We live in a world where learning the language of computers is becoming as important as learning the language of people. Educational institutions, however, are still struggling to find ways, on the one hand, to motivate children to take up the subject and, on the other, to teach it in an engaging and effective way.

To address this problem, Primo, a smart-toy maker, is introducing Cubetto — a wooden playset, specifically designed to teach children ages 3 to 7 the basics of programming without the need for literacy or screen devices. 

“We believe that coding is a new literacy, and should therefore be introduced and prioritised from an early age. Up until now, young children were excluded from learning coding as products required literacy, or worked with purely digital interfaces, none of them designed for really young children” says Filippo Yacob, CEO and co-founder of Primo.

The playset consists of several wooden parts, including a programming board and a robot. By arranging colorful blocks on the board in different sequences, kids learn how to control the direction and movement of the robot. Taking the educational experience a step further, Cubetto allows “young hackers” to take apart and reprogram the robot, giving them an understanding of how the toy works and of the connection between software and hardware.

“To children, it’s playtime, but what they play with are curriculum-mapped programming concepts like debugging, the queue, and recursions, all before they can read or write" explains Yacob.

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Cubetto has already been helping educators and parents introduce programming to thousands of kids in more than 800 schools and nurseries in 40+ countries. Currently, Primo is looking to raise £200k from investors on Crowdcube to help it scale and officially launch the product. 

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Teodora Zareva is an entrepreneur, writer, board games geek and a curious person at large. Her professional path has taken her from filmmaking and photography to writing, TEDx organizing, teaching, and social entrepreneurship. She has lived and worked in the U.S. and Bulgaria and is currently doing her MBA at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. Her biggest passion lies at the intersection of media and youth development. She is the co-founder of WishBOX Foundation, a Bulgarian NGO that helps high school students with their professional orientation by organizing events, courses, summer camps and developing digital media resources.

Photos: Primo