Reviewed by Julie Powell
Whilst currently being in the middle of the coronavirus lockdown and having to attempt to home school my two boys (youngest is age 5 currently in reception class and the eldest is age 6 in year two) anything that can make that task more fun for all of us and keep their little minds working is most definitely welcome so when we received Botley the coding robot by learning resources to review I don’t know who was more excited about the new addition to our toy room him or the boys! Botley is a little coding robot toy that helps children to develop coding and programming skills, my eldest recently did a STEM workshop at school which he thoroughly enjoyed and has since got into playing coding games on his tablet but this provides much more family fun and comes with the added bonus that it gives him some screen free time too!
I was extremely impressed with the packaging that Botley came in, it was made of strong cardboard and the pictures where bright, informative and it even had a window where you could look at Botley – who is a really child friendly design and a lovely soft blue colour, so the boys where already super excited before he even made it out the box! Inside the box was Botley the Coding Robot, an easy-to-use Remote control, an activity guide, a pair of detachable robot arms, 40 coding cards with different directions printed on them so that you can keep a record of the steps you have just programmed him to do), six boards for Botley to travel on, a sheet of stickers to customise the obstacles which consist of 8 sticks, 12 cubes, two cones, two flags, two balls and a goal. I think that the quantity of equipment that it came with was very impressive and allowed us to create numerous hands-on coding activities and challenges whilst putting the boys critical thinking and problem-solving skills to test plus we also used him with a few toys we already had (my youngest has such a great imagination and made Botley navigate his way through numerous superhero assault courses!)
There is no-set up required at all for Botley he simply just needs 5 AAA batteries (3 for him and 2 for his remote control) we then started by working our way through the activity guide so that we knew what to do, one thing we all liked was that the guide was very informative and talks you through the different types of program starting of easier then progressively getting harder whilst still being simple and easy for little ones to follow (you can try, how loops work – this is where Botley repeats a sequence of steps, how his object detection works, how his black line following works and other bits of useful information in order to get the maximum experience of using him). It was very straightforward and easy for the boys to pick up with a little help from me (but once I had shown them his full capabilities, they soon grasped the hang of him)
What I liked about the activity guide is that after teaching you the basic commands/sequences it gives you some examples of coding challenges – having two boys this was brilliant as it meant one boy could set up the challenge whilst the other had to try and complete it which they thoroughly enjoyed taking it in terns to do and also working together as a team to set me some very tricky challenges – we even managed several games of fetch and to me to you involving a few left over cream eggs that we had from Easter! So, the fact we could enjoy him all together as a family was a bonus for me.
In the activity guide it gives you a link to the learning resources website which gives you even more tips, tricks and hidden features, we found this really useful as it contains several videos showing us Botley capabilities and giving us further ideas of the challenges that we could set up at home with him! There are also additional activity packs which can be purchased for him which look equally as fun to play with and I am sure when the boys have enough pocket money saved up they will be asking me to order them some of those! All in all, we as a family are genuinely enjoying having Botley with us – although I’ve not yet figured out how to program him to tidy up after the boys and make their bed yet….
This product is available to buy from Learning Resources here.