Learning Resources Coding Critters and Pair of Pets
These days there are two things that seem to be true across the board; children need to understand technology and parents don’t want them to always be on a screen. We were kindly sent no screen toys by Learning Resources which fulfil both of those things. We were gifted Coding Critters Bopper, Hop and Hip and Coding Critter Pair of Pets Fluffy and Buffy. As always opinions given are our own. Read on for our Coding Critters Review of these no screen toys.
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What are Coding Critters?
They are toy animals that can be programmed to move in certain directions well actually only the big bunny Bopper moves and can be coded. The other characters are his friends and are involved in the stories contained in the booklet provided. This booklet also contains all the instructions you need to get your little ones coding so that their bunny can complete the tasks. Each coding task forms part of the story so you work through the booklet to help the children learn how to code their bunny.
What is included in the Coding Critters Set?
The box contains the main character Bopper who is the bunny that the children can code to make him move. It also has two other characters Hop and Hip who don’t move, but are a part of the story. You also get a swing, a slide, a cart and a carrot all of which are integral to the story that you are given in the accompanying coding book.
We were also gifted the Coding Critter Pair A Pets Coding Critters Pair A Pets which gave us two further pets and an additional story booklet which contained more coding activities.
Whilst you can of course just play with the Coding Critters set I do think the Pair of Pets makes a great addition and genuinely adds value to the play as you also get the additional story booklet to be able to set more tasks for the children to work out and code. Also if you have you more than one child having additional animals prevents the rows whilst they are waiting for their turn to code Bopper.
How do you play with Coding Critters?
As I mentioned the Coding Critters are completely no screen toys and there is very much a learning element to the activity, but it is learning that children do not notice. When we first gave the Coding Critters to our girls they were desperate to get the pets out of the box and just played with them like any other no screen toys – so they used their imagination and created little scenarios for Bopper, Hop and Hip. So they were having fun with it before we even got to the coding.
The main way to play with Coding Critters is initially by using the accompanying story booklets which tell the children a simple story about what Bopper is trying to do and then helps them to enter the correct code so that he completes the desired action. For example it might suggest that he needs to move from the swing to the slide or collect the cart with the carrot and take it to Hop. They can code Bopper to fetch, hide and seek or make up their own challenges.
Once you have worked through the booklets and the children understand what codes produce what actions then the world is their oyster. They can make up their own little stories and get Bopper to move around accordingly. Now our girls are only 4 so we are not giving them the Coding Critters to play with without us being involved. We have seen them in action with their dolls house so are trying to avoid breakages. I will say though that these toys aren’t flimsy so I think they would be safe even in the hands of my little loons.
What did the girls think of the Coding Critters?
Well they loved them! The girls have asked to play with the set everyday since they got it and haven’t got bored of doing the story actions either. I think if they were a bit older they would have moved more onto creating their own code by this stage, but they are very happy having us read the story to them and plugging in the codes. They get so excited when they get it right and Bopper moves to wherever they had wanted and it has certainly got them thinking. They are trying to work out what they would need to do to get from A to B which (the very non techie me says) I believe is the beginning of that coding journey.
The age range on these toys is 4-9 and I am sure my almost 7 and almost 9 year old boys would still get fun out of this toy, but as they are in that stage where if anything looks cute or a bit ‘for girls’ (their words) they shy away. I should say that Bopper isn’t the only option there are other sets available that would take out the ‘pink’ element.
I think that Coding Critters and Pair of Pets are best suited to ages 4- 7 and the nature of the play set may appeal to girls for a bit longer. My boys still liked the coding aspect and enjoyed making Bopper move where they wanted him to; they just weren’t so into the story element and following along. They wanted to do their own thing which isn’t at all bad as of course that means they were coming up with their own codes, but I just think slightly younger children get more out of it. My 4 year old (almost 5) twins will play with these coding critters for a long while yet. They think it is amazing and at a time when we are all scrabbling around to find activities for kids to do when they are at home, I fully recommend Coding Critters and Pair of Pets for learning through play.
What did the IT geek think?
The husband works in IT and loves it!! He played with the coding critters and Pair of pets with the girls the first time we took it out and he has been raving about it. Now this man is not a person who enthuses. If he tells me that something is good I know he is really keen on it and he not only said he thought this was a good toy; he actually said he thought was a REALLY GOOD toy. This from him is seriously high praise!!!
He was impressed at how quickly the story booklet enabled the girls to start coding Bopper and he believes that playing with the Coding Critters and Pair A Pets is teaching the children the fundamentals of basic coding and so starting them on a path to be able to learn these skills.
The Coding Critters and Pair A Pets sets are a great start to children getting engaged with coding and learning about technology and it’s uses on no screen toys. We were very impressed with this toy and as ever with Learning Resources toys it is well made and sturdy; essential when my kids are around!
The Coding Critters Set retails for £40 ($39.99 in the US) and the Pair A Pets are £7.50 ($7.99 in the US) and I think that it is well worth this.
Bopper is ready to code straight out of the box as long as you have batteries – so make sure you get some of those before you get it out. It takes 3 AAA batteries.
There are hours of fun to be had with the Coding Critters and their Pair A Pets friends and learning to boot so that is a total winner for me and it is screen free.