Studies show that IT can make a useful contribution to learning in infant and primary schools. However, many techniques require major investments in equipment, skills and time. BLOCK MAGIC proposes a novel, IT-based teaching methodology, especially suited to situations where these resources are unavailable.

Many learning activities for young children involve manipulation of physical objects. However these techniques work best when teachers dedicate their attention to a single group. BLOCK MAGIC will (i) allow multiple groups to work simultaneously; (ii) allow the creation of personalized learning activities (e.g. for children with special needs). (iii) support novel techniques of learning.

BLOCK MAGIC is centered on the concept of a magic block – an “intelligent” version of the “logical blocks” and “teaching tiles” already familiar to teachers. When children touch a block, or a sequence of blocks with a wand or a glove, BLOCK MAGIC generates feedback (e.g. by talking) that changes from one activity to the next or at different stages in the same activity. This feature makes the system an endless source of surprise and curiosity.

BLOCK MAGIC combines low cost RFID technology, “scripts” for learning activities, and a software engine controlling block behavior. In a typical scenario, the class is divided into groups and provided with a bag of Magic Blocks. The teacher sets a task (e.g. order the magic blocks to tell a story) designed to develop a specific creative, logical, linguistic, or strategic skill. The children then work together to solve the task.

BLOCK MAGIC will (i) define a methodology and a large set of learning activities based on Magic Blocks (ii) design and implement the Magic Blocks; (iii) collaborate with teachers to test and refine the design; (iv) test the final system in infant and primary schools in Italy, Greece, Spain and in Germany; (v) encourage take-up in schools and countries not involved in the project.