There are so many coding toys being released, it can be hard to keep up with the plethora of choices. If they all teach coding, is there one that teaches coding BETTER? Is there one better for certain age groups? I will say if you want to teach your preschooler coding, look no further than Cubetto.
The first thing you will notice about Cubetto is that it’s incredibly well constructed using wood instead of plastic for the parts of the toy that will take the most abuse. It will remind you of old school toys that literally last forever.
The main part of the toy is really a simple box with a super cute smiley face on it. This is the part that moves and does what the “programmer” tells it to.
The second part is the programming board. This is also made of wood, and is very simple, so even the youngest programmers can figure it out. There are 2 sections on the board. The top part is one continuous string that will take each command one by one down the line and send it to the Cubetto called the Queue. The second section is the function line. Each time a blue command is placed in the string it will go down to the function row and do all the commands in the function box until it completes and then will continue along the string at the top. A green command block will move Cubetto forward, red will turn it to the right, and yellow will turn it to the left. Once you have all of your commands in place you press the only button on the board to run your program. As it steps through each command a small light will tell you which command it’s currently on in the queue.
It also comes with a large 6×6 squares mat in a grid that have various landmarks and environments and are numbered and lettered along the sides. Since it has this “game board” of sorts you can REALLY learn how to code. Many toys that are geared towards really small children will only allow you to move the device according to the instructions, but with the addition of the mat, you can come up with all sorts of puzzles for your child to figure out. This is a key component when learning how to code is how to successfully get from point A to point B.
The box has two books or really pamphlets inside. One is instructions on how to use the Cubetto. The language is perfect for young kids to understand, and they should be able to figure out how to make it work in no time at all. The second book has a really fun story with various challenges you can get Cubetto through like “Make Cubetto move three squares to swim across the river.”
My son liked making our own adventures. Like I would start the Cubetto on the castle and tell Michael he had to find his own way to the mountains. He would then set up the program to send Cubetto to the mountains. Then he would give me a destination, but tell me I had to go through water to get there, and so on. It really was a lot of fun taking turns coming up with programs and paths. When it was a really far destination we had to get creative with the function line to make sure we had enough blocks to get to the destination. It really took some critical thinking sometimes to get it to work!
As I mentioned, it’s really easy for small kids to understand, and the pieces are very simple and easy to use. It’s definitely a winner for this age group, but your older kids will like it too. My son is 7 and can’t get enough!
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Sarah Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 16 years of her career as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on KSL News, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com