While our last review focused on a coding app aimed at the older coder, Code-A-Pillar by Fisher Price is definitely one for the younger child. The bright colours, friendly cartoon caterpillar and engaging audio will definitely appeal to your five year-old and start them on the journey to learn code. They will be kept engaged and entertained while experiencing their first steps into app programming through a series of puzzles. These are designed to showcase underlying coding concepts and we must say the app does a great job.
Learn Code? How?
Sequencing, problem-solving, counting and more are introduced in a fun and interactive way as kids help Code-a-pillar to make it to the end of the maze, filling his belly up with the right amount of leaves and choosing the proper instructions along the way. Code-a-pillar’s quest really is in your child’s hands. Rewards, sound effects and animations also contribute to the play and learning fun.
Overall, this is a very complex and rich app. This is quite rare considering that it’s free. Things do start out slowly and there is quite a lot of repetition in the beginning. However, as kids level up things become more exciting. They will begin to programme complicated routes to lead Code-a-pillar to its target.
There are a few drawbacks. Things aren’t explained overly well in the early levels. Your kids may require some assistance in their efforts to learn code until they progress to the higher levels where the app really begins to shine. But even on the higher levels a few issues remain. The “move straight ahead” command is slightly confusing. It rarely matches the true direction that Code-a-pillar needs to travel. For example, the “straight” command points up, but going straight can sometimes mean moving to the right, left or down. Similarly, the interludes between levels where the caterpillar needs to be fed don’t tie very smoothly to the “learn code” exercises. As kids level up they do become more challenging.
On the other hand, we found the word / number association to be a valuable addition from an educational point of view. Similarly, some kids may find the electronica music fun and engaging. Others may get frustrated after the seventh time hearing it but it can be turned off at the home screen however. The “dance” command is fun but takes up to ten seconds upon each iteration. Again, this becomes annoying for the “learn code masters”. But to be honest this is one of the best free apps we have seen to date. It’s available for both Android and iOS devices.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the Code-a-pillar app actually acts as a supplemental companion to the physical Code-a-pillar toy. You can read about this here.