build a Unifix Block Model' template (free download).