Kids these days have a ton of options to supplement their formal education; many more that I had when I was a child! But your options are limited if you’re trying to avoid handing your child a device with a screen. Enter the Matatalab Coding Set, a screen-free kit that helps your child develop cognitive abilities, imagination, and coding skills.
Matatalab Coding Set comes with a command tower that attaches to the game board where it views the commands you set up, a matatabot that wirelessly takes commands from the command tower, a game mat on which the matatabot travels, several command pieces, and game mat pieces with which you can create a maze. It also comes with three challenge booklets that get progressively more difficult and teaches your child coding and problem-solving skills.
The Matatalab Set is word-free, so your child does not need to know to read in order to play with it. Your child will use intuitive game pieces emblazoned with arrows, icons, and numbers in order to direct the Matatabot where they want it to go. This requires your child to think in a step-by-step format while using trial and error to test and confirm their rationale. There are a number of challenges for your child to take on, so playing with Matatalab feels more like a game than it does learning.
An example of the Matatalab thinking process is if you want your Matatabot 3 spaces forward, then 2 spaces to the right, you have to think sequentially. First, you’ll use the forward block, with the #3 modifier, then you’ll use the right turn block, then you’ll use the forward block again, with the #2 modifier. It seems simple to an adult, but this type of thinking is important for children to learn at a young age; especially with computer science playing such a huge part in our society today.
There are also function blocks that make the Matatabot do fun things, such as dancing, running, or playing music. So you can have your robot move to a certain spot on the game board, do a dance, then keep on moving. Things like this keep kids interested in playing more and therefore learning more.
One of my favorite features of the Matatalab Coding Set is that it does not require a screen for any part of the experience. There are many reasons to limit screen time for your children, including avoiding screen addiction, helping build social skills, and more. Many silicon valley tech superstars have limited their children’s screen time, which is something I’ve definitely taken note of as a parent. I’m not telling you what to do, and there is no correct answer, but my family’s personal choice has been to limit screen time for our kids. They get plenty of screen time at school, while doing school work, and watching TV. (Yes, they can watch some TV, we’re not monsters!)
I’ve had a great time playing with my 5-year-old daughter and Matatalab. She loves solving puzzles and watching the cute robot move and dance. Plus, I can see that she’s engaged and starting to think about things in a new, logical way. If you’re looking for a great screen-free coding set, the Matatalab Coding Set is a great place to start. They also sell coding block expansion sets, including music, art, animation, and additional sensor features.
You can order your Matatalab Coding Set directly from the manufacturer at Shop.Matatalab.com; at the time of publication, the Coding Set is priced at $169.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Screen-free coding education; Fun and engaging for children; Word-free and allows kids to play without knowing how to read; Cute design that kids enjoy
What Needs Improvement: The coding blocks only work in a single direction, making the variety of blocks limited