Makeblock mTiny Coding Kit Review

I love educational toys and can immediately tell when I see a great one.

The mTiny Coding Kit was one of those toys that I knew my kids would love, and it would teach them new skills in a screen-free, hands-on manner.

mtiny coding kit and accessories

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TL;DR:

The mTiny is the perfect coding kit for toddlers. It’s well-made, durable, and can withstand toddler play. There are many ways to play with mTiny, from basic to advanced. Your kids will learn to code, and you can enjoy a cup of coffee while they play ☕!

Unboxing and Components

The product designers at Makeblock thought of everything when they designed the mTiny.

It comes with a ton of resources, along with thoughtful packaging.

When I opened my box, I found the following:

  • mTiny robot
  • Tap pen controller
  • Reversible map blocks (more and bigger than I expected, in a good way!)
  • Coding cards
  • Character masks (for dressing up mTiny and unique challenges)
  • Reward tokens
  • Supplemental game and activity cards (list games)
  • Instruction manual
  • Charging cables (no charging block)

I was blown away with the packaging. Everything can be stored in the sturdy and well-made box, which includes several storage bags for the different cards and pieces.

The quality of the product exceeded my expectations. The mTiny robot can hold up to my rambunctious toddlers.

Setup and Ease of Use

The robot and tap-to-code pen were charged and ready to use as soon as I opened it!

To get started:

  1. Pair the robot with the controller: This is straightforward using the setup guide (it took me less than a minute). There are additional instructional videos online.
  2. Punch out the coding cards.

At first, I was overwhelmed with the amount of pieces it came with, but the setup guide walked me through how each piece works and made it much more straightforward than I thought it would be.

Learning Impact

I’m not exaggerating when I say I was giddy when I opened this coding kit. Every time I looked at it, I saw limitless ways to teach my children about coding.

  • Free downloadable curriculum for parents and teachers.
  • Add on extension packs.
  • Multiple ways to play and explore.

As a teacher, it’s great to show students that coding and STEM toys don’t have to be on computers or screens. Teaching them the concepts through play and physical manipulation will allow them to think about coding more abstractly, which will pave the path for coders and engineers of the future.

Coding Experience

  • The mTiny shows children the relationship between input and output with the tap-to-code pen. The input is touching a card or moving the joystick; the output is the robot’s response (a sound, dance, movement, emotion, etc.).
  • The mTiny also shows children how to make the robot do a series of actions by giving a string of inputs (this is coding!). The coding kit has single commands, multipliers, and loops for more sophisticated coding.
  • We love that the pen provides feedback with light, sound, and vibration to acknowledge it has received the input from tapping a card.
  • I also appreciate that there is a “start” card. The robot doesn’t do anything until you hit start. This is great for youngsters and beginners. They can take their time with programming.

My children and I followed the challenges from the book in the kit to get started. They started very easily, and my four-year-old grasped the concepts well. As the book progresses, the challenges get more difficult. I like that there is a progression in the challenges.

By the end of the book, my kids will understand how to use all of the input cards and be able to start creating their own coding patterns.

Pros and Cons

✅ Fully assembled and ready to play.

✅ Intuitive coding pen provides immediate feedback.

✅ Product is durable and top quality.

✅ Cute animations and characters make the robot fun and lovable.

❌ There are a lot of components (it’s best to introduce them slowly to children).

❌ Short battery life.

What I Like

As a parent and teacher who loves innovative educational toys, I like everything about the mTiny.

From the useful packaging to the supplemental curriculum to the kid-friendly design features that the designers at Makeblock chose, this is as close to perfect as it gets for a toy.

My biggest complaint is the robot’s short battery life (the controller stays charged much longer). The battery lasts between 90 and 120 minutes, depending on use. Because my children get so invested in playing with the robot, it almost always causes a meltdown when Jay “goes to sleep.”

What My Toddlers Like

My toddlers thought the mTiny was a hoot! They played with it for hours–and if you have toddlers, you know that “hours” is not a common term used with them ?.

The first few days were spent learning about the robot (we named Jay). They played with:

  • The costumes
  • The map cards
  • The controller
  • The emotions.

Their faces lit up whenever the robot did something new (like singing “Happy Birthday” on the cake card). At first, they thought everything was magic, but the more they played with it, the more they realized they controlled what the robot did and what the reactions would be.

Getting Started With Young Children

Follow my recommended steps for introducing the mTiny to children four and under to keep them from getting overwhelmed or confused.

  1. First Sessions: Start by controlling the robot with the controller (like a remote-controlled car) and letting the child experience the different sounds, movements, and expressions the robot makes while driving on the map tiles.
  2. Tap Controls: Next, introduce the concept of “touch” programming using the facial expression cards. These cards are great because your child can touch them and immediately see the robot change expressions. It introduced the concept of touch=reaction.
  3. Motion Sensors: Use the activity cards to show your child that the controller can sense motion in addition to steering and tapping. The activity cards require them to shake or swing the controller to control the robot.
  4. Masks: Dress your robot and show them how the characters interact with the cards. They will be thrilled that the mTiny takes on the sounds and characteristics of their disguise when interacting with the map.
  5. Time to Code: Once you’ve gradually introduced all of these features (over a week or so), it’s time to start coding. For fundamental challenges, follow the manual or download the teacher’s curriculum.
  6. Imagine: After completing all the pre-set challenges, you and your child can start making more intricate maps, challenges, and coding patterns.

For Teachers and Education

Makeblock is committed to teachers and education. From its free standards-aligned curriculum to its grants and school funding, it supports schools that want to introduce robotics and coding to their students.

The mTiny would be awesome in a preschool or elementary school maker space. mTiny lessons can be scaffolded to meet students where they are developmentally.

This coding kit would also be great for homeschooled families with children between 2 and 5. The instructions make it simple for parents to learn the concepts alongside their children, with no coding background needed.

Final Thoughts

After reviewing the mTiny and watching my children play and interact with it for over a month, I can confidently say this is the best comprehensive coding toy for toddlers I have used.

The product’s value goes beyond the price tag:

  • Every component is well-made and built to withstand years of use.
  • Skill-based play means your child can grow their coding skills and knowledge for years.
  • The best part? The entire kit is screen-free ?. You don’t need an app or software to program the bot. It’s a hands-on, tactile experience that children—and adults?—crave.
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Jacqui

Author

I am the founder of Mommy Maker Teacher and a mom of two toddlers. With a degree in education, 12+ years of experience as a K-12 teacher and curriculum developer, and courses in childhood psychology and language acquisition, I share research-backed parenting tips and advice. I provide helpful content for moms on all stages of motherhood—from trying to conceive and pregnancy to postpartum, breastfeeding, and parenting.

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