• By Amanda Blackburn.

Botley -the coding robot.

I was asked to test out Botley the coding robot with the children in my setting.

I understand the importance of coding with children from an early age and was very happy to be able to review Botley.

So what are the benefits of coding and how does it help?

Coding helps children visualise abstract concepts, lets them apply math to real-world situations, and makes math fun and creative.

Children who code understand the value of concision and planning, which results in better writing skills.

Creativity is another value of coding, experimenting strengthens their brains when they code, allowing them to embrace their creativity.

Confidence building as they learn to problem-solve through coding.

Planning, concentration and organisation skills are developed.

Helps you children build perseverance, coding requires debugging – and there’s no better way to build perseverance and resilience than working through challenges.

Coding teaches logical communication, strengthening both verbal and written skills. Learning code means learning a new language.

So who is Botley and how can he help children with coding?

Botley is a small square plastic robot on wheels that comes with a set of removable arms that can be used to complete different tasks. He has four lights on the top of his head that correspond to different commands you can give him. Botley also comes equipped with a nine-button remote control. When you turn Botley on to his coding mode, you can use the remote to program and then transmit commands to him. Programming Botley is very simple. On the remote, there are four large buttons that represent commands such as move forward, backward, right or left. Your child can program in the steps he/she wants Botley to take and then tap the transmit button to send the code to Botley. Once Botley’s got the code, he’ll make a little noise and begin following out the chosen instructions.

I think Botley is such a great introduction to programming logic. To write a computer program, you must give the computer a series of steps in order to complete a task. Botley helps children begin to understand the coder’s way of thinking. Botley is recommended for children aged five and upwards, but the two 4-year-olds were able to count movements and program Botley to move towards each other, they even remembered how to delete after each program so Botley could be programmed again.

Botley is capable of taking instructions over 100 steps long, so for older more advanced children, he is perfect for advancing their skills. Additionally, Botley has a button that allows children to code loops so that a set of instructions is repeated more than once, another important concept beginning coders must learn. Botley also includes an object detection mode that allows kids to execute If/Then type statements. With Object Detection mode activated, kids can program Botley to follow a different set of steps if he detects an object in his path. The 8, 7, 6 and 5-year-olds were all able to program Botley and make him perform all the tasks that are included in the activity guide.

Inside the box with Botley, the robot and the remote are tools to expand what you do with him. The kit includes a set of 40 picture coding command icon programming cards. These cards can be used to plan the steps children need to give Botley so that he’ll follow their chosen course. The kit also comes with 12 plastic cubes, 6 boards, and lots of other building tools that children can use to design their obstacle courses. The activity guide that’s also included has clear easy to follow instructions, the coding programs for Botley are inside this guide and it also includes this here where you can find even more tips, tricks, and hidden features.

Botley is made from chunky tough robust plastic so I think he will be very hard to break. He’s attractive to the eye and full of personality, the children really love him and have been asking to play with him most days. Although I was sent Botley to review all thoughts and opinions are my own and I recommend Botley and think he is well worth the price of £79.00 Botley is available now through the Learning Resources company or on Amazon.

So help empower your children to code, the earlier the better. Coding is a basic literacy in the digital age, and it’s important for kids to understand – and be able to innovate with – the technology around them.

There’s a high demand for workers in the tech industry; mastering coding at a young age allows kids to excel in any field they choose!


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