Today's kids are tomorrow's coders and programmers, and that's why Fisher-Price is introducing its preschool toy Think & Learn Code-a-pillar. This toy is aimed at encouraging experimentation while developing coding, sequencing, and critical thinking skills.
The Code-a-pillar is a caterpillar made up of a motorized head segment with lights, sounds, and blinking eyes, and eight removable and interchangeable body segments. Each segment causes the Code-a-pillar to do something different, such as moving right, going straight, moving left, and making a sound. As the toy moves, the segments light up to let kids know which action the Code-a-pillar is on. Kids can configure the segments in whatever order they'd like, easily rearranging the segments to make the Code-a-pillar take a different path every time they play. Place the two included targets throughout the room and try to configure the segments to create a path for the Code-a-pillar from one target to the other. Kids can even turn their rooms into an obstacle course for the Code-a-pillar and rearrange the segments to send the toy under a book or around a chair.
A free companion app, available for iOS and Android devices, expands the fun by adding new challenges to reinforce counting, patterning, and more. The app was not available at the time of this review.
"Coding" is definitely a buzzword right now, but when it comes to children's toys, it's just a new way to describe how kids are already playing. This toy is all about trial and error and giving kids the confidence to experiment and see what happens when they do one thing and how it all changes when they do something else. Kids will like watching the Code-a-pillar light up, play music, and move around based on what kids have told the toy to do. While this toy doesn't specifically teach your preschooler how to write computer programs, through playing with the Code-a-pillar, a child will be developing skills such as problem solving, planning and sequencing, and critical thinking that are essential parts of programming.
The Think & Learn Code-a-pillar is for ages 3-6.
The toy includes four AA batteries for the in-store try-me features, and it's recommended that you replace them before you play for best results.
Expansion packs with segments that make the Code-a-pillar do even more things are available and sold separately.
Code-a-pillar works best on hard, flat surfaces. We tested it on short carpet and it worked well there, too.
4 AA batteries required
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