Thursday, August 21, 2014

Robot Turtles Review: The Game for Little Programmers


Disclosure: I received Robot Turtles for free from ThinkFun in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own and honest.

Board games are a big deal in our house. Mike is what you would call a gamer (mostly PC) but he also loves strategy based board games. I have to admit that strategy games are not my strong suit, but I play with him occasionally. He is a computer programmer/software engineer by trade and when I heard about a game called Robot Turtles designed to help teach preschoolers the basics of programming, I knew that he would love it.

Robot Turtles was invented by Dan Shapiro, a Seattle software entrepreneur, for his 4-year old twins. Dan wanted to give his kids the superpower anyone could wish for - an understanding of computer programming. The most-backed board game in Kickstarter history, (it) raised over $630,000 from parents who believe in coding literacy. 

I believe it is extremely important for our kids to learn how to code to prepare themselves for our increasingly technology based workforce. Preschoolers are so eager to learn so it's a great time to start teaching them the basics. ThinkFun sent us a game to try with Grace. The game is aimed at preschoolers over 4 and with Grace's love of board games, I figured we'd try it since she's only a few months away from turning 4.


During Connor's nap time, Grace was excited to try a new game. She helped me get the board set up and was a huge fan of the "sparkly turtles" as she called them. She enjoyed picking out her colored turtle and played with him while I read the rules.

She was ready to play! Honestly, I didn't expect the game to last very long. We have never worked on right/left directions with her and that is what the game is based on. But obviously the creator of this game, Dan Shiparo, has kids, as the instructions actually say that this is a great way to teach those directions and to start with just the basic game play to allow kids to get the hang of the rules. As your kids master the basic concepts, there are many options to make the game more challenging.

The goal of the game is to get your turtle to the jewel in the middle of the board. You take turns laying out your directional cards to move your turtle through the spaces. I showed her what the different cards meant and overall she did great!

She's still not so sure about moving her turtle only one space at a time, but we're working on it! She loved laying her cards out and it was fun to show her how her line of cards had gotten her turtle to it's jewel.

The game can be short or long depending on how many obstacles you add to the board. The basic game is perfect for a preschooler's attention span. They don't realize that they're learning the fundamentals of programming. By laying down each card, they are learning how to use commands and create a line of code. The rules allow children to fix their cards if they made a mistake, which teaches them the basic concepts of debugging. As you add more challenges, kids learn to visualize solutions and break the problem down into smaller steps. For more information about how Robot Turtles teaches programming skills, check out their website.

This is a game that we will play for years to come and I know Mike is planning to use it with both kids to teach them strategy. To learn more about this game or to purchase one for your family, check out ThinkFun's website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Thank you to ThinkFun for sending us a copy of Robot Turtle. Grace begs to play it every day! 
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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