I happened to come across Robot Turtles during a blog reading session nearing Christmas last year. The idea of the game is that it introduces computer coding concepts to children in a fun, family board game. It is recommended for ages 4+ and with that recommendation I thought it would be a great Christmas gift for the (then aged 4) Young Engineer.
Value for money
A fun, easy to learn board game, that teaches the basics of coding. A great gift for a 4-7 year-old, especially if you are going to spend some quality time with them, with no younger siblings.
Our experience is that it is a fun, easy to understand game. The basic premise is that kids (called Turtle Masters) are aiming to get their Turtle to move from the side of the board to the appropriate coloured Jewel in the centre of the board. Each turn they choose one movement card, either left, right or forward, and place the card in their sequence. The adult (referred to as the Turtle Mover) then moves the Turtle according to the child’s instruction. There are silly noises involved too, which were very popular with certain family members here. If the child doesn’t like the move, they can tap their Bug tile and yell loudly, “Bug”, and the Turtle moves back to its previous spot and they can choose another direction card.
This makes it a very easy game to learn by experience, which is really the only way a young child unused to board games can pick up a game in one session. It also has Unlockable cards, that can be added to the game to keep it challenging; Ice Walls, Lasers, Stone Walls and Crates. After playing three times, we attempted the first unlockable and The Young Engineer understood it easily.
There is also another step to make the game more challenging for older players where they write the whole program before their Turtle is moved. I imagine that a clever 7-year-old would be ready to enjoy this. But we have not had the opportunity to try this step yet.
One of the very cool things about this game is that there is no reading involved for the Turtle Masters. Not even number knowledge is needed, and while I often think one of the best things about board games is that they help children with counting or number literacy, it’s quite refreshing to have another completely different option. The Young Engineer has a naturally logical brain, he thrives on thinking challenges, so we were looking for non-reading options to extend his creative thinking and this fits that niche nicely.
There is a negative for us with this game, and it’s the main reason we haven’t played it as much as I would like. The game is great for family fun, but that does mean it relies heavily on adult play. This is not a toy a child can use alone. But more than that for us, we also have “Action Man” a two-year-old who has very limited patience for any game involving sitting. We managed to play one game with Action Man sitting on Dad’s knee, and he was able to be a Turtle Master with help, but each other game we’ve had to find time when Action Man was in bed and The Young Engineer and a parent were not. This time is not common in our home. However, this is an issue with our age/stage, and not a problem with the game. It is quite a fast game to play, so by the time Action Man is 3.5, this game might be seeing quite a lot more family time here.
I feel the price for this product is fair. The pieces are very well designed, the Turtles, Jewels and Unlockables made from very sturdy cardboard, and the colours are vivid and attractive to children.
Awesome or Average: Awesome
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