- What is it? Robot Turtles is a board game that teaches programming
- What’s in the Box? game board, 2-d turtles (4), gems tiles (4), bugs tiles(4), game card decks (4), and three kinds of obstacle cards: ice walls, crates, and stone walls
- How much? $24.95 Robot Turtles Website
- Age Range? Ages four and up
- How we acquired it: Robot Turtles and ThinkFun.com sent us a reviewing copy of the game
What’s the point?
The object of Robot Turtles is for each player to find their turtle’s gem. It’s not about who gets their first, it’s about the journey. The player is selecting cards that will create the path the turtle takes to get to the gem.
Ideas for use:
- time involved: the most time consuming part of this game is reading the instructions and setting up the mazes. We had three or four rounds in 30 minutes
- extension activities:
- one-time or recurring program: I can see kids and families playing this game over and over.
- skills you need: basic understanding of right and left
- other tools you need: vocal sounds, no kidding. The instructions state implicitly that adults make noises while moving the turtle on the board.
I played Robot Turtles with a few different groups. As soon as the box came in the mail, I played it with two librarian friends. Then I played it with a four year old (T), and two entering-first graders (J1 and J2) and their parents. (J2 and T are sisters.) I then played Robot Turtles with J1’s 14 year old brother, IM. IM has been introduced to Scratch. He’s familiar with programming and games. He was just as interested in the game as the younger crowd, but in a different way. We switched it up. We played the game one card at a time. We played the game by stringing the cards out and then following the sequences while the other person watched. Then, we created the sequence while the other person played. That’s where the good stuff happened. I made mistakes, IM made mistakes. But we were able to to talk it out.
We created complicated boards with obstacles. Speaking of obstacles, the younger group was very interested in obstacles. They wanted to play with them as well. They were very interested in playing Robot Turtles just like older kids would. After I introduced the different cards (left, right, straight, and the laser), I shared the ice castle obstacle. T’s mom asked how we would be able to get rid of that obstacle, and she pointed to the laser. Intuitive.
The best of the good stuff: how do you know to turn right or left if you don’t have the developmental ability? The makers of Robot Turtle have that covered. You’ll notice that Gold Turtle is surround by flowers: Blue flowers straight ahead, yellow flower on one side, and purple flower on the other. The directional cards correspond to the flowers. If you’re going left, pick a yellow card. Straight? Select the blue card. Right, pick the purple card.
Let the record show, I didn’t notice this. Someone playing did. I can’t remember if a kid or a mom noticed, but it’s an excellent way to help get passed a developmental stage and still play the game.
The game requests that you make noises as the turtle moves through the game. I failed miserably at it. It’s something the kids should make their parents do. It’s fun and another way to show direction if left makes one noise, right and straight others. And listening to the laser zap something is always satisfying.
With the younger crowd, playing three games in a row, was too much. They wanted to do other things at the library.
I took this home to play with my husband. I call him Mr. IT. He’s a mainframe software developer with over 35 years experience. His thoughts are here.
Whiz Bang Whirl…this is a keeper!