Starting with a story…
The following dialogue was overheard whilst 4 boys were playing “space robots”
Don’t get me, bad robot
I’m not getting you, I’m downloading you.
Don’t get my baby either
Robots can’t have babies.
I later read this conversation back to the group as a story to be acted out inside our giant storybook. The children were then asked to think about whether there could be baby robots? The discussion quickly turned into an enquiry about what the role of a robot is.
The following drawings illustrate the thoughts and questions which were to become our philosophical play experiences for many days to come.
Creating philosophical story play opportunities.
Ask the children to help create a place where they can explore their ideas through play.
A Robot factory roleplay area … Create a space to build robots.
Provide cardboard boxes and recycled materials. Construction toys. Tools. Wire. Tinfoil. bubblewrap. Computer spares. Hoover tubes. Computers and ipads. Dough and clay.
Encourage children to add props and additional resources to this space, e.g. Signs, posters, props, dressing up items, small world toys, information books, picturebooks.
Questions to consider as you play
Are robots male and female?
What are the differences between them?
If robots did have babies would they grow them or make them?
How do baby robots grow up?
How do we know if they are fully grown?
Can a small robot be as clever as a large one?
Can you teach a computer to love?
What does a robot have to know?
Do robots need looking after?
What would happen if your robot dies?
Should robots be paid for things they do?
Would robots be good friends?
Would they be good teachers?
Listen for the stories that emerge from the play
Collect the stories that grow from the thinking and playing and share them with the children and their adults. Use some of their stories as stimulus for thinking journals that they can share at home. (See publications But Why? And Why Think (Stanley. S. 2008, 2012 Bloomsbury)
Picturebooks to develop philosophical thinking about robots.
Welcome to your awesome robot-Viviane Schwarz
The robot and the bluebird -David Lucas
Ribbit Rabbit-Candace Ryan
The robot book – Heather Brown
The robot bedtime book- Daniel Erico
When we have built our robots what new space will we need to create for the robots?