Review by David Thomas, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2014
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Lightbot Jr 4+ Coding Puzzles

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Cute, simple intro to programming for young learners

Subjects & skills
  • Math

  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Great for:
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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Pros: Simple interface, delightful graphics, challenging puzzles engage young learners.

Cons: There's not a lot of content here, and the app stops short of teaching programming.

Bottom Line: This is a fun and engaging introduction to the world of programming.

For the teacher looking to provide a savory taste of what computer programming is like, Lightbot Jr is a perfect snack. The charming Lightbot, in boy blue and girl pink, seems harmless as he or she marches and hops across the minimalist landscape. And with few actual commands available, kids can quickly pick up the basics and will enjoy playing through the puzzles. Once hooked, a teacher may want to take advantage of some of the lesson supports available on the Lightbot website. And the regular Lightbot app is a great follow-up app for kids to expand their new skills.

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Lightbot Jr 4+ Coding Puzzles presents kids with a cute little robot, small levels comprised of blocks, and a handful of drag-and-drop programming icons. Move, turn, light, and jump comprise the core of Lightbot Jr's available commands. And when the player places these command tiles in a row, LightBot Jr moves merrily through the level, lighting up designated tiles. The player must light up the correct tiles to move on to the next level.

Because Lightbot Jr focuses on the gameplay, it's easy to get kids engaged. But without some context and possibly some guidance and encouragement, young players may get stuck long before they internalize some of the key lessons of programming. Also, when compared to the many learn-to-program titles on the market, Lightbot Jr only scratches the surface. This is a fine introduction to programming concepts for young kids, but for a deeper dive into coding, kids will have to look elsewhere.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Featuring a colorful and inviting graphical style, the puzzles will draw kids in.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Puzzles really only scratch the surface, providing little more than an intro to programming concepts.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The game offers simple support and direction; kids may need help from an adult.

Common Sense Reviewer
David Thomas Director of academic technology

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Anthony C. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
Bayview Glen
Toronto, ON
Visual coding application that teaches computational thinking
For the majority of our Grade One to Five students, completing the Basics was a reasonable challenge with our Grade One students appropriately needing the most support and encouragement. However, what was most interesting to me was how this app and way of thinking encouraged new students to emerge as leaders in programming and computational thinking. Students who were USED being challenged by new learning demonstrated much more grit and perseverance than those students not used to having to work hard to find success (i.e students experience consistent success in academics.) This app (website) was very popular to learners from Grade 2 and 5. Moving to the Procedures levels was a bit of jump for many students. Perhaps more videos and examples would help learners be more able to make the leap from Basics to Procedures levels. (The pace is much slower in the paid app which allows learners a more gradual progression of difficulty. The Hour of Code (has 3 Levels: Basics, Procedures and Loops) whereas the paid app adds levels called "Jumping" and Overloading" BEFORE the Procedures Levels. (The Loops Level was challenging but demonstrated the concept in an intuitive manner. Overall, all students found success with with app especially in the first Basics Level and I would recommend this app and website as a popular introduction for students new to programming. Allow them to collaborate and encourage them to demonstrate grit and perseverance, two important 21st century skills and you will have a busy, noisy but engaged class for students aged 6 to 12.
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