Alexa is in the house.. and now in the classroom!

Maxim Abramchuk
Mar 14, 2018 · 4 min read

This article was written by Brian Owen ()

One such example is a 3rd grade class at McGinnis Woods Country Day School in Alpharetta, Georgia, where their teacher, Ms. Sammie Westerlind, is working with the students to develop an Alexa skill that they hope to launch on the Amazon Alexa store soon.

While it is great to have a jump on technology at an early age, just to clarify, Grade 3 students are 8–9 year olds. Alexa, how about your newest fans?!

The 13 student class is named the 3rd Grade HEROES.

Ms. Westerlind explained that the course of study and related project came about in Language Arts class, where the students are working on persuasive & opinion writing in class with grammar and conventions lessons.

The connection is that they are learning about various parts of language, such as articles and synonyms.

“This ties in wonderfully with our code and user replies.” stated Ms.Westerlind.

Ms. Westerlind further explained: “My students have created 4 topics that they are each writing a small part of a complete argument about. We hope that it will be something that the students’ families enable on their devices, but it would be rewarding to achieve more widespread interest.” adding, “I am sure they (the students) will be excited to share their opinions to people around the world!”

The students are using which is a platform that allows anyone to build an Alexa skill without any coding knowledge required. helps create Alexa skills and publish them.

“It is such a wonderful program that I am sure my students will make more and more skills to help develop their educational skills and apply them to real life situations.” said Ms. Westerlind, adding, “We hope to create a puzzle based, choose your own adventure story as our next skill, so we are excited about the possibilities.”

“We’re thrilled to see how many schools use to teach kids how to create Alexa skills” said Maksim Abramchuk, CTO at , adding:

“And we know the reason: unlike iPhone, Amazon Echo is a highly emotional device, because it communicates with you in a very natural way — with your voice. That’s why you don’t need to explain to kids how to interact with Alexa — they just start talking to her. I’m saying “her” here because they treat Alexa as a real person. And it’s truly magical to watch.”

Mr. Abramchuk commented that “ is completely free right now, except for one business feature for publishers.” Adding, “From our side, we offer them (the students) full support if they have any questions/issues with .”

The students work within a number of topics such as Education can change the world, YouTube is the best website, Halloween is the best holiday and Why reading is better than watching TV.

“These are all topics that my students picked and are writing to persuade the user into siding with their arguments by providing details, opinions, and research to back up their claim.” said Ms. Westerlind.

More information about the class can be found at

Ms. Westerlind provided a progress report and commented, “I anticipate going live by the end of this month and our new project, ‘the choose your own adventure’, before the end of this school year in May.”

This is certainly allowing young minds to explore technology at early age, preparing them for their future and the future of technology.

UPDATE (March 26th, 2018): Ms. Sammi Westerlind reported through Twitter that ‘My HEROES’ Amazon Echo skill is live!

Created and written by 8 year old Grade 3 students, this skill is aimed to persuade you using their opinions. “It’s a great way to use the standards and be a modern classroom” said Ms. Westerlind.

Ms. Westerlind thanked for their platform, calling it “amazing”, and asked readers to enable and review the skill.

This article was written by Brian Owen, editor of VoiceFirst Canada, a part of VoiceFirst Communications & Media, presenter of VoiceCon Canada ‘VoiceCan’, September 2018 in Toronto.

Brian has been an environmental and technology journalist, event organizer and keynote speaker within the Solid State Lighting (LED) and Smart City space, as well as in IoT in the connected home and LiFi.

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