The Think & Learn Code-a-pillar is a unique battery operated toy from Fisher-Price.
The Code-a-pillar has a head segment and various body segments like a caterpillar. Each body segment provides a coded action command, such as forward or left, that tells the head segment how to move. The way the toy moves is changed by connecting the coded segments in different sequences. This is why the toy is named the Code-a-pillar.
Our Code-a-pillar review gives a short overview of its features. We also answer questions about connecting the coded segments, obstacles, floor space, expansion packs, batteries and box contents.
The main idea behind the Think & Learn line of toys is to develop critical thinking skills. It is recommended for children between the ages of 3 and 6 years old. The child learns to solve problems through experiments and experience. The toys are focused on making play time both fun and educational.
The Code-a-pillar is a good example of thinking things through, testing a new idea and observing the results. The path and behavior of the toy is altered by changing the sequence of the command segments.
The Code-a-pillar head segment has a big friendly smile, large eyes and blue antennae. Its motorized movement is powered by four AA alkaline batteries. A tiny speaker provides sound while a power button starts or pauses the movement.
The command segments are connected behind the head section. The Code-a-pillar comes with eight standard command segments that a child can arrange in any sequence. Three segments are coded to move the Code-a-pillar forward. Two sections turn it to the left while two other sections turn it to the right (90-degree turns). The last segment makes it play a sound.
Two target pieces are included: a green circle with an arrow and a red circle with a star. The green arrow piece can be used as a start point. The red star target is used as the goal which the Code-a-pillar must reach with its coded segment sequence. The child can place these targets around the room and then try to sequence the toy to reach the red target.
|It costs less than $50, a price which most people think is not too much for such an entertaining and educational toy. If you are interested in buying the Code-a-pillar, then you may check the current prices at Amazon.com.|
Are the segments difficult to put together?
The command segments have USB connectors that fit together without much effort. Nevertheless, if your child has a disability that affects his or her hands then this toy will be too difficult for them to use on their own.
Children need to be shown how to put the pieces together in sequence, but once they understand how it works, they can do it on their own.
Show them how to sequence only three or four segments at a time so they can learn with fewer code sections. Slowly add the rest of the command segments as they begin to understand the symbols and the effect it has on the movement of the Code-a-pillar.
Three year olds might be too young to sequence the Code-a-pillar to reach a specific target, but they are still delighted by the music, movement, sounds, colors and lights. The segments seem to be durable and a child will not break it during normal play.
What happens when it reaches an obstacle?
The Code-a-pillar will stop moving if it rolls against a wall or other obstacle. Move the obstacle or point the toy towards an open space. It will start moving again. You might use the on/pause button to redirect its head after hitting an obstacle in its path.
How much space does it need?
A large room with few obstacles and a smooth floor is recommended. Nevertheless, coding the segments in order to avoid obstacles in its environment provides an extra challenge for your child. Let your child figure out how to program it to go around, or even underneath, chairs and tables. You might even buy a few extra command pieces to increase its ability to avoid stationary objects.
Will it move around on a carpet?
Carpets are not recommended, unless it is a smooth and firm carpet. Most carpets will slow it down. The Code-a-pillar runs best on a clean, smooth and hard surface. Vacuum the carpet and clean the floor before playtime because pet hair might jam its wheels.
Are extra command segments available?
There are three expansion packs available, as well as single command segments. It increases the amount of moves the Code-a-pillar can do. Your child can now experiment with longer sequences or add new actions, sounds and lights.
The Think & Learn Basic Expansion Pack provides three extra command segments: forward, turn left and turn right (90-degree turns).
The Master Moves Expansion Pack adds three new commands to the sequence. The first two segments provide directional commands: a 45-degree right turn and a 180-degree left turn. The third segment is able to repeat a movement.
The Silly Sounds and Lights Expansion Pack adds sounds and lights. The sleep segment commands the Code-a-pillar to make soft sounds and emit soft lighting. The wacky segment makes it stop and do wacky things. The happy segment plays “happy” music while its eyes blink happily.
You might also find and buy individual add-on command segments. We have seen the following individual command segments for sale: move forward, 90-degree turns (right or left), 360-degree right turn.
How loud and flashy is this toy?
It is plenty loud and flashy. It makes sounds, plays a tune and blinks its eyes. The command segments light up when activated. The only thing it does not do is get up and dance.
If you have sensitive ears, you might get tired of hearing the same tune or sound. Unfortunately there is no volume or mute button. This is probably the only annoying thing about the Code-a-pillar. You might put some adhesive tape over the speaker behind the head to muffle the sound.
How many batteries does it use?
The Code-a-pillar uses four size AA batteries. These are not included with the toy, so be sure to add batteries when you buy the toy.
What is included in the toy box?
- Motorized head segment
- Sound segment
- Three straight forward segments
- Two left turn segments
- Two right turn segments
- Two target pieces (representing start and finish points).
Our Code-a-pillar Conclusion
The Code-a-pillar is an attractive toy for small boys and girls. It has flashing eyes, segments that light up in different colors and it makes cute noises. It certainly grabs the attention of young children between 3 to 6 years old.
The youngest toddlers might not understand the sequencing aspect, but older children can spend time trying out different command combinations to find out how it influences the behavior of the toy.
Most parents do not mind the music and noise this toy makes while rolling around the play room. Children are delighted by it, but some adults might find the sounds too repetitive for their tastes. The Code-a-pillar does not have a volume button, but then neither do children.
The Code-a-pillar requires a large room with a hard floor surface for the best results. Carpets and small rooms will limit its movement too much. The Master Moves Expansion Pack gives you the 180-degree turn command segment which might come in handy when floor space is limited.
The Think & Learn Code-a-pillar is a cute introduction to the world of electronics and coding. It inspires small children to solve problems by forming a plan, testing the plan, observing the results and trying a different sequence. It combines a fun toy with educational goals.
|You may view prices for the Code-a-pillar, and read what parents are saying about it, by visiting at Amazon.com.|
|For another toy that moves and makes noises, see my review of the Meccasaur Dinosaur Robot.|