Wonder Workshop Dot Robot Creativity Kit Review ( A coding toy steeped in make believe)

 

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Wonder Workshop is the “Cadillac” of coding toys, if you want a robot that will teach your child the basics of programming, they are likely to have an option that fits. Dot is aimed at children as young as 6 years old and the newest of the bunch.

Today I’m reviewing The Wonder Workshop Creativity Kit. I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing the Dash Robot (see my review on Dash Robot) before, so I wanted to see what this Creativity Kit was all about. The cute Dot Robot (this is the basic coding robot in the Wonder Workshop line) looks like something in your child’s favorite animated tv show or movie and will teach your child the fundamentals of coding and provide them with problem-solving skills. They include accessories in the Creativity Kit allows your child to have hours of fun and entertainment with Dot.

 

 

What’s in the Dot Creativity Kit Box

 

 

Dot the robot with an attachable stand.

2 building brick connectors.

2 plastic to board connectors.

20 project cards with games and activities.

10 costumes.

1 squishy case.

1 constructible mood lamp.

Over 100 stickers.

Multiple Project Accessories.

1 USB charging cable.

3 free downloadable mobile apps (Wonder, Blockly, and Go) with dozens of challenges, puzzles, and hours of free play.

The Wonder App.

To play with the Wonder Workshop Dot Creativity Kit, you’ll need to download the Wonder App which is downloadable free from the app store on your android or smart device. The app is very user-friendly for all ages and gives you easy to follow visual hints along with written instructions.

 

Let’s Play

 

Think of Dot like Cue’s (see my review on Wonder Workshop Cue) younger sibling. Dot is smaller, speaks in a child’s voice, and when you turn it on for the first time it says, “Woah where am I”? The device even feels like a young child, with a slow laconic blink of its one eye; there’s a Mike from Monsters Inc. feeling here. I had to update Dot after getting it out of the box. This meant downloading the app and then plugging it while the app got a refresh. They said it would take about 15 minutes, it was done in less than three.
You get to personalize Dot when you launch it which means picking a name and the main lighting colors that will shine from its sides. I picked a pretty egg blue and named it Dottie.

After downloading the Wonder App y0u can turn Dot on by pressing the power button and you will be prompted on the app to connect Dot. You will need to charge Dot, and you can do this with the included USB charging cord and continue to play with Dot while it charges.

I had to update Dot after getting it out of the box. They said it would take about 15 minutes, it was done in less than three.
You get to personalize Dot when you launch it which means picking a name and the main lighting colors that will shine from its sides. I picked a pretty egg blue and named it Dottie.

To help you learn about Dot and how it works, you first complete the starter challenges, and once they are completed, the Free Play will unlock. The starter challenges are helpful for beginners at coding and will kelp you learn the basics of coding with easy step by step instructions.

Let’s Code

What’s great about Dot is the way it teaches the child the simplest of block coding with immediate payoffs. Right off the bat, you get to make Dot say “Hi”.

Once you’ve unlocked the Free Play option you can use any of the 20 project cards included in the Activity Kit. Each project card has a number on the top left corner with the name of the project, a brief description of the project, and a visual list of the materials you need to play. Once, you have chosen the project card you want to use, enter the project key from step 1 on the back of the card. Then choose “Get Program” and save, and then open and follow the instructions in the back of the card to play. The Creativity Kit includes a project card that turns your bedroom door into an alarm. After following the instruction on the back of the card you can program Dot (using the Free Play option) so an alarm will sound if someone unauthorized enters your room. Gone are the days of homemade “Do Not Enter Signs”. Now your children have their own personal robots to ward off intruders.

My youngest grand nephew, he’s seven years old has loved spy type gear, so this was a huge hit with him. There are also many projects that can be enjoyed as a game with family or friends, such as Hot Dotato ( a version of Hot Potato), Dot Dot Goose (a version of Duck Duck Goose), and Red Bot Green Bot (a version of Red Light Green Light).

Another play option with the Dot is the Scroll Quest. The quests have a fun name like Firefly+ Lagoon and Yeti Pass, and each one has a number of levels (7 levels to the exact) that must be completed to finish the quest. Once you’ve completed the quest the next one will unlock. A quest level consists of creating a sequencing code for Dot (including sounds and lights), and if you get stuck, simply follow the on-screen visual prompts to help you finish the level. You drag the needed codes from your option at the bottom of the screen and connect them all and press Play to see Dot complete the sequence.

You can also customize Dot by recording your own custom sounds for a project. In the Wonder App choose the “Controller” icon and then choose the “Microphone” icon. There are 10 slots available, so you can record up to 10 custom sounds using your own voice or sound from your environment. Simply press on a number, then the microphone, record your sound, press stop once completed, and save it if you are happy with the results.

Let’s move

 

 

 

 For a toy aimed at youngsters (ages 6 and up), Dot doesn’t scrimp on tech: there are 4 programmable buttons, a microphone as I mentioned above, 12 lights which can also be programmed, and a sensor that knows if you are moving Dot.

Dot is not going to tear across the floor like Cue,(see my review on Wonder Workshop Cue Robot) but that’s fine. Wonder calls Dot a Creativity Kit, which it truly is. Coding a robot to roll and move is fun, but it’s not necessary for teaching programming skills. Lights, sounds, and colorful flashes, all controlled by a child, can be just as engaging. The key is teaching children how to empower their own play: Dot succeeds here.

 

Let’s Dress-Up

With Dot aimed at children 6 years old and up, dress up options are crucial. Dot comes with lots of add-ons to customize and make your own: there are ten costumes including an octopus, a bat, and a pirate. Plus there are more than 100 stickers, which are reusable. You can construct a lamp for Dot to sit in as well. And quite honestly, I was personally fond of the rubber wig.

These pieces lend a physical way for a child to engage with Dot. I think that’s very important. Because sometimes devices run short on batteries, and sometimes parents don’t want a child playing with a smartphone or tablet.

Finally, Dot’s price is a plus too, it is a toy you can take a chance on for your child. The app is free, there’s nothing extra to buy, and I suspect that even when the stickers run out, and the wig is lost under the bed, and the app has been played a number of times and forgotten, Dot could still be a toy a child leaves by their bedside table, a little light they could return to again.

 

Final Thoughts on The Creativity Kit

As a grand uncle to many nephews and nieces and someone who volunteers in my school district, I have seen how the popularity of robots and coding has become. They encourage to be creative and imaginative open-minded thinkers and have the patience to solve a problem. There’s also something fun and intriguing about a little green robot shaped like a ball with one eye that lights up and makes a sound.

I love that the Wonder Workshop Dot Creativity Kit blends smart technology with good old fashioned hands-on creating, and besides your smart device, everything you need to play with Dot is included in the box. The project cards, as well as the step by step instructions on the app, use a lot of visual prompts, which is helpful for a different style of learners. I noticed as I went along that I read the instructions as well as I looked at the pictures. The Kit has a huge variety of play options that include crafting and constructing, like when you turn Dot into a constructible mood lamp or a pirate or an octopus.

My main concern is Dot’s heavy dependence on the app; programming Dot needs to happen through a mobile device. And that’s something to consider for parents who may want a toy that can exist on its own. That said, as a device that can teach children about coding, I think Dot hits quite a number of points right; the little kid’s voice feels comforting and playful, and the programming hints are clear and friendly; a child is going to be able to figure this out. The real standout is the project cards; just simple enough to follow and just silly enough (like a program that makes flatulence noises in your friend’s sleeping bag) to have kids clamor to try.

Dot is designed for children ages 6 and up. Dot is fun to play by yourself, but you can have some great quality time crafting Dot into a variety of characters with the cardboard pieces or stickers included or play one of the games that require more than one player.

 

For a quick video overview of the Dot Robot click here.

Get the Wonder Workshop Dot Creativity Kit  at the lowest price here

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