*We were sent Botley the Coding Robot in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.
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Children learning basic coding theories is a hot topic right now. Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, or STEM as it is now known is something that we hear about more and more. It is part of the curriculum and a lot of manufacturers are taking it into consideration when making toys. Learning Resources have such a great way of making fun toys but with a ‘hidden’ learning element. We have tried out many of their toys but nothing had compared to their science lab. Until now! We were asked if we would like to try out Botley the Coding Robot. I’ve seen this before (mostly when Learning Resources used Botley to predict the World Cup scores on Facebook) and I loved the idea of it. What’s more is Reuben loves Robots (Jessica too, apparently) and so I was sure it would be a hit. It was a very easy decision.
Have you seen Botley the Coding Robot?
So there are a few options, you can buy just Botley the Coding Robot and then buy a Challenge Kit separately. Or, you can buy Botley the Coding Robot Activity Set. This is the option that we now have.
Botley is suitable for children of 5 years and up. Jessica will prove you wrong as she is able to push the buttons and make the robot move. She can’t do the activities though. Reuben is almost 5 and can grasp the idea of what to do quite well. The idea is that Botley will help with critical thinking and problem solving in children by using simple instructions. Children can command Botley to go forwards, backwards, left, right, detect objects and loops, amongst other things.
In the Activity Set you get everything you need to make obstacle courses or challenges. There is enough for hours of fun. Reuben sat for more than an hour and a half working through challenges and there was so much more that he could do.
In this set you get – Botley the Coding Robot and the programmer. Robot arms, coding cards, boards, as well as sticks, cubes, flags, balls and goals. There is also a multi-lingual activity guide which gives suggestions on activities to try, or you can make up your own.
Putting Botley the Coding Robot to the Test
When Reuben opened the parcel that had Botley in, he wasn’t really sure what he was looking at. That said, because of the styling of the Robot, he was really excited to try it out – so excited that when I couldn’t find our stash of batteries he was more than disappointed. I did find them, thankfully, but my tip is to have the batteries ready!
Botley was really easy to set up. Batteries in the Robot and batteries in the programmer and you are ready to go. We set ourselves up in the hallway and made a start. Reuben wanted to just hit buttons to begin with, and that was fine. He was able to push in lots of different directions to see what happened when he hit ‘the go’ button.
I did manage to convince him to try out some of the activities in the book. There are basic instructions to ‘warm you up’, there’s some secret moves to do which get Botley to speak and then different activities, such as building a line ‘puzzle’ so that Botley can follow the line. The whole thing is really quite impressive.
Botley the Coding Robot Activities
Once Reuben got the hang of putting in directions and then clearing them to start again, we made a start on the activities in the book. There are 10 activities which increase in difficulty as you progress through them. This is where the coding cards come in really handy. Reuben was able to use the cards to make decisions as to what he was going to programme in. He would then test his code and if something didn’t work we could change the cards.
There were times he did become frustrated, more so when we moved onto multiple turns. Directions can be difficult anyway but when Botley is facing a different way to you and you need to pick the direction to turn, well it’s a difficult concept to grasp, especially at 4. I will give him full credit though as he sat there and he kept trying. He would reset and start again and eventually he did it.
After a while he did start to move Botley by hand and so we gave up on the activities until another day. Not that Botley was put away. Reuben set up courses to move around and just experimented with what he could do. He played with Botley for almost 2 hours without a break. For those that know Reuben, know that this is unheard of. Even when Jessica kept trying to ‘join in’ he would keep setting instructions and found it hilarious if he could get Botley to go over her toes!
We love this toy.
It has to be, without question, one of the best toys we have not only tried but that we have in the house. Reuben plays with it most days. He takes it when we go out to Grandparents to play with. He has a lot of fun with this. We will be getting the action challenges set to go with this as well.
It is well thought out, and simple to use. The simplicity of the use means that it is easy enough for younger children to understand the concept of using it and start learning and the activities are interesting enough that it will keep older children amused as well.
It will be interesting to see how Daddy gets on with the more complicated tasks considering coding is his job!!
I look forward to seeing how Botley the Coding Robot grows. Will there be more activity books made so that once you had ‘completed’ this one you could move onto the next? I think it would be a shame if it stopped after the 10 activities as then older children may lose interest in the Robot whereas if there were more challenges it could quickly become a favourite for sure.