We evaluate STEAM toys on a pretty regular basis, to see if they might fit into the programs at Pongos Learning Lab. If the adults think they’re promising, we’ll let the kids try them, to make sure they’re not just educational, but also fun! We participate in some affiliate programs, so if you click on and purchase through any links in this post, we may earn a small commission.
In this edition of Toys We Tried, we’ll share Cubetto and Kamigami Robots. Want us to try a toy? Contact us to suggest one.
Up first is a cute little robot for pre-readers. Cubetto is designed for preschoolers, and the suggested starting age is only 3 years old. We think that’s a good starting range if an adult is helping, but if you want your child to work independently, 4 or 5 is better.
The robot is made of wood, with a plastic bottom, and comes with:
- A wood/plastic control board
- 16 coding blocks
- A fabric map
- A story book
Kids can place the coding blocks into the board to direct Cubetto’s movement on the colorful map. The blocks are easy to place, and it’s nice that there’s no screen required to control the robot.
The storybook walks kids through a challenge. They’re instructed to place Cubetto on the map, and then move it around to follow the story. Of course, that requires an adult, or older child, to read the storybook. In our experience, some of the kids really enjoy following along with the story, with an adult reading to them. Other kids prefer to simply tinker with the coding blocks and map, without following the story.
This is an expensive toy! The MSRP is $225, but you can get it for less on Amazon.
We use Cubetto in our Preschool Robotics Club, and kids seem to like it, but most will only play with it for 10-20 minutes at a time. There are storybook/map expansion packs available, which sometimes extends kids’ interest in it.
You can also get additional coding blocks and logic blocks, but the control board is limited, so you can’t make super-long programs. That’s probably not a problem for the intended age range, and if it becomes one, then it might be time to move on to a more-advanced robot.
Think your child might like it? Bring them to our Preschool Robotics Club sometime to try it, before you buy it.
These buildable, programmable, inspect-inspired Kamigami robots were a big hit with our robotics camp kids over the summer. The manufacturer-suggested age is 8-12 years, and that was the age range we used them with for camp. Kids we able to put the robots together with a little bit of help, and we’re going to try making them with kids in K-2 in the near future (we’ll update when we do!).
While the MSRP is around $50 for each robot each, but you can get them for much less on Amazon.
After the kids put the robots together, they can use an app to program the robots. Most of the kids in our camp were much more interested in simply controlling the robots. There were a lot of buggy bots dancing and battling!
We don’t keep these robots available for kids to play with, since a big part of the experience is actually building them, but we plan on having kids put them together in some of our upcoming robotics clubs.