SPIKE™ Essential

Swamp Boat

Sofie found crocodile eggs! Could there be crocodiles nearby?

30-45 min.
Grades 3-5


  • Review the Swamp Boat lesson in the LEGO® Education SPIKE App.
  • If necessary, pre-teach these related vocabulary words: content, modifications, notify, observe, and predict.
  • Consider the abilities and backgrounds of all your students. Differentiate the lesson to make it accessible to everyone. See the Differentiation section below for suggestions.
  • If time allows, plan and facilitate the math extension. See the Extension section below for more information.


(Whole Class, 5 Minutes)

  • Facilitate a quick discussion about modifying an existing object to achieve a goal.
    • Talk with your students about needing to see what's under the water.
    • Ask questions, like: What could you change about your eyes to make them able to see under the water? What would you need?
  • Introduce your students to the story’s main characters and the first challenge: telling Sofie when her boat is near a crocodile.
  • Distribute a brick set and a device to each group.


(Small Groups, 30 Minutes)

  • Have your students use the LEGO® Education SPIKE App to guide them through their first challenge:
    • Create and test the program that tells Sofie when her boat is near a crocodile.
  • Have your students iterate and test their models to complete the next two challenges in the app:
    • Modify the program to tell Sofie in a different way when her boat is near a crocodile.
    • Upgrade the swamp boat to help Sofie find other animals.
  • You can find coding and building support in the Tips section below.


(Whole Class, 5 Minutes)

  • Gather your students together to reflect on their completed challenges.
  • Ask questions, like: How did Sofie know when she was near a crocodile? What did you change about how the swamp boat told Sofie when she was near a crocodile? What did the swamp boat do then?


(Whole Class, 5 Minutes)

  • Prompt your students to discuss and reflect on modifying an existing program.
  • Ask questions, like: Why is it important to be able to modify an existing program? How did you decide which Coding Blocks to use when you modified your program?
  • Have your students clean up their workstations.


(Ongoing Throughout the Lesson)

  • Ask guiding questions to encourage your students to “think aloud” and explain their thought processes and reasoning in the decisions they've made while building and programming.

Observation Checklist

  • Measure your students’ proficiency in modifying an existing program.
  • Create a scale that matches your needs. For example:
    1. Needs additional support
    2. Can work independently
    3. Can teach others


  • Have each student choose the brick that they feel best represents their performance.
    • Yellow: I think I can modify an existing program.
    • Blue: I can modify an existing program.
    • Green: I can modify an existing program, and I can help a friend do it too.


  • In their small groups, have your students discuss their experiences working together.
  • Encourage them to use statements like these:
    • I liked it when you…
    • I'd like to hear more about how you…


Coding Tip

  • After your students complete their first challenge, they'll be provided with three Inspiration Coding Blocks to help them modify their programs.
  • The Inspiration Coding Blocks are intended to spark their imaginations as they experiment to find their own solutions.
Gecko U3L4_ICB_1 - en
Gecko U3L4_ICB_1 - en
Gecko U3L4_ICB_2 - en
Gecko U3L4_ICB_3 - en

Model Tip

  • After your students complete their second challenge, they’ll be provided with three Inspiration Images and an open-ended prompt for improving their models.
  • The Inspiration Images are to help spark their imaginations as they experiment and change their models.

There aren't any building instructions for this challenge.


Simplify this lesson by:

  • Reading the Swamp Boat story and instructions from the LEGO® Education SPIKE App aloud to your students
  • Selecting one Inspiration Image to help your students change their models

Increase the difficulty by:

  • Exploring new and different coding blocks in the program
  • Prompting your students to modify each other’s programs to improve each other’s work


  • Have your students keep track of the number of animals Sofie’s boat detects. Ask them to create a bar graph and calculate how many more and how many less of each animal the boat encountered.

If facilitated, this will extend beyond the 45-minute lesson.


Teacher Support

Students will:

  • Identify the parts of an existing program that should be modified
  • Carry out tests to identify where a program can be modified
  • Recount an experience using relevant facts and descriptive details

(one for every two students)

  • LEGO® Education SPIKE Essential Set
  • Device with the LEGO® Education SPIKE App installed
  • CSTA 1B-AP-12
  • NGSS 3-5-ETS 1-3
  • ISTE 1.5d

Math Extension


Student Material

Student Worksheet

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