Back in September, I discovered a cool board game on Kickstarter with a lofty goal: To teach kids as young as four the basics of programming. And now that I have a final copy of Robot Turtles, I can say that you parents of preschoolers are about to have a lot of fun using a game to introduce some pretty complex programming concepts to your kids.
Robot Turtles, which is now being produced by cool-game company ThinkFun, is a board game with the basic mission of moving a robot turtle to its matching colored jewel using simple commands that kids can string together to form more complicated moves.
This isn’t a race-to-the-finish game, but one where all players are encouraged to keep playing as long as it takes for them to get to their jewel. So it’s perfect for young kids who may melt down if they don’t “win.” And since the object of the game is to get the turtle to the jewel, and not to beat your opponents, Robot Turtles can be played with as few as two people.
In the game, the parent or older sibling is the “Turtle Mover”, and the kids are the “Turtle Masters.” Turtle Masters decide where their turtle will move on the board, but only the Turtle Mover can touch and move the turtles–while making funny turtle noises, which is sure to delight any preschooler.
This may sound like just one way to keep kids from messing up the game board, but it makes a lot of sense since programmers may write the commands, but it’s the computer that puts the commands into action.
Kids will also love that they can undo a move without consequence so they can try something else. It’s another great way to help make this big concept of programming seem a little more kid-friendly to those who will someday be the ones writing the codes we all use.
I like how smartly designed it is to ease preschoolers (and their grownups, ahem) into the game slowly to avoid data overload. As you get familiar with the rules and the manner of play, new rules and game pieces are added to keep the game fresh and exciting.Eventually, kids can even design an Adventure Quest by coming up with their own game board layout and creative game pieces. Or search ThinkFun’s gallery of quests and print out one of them to try out something entirely new.
No wonder Robot Turtles was a massive Kickstarter success. Now, let’s play.