•  
Not really coding, but still an engaging electronic puzzle that responds to the sequence of given commands.
<p><strong>Toy Description</strong></p> <p>The Code-a-pillar is made by linking command segments to the motorized head. Each segment has a single command, such as turn left, turn right, go straight, or play music. The head lights up while the enclosed motor powers the toy forward according to the commands given. Changing the sequence of the segments changes the order the commands are followed in, making it a kind of sequential&nbsp;puzzle to get the toy to crawl to a target location.</p> <p>Requires 4 AA Batteries.</p> <p>Batteries come included, but are only meant for the demo and will die quickly. Be sure to purchase additional batteries.</p> <p>Includes one motorized head with eight segments (three go-straights, two right turns, two left turns, and one sound effects segment). Turns are 90 degrees. Two destination targets are also included.</p> <p><strong>Play</strong></p> <p>Connect the segments to the head to create a sequence of commands that the Code-a-pillar will follow. Once comfortable with the basics, try setting up pathways and obstacles made of blocks and other toys.</p> <p>We enjoyed using masking and painter&rsquo;s tape to make a pathway on the wooden floor and took turns seeing who could get the toy the stay within the lines.</p> <p><strong>Observations</strong></p> <p>Getting positive feedback from users, this toy&rsquo;s lights, music, and movement often captures the attention of small children and toddlers, while the challenge of creating command combinations appeals to older children.</p> <p>Will this teach a child coding? Not even a little. Skills in problem solving, sequential thinking, and patience can be improved, which are certainly useful in learning to code, but no, it will not teach the actual practice of writing code. It&rsquo;s being targeted to young children, after all. With that said, the toy is enjoyable for kids, and is often requested for playtime multiple times a week if not daily, though for less than an hour at a time.</p> <p>Children as young as 15 months may enjoy this toy. Children under the age of 2 will likely be drawn to the sounds, lights, and movement, and will begin to explore the command combinations as they get older. Typically, children around the age of 4 are challenging themselves with trying to make the toy go along an intended path, while children around the age of 6 may have more competitive play as they see who can make the toy move to a certain spot with the fewest moves.</p> <p>This is by far the loudest caterpillar we&rsquo;ve ever encountered. Lacking any kind of volume control, the sounds and music have been reported as annoying by many users, though they also said it doesn&rsquo;t stop them from letting kids play with it.</p> <p>We found it runs best on hard floors, such as wood or concrete. It worked okay on really short pile carpet and thin rugs, but got bogged down on thick pile and plush carpet, and rugs with particularly cushy pads under them. While it may be able to move around on carpet, we worry that it adds extra stress to the motor that may make it burn out quicker over time.</p> <p>In addition to a hard(ish) surface, it needs a fair amount of space to maneuver. It may be able to go a little ways, but running into a wall will make it stop. Once this happens, it needs to be repositioned and restarted from the beginning of the command set, as there is no way to pause the commands. Picking it up also stops it, so curious siblings and dogs may have to be shooed away from time to time.</p> <p>Using 4 AA batteries, each new set of batteries will last for approximately 10 hours of playtime. We suggest using rechargeable batteries for this toy, as they will likely save money and landfill space over the long run. We&rsquo;re a little surprised that there is no option for plugging into the wall and charging the toy, as it seems that most current electronics use this method for power instead of batteries.</p> <p>Segments use USB connections, which may prove a little tricky for children to properly link up, at least at first. We recommend adult supervision while kids are learning how to connect the segments so that nothing gets bent or warped out of shape.</p> <p>Expansion packs are available for a reasonable price, and add more commands. We don&rsquo;t think that children under 4 need these packs since they are still learning the combinations needed to make the toy move in a certain way. However, older children, around 6 or so, may appreciate having more options to play with.</p> <p>There&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.fisher-price.com/en_US/brands/think-and-learn/learning-apps/index.html" linktype="3" target="_blank">an app that can be used with it</a>, though it&rsquo;s not required for play. It includes counting games and some challenges that require plugging in the correct sequence of movement commands. The End User Agreement must be accepted to download the app.</p> <p><strong>Care</strong></p> <ul> <li>As this toy is electronic, keep away from food and drink</li> <li>Hands should be clean when playing with this toy</li> <li>Wipe down with damp cloth, careful to avoid letting moisture invade the electrical components</li> </ul> <p><strong>Parts and Pieces</strong></p> <p>Expansion packs can be purchased to increase the number and types of movement commands that can be used.</p> <p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Fisher-Price-Think-Sounds-Lights-Expansion/dp/B01ARONWIU/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1469811339&amp;sr=8-6&amp;keywords=code+a+pillar&amp;linkCode=ll1&amp;tag=toti08-20&amp;linkId=89024da85891c7b6b0ea83206fe85422" linktype="3" target="_blank">Silly Sounds Expansion Pack</a></p> <p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Fisher-Price-Think-Learn-Master-Expansion/dp/B01ARONX7K/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1469843130&amp;sr=8-4&amp;keywords=code+a+pillar&amp;linkCode=ll1&amp;tag=toti08-20&amp;linkId=b2c46515013946c7fb2ee83d4ec8f28b" linktype="3" target="_blank">Master Moves Pack</a></p> <p><strong>Concerns</strong></p> <p>We aren&rsquo;t buying it that this toy will teach a child anything about coding. It challenges cause-and-effect, problem solving, sequential and critical thinking skills, but so do non-electronic puzzles and logic games. In short, enjoy this toy for its fun factor, and think of it as a responsive puzzle.</p>
Think & Learn Code-a-pillar
Date published: 2016-07-29
8.50 / 10 stars

Think & Learn Code-a-pillar

by Fisher-Price
current stage2016-07-29

Joining the segments to the motorized head via USB connections, children create a sequence of commands that the Code-a-pillar will follow once activated. Each segment has a different command, making the toy move forward, turn corners, and make music depending on the order the commands were placed.

When we heard about a toy that teaches kids how to code, we were skeptical. As with many other toys that are promoted as “educational,” this claim that a toddler will learn coding basics is a real stretch. However, like all puzzles and toys that challenge cause-and-effect and problem solving skills, this toy can help excite and ignite the core skills needed for critical thinking throughout their life. If you want more toys that help with the foundational critical thinking skills needed for future problem solving, check out our STEM Toys Roundup

  • Think & Learn Code-a-pillar
  • Think & Learn Code-a-pillar
  • Think & Learn Code-a-pillar
  • Think & Learn Code-a-pillar
  • Think & Learn Code-a-pillar
  • Think & Learn Code-a-pillar
Think & Learn Code-a-pillar
Overall8.50
This measure how often, for how long, and how many different ages will play with this toy. A great toy will be loved for years, and is still wanted as the child grows.
Replay
  • 8.00
 
This measures the quality of the materials and production processes used.
Quality
  • 8.00
 
This scores how well a toy encourages critical thinking, pattern recognition, and memory improvement.
Cognitive
  • 9.00
 
Including both gross and fine motor skills, this measure how much this toy engages and challenges physical mobility, body awareness, and coordination.
Motor
  • 7.00
 
This measures how likely a toy is to spark social play between children or how well it teaches socially healthy behavior.
Social
  • 6.00
 

Product Specs

Age 2 - 6 years
Made in China
Recalls No
Batteries 4 AA Batteries Required
Materials Plastic, Electronic components
Choking Hazard No
Date Reviewed 07/29/2016

Where to Buy

Amazon $30.99
Pros
  • Encourages sequential thinking
  • Challenges problem solving skills and critical thinking
  • Lights up for fun in the dark
Cons
  • No, it will not teach coding basics
  • Not great on carpet
  • No volume control
  • Looks like a toddler toy, but can’t be chewed on or handled roughly
Detailed Review

Toy Description

The Code-a-pillar is made by linking command segments to the motorized head. Each segment has a single command, such as turn left, turn right, go straight, or play music. The head lights up while the enclosed motor powers the toy forward according to the commands given. Changing the sequence of the segments changes the order the commands are followed in, making it a kind of sequential puzzle to get the toy to crawl to a target location.

Requires 4 AA Batteries.

Batteries come included, but are only meant for the demo and will die quickly. Be sure to purchase additional batteries.

Includes one motorized head with eight segments (three go-straights, two right turns, two left turns, and one sound effects segment). Turns are 90 degrees. Two destination targets are also included.

Play

Connect the segments to the head to create a sequence of commands that the Code-a-pillar will follow. Once comfortable with the basics, try setting up pathways and obstacles made of blocks and other toys.

We enjoyed using masking and painter’s tape to make a pathway on the wooden floor and took turns seeing who could get the toy the stay within the lines.

Observations

Getting positive feedback from users, this toy’s lights, music, and movement often captures the attention of small children and toddlers, while the challenge of creating command combinations appeals to older children.

Will this teach a child coding? Not even a little. Skills in problem solving, sequential thinking, and patience can be improved, which are certainly useful in learning to code, but no, it will not teach the actual practice of writing code. It’s being targeted to young children, after all. With that said, the toy is enjoyable for kids, and is often requested for playtime multiple times a week if not daily, though for less than an hour at a time.

Children as young as 15 months may enjoy this toy. Children under the age of 2 will likely be drawn to the sounds, lights, and movement, and will begin to explore the command combinations as they get older. Typically, children around the age of 4 are challenging themselves with trying to make the toy go along an intended path, while children around the age of 6 may have more competitive play as they see who can make the toy move to a certain spot with the fewest moves.

This is by far the loudest caterpillar we’ve ever encountered. Lacking any kind of volume control, the sounds and music have been reported as annoying by many users, though they also said it doesn’t stop them from letting kids play with it.

We found it runs best on hard floors, such as wood or concrete. It worked okay on really short pile carpet and thin rugs, but got bogged down on thick pile and plush carpet, and rugs with particularly cushy pads under them. While it may be able to move around on carpet, we worry that it adds extra stress to the motor that may make it burn out quicker over time.

In addition to a hard(ish) surface, it needs a fair amount of space to maneuver. It may be able to go a little ways, but running into a wall will make it stop. Once this happens, it needs to be repositioned and restarted from the beginning of the command set, as there is no way to pause the commands. Picking it up also stops it, so curious siblings and dogs may have to be shooed away from time to time.

Using 4 AA batteries, each new set of batteries will last for approximately 10 hours of playtime. We suggest using rechargeable batteries for this toy, as they will likely save money and landfill space over the long run. We’re a little surprised that there is no option for plugging into the wall and charging the toy, as it seems that most current electronics use this method for power instead of batteries.

Segments use USB connections, which may prove a little tricky for children to properly link up, at least at first. We recommend adult supervision while kids are learning how to connect the segments so that nothing gets bent or warped out of shape.

Expansion packs are available for a reasonable price, and add more commands. We don’t think that children under 4 need these packs since they are still learning the combinations needed to make the toy move in a certain way. However, older children, around 6 or so, may appreciate having more options to play with.

There’s an app that can be used with it, though it’s not required for play. It includes counting games and some challenges that require plugging in the correct sequence of movement commands. The End User Agreement must be accepted to download the app.

Care

  • As this toy is electronic, keep away from food and drink
  • Hands should be clean when playing with this toy
  • Wipe down with damp cloth, careful to avoid letting moisture invade the electrical components

Parts and Pieces

Expansion packs can be purchased to increase the number and types of movement commands that can be used.

Silly Sounds Expansion Pack

Master Moves Pack

Concerns

We aren’t buying it that this toy will teach a child anything about coding. It challenges cause-and-effect, problem solving, sequential and critical thinking skills, but so do non-electronic puzzles and logic games. In short, enjoy this toy for its fun factor, and think of it as a responsive puzzle.

Manufacturer's Description

Code-a-pillar™ inspires little learners to be big thinkers by encouraging preschoolers to arrange (and rearrange) the easy-to-connect segments in endless combinations, sending Code-a-pillar™ on his path. This learning toy encourages experimentation while developing important skills like problem solving, planning & sequencing and critical thinking. There's no end to the combinations kids can make – mix up the segments and put them back together to send Code-a-pillar™ in a different direction every time!

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