Explore cause and effect with WORDGIRL
Word up! In this activity, children will explore decision-making as they use PBS KIDS ScratchJr to help WordGirl makes a tough choice between saving the day and going to her friend’s birthday party.
Children will learn how to use the PBS KIDS ScratchJr programming blocks to make animated stories and interactive projects. They will explore coding and computational thinking practices as they utilize technology as a tool for creativity, expression and learning with the PBS KIDS ScratchJr app.
- iPads or Android tablets for each child
- The WORDGIRL “Smile Collector,” episode
- TV, projector, computer, or other device to play the episode
- A document camera to display tablet work to the whole group or a cable to connect the tablet and projector
- Chalkboard, whiteboard, or poster paper for brainstorming
- Human Robot Activity Handout
- Design Handouts
- Parent Handout (English | Spanish)
Getting Started (5 minutes)
The context in which you are engaging in this activity will impact how you get started. Take the time to set-up cues, preview what you’re going to be doing and why, and to get the kids ready and focused for a fun and creative PBS KIDS challenge.
Ask the group if they can define the word, dilemma. Explain that a dilemma is when a difficult choice has to be made between two or more options. Today you will be exploring dilemmas with WordGirl. As both a superhero and a 10-year old girl, WordGirl is constantly dealing with tough choices and today the whole group will be using the WORDGIRL Story Starter to help her explore a really big dilemma and the potential consequences of her choices.
Ask a focusing question and have each child answer: What is a time when you faced a dilemma?
Play (10 minutes)
Split everyone into groups of 2-4 for a game of Human Robot.
- Have children cut out the cards from the Human Robot Handout
- Have each group designate one child as the robot and the rest as the programmers.
- The programmers should create a program for the robot to follow by putting the cards together in a sequence of their choosing.
- Then the robot must act out the programming sequence.
- Let the group repeat this a few times so everyone gets at least one turn as the robot.
Explore (15 Minutes)
Project your tablet onto a big screen and have the group follow along on their own tablets as you go.
- Go to the Story Starters section inside the app (tap the lightbulb) and open up Becky’s Dilemma.
- Explain to the group that the Story Starters inside PBS KIDS ScratchJr are projects that have already been started that anyone can play with, remix, and make their own.
- Spend some time exploring Becky’s Dilemma together.
- First, play the project in Presentation Mode and have the children try and guess what blocks are being used in the project. Leave Presentation mode to examine the code and see if they were right.
- Tap on each of the characters on the first page and explore the blocks being used.
- Have the children identify the blocks and have them describe what will happen when you tap on the Green Flag or on any of the characters.
- Test out their predictions.
- Make sure to explore how tapping on Violet and Two Brains triggers the project to go to a different page.
Give children free time to continue to explore the other Story Starters in the app.
Watch (15 minutes)
View the 11-minute WORDGIRL episode, “Smile Collector,” and have everyone look out for the dilemma that Becky/WordGirl finds herself in. After the episode discuss why it was a hard choice for Becky. Ask the group what they would have done if they were in Becky’s shoes? Have they ever had a tough choice like that to make? Encourage children to share their stories.
Create (30 Minutes)
Now that you have explored how the project works, discuss the project's content with everyone and capture the group's thinking on the board.
- What is Becky’s dilemma?
- Why is this a tough choice?
- What are the consequences of both choices?
- What is a consequence?
Challenge the group to finish the project. Using the programming blocks, have everyone finish the two alternate endings.
- What happens if Becky goes to Violet’s party?
- What happens if she goes to stop Two Brains?
Encourage everyone to use all of the blocks that they know about to help bring the story to life.
Make it Simpler
If creating both endings is too much work, have children pick their favorite choice and focus on completing the ending for that choice only.
Share (15 minutes)
Have everyone swap tablets with a partner and explore by tapping through each other’s projects. Ask the children to pay attention to which blocks their partner used and how their endings are different and similar. Also encourage the partners to discuss which choice they would make if they were a superhero and faced with a similar dilemma. After a few minutes, ask for volunteers to share something awesome about their partner’s project.
Keep Going (10 minutes)
If you have extra time give children the chance to work on whatever they would like. If they received useful feedback, were inspired by other projects, or want to attempt one of the extensions below, this is a wonderful opportunity to do just that. Or they can start a whole new project and can create whatever they would like.