The Fischer Price Code-a-Pillar is one of the first coding related toys you come across when searching online. I bought it because it was the right age group for Nina and to be honest I had no idea how it related to (let alone could teach) coding.
The reception from the girls has been nothing short of delightful. When it arrived, I took it out of the delivery box and just put it on a chair (still wrapped in thick plastic) to see what the reaction was. It’s big, colourful and didn’t really look like any other toys in the house. Nina was attracted to it immediately and wanted to open it straight away.
What’s great about it is that they love the caterpillar. It’s got nothing to do with anything educational.
What’s great about it is that they love the caterpillar. It’s got nothing to do with anything educational. They like the colours, the noise and the fact that it moves. When the music starts they both dance, then giggle and squeal when it starts. The purple piece, which is a funny song (rather than a movement piece) makes them laugh again. They’ve also found a home for it inside an indoor tent, and they check on it to make sure it’s there every few days.
The coding side of it is fun and well done. Each piece has an arrow on it and depending on the order of pieces you choose, the caterpillar will move following that path. So it’s about understanding arrows (directions), sequencing and pre-programming. Choose the arrows, press start and off it goes. This is similar to some coding apps like Tynker which ask you to choose a series of actions before pressing go.
I’ve read some reviews that said it was unbearably loud and we found the music to be fun. Yes, it’s a bit much if it’s early in the morning or someone is asleep, but during play time it’s perfectly fine.
The pack comes with two plastic discs that act as start and end locations, encouraging you to set a course then try to direct the caterpillar along that path. There is even a website competition set up for kids to submit their attempts: http://fisher-price-code-a-pillar.co.uk/
The number of toys that come through our house, either as gifts for our girls, or gifts we buy for friend’s children, always astounds me. Most of the time they involve the brand of the day – Starwars, My Little Ponies, Frozen etc. The Code-a-Pillar is a quality toy that balances learning and fun. It’s like having a remote controlled car before you are old enough to get one. It’s only limitation is that kids may only use it a few times during a single session, but this was easily outweighed for me by the fact that the girls simply liked it. When not ‘programming’ a course, they would carry it around, talk about it and pretend to give it something to eat!
Bright, fun and exciting for little kids
Having a moving, giant caterpillar is just fun!
Introduces the basic concept of pre-programming a route
Need a room with a bit of space to get the best results
The music is loud (but cute)