Cubetto – a Wooden Robot That Teaches Kids to Code Before They Know How to Read


The age at which you can start programming is decreasing significantly. This is happening due to some enthusiasts who come up up with programming gadgets available to kids. For example, the Primo Toys, inspired by the Montessori system and LOGO language, has created a Cubetto wooden robot. With the help of a robot, kids can learn to program in a game form, without a computer, starting from the age of 3.

The first version of Cubetto appeared in 2013. It was do-it-yourself and then play set. Adults first had to collect everything from the parts. The new version is a ready-to-use certified product, scaled to a global community of teachers and parents, and ready for classes and homes anywhere in the world.

How to program with Cubetto?

The programming process is as follows: the child inserts blocks into the recesses on the special board, each of which indicates a simple command-movement, thereby making up the program, and then presses the button to execute the program, ie. Began to move in a certain way. And so that the young programmers had a goal, the robot is accompanied by a world map with a size of 1x1m, along which the robot can travel. So children will be able to come up with their own history and tell it.

The command blocks are the following: forward (green block), left (yellow block), right (red block) and function (blue block). Blocks can be placed on the line of the sequence or on the function line.

The block-forward will force the robot to move forward one square on the world map and stop. Turning blocks will cause it to turn 90 degrees. The block function starts the commands on the line-functions to execute the command. If you put the block function on the function line, then nothing will happen, the robot will simply cycle through the function’s commands until you turn it off.


Why Montessori?

  • No rules. Cubetto enables children to independently solve problems in the world, which they themselves created. This gives them freedom of expression of creative abilities, without requiring special education, and without distracting attention to the screen.
  • Orientation to the child. All that a child needs to know to start is an understanding that the block = action. From now on, even the research that each of the blocks does can be done by the child himself without the participation of adults, although sometimes help may be needed.
  • Auto-didactic approach. Solving block problems through trial and error. As soon as the sequence of commands is sent to the robot, the result appears instantly and not abstractly, giving the children a concrete reason for self-correction, without the intervention of adults.
  • Designed for scaffolding. When the problem is too complicated, the correct sequence of commands can be compiled by the collective effort of children in one game session. Each child can, in turn, add a block or sequence, layering his individual abilities to solve the problem in small steps.



Technical details

Now let’s look into the technical details. The robot works on 6 AA batteries and can last from 4 to 6 hours. The gadget uses Atmel SAM D21 controller, similar to Arduino Zero. Therefore, if you wish to dig in Cubetto’s brains, you will be able to program this robot in the standard Arduino development environment – Arduino IDE.

Where to buy Cubetto?

Now you can pre-order on the website Kickstarter. The cost of the set is 195 USD. The kit includes a robot, a board, 16 blocks (each for 4 pcs.), a world map and a history book. There is also an expanding package for $ 65, which includes an additional 3 maps of the world and 3 books of stories.

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