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Learning Resource Type

Learning Activity

Build It or Bust! Giving Directions and Reflecting With Video

Subject Area

Digital Literacy and Computer Science




While students are in pairs and without being able to see each other, student 1 designs and provides oral instructions to student 2 in order for student 2 to recreate a shape and/or structure only student 1 can see. Student 2 can ask clarifying questions, but that is all. This activity builds skills in sequencing, classifying, sorting, orientation, and relative position of objects. It also builds listening skills for oral comprehension and asking and answering concise questions.

This activity was created as a result of the DLCS COS Resource Development Summit.

    Digital Literacy and Computer Science (2018) Grade(s): KG

    Identify, demonstrate, and apply personal safe use of digital devices.

    Unpacked Content

    Unpacked Content



    • information
    • devices
    • software


    Students know:
    • how to identify responsible uses of devices.
    • how to identify responsible uses of software.
    • how to remember internet safety rules.


    Students are able to:
    • identify responsible uses of devices: keeping them clean, correct methods for use.
    • identify responsible uses of software.
    • remember internet safety rules.


    Students understand that:
    • they are responsible for using devices carefully to ensure they work and do not get broken.
    • there are correct ways to use software.
    • it is important to follow all rules when working on a computer.
    • they should only work on a computer when an adult is helping them.
    Digital Literacy and Computer Science (2018) Grade(s): KG

    List the sequence of events required to solve problems.

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    • sequence


    Students know:
    • certain tasks require a specific sequence.


    Students are able to:
    • tell the order of events for specific task.
    • identify what comes next for specific tasks.
    • identify a step that is not in the correct order.


    Students understand that:
    • the order of events is important.
    • events are made up of several different steps.
    Digital Literacy and Computer Science (2018) Grade(s): KG

    Demonstrate appropriate behaviors for working with others responsibly and kindly.

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    • respect
    • task
    • communicate


    Students know:
    • taking turns is important to getting a task done on or off a computing device.
    • speaking/typing and behaving in a respectful way is important to getting a task done.


    Students are able to:
    • take turns on and off a computing device.
    • speak/type and behave in a respectful way on and off a device.


    Students understand that:
    • taking turns is necessary for positive and productive communication on and/or off a computing device.
    • being respectful on and/or off a computing device looks the same.
    Digital Literacy and Computer Science (2018) Grade(s): KG

    Use a variety of digital devices, in both independent and collaborative settings.

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    Students know:
    • basic features of various digital devices.


    Students are able to:
    • use basic features of handheld/mobile devices collaboratively.
    • use basic features of handheld/mobile devices independently.
    • use basic features of desktops and laptops collaboratively.
    • use basic features of desktops and laptops independently.


    Students understand that:
    • they can interact with apps on handheld devices via touch.
    • they can access programs and software on computing devices.
    • they can enter information in various ways.


    Learning Objectives

    Learning Objectives

    Students will ask and answer clarifying questions orally.

    Students will describe and create two-dimensional shapes and/or three-dimensional shapes.

    Students will correctly name shapes.

    Students will correctly use relational descriptors such as (but not limited to) next to, above, below, in front of, and behind.

    Students will list the sequence of events required to solve problems.

    Students will safely use a digital recording device.

    Students will work with others kindly and respectfully.

    Activity Details

    Students are placed in pairs. Each pair has a video recording device such as an iPad or tablet and a bag of pieces to create a structure (see advanced preparation section for setup instructions).

    Assign which student will be the First Instructor and Builder. They will repeat the session and switch roles with a new structure.

    Student 1, "The Instructor," analyzes the contraption in the photograph and thinks about a good sequence of instructions to tell "The Builder" (student 2). 

    With a video recording device recording their session, the Instructor begins to give clear sequential instructions to the Builder. The Builder is allowed to ask clarifying questions but the Instructor cannot look at what the Builder is doing. They continue in this manner until the time is up. The recommended time is 1-2 minutes (depending upon how complex the structure is). 

    Students then review the video. They reflect on how they could have been more clear with their instructions and questions. They also reflect on what would have been the best sequence of events. 

    Students switch roles and repeat the steps above. 

    Before the class comes back together. Have each pair turn and talk (examples):

    • I could have done a better job at ________. Next time I will _________. (take turns answering)
    • I really liked how you _________. (take turns answering)
    • I think if you did __________ it would have helped me better. (take turns answering)
    • I'm a little proud of how I _____________. (take turns answering)

    At a class debrief, the teacher and class discuss the reflections that the pairs had, honing in on the content to be assessed such as shapes, relational directions, etc.

    Possible Guiding Questions:

    • What big lessons about giving instructions did you learn?
    • Why is it so important to give clear instructions?
    • What was the most difficult part of this activity?
    • What could you have done better as a listener/builder and as an Instructor/instructions giver?
    • What kind of shapes and lines did you use?
    • How does being patient and respectful help you communicate?
    • What were some things you or your partner said were your strengths or weaknesses? 

    *If the next step of this lesson is to go into block-based coding, this activity is related to the fact that the sequential steps must be very precise and clear for a computer to follow. 

    Assessment Strategies

    Assessment Strategies

    Teacher observation during the session. (Rubric here)

    Class debriefs

    Because students are so young, a brief conference with each student pair would best suit the reflection process after the activity.

    Variation Tips

    This activity could work really well in a center, where small groups of students move through the day.

    This activity could be done more than once and students could eventually design the item to be built. 

    Approximate Duration

    Related Learning Activities

    Background and Preparation

    Background / Preparation

    Decide what material you would like to build from (clay/sticks, Legos, K'nex, etc.) and design two sets of shapes for each pair of students. If you are working on a particular unit in which naming 2-D and 3-D shapes is the goal, then create shapes that have these attributes so that students can use the language. Don't make anything so simple that a student can simply say, "make a square," and then they are done.

    Design the structures you would like students to build and take photographs of them. Print as many photographs as you would have pairs of students. 

    Tablets, iPads, or a hand-held easy-to-use device is necessary if you decide to film.

    Materials and Resources

    Digital Tools / Resources