Code a Robot


Inspired by Pete the Cat: Robo-Cat by James Dean

Materials in Kits

  • 3 Wooden blocks
  • 1 plastic container
  • 10 Pipe cleaners
  • 5 Index cards
  • 5 Sheets of paper
  • Googly eyes
  • Tacky glue

Read & Talk

Read the book, Pete the Cat: Robo-Cat.
In the story, Pete the Cat creates and programs a robot to do things just like him – play a song, play catch, and ride a skateboard. They also played hide-and-go seek.
Suppose you want to program your robot to do things like you, what would this robot do?
Additional Consideration: We encourage you to share what things you would program a robot to do and why.

Engineering Task

Your first task is to code your robot to walk from your house to a location that you enjoy visiting (e.g., playground, school, grandparent’s house).

Did you know…?


Walk like a robot


Sketch a map from your house to a place you enjoy visiting. We provide an example for you to use as a guide.


On a sheet of paper, sketch 2-3 mini-robots. Don’t forget to name your mini-robots.

Additional Consideration: Plan and create a mini-robot alongside your child(ren).


Pick one or two of your designs to build your robot. You can use materials in the kit or recyclables from around your home. You might even think about using objects found in nature (e.g., twigs).

Program and Test

Use your coding cards to create an algorithm (or a set of steps) for your robot to follow your path.
Ask a person to move your robot by following your algorithm (or steps). We encourage you to test along the way.


Let’s think about how well the robot moved from our house to _____.

  • Describe what happened.
  • Did the robot move the way you wanted it to? Tell me more.
  • Would you use different material for your robot? Why or why not?
  • What changes would we make to the map if we decided to visit ______ instead?


  • Program the robot to travel to a different location.
  • Create a story as your robot moves from your house to ______.
  • Switch roles. You provide the steps and your child(ren) moves the robot.
  • Create your own coding cards that would allow the robot to do different things like dance. The codes may include slide left, slide right, and right leg up/down. Then program the robot to engage in the activity.


Share the fun and pass it on!

Thank you for participating.
When you are done with this project, gift the book and the directions to your friend to pass along the fun of programming.


  • Where do you enjoy visiting? Why?
  • Tell me more about your map. Should we include key features on our map like rivers and traffic lights?
  • Why do you think we might use squares to construct the map?
  • Let’s count how many steps the robot will move forward from _________ to ________.


  • I like how you ______ in your design.
  • What material can we use to create ______?
  • What might we name this robot? Why did you name it _____?
  • May I provide a suggestion? (ask for permission)


  • How can you change your algorithm (or steps) to make your robot go where you want it to?
  • Would you consider this test a success or failure? Tell me what happened that made you think this.
  • Do we need more forward arrows? Tell me more.
  • Can I share with you one thing I noticed? I noticed _____ (provide a positive thing you noticed).