These Robotic Friends Teach Kids How to Code

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These Robotic Friends Teach Kids How to Code

I recently got the opportunity to play with two of Wonder Workshop’s newest robots: the Dot Creativity Kit and Cue. Both the Dot and Cue are designed to help kids find an interest in pursuing coding. The smaller and simpler to use Dot is aimed at children ages six and up, while Cue is designed to incorporate a slew of much more complex commands and built for ages eleven and older.

Wonder Workshop has some amazing bots here. I had way more fun messing around with Cue, but as it’s aimed at older audiences, that’s hardly a surprise. You can buy Dot right now for $49.99, but the full Creativity Kit is currently only available for preorder at $79.99. The more advanced Cue is available for preorder for $199.99. Both preorders will officially release on September 28.

Dot Creativity Kit

I recognized Dot almost immediately. This tiny robot has become a fan favorite for one of my younger cousins. I have seen him playing with it before in the past. After trying it for myself, I can totally see why. Dot’s bubbly personality is infectious and brings life to the little ball of plastic.

Dot is controlled through the Wonder app, which works significantly better on a tablet than a phone. Users just drag and drop different commands on the interface and Dot does the rest. There’s an easy to understand tutorial that takes about three minutes, and then the user is free to create and mess around with Dot however they want.

The Creativity Kit came with a bunch of extra stickers, costumes, and accessories that customers won’t find if they just buy the Dot. Project cards also provide some easy to program games and puzzles for any beginner programmers who need some additional starting points. It was all fun to play with, but clearly aimed at an audience much younger than me. I enjoyed programming Dot to make faces, change the color of its lights, make specific responses to how I picked it up, and sing a song. However, I quickly turned my attention to the much larger and more enticing Cue.


Much like Dot, Cue is controlled via an app. Again, the app is much easier to use on a tablet than a phone. However, unlike the app for Dot, Cue’s app had so much more to do and explore.

Cue comes preprogrammed with four distinct personalities: the commanding Charge, smooth-talking Zest, sarcastic Smirk, and lovable Pep. Users can switch between the four at any time with the press of a button. I instantly gravitated towards both Zest and Smirk, and loved that I could program Cue to behave in different ways to match whichever personality I gave it.

There are two different ways to code Cue. The first, most likely aimed at those who just want to play with Cue as a toy, has the user commanding Cue through text messages. For example, typing “Turn left” will have Cue say, “I’m turning left!” and then spin counter-clockwise.

For those that want Cue to be a tool for teaching kids how to program a robot, there’s an option for that too. The user can use simple block-based, drag-and-drop coding (a slightly more complex version of how user’s program Dot) or JavaScript to give Cue commands. This gives Cue a significantly larger pool of programmable options in comparison to the simpler Dot. Users can play soccer with Cue or program Cue to recognize and follow a human hand. It’s pretty intuitive, and I had fun trying out new types of commands. While Dot may only be able to sing, I was able to get Cue to sing AND dance.

Admittedly, the block-based coding method was easier for simple experimentation, as coding new commands was as simple as seeing how one block of code would affect another. JavaScript is, obviously, a little more frustrating, but Cue’s many personalities encourage users to work through their mistakes with helpful suggestions, or stop and play games with Cue if the user keeps running into a wall they can’t figure out.

I really liked how Wonder Workshop has designed their robots to basically flow from one to the next. Programming Cue after programming Dot felt natural and the skills I picked up from Dot assisted me in learning the ins-and-outs of Cue. If you have a preteen that wants to get into robots and learning JavaScript, then Cue is an option that’s worth considering. If you have a kid that’s much younger, I’d definitely follow Wonder Workshop’s advice and start with Dot (or their other robot Dash) first. The joy and skills they’ll get out of Dot will easily translate to Cue when they’re older. If you want your kid to jump straight into Cue, you may have to help them out a bit first.

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Jordan has spent much of his life writing about his many geeky pastimes. He's particularly passionate about indie game design and Japanese art, but loves interacting with creators from all walks of life.

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