Review: Learning Resources Botley the coding robot

Everywhere I turn these days I see new toys popping up on the market. It’s the time of year when everyone is competing to be the must-have toy. Sometimes I look at what’s on offer to our kids today and I think ‘Wow, we’ve come so far in technology in such a short space of time.’ Botley is one of those toys.

So what is Botley?

Botley is a super cute computer on wheels. He comes as part of a 77-piece activity set which includes a remote programmer, so this toy is completely screen free, which is pretty unusual for anything to do with coding!

What’s in the box?

The 77 pieces within the activity set comprise of:

  • Botley
  • a remote programmer
  • detachable robot arms
  • 40 coding cards
  • 6 boards
  • 8 sticks
  • 12 cubes
  • 2 cones
  • 2 flags
  • 2 balls
  • 1 goal
  • 1 sticker sheet

There is also an instruction manual in the box (thank goodness!)

How easy is it to use Botley?

Botley is super easy to use. As long as you have 5 x AAA batteries to hand you can use him right out of the box. We only had the cheap pound shop batteries in the house so we tried those and they have worked perfectly fine for a week so far.

The remote programmer is so simple and self-explanatory that even absolute beginners can start playing with Botley straight away.

What does Botley do?

Botley has three settings: Off, Code and Line. The code setting is the one we have used the most, but the line one is pretty cool too! You can even draw your own thick black lines and Botley will follow them using his ‘eyes’ (the sensor in between his eyes).

There are lots of ways you can use Botley. He will follow simple code as programmed through the remote, then you can add some loop code to make him repeat a series of movements. From there you might like to build an obstacle course and guide Botley around it, or add the arms and challenge him to move a ball through the course and to the goal. The possibilities are pretty much endless and Botley will follow up to 80 steps at a time. That’s a lot of coding!

To help you to navigate Botley around an assault course, you can use the coding cards. Set them out in sequence as you programme Botley so you can remember where you’re up to, and it’ll make navigation much easier.

Botley even makes some cute sounds at various times. he’ll say Hi, he whistles, and sighs a little if he’s not being played with. Botley will power down after a while of not being used though which is great for saving battery power.

We’ve had a lot of fun with Botley and we’re going to invite some fellow home ed families round to play too – I can’t wait to see what ideas the kids come up with when they all get their heads together!

To find out even more about Botley you can head over to the Learning Resources website.

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