Kids Learn How to Code Using Sony’s Building Blocks

“Forget everything you think you know about programming: the long hours behind a screen, the lines of code stacking up, all that time spent debugging someone else’s mess. Koov makes learning to code—the basics, at least—as easy as playing with building blocks.” L. Stinson, Wired

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key!

Sony’s KOOV building blocks get your kids coding and building robots in no time

Excerpt: Get Your Kids Coding With Sony’s Clever Building Blocks, by Liz Stinson, WIRED

“The candy-colored blocks snap together like Legos to create interactive robot penguins, trucks, and other cool things. Blueprints guide kids through the process, but as with all the best toys, the real learning comes when the imagination runs wild. ‘These robot recipes are something we see as more of an inspiration,’ says Tim McGregor, a senior marketing manager at Sony Global Education. ‘[We] want to give them skills to build their own unique robots.’ Sony introduced the blocks in Japan last year.

Sony’s programing kit allows children to build what they want.

A companion app teaches programming concepts like looping and  “if-then” logic. (Sony developed the app’s curriculum using MIT’s drag-and-drop Scratch programing language.)

The Koov app includes an educational track explaining how to use the seven different blocks to create all sorts of objects.

‘We teach them techniques to make shapes out of their imagination,’ McGregor says. ‘You have to have a creative mind to be able to do some of these things.” 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Koov blurs the line between learning and playing.
  2. There is an  educational app for the Koov block set.
  3. Koov is a highly marketable toy.
  4. Companies are placing  computing in an environment for kids.
  5. Kids can create interactive robot penguins, and other toys.
  6. Blueprints guide kids through the process.
  7. A companion app teaches concepts like looping and  f-then logic.
  8. Kids can build their own unique robots.
  9. These robot recipes are an inspiration.
  10. The real learning comes when the imagination runs wild.

Reading Comprehension


Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

The candy-colored___ snap together like___ to___interactive robot penguins, trucks, and other cool things. Blueprints ___kids ___the process, but as with all the best toys, the real ___comes when the runs wild. These___recipes are something we ___as more of an inspiration.

WORD LIST:  see, create,  robot, blocks, Legos, guide, through, learning, imagination,

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.


  1. A companion app teach programming.
  2. Blueprints guide kids through the process.
  3. Sony introduced the blocks in Japan last year.



  1. Kids want to build his own unique robots.
  2. Creating is as easy as playing with building blocks.
  3. The real learning comes  with the imagination.


  1. Kids can build a glowing lantern that turns  in and off.
  2. An advanced lesson include a dancing, singing penguin.
  3. The trick is translating abstract into tangible objects.

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups  and  have each group compose a letter or note to a  person mentioned in the article telling her/him their thoughts on the topic. Share the letters as a class.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.


Category: Education, Technology