We are a game playing kind of family. I’m also a sneaky mother. Which means, if there’s a game that teaches a skill — I’m all over it. Just in case you are wondering, making it through the Molasses Swamp unscathed or getting un-lost from Lord Licorice’s Lagoon are not skills I’m concerned about. Yes, I’m looking at you Candyland. When I heard about Robot Turtles
from a friend, I knew it was going to be right up my alley.
This brilliant gem of a game teaches basic programing to kids as young as 4. What?! Yes. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, by the year 2020 there will be 1 million unfilled computer programming jobs in the US alone. Read more about how computer programming is beginning to be treated as a trade…rather than something you “must” have a college degree for. My husband enables me to be a lady of leisure by making his living in the tech world as a web developer. So, I knew he’d be on board (see what I did there?) with this game too.
I figure just about everything is going to include coding of some kind by the time my munchkins are entering the workforce. The earlier I can get them hooked on the beauty, simplicity and logic of programming, the better for them. And for myself. My kids are going to choose my old-folks-home someday. My stint at the party house will be sweeter if it is unencumbered by financial restraints.
Robot Turtles is produced by ThinkFun, a company whose goal is “To translate the brilliant ideas of the craziest mathematicians, engineers and inventors into simple toys that can be appreciated by boys and girls around the world.”. This game certainly does that.
Kids, named “Turtle Masters” in the game, start with very basic left turn, right turn and forward directional cards to build a pathway for their turtle to reach a colored jewel. The twist is that Turtle Masters don’t get to touch their turtle. Parents play the role of “Turtle Mover” and can only perform the functions laid out in the Turtle Master’s cards. The Turtle Mover obeys the commands of his/her Turtle Master, and creates sound effects for each move. Bodily function noises are especially appreciated by the Turtle Masters in our house.
The game is easily tailored to the age of your Turtle Masters. Obstacles are introduced as the game progresses in difficulty, eventually all the way to writing entire programs for the turtles and function cards for repeating sequences of commands. Another great feature is the “bug”. This little token can be pressed at anytime by the Turtle Master if their program doesn’t function the way they thought it would. The bug gets fixed, and the program is run again.
It’s about learning and correcting the error (bug) not winning or losing. Which is great change of pace from most games. Not that I want to keep my kids from ever experiencing crushing defeat in a game. But, it’s nice to have a balance of games that feature support, encouragement, and training too. If you have kids between the ages of 4-10, I highly recommend this game to whet their appetites for coding/programming, and have a superb time in the process. Oh…thanks for asking…yes, those are my GeoPuzzles sitting in the corner behind my son. You are extremely observant to notice.