What Is The Fisher Price Code-A-Pillar? Genius, Or An Overpriced Kids Toy?

What is the fisher price code a pillar


You may be wondering “What is the Fisher Price Code-a-Pillar?”  It sounds a bit odd for a toy, however the concept is actually quite good.

If you are a regular reader at Seeme and Liz, then you will know that I am all about children having plenty of opportunities to play in an unstructured environment.  However, in order to keep your child playing happily it’s always a good idea to have some quality toys on hand.

What Is The Fisher Price Code-A-Pillar?

Basically, this is a mechanical caterpillar toy which the people at FP (Fisher Price) claim will teach a child as young as 3 to code (as in what a computer programmer does, just not quite to that extent).

The caterpillar comes with 8 connectable segments (9 if you include the head/power toggle segment) that can be either added or removed by the child.  Each segment has a different instruction for the caterpillar including:

  • move right
  • move left
  • move forward
  • sounds/music
  • pause (for a few seconds)
  • repeat actions

The segments are labeled with pictures so a child does not need to know how to read in order to code with this toy.

The Code-a-Pillar comes with 2 move right segments, 2 move left segments, 3 move forward segments and one sound segment.  Basic additional segments can be purchased individually for about $4.99.

For more advanced segments you would need to purchase a pack such as the Think & Learn Master Moves Expansion Pack (45 degree right turn, 180 degree left turn, repeat previous action segment) or the Think & Learn Silly Sounds & Lights Expansion Pack (sleepy, wacky and happy sounds).

The segments can be ordered any way the child decides.  The Code-a-Pillar also comes with 2 targets (start and stop) which encourages children to try to “code” the caterpillar in order to have it reach its target.

By being able tell the toy how to move by ordering each piece in a certain way teaches children about sequencing.  Once the child has figured out a sequence that will allow the caterpillar to reach its target or avoid certain obstacles, your child has “written” a program!

Here is a short video showing the caterpillar in action!

Is The Code-A-Pillar A Good Quality Toy?

I love the concept behind the this toy!  In theory, children can learn sequencing and planning, problem solving, critical thinking and teamwork (if more than one child is playing).  This toy is also open ended in that it doesn’t always have to do the same thing.  It’s route and final destination can be changed each time it is played with.

You should encourage your child to talk out loud and narrate how he is coming up with the order of the segments to reach a goal (either a target or obstacles).  Talk to your child about what her plan is for the caterpillar.  For example, should it reach a target or go through an obstacle course?  What segments will be needed to reach a target and why?  You get the idea.

This toy is great for children to learn and experiment on their own, so it is ideal for an unstructured learning through play activity.

The caterpillar is built well and the pieces snap together and stay together.  In fact, they stick together so well, that some younger children may need help removing segments.

Your child can add as many or little segments as he wishes in order for the caterpillar to complete its journey.

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what is the fisher price code a pillar drawbacks

Drawbacks To The Code-A-Pillar

This toy does have a “babyish” look to it which may be off putting for older children.  Keep in mind the recommended age range for this toy is 3-8 years, so it’s not meant for preteens.  My 8 year old daughter loves playing with “babyish” toys, so the look of the caterpillar might not bother all older children (in the 7-8 year old range).

You need a large open space for it to work properly.  If the caterpillar hits a wall, or any other obstacle, it will need to be restarted from the beginning.  Unfortunately there is no “reverse” segment and when the toy hits a wall or obstacle it won’t reverse and continue to follow the code.  But, this is actually a good thing from a coding perspective.  If a reverse code was not entered, the toy shouldn’t spontaneously reverse when it bumps into something.

You can take this as a learning opportunity for your child.  Explain why the caterpillar stopped and why it can’t simply reverse a bit and continue where it left off in the code.

It works best on a flat, non-carpeted floor (ie. hardwood, laminate, etc.).  However, it should be fine on a low pile carpet such as Berber.

As with many FP toys, it plays loud music and sound effects.  Unfortunately you can’t remove the batteries or the toy won’t work.  There also doesn’t seem to be a volume control or mute button.  So be prepared for lots of noise!

However, many active children love inserting the “music” segment as this gets the caterpillar to pause for a few seconds and play some catchy tunes. Watch your child stop and dance to the music!

It won’t actually teach your little one to code in the true sense of the word.  But he will still learn all about sequencing, planning, critical thinking and problem solving which are necessary in order to be able to code.

 Requires a lot of batteries if played with often.  Luckily it uses standard AA batteries.  So be sure to have a few packs around.

♦ Currently retails for around $49.99 US.  While this may seem like a lot, it actually is in the average price range for an electronic toy that allows for user input.

Final Thoughts

While your child won’t become a child prodigy coder using the Code-a-Pillar toy, there are many skills that can be learned.  I do believe that this toy can teach children many important skills through play.  It is on the pricey side, but that is to be expected for an electronic toy such as this.  I haven’t been a fan of Fisher Price toys in a while because most are too loud and almost all are about teaching little ones ABC’s and 123’s, something I do not support.  You can find out why by reading the following articles:

I hope I have been able to answer the question “What is the Fisher Price Code a Pillar?”  Do you think your child would enjoy solving problems and telling a toy caterpillar what to do by planning the order of the segments?

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

what is the fisher price code a pillar purchase here

8 Comments

  1. Reneea

    Most people who buy toys for their kids or as gifts for their nieces, nephews, usually consider buying toys that are educational. I never purchased a toy for my children unless it was something that they could learn from while they play and have fun. That fisher price code-a-pillar toy is very interesting although I agree that it does look babyish.

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Rennea,

      Thanks for your comment! I actually find that they toys marketed as “educational” provide the least amount of opportunities for learning for young children! However, the Fisher Price Code A Pillar is a bit different in that regard.

      Reply
  2. Josh

    Hey Tanya,
    I had never heard about Fisher Price Code A Pillar before and why would I? I don’t have any kids. If I were a kid I would want this toy so bad. I think the concept of the toy in itself is pretty amazing. The ability to add more segments and interchange the segments makes the toy pretty versatile.

    A price tag of $50 dollar might seem high at first but if the build quality is durable then I think it’s worth the price point. Learning to code is like learning to read and write, you start with alphabets and numbers and then words and sentences. In coding, you start with learning how to write a single statement [or command] and then graduate to using multiple commands [statements] to complete a task. In this sense, yes it teaches them to code.

    I loved it.. the product and the concept behind the product.

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks for your comment Josh! It sounds like you might be a software developer (programmer). I am glad to hear that you think that this toy does teach some coding basics.

      I love that it helps build skills such as problem solving, planning, sequencing and critical thinking!

      Reply
      1. Peter

        My brother in law bought this for my son, who actually writes code, he loves it. One problem we are having is that it went through the light sequence but didn’t move. In the process of troubleshooting

        Reply
        1. Tanya (Post author)

          Hi Peter,

          Sorry to hear you are having trouble with the code-a-pillar. Unfortunately I can’t really help you. Have you tried going to the Fischer Price website to see if they have any troubleshooting tips? This is one of the issues with more high tech toys. There is a lot more that can go wrong than with blocks or other more traditional toys.

          Reply
  3. lilywong

    i have always liked Fisher Price’s toys. Yes, they are pricey but there is some creative play equipment. They are also durable and I love buying them for my kids. You have written quite a good review of the Code a Pillar and I agree with your points. Perhaps you can share more reviews on other F&P toys. Looking forward!

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Lily,

      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately I am not the biggest fan of Fisher Price these days. I used to have many FP toys growing up and you are right, they are very durable. My kids actually play with some of my old toys now.

      However, it seems over the past 5 or so years they have become more concerned with teaching little kids numbers, letters, colors, etc. Their toys all require batteries and they are very loud. This detracts from the true play that could be happening.

      Take a look at If You Love Your Baby, Do Not Buy These 5 “Toys”. All but one toy on this list is by Fisher Price.

      If I find some great Fisher Price toys (like the code a pillar) I will definetly write about it!

      Reply

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