Preschoolers ages 4 and up can learn about screen-free coding with this playset, which features a programmable, robotic car that kids can transform into a police car, a fire truck, or a construction vehicle. Kids can code the car to move around in all directions using a set of four directional arrow keys on its roof.
Each arrow pressed represents a step in the code sequence. Kids can press as many arrows as they want, then press the middle yellow circle to lock it in and watch the car go. For example, pressing forward, forward, right, right will send the car rolling into a right turn. The robot will complete all steps in order and will stop and make a sound once it is finished.
Preschoolers can set up a nine-tile interactive town map (which connects like a puzzle) and a variety of storytelling accessories like water drops and construction barrels to help them complete the challenges, which are listed on a series of challenge cards.
Additionally, kids can hone and practice their coding sequences through a series of rescue and construction-themed challenges. The rescue challenge cards encourage kids to do various tasks around the town, such as grabbing three barrels from the construction site (which is depicted on the map). For this task, kids must figure out how to code the car to get to where the barrels are located and return back to the starting point. As the car goes, kids will hear realistic alarms and other sounds, depending on which of the three vehicle shells kids have placed on the car.
Some of the sequences might use the robot’s tech sensor, which allows it to detect objects in its path. The object must be directly in front of the robot and the code sequence must use the forward arrow in order to trigger the robot’s detection.
That’s not all, though! When kids want a break from completing the coding challenges, they can take the car off the map for some interactive coding fun. They can input special “secret code” sequences using the arrow keys, which make the car perform tricks, such as guarding the kid’s room or following their hands.
The robotic car can perform up to 50 steps of code at once and will go idle after five minutes of inactivity. However, before it goes idle, it will let out sounds to alert preschoolers that it is still on. The Switcheroo Coding Crew should also be stored at room temperature and the sensors work best in ordinary room lighting — too-bright or too-dim lighting could cause the sensors to not work properly.
Overall, this toy is an excellent way to introduce preschoolers to coding and STEM concepts. It’s easy to use, fun to play with, and gets kids engaged by using familiar vehicles and hometown heroes. The Switcheroo Coding Crew can also help kids learn early counting and math skills, critical thinking, spatial awareness, sequential logic, and teamwork.
The Switcheroo Coding Crew won’t be available until mid-July, so it’s a great option to keep in mind for a fun educational refresh before back-to-school, parents can learn more here.