Like the Dash and Dot from our round-up of last year's best tech toys for kids, the upcoming Code-a-Pillar has been designed to teach kids how to code in an entertaining and engaging way. Fisher-Price's effort sees a wheeled caterpillar head sporting a constant smile and blinking eyes that can be connected via USB to a number of segments. The order in which the segments are connected determines the actions of the completed bot.

Aimed at learners aged from 3 to 8 years old, the toy is designed to teach the basics of coding, such as sequencing and problem solving. The motorized head section is powered by four AA-sized batteries. Each unpowered segment has a pair of wheels to the bottom and provides a specific action or directional instruction as indicated by the symbol up top.

The segments are snapped together in an order determined by the young coder to form a chain of commands. When the big power button on the head is pressed, the roving bot will follow the commands in sequence – moving straight off, playing a chirpy tune, turning right, stopping and waiting, moving off and turning left, for example.

The basic kit is due for a mid-year release for US$49.99 and will come with a head and eight light-packing segments. Two targets will also be included which give the kids something visible to aim the Code-a-Pillar at or to mark a start and finish point.

A companion mobile app is in development, which will set challengers for young learners, and additional segments will be available separately.

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