Remote Control (How to Drill Anything)

If I found this activity on someone else’s blog, I’d probably roll my eyes and move on. I would never, ever, ever go out and actually buy the equipment to make this work. But maybe you already have a remote controlled car or other such device. Or have a neighbor or friend with kids who’ve outgrown those toys. Or, like me, you could have an absolutely wonderful public library that let’s you check out a LEGO EV3 robot for free for two weeks. If those apply to you, some of your kids will love this activity. If not, just roll your eyes and move on.

What You Need:

  • A remote controlled car, truck, robot, or whatever
  • Painter’s tape
  • Sharpie
  • Flashcards or a list of whatever it is you want to drill
    • Flashcards could have rhythms to clap, notes on the staff to name, alphabetic notes to play on the keyboard, key signatures to identify, etc.
    • If you’re using this to drill sections of a song, the list is optional, depending on how sneaky you are. See below.

Setup:

  • Use the painter’s tape to create a track on the floor. Put in as many turns and intersections as you like.
  • Use the sharpie to write on numbers at turns, intersections, or really wherever you want. I used numbers one through twelve.
  • Test your device to make sure the batteries are working and you know how to use it. When you’re done, replace your device at the starting point.

How to Play:

  • The student gets five seconds (as counted by me) to drive the device to one of the numbers on the track. They do not have to go in order. Theoretically, they should stay on the track and not take off cross country, but if they do, it’s okay.
  • When the five seconds are up, choose the number they’re closest to. For example, let’s say they got to number four.
    • If you’re using flashcards, choose the fourth card in your stack. (Or the fifth, if they’re on number 5, etc.)
    • If you’re trying to drill sections of a song, choose the fourth measure, line, phrase, trouble spot, or section to work on for several minutes or play three times in a row, depending on what makes sense for the age and ability of your student.
      • If the song only has four phrases, but the car is at number six, just keep counting through the song again, so that 1 and 5 are the same phrase, 2 and 6 are the same phrase, etc.
      • If you want, you can assign some numbers to be brain breaks, such as an improv or play by ear activity. You can also skip over phrases the student already knows really well. This is where sneakiness comes in. You can either write all this out in advance so you’re consulting a list at each point, or you can write out nothing and just pretend to consult a list. Meanwhile, you really manipulate the activity so that they work on what you need them to work on and get a brain break when they need one, regardless of where the robot goes. None of my students figured it out.

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