Back in 2015, we backed a Kickstarter which proved to be extremely successful (2X the goal in 72 hours). Our reward was Cubetto, an educational toy to foster logic and introduce young children to coding. To the day, Cubetto is one of my children’s favourite toys and I regularly recommend it to friends and colleagues for their kids.
Cubetto is a cute robot who is eager to execute your kid’s instructions. It comes with a console and some direction tiles.
There are five maps (thick cloth blankets) available, paired with story books to make up adventures for Cubetto. My children love to play freestyle and decide first-hand where Cubetto has to travel. They may set to send him to a certain map square, avoiding some others. Or they aim to reach a goal point through the shortest path. There are a couple of special tiles to spice things up: the black one represents a random action and will make Cubetto complete a casual move. It’s an interesting concept to explain to your child. The second special tile, which I appreciate as a software developer and as a mathematician, is the blue one, which teaches iteration. The console has a special area with up to four spots. The child can define a sequence there, which will be executed in place of the blue tile. When my daughter makes up a long sequence, we try to spot together some repetitive sub-sequences and replace them with the blue tile.
R started playing with Cubetto when she was three years old. E, being only two and a half, is still young but finds ways to actively contribute. He gets to decide where Cubetto ends up and he’s the official “button pusher” to start Cubetto after the instruction sequence is ready. I was glad to observe that this has become a shared play moment for them.
There’s never a dull moment with Cubetto. Maps are well-designed and offer a lot of alternatives to create diverse paths.
Cubetto comes with a set of stickers which help kids with directions. It can be hard to identify left and right when Cubetto is oriented in some other direction than where you kid faces. This is where the stickers come to save the day.
Some mark the directions with the colour of the respective tile. As you can see from the picture above, the green one points straight, the yellow left, and the red right. This is crucial for R not to get confused when she plans the sequence (very smart move, Primo Toys!). In this ways she feels independent in her creative process. While playing, R deeply trains her focus, counting (how many steps forward?), double-checking her sequence before start, and directions. When E decides Cubetto’s final destination, he trains simple words in the various contexts of the maps and to wait for his turn to push the start button forces him to keep his focus and wait (he takes that moment very seriously, believe me).
This playing time was a little special, as we got to try a brand-new product by Primo Toys: the colouring pack!
The set comes with a black-and-white map, six washable markers, an elastic band, and a story book. The band fixes the markers to Cubetto and allows it to draw. You can mark your path, draw geometric figures, or give Cubetto a break and colour the map yourself. Some of the map areas have small puzzles to solve.
I can see how the colouring pack adds value to the toy. The more confident R will become with associating Cubetto’s movements to the colouring results, the closer she’ll become to design her own geometric figures. The map can be washed at 30C degrees and it’s as good as new. My children loved to colour the blanket and solve the puzzles. When they need a break from the logic activities, they can relax and simply paint the blanket. Primo Toys resources’ page had a drawing schema for a snake, which we tried to follow.
R had to check out the instructions and copy them into her console. She succeeded by herself at the first attempt!
Cubetto works with batteries and it’s ready to play with. No apps are necessary, no screen time involved at all. It’s compact and easy to transport, so you can definitely take it to playdates (two years later, we still use the original cardboard package, it’s compact and resistant). The storybooks are in English but Primo Toys announced that they will be soon available for download in other languages. Regardless, the toy is aimed at pre-school children as well, and no reading skills are necessary to enjoy Cubetto. My children prefer to make up their own story to motivate Cubetto’s trips. There are many good reasons to give your children a head-start with coding and logic skills. You can read more on the free e-book Primo Toys created for parents.
This is a must-have toy. Two years later, I can testify my daughter has not grown tired of it and I can see her using it still for years, as it offers new challenges with the growing age and the additional sets. You can find Cubetto from Primo Toys e-shop and it will be delivered all over the world. I hope your family will enjoy Cubetto as much as we do.