Cubetto, from Primo Toys, is a Montessori-approved toy that is aimed at teaching the basics of computer programming to pre-school or early-years kids through hands-on play.
Even modular programming languages such as Scratch are way too complex for kids who can hardly read, so Cubetto brings the concept and possibilities of programming into the real world.
The Cubetto Playset takes the form of a wooden robot that, like ET, needs to go home.
There’s the Cubetto robot box, an interface board, 16 action blocks that are used for the “programming”, a world map, story book and instruction manual (for parents or teachers).
There are four types of block: Forward, Left, Right and Function. Place the blocks on the board to tell Cubetto where to go. Hit the blue button and the Cubetto robot follows these programmed instructions from the player.
The Function block is used to teach the notion of loops and subroutines. Kids should also grasp otherwise complex concepts such as algorithms, the queue, debugging, and recursions.
It’s Montessori approved because it’s very hands-on and made of wood (Linden plywood to be precise), so is tactile to encourage learning. Best of all, there’s no distracting screen.
Cubetto has been designed to be most useful for children aged 3-6, so uses child-friendly language in the stories, and machine-washable maps.
Teachers will be interested in the bank of Cubetto activities (Build a Jetpack, Dance Around a Tree, Create and Navigate a Maze, etc), lesson plans, and other resources to help inspire coding in their classroom.