Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Kids First Coding & Robotics

Kids First Coding & Robotics

Fall 2018 Toys
Ages: 4 & Up
Manufacturer: Thames & Kosmos
Price: $129.95
Review:

The 417-piece Kids First Coding and Robotics kit introduces and teaches fundamental coding skills (sequencing, loops, events, conditionals, functions, and variables) to children in an authentic and tangible way.

Designed for adult/child co-play and co-learning, the hands-on learning is centered around a fully illustrated manual with 30 progressively difficult lessons. Here, neither coding nor operation rely on an app, smartphone or tablet; kids build a variety of robots that use an optical scanner to read the physical carboard cutouts and cards placed sequentially to program the robot.

There's no better way to learn about coding than by telling a friend how to build a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich. In Lesson 1, young engineers are tasked with an activity taught to beginning computer science students: write clear, precise and step-by-step instructions to make a PB & J sandwich. This seemingly simple activity plainly demonstrates the basis of computer programming: instructions are written in a language (code) and performed in a sequence.

Each story-based lesson accompanies a robot build and/or coding exercise. Soon, kids build their first robot Sammy (the sandwich) that reads code kids "write" by laying down a sequence or map of code cards that tell a story. For example, Sammy must travel through two rooms in his house in order to get out the door. A sequence of a Start card, and three Forward cards plot Sammy's moves. Sammy then "learns" the moves by recording the cards' actions. Then with a push of a button, Sammy completes the sequence he just learned from the code cards. Our parent testers raved that having their children hold and manipulate the code in their hands added dimension to their learning.

Subsequent lessons have kids tackling more and harder challenges, building new character driven robots, and writing new code. Examples include building and then helping Pippy the mouse find her cheese, building Robby the soccer player and coding his moves and kicks in a soccer game, building a fire truck and having it run thru an obstacle course, and more.

Parents' Choice   ©2018 Parents' Choice


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