Preschoolers can learn the fundamentals of coding with this programmable robot playset. | Source: Learning Resources/the Toy Insider

Programmers beware: A new generation of coders are racing onto the scene — and they’re learning through STEM toys like the new Switcheroo Coding Crew set from Learning Resources.

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. 

This playset includes 46 total pieces, including storytelling accessories and an interactive road map for endless role-playing fun! | Source: Learning Resources

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. 

Kids can choose between any of the three rescue and construction vehicle shells to code and explore! | Source: Learning Resources

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.

The provided challenge cards assign tasks that kids can complete by coding their robot in the correct way. | Source: Learning Resources

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.

Kids can take the robot off the map and code it into doing special tricks and tasks. | Source: Learning Resources

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.

Related: Roll into STEM Fun with the Deluxe Trestle Tracks Marble Run Set

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.

About the author

Annabelle Canela

Annabelle Canela

Annabelle Canela was an editorial assistant at The Pop Insider, The Toy Insider, and The Toy Book. When she’s not writing about her favorite toys and fandoms, she loves creating poetry, taking her puppy to the park, and chefing up new creations in her Brooklyn kitchen. You can usually catch her reading Spider-Man comic books on the subway or eating dim sum in Chinatown. This New York City native has traveled all over the Caribbean, including to her family’s home country of Dominican Republic. Naturally, she does it all por mi gente.