The Dance Code Belle doll from Hasbro is a toy that combines doll play, an iconic Disney Princess, and beginner coding skills for kids.
The doll features Belle's classic ballroom look from the movie, ready for the Beast to give her a twirl. Dance Code Belle's top half has the physical poseability and look of a classic fashion doll. Her bottom half, however, makes the doll heavier than a traditional fashion doll with a base housing all the electronic components to make Belle more interactive and ready to dance, with your help of course!
The real magic of this toy lies in its Bluetooth-compatible app and a child's imagination. Once you've downloaded the free companion app, kids can sync their Belle doll with the app by pressing Belle's necklace. There are three activities kids can explore, indicated by fellow Beauty and the Beast characters Mrs. Potts, Lumière, and Cogsworth.
Tap Mrs. Potts, and kids will enter a connect-the-dots style activity with drag-and-drop block coding features. Kids can choose between 10 different designs to create in this activity. After connecting the dots to create the design, kids give Belle commands to follow once she reaches each numbered step in her dance sequence. These commands are represented by different symbols to indicate the movements you can make Belle do, including basic forward and backward movements as well as turns, spins, and arm gestures. This is opposed to showing actual lines of code. For example, once Belle hits step number 3, she can reach her arms out and spins. Happy with your sequence? Press the play button and watch Belle perform the routine. The app will unveil an image or character from the film once the sequence is complete.
In the Lumiè re activity, kids select a song from the movie for Belle's dance. Then, using the drag-and-drop commands, create a sequence of moves. These are the same drag-and-drop commands offered through all three activities. Then, press the play button to watch Belle bring your dance sequence to life. If you really love the routine, you can save it to the library for Belle to perform later.
The Cogsworth activity utilizes the touch-screen capabilities of your smart device to let kids get creative and draw shapes or freeform designs that act as a path for Belle to follow for her routine. Once you lift your finger from the screen, the path is created and accented by numbered slots for you to place drop sequences, much like you did in the Mrs. Potts activity.
Kids can also interact with Belle in other ways without using the app. When Belle is turned on, the doll automatically springs to life with more than 100 phrases built in. A double-tap of her necklace also initiates a second activity for kids to learn dance moves from Belle to seven different built-in songs.
The ballroom scene is such an iconic and memorable scene for fans of the Disney movie, and this toy brings the music and magic of dance to life in a way that is also a bit educational. The toy also offers a lot of repeat play value thanks to the different in-app activities and kids' ability to interact with the Belle doll without the app.
In terms of coding though, it's worth noting that this toy features more drag-and-drop programming than actual introductory code for children.
The Dance Code Belle doll is age-graded for kids 5 and up. However, because of the app's easy interface and drag-and-drop features, we think younger tech-savvy kids can easily enjoy the toy as well with help from mom and dad. In fact, we think it can even benefit preschoolers more, giving them a jump start on these building-block programming basics, which act as a fundamental stepping-stone for coding in the future. Plus, Disney Princess fans definitely start young.
In the Lumiere activity, the heart icon doesn't always save the dance like one might assume. Instead simply keep the sequence displayed on your screen and exit the activity for it to save to the bookshelf for later use.
The Dance Code companion app is available to download in the Apple App Store, Google Play, and on Amazon Apps. It is compatible with the following devices:
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