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Insights on learning through play: a review of the Robot Turtles game from ThinkFun

thinkfun-robot-turtles-little-programmers-game-1900The game of Robot Turtles, developed by a dad who got the project moving on Kickstarter, is designed to teach kids a series of important skills, with coding and computer literacy at the center. Of course, since kids aren’t playing with an actual computer (they’re instructing a parent or caregiver as to how to move cute cartoon turtles across the game board), the game basically teaches problem-solving skills: what series of cards will form a “code” that will get the turtle to the gem?

Blogger Michelle Parrinello-Cason, a community college professor, writer, and PhD student, discovered another important lesson for her child as they played, using the “Bug” token. The “Bug” enabled her young daughter to correct errors in the codes she created (not at all different from actual “bugs” in a program). Parrinello-Carson writes:

“In other words, this game teaches her that it’s okay to fail. It’s okay to make a mistake. It’s okay to pick the wrong card. None of the other board games we’ve played do that, and it’s such an important lesson.”

robot turtles bugIt’s a fascinating concept, isn’t it? We teach kids how to succeed all the time, but learning how to fail and keep trying is so essential as well. Nobody wins all the time, and being able to lose with grace and persevere is a key life skill that’s often forgotten.

In the rest of Parrinello-Cason’s review, she discusses how this skill is essential to her adult students, and how it might be helpful to teach kids how to accept failure at a younger age (say, by playing preschool games like Robot Turtles?). Read the rest of her review here!

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