Common Sense Review
Updated December 2013

Lightbot - Programming Puzzles

Simple design, but challenging fun for budding programmers
Common Sense Rating 3
  • No user accounts, but users can reset to start over for a new user.
  • Kids start with a pretty easy, basic program.
  • As levels advance, challenge increases, and advanced commands, like looping and procedures, are introduced.
  • Instructions are offered in short text bits throughout levels.
Simplifies complex concepts, like looping and procedures.
Gets hard fast, so kids need to be up for the challenge.
Bottom Line
Challenging programming game best for motivated learners.
Amanda Bindel
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Kids motivated by challenging puzzles will enjoy Light-bot; others may find the challenge frustrating. The design is pretty simplistic. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

New programming concepts transfer well to actual coding. Completing one level unlocks the next, but the challenge escalates quickly. Kids who stick with the challenge will develop a pretty deep understanding of 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? 2

No hints are available, but kids can replay levels as often as they want, learning in the process. Instructions are given as new concepts are introduced. Kids can restart levels from the beginning with the reset slider on the start screen.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

With the push (even from the President) to get students programming, teachers need a variety of tools to reach a variety of learners. They could offer kids a choice of several programming games or introduce a new game periodically. Light-bot is a good one to use to introduce looping and procedures because the design, with seperate folders for each, really makes sense. Levels are quite challenging, however, so having other programming-game options for kids who get frustrated or permanently stuck is a good idea.

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What's It Like?

Light-bot is a puzzler that teaches kids concepts used in computer programming. This programming app was developed for kids by an undergraduate student who's been coding since he was a kid himself. Brief instructions are included at the beginning of each level -- just what you need to know when you need to know it. The level of challenge ramps up very quickly, making this best suited for older kids and teens. Students move a robot along a Q-bert style maze by dragging commands into place, lighting up specified tiles as they go. Completing one level unlocks a more challenging level that introduces new programming concepts. Kids collect stars for meeting certain requirements -- like completing the program in no more than a specified number of steps. They can collect up to 20 stars over the course of 40 levels, working with programming concepts like procedures, loops, conditionals, and overloading.

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Is It Good For Learning?

This very challenging puzzler does a great job of teaching some kids programming concepts. It's most likely to engage kids who'd be drawn to programming anyway, however, mostly because of the quickly escalating challenge. There are no user accounts, so only one player can work through the levels at a time, but kids can erase and start over for a new player. The level of challenge ramps up very quickly, so younger kids may enjoy more programming play time with My Robot Friend or Kodable Pro. It's easy to get stuck for a while on some levels, and no hints or clues are offered. Kids get as many chances to succeed as they need, though, and they'll learn from each failure.

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See how teachers are using Lightbot - Programming Puzzles

Lesson Plans