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Mar 23, 2016 1:54 PM ET

Archived: Primo Toys: Cubetto – Hands on coding for ages 3 and up

iCrowdNewswire - Mar 23, 2016

Cubetto - Hands on coding for ages 3 and up project video thumbnail


A playful programming language you can touch. Montessori approved, and LOGO Turtle inspired. Learn programming away from the screen.



About this project

Cubetto is a coding toy for girls and boys. Powered by a tangible programming language. It’s super fun, super intuitive, and we need your help to make it happen!

This is how it works…

As seen on:

Programming without the screen

Children help Cubetto find his way home by writing their first programs using a set of colorful coding blocks.

For girls and boys ages 3 and up

Children can use it even if they can’t read yet, so no matter what language they speak, hands-on coding is at their fingertips.

Does it work?

Cubetto combines Montessori learning principles with computer programming concepts. We sold, hand-built, and shipped over 800 early prototypes to educators and parents in over 40 countries to test our assumptions.

Here’s what some of them had to say…


Coding is a basic 21st century literacy, and one our children can’t afford to miss out on, but if you made it this far, you already know this!

Starting young gives them an edge, and starting with something fun, that they actually enjoy, means they learn faster and better.

Stretch Goals!

Inside the box

Every Cubetto Playset comes with all the necessary parts to begin play right out of the box:

1. Cubetto 
2. Board 
3. 16 Blocks (4x Forward, 4x Right, 4x Left, 4x Function)
4. 1x1m World Map 
5. Story Book

Cubetto is a wooden robot that wants to be told where to go and how to get there. A smiling companion capable of motoring his way through any adventure.

Think of the Board as an interface or a command line. Use it with the blocks to send instructions to Cubetto. There’s one main sequence (A), a subroutine (B), and a Go button (C) to send instructions to Cubetto.

Our blocks are a new, procedural programming language. Much like LOGO was back in the 70’s, except you can touch it! Each block is a specific and unambiguous instruction, easy to recognise and combine into a meaningful sequence.

  • Green – Forward 
  • Yellow – Left 90º 
  • Red – Right 90º 
  • Blue – Function

A floor map drawn on top of a grid helps you plan your next adventure. No destination is too far. Tell a story that means something to you!

Expansion Pack (Now includes all 4 maps!)

New maps, new stories, new adventures. Each one covers an exciting theme and topic, packed with activities and places to visit. Two of each for now, more if we’re funded! Each Expansion Pack comes with:

  • 4 World Maps (Solar System, Water World, Ancient Egypt, Cityscapes) 
  • 4 Story Books

50 billion+ ways to play

The most sophisticated of things are often the simplest. There are more than 50 billion sequences you can make with the blocks! No two adventures ever need be the same.

Let toys be toys

Why should coding toys only be for boys and not for girls? Why can’t a STEM toy be for both? It can! And it is! 

We want girls and boys to be equally excited about playing and learning with Cubetto. So we’ve designed it based on two universal symbols that are the same for all genders and cultures. A cube, and a smile 🙂

How is this Montessori?

It’s non-prescriptive – Cubetto gives children the ability to solve problems within the world they create. This gives them freedom to express their creativity and aptitudes, unconstrained by the challenges of literacy, or the distractions of a screen.

It’s child-centered – All they need to get started is a nudge in understanding that blocks = actions.  After this point, even the discovery of what each block does can be led by the child, leaving adults to observe and only help when needed.

It’s auto-didactic – Solving problems with the blocks is about trial and error. Once a sequence is sent to Cubetto, the result is immediate and non-abstract, giving children concrete grounds on which to self-correct without adult intervention. Just change the blocks and go again.

It’s designed for scaffolding: When a problem is too complex, the right sequence is easily pooled from collective knowledge of children in the play session. Each child can in turn add a block, or a suggestion, layering in their individual competence to the solution in small steps.

How is this coding?

Algorithms – Algorithms are sets of precise instructions that form a program. Cubetto’s blocks are a physical representation of an unambiguous instruction that children can touch.

The Queue: Instructions in programs are executed following a precise order. On the Board instructions are put together following a wavy line that represents a command line.

Debugging: The instructions are laid on the board, and are immediately executed by Cubetto, so when he doesn’t arrive where he should, fixing mistakes is as easy as swapping a block.

Recursions: Create a subroutine by “packing” a sequence in the function line, and call it in the queue with a blue block when you need it. Make long sequences shorted and more elegant, like in the real world.

Infinite Loops: Insert a function block in the function line and watch Cubetto go loopy. Want to stop an infinite loop? hmmm… tried turning it off and on again? 🙂

Curriculum mapped

We created an online resource centre, packed with curriculum mapped activities and games, to help you get started with Cubetto right away.

We’re currently in private Beta, but you can take a look at our teacher’s guide

Who’s using Cubetto?

These are some of the settings where Cubetto is being used to introduce computational thinking, and these are some of the case studies we’ve collected so far.

  • Montessori Kindergartens 
  • Early learning centers 
  • Elementary schools 
  • Homeschooling 
  • Special needs classrooms and inclusion programs 
  • Afterschool programs 
  • Technology clubs 
  • STEM curriculum 
  • Gifted programs 
  • Public Libraries and Community Centers 
  • Maker Spaces 
  • Tutoring 
  • Technology camps

Why should 3 year olds learn this?

Much like playing with Cubetto, computational thinking is about breaking down tasks into a logical sequence of steps to reach an objective. In fact, computational thinking is something we do every day to solve all kinds of problems, big and small.

Thinking about the world around us the same way we think in the world of Cubetto is empowering. It gives us the confidence to try things out, break the rules, and shape our environment. Which is pretty amazing!

Playtime with Cubetto is collaborative, because you learn that complicated tasks are best tackled by more than one person. It encourages creativity by showing you there is no right or wrong way to reach your objectives and make the impossible possible.

A game changer for non-sighted children

Cubetto works with shapes, movement and sound. Turning code into something you can touch is changing the way non-sighted, partially sighted and sighted children can now learn the basics of computational thinking in the same setting.

Here’s what leading computer scientist and Code Club chair, Chris Mairs, had to say…

Robots don’t change the world, people do!

We’re a growing community of over 800 educators, parents and teachers. From Kobe, Japan to Cape Town, South Africa. There’s hundreds of us, help us become thousands!

Big things have small beginnings

We came to solve a problem; making coding accessible, tangible and fun for young learners all over the world. It was a shared passion for design, and impending fatherhood that kicked it all off. Here’s our story from bean to cup.

March 2013 - In a maker-space far far away... there's a dream
March 2013 – In a maker-space far far away… there’s a dream
November 2013 - 651 people come together to make it happen!
November 2013 – 651 people come together to make it happen!
Jan 2014 - Development begins... lots of it!
Jan 2014 – Development begins… lots of it!
2014 to 2015 - Testing... when in doubt ask the experts
2014 to 2015 – Testing… when in doubt ask the experts
April 2015 - The big build! We begin to pack ship and deliver
April 2015 – The big build! We begin to pack ship and deliver
May 2015 - A Cubetto 2.0 prototype smiles at us through the MoMA Store window
May 2015 – A Cubetto 2.0 prototype smiles at us through the MoMA Store window
June 2015 - Cubetto 2.0 is complete. Better, smarter, stronger
June 2015 – Cubetto 2.0 is complete. Better, smarter, stronger
Feb 2016 - 75 units roll of the factory line for testing. We're ready!
Feb 2016 – 75 units roll of the factory line for testing. We’re ready!
March 8th 2016 - We launch! If successful, it's project timeline
March 8th 2016 – We launch! If successful, it’s project timeline

Project timeline

We build with experienced supply chain powerhouse PCH International. PCH were behind the successful delivered of educational products like Kano, Little-Bits along with countless Fortune 500 products all over the world. We’re in safe hands, and we’re confident of a timely deliver. We’ve built in sensible buffers to account for any surprises, and all the development is complete.

Tech specs

(A) LEDs, (B) Sequence Line, (C) Function Line, (D) Go Button, (E) Big Screw, (F) Direction Arrow, (G) Battery Housing, (H) On/Off, (I) Shell, (J) Wheels, (K) Castor, (L) On/Off, (M) Battery Housing

  • Pack Size 27(w) x 26(h) x 15(d)cm, 
  • Weight (approx.) 1.5kg  
  • Materials Linden Plywood (varnished), ABS Plastic (matte finish) 
  • Battery AA x6
  • Life 4-6hrs (continous play)
  • Bluetooth BT4.0
  • Range ≤10m 
  • Certs FCC IC

Proudly Arduino

The robot is built around the Atmel SAM D21 microcontroller used in the Arduino Zero. It can be easily programmed from the standard Arduino IDE using standard Arduino code. For all intents and purposes, Cubetto’s brain is “just” a regular Arduino.

You can update Cubetto from the Arduino IDE. If you want to make your Cubetto do something special, there are thousands of Arduino resources online to help you out

Not your cup of tea? Don’t worry. You don’t need to know anything about electronics to use Cubetto. Just take it out of the box, and begin your adventure right away!


Why Kickstarter again?

Since November 2013, all our energies and finances have gone into developing a certified, expandable, and durable unit, fit to ship anywhere in the world. Kickstarter allowed us to build and ship a product directly to those who wanted it, building an amazing community in the process, so launching this new version on Kickstarter feels like coming home.

We still need your help!

We’re supported by great angels and partners, but there is still a huge part of this equation missing.You! Your backing will allow us to amass enough orders to begin a rolling production. Our first campaign got us this far. Imagine where we could go next?

On the shoulders of turtle

Primo Toys is the effort of many who supported and believed in the project throughout the years. From the MAInD master, where the initial idea for a hands-on coding language was conceived, to the maker spaces, schools and customers who passionately contribute on continuous development.

We’re lucky to have built on top of Arduino, an incredible invention, tool, and community that has opened the world of computing education in amazing, groundbreaking ways.

We’re also here because of the pioneering work of educators and technologists like Seymour Papert and Jean Piaget (fathers of the Logo programming language) and Maria Montessori, who gave us an amazing framework for development, and some very broad shoulders to stand on indeed.

Ultimately we feel like we’re only a small part of a bigger mission, and we hope you will join us on this journey, so that like us, you can become part of something bigger too.

Thank you from all of us at Primo Toys

Filippo Yacob – Founder & CEO
Matteo Loglio – Founder & Interaction Designer
Valeria Leonardi – Number 3 & COO
Ben Callicott – Head of Product
Hugo Mathers – Marketing Assistant

Follow us!


Writing about us?


Risks and challenges

Hardware is hard! The good news is we’ve done this before. If we’re successful, this will be the second Kickstarter project we deliver as a team.

Manufacturing is a complex and exigent process. Things can go wrong, and there will be challenges, big and small. Our pledge is that we will rise to meet each and every one of them, working day and night, doing everything in our power to deliver on our promise.

Our estimates for delivery are conservative, and our partnerships are reliable and solid, but in the event of unexpected issues, we will keep you posted on progress, and vow to work incessantly to minimize impact on delivery.

We will treat every backer as if they were our first, and we promise you a quality product with an honest experience. We hope you choose to join us on this journey.

Contact Information:

Primo Toys

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