Learning to code is quickly becoming of the new “musts” for a child’s education. “Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic” is quickly being upstaged by the new kid in town. Walking the show floor at the NY Toy Fair this week gave us a good sense of the imaginative and varied ways to learn about coding while you play.
Following on the success of Fisher Price’s Code-A-Pillar, Primo’s Cubetto does a mashup of a wooden puzzle and simple coding instructions. The $225 (yikes) set is built for ages 3-6 year olds and is completely wordless. Without any real instructions, toddlers can start to experiment with different blocks and combinations, learning through trial and error. Imagine your toddler learning about recursion loops, randomization and negation through simple tiles.
From the looks of it everyone loves to program and dog’s go together. Programmable robot dogs from SONY and WowWee were on to something. The newest programmable hound comes from Hasbro. Proto Max is an electronic pet you build yourself, then you can control its movements and vocals using an app that teaches coding routines.
The name “Max” seems pretty popular too. SpinMaster’s $149 M.A.X. is the latest upgrade to the company’s Meccano line. Simpler to piece together (about an hour) than the original Meccano, M.A.X can be programmed in a number of ways including through an RC controller and AI learning to do everything from guarding your kid’s bedroom door to singing songs and telling jokes.
WowWee’s latest entry went the licensing route. Following on the heels of Elmoji, an Elmo- inspired robot that uses emojis to code, there’s Turbo Dave, an incarnation of the ever-popular Minions. It’ll roll back and forth, spin in response to hand gestures and has a coding platform kids can use to do all sorts of feats. ($80)
Dance and Code Belle
Girls aren’t being ignored, either. Hasbro’s Dance and Code Belle uses the classic Beauty and Beast heroine to inspire kids to get technical. They learn coding patterns as they instruct her to perform different dances using an app.