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Fisher-Price Code a Pillar Twist

(Fisher-Price $34.99)

This year's Code A Pillar comes with several new twists. Unlike the original, this one does not come apart in segments that can be rearranged. Instead, the segments have dials that kids twist to program the Code a Pillar’s motions. Ideally, this should lead to fewer lost pieces. It’s also less pricey and has no add-on pieces to buy. It’s otherwise the same, an early opportunity to code by sequencing a series of moves and seeing if the program created does what was planned. Designed for preschoolers, but also enjoyed by early schoolers, it’s a problem-solving toy, of sorts. Using furniture and other barriers, kids can create an obstacle course and then try to program their Code a Pillar to move through it. In a way, this is new version is less flexible than the original and the sounds still cannot be turned off. As always, it runs best on a hard floor, not soft carpet. One of our testers reported that her 4 year old, basically turned the dials randomly, but her 7 year old sister spent a good deal of time sequencing moves and trying out beginning coding. Perhaps, the toymakers need to age this one up. Of course, toymakers like being able to call their products STEM toys and say they are teaching coding. We doubt kids are learning a lot about coding, any more than they do with a RC vehicle. The arrows are symbols that make the directions chosen concrete…but symbolic images will be beyond most 3s and many 4s. Understanding how to set up a code to run an obstacle course is more like an activity that older 6s and 7s will grasp and then, only with an adult to guide the way. We suggest this is a better choice for early school kids. It requires 4 AA batteries that are not included.

Ages: Older Preschoolers, Early School

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award 2019

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