Code-a-pillar: Developing Problem-Solving Skills

By: Treasure Lily Lundskog           uNID: u0795077

Image result for code-a-pillar

The Code-a-pillar is marketed as an educational toy, it is designed to look like a caterpillar (hence the name) and to help young children develop essential life skills. The pieces that make up the body come apart and on the top of each one is a symbol (an arrow that points straight, makes a right turn, left turn, etc.), these can then be assembled for the child to create a specific path for the “code-a-pillar” to travel on. You can also set up a target, the child is then to assemble the caterpillar in such a way that it hits the target. It is marketed towards ages 36 months to 8 years (amazon had it in the 2-4 year category). The marketing claims that it can have many educational benefits for children including: helping to categorize objects, learn properties of items, encourages exploration, and develops problem solving and critical thinking skills. It is interesting that, although the toy is attempting to teach an educational skill, it still attempts to resemble something natural and is fun to use. I found it thought-provoking as I haven’t ever seen a toy like this and thought it would make for an exciting piece.

A study completed by David Klahr looked at how pre-school aged children have developed their problem-solving skills before entering (and often during) first or second grade. It was completed in order to learn more about at what ages children developed these skills and in what ways they did so. They had children complete several different puzzles (which would test their problem-solving and planning abilities) at different ages to determine the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. It was studied in both a direct and indirect way, to determine an even deeper understanding of what was occurring. The most rapid increase seemed to be between ages 4 and 6. It found that by the time they entered kindergarten, most children already had maintained the skills of mature problem solving. Not only this, but they were formed without having and sort of direct instruction on how to develop them. Due to this, in order to help a child further develop their skills, they must not simply be instructed on what to do. It is important that we look at the individual level of the child and present them with a task that will challenge them, but that they can still complete. Along with this, look at how they are solving the problem, if there is a better way and they don’t figure it out on their own in a relative time period then help them through the process of determining different things that they can try. This is very interesting in relationship to the code-a-pillar, as it shows that if your child is on a level where the toy will be challenging, yet do-able, then it will likely be beneficial to the child. If your child has already surpassed the difficulties of this toy, or is unable to complete the tasks at all, then it does them little educational good to continue to use and is simply providing entertainment. If you find that your child can complete the tasks (such as hitting the target) that the toy requires, but are doing so in a more difficult manner, help them determine what they could do to make the task simpler. In this way the toy will be fun and still hold benefits for the child.

Children do a great deal of learning from 2 to 4 years of age. They often learn basic colors, numbers, letters, and even how to write simple words. Not only this, but their reasoning skills improve immensely. Children’s imaginations often grow during this time, as does their ability to remember specific events. This is a crucial period in a child’s life to get started on their education and lay a good foundation for the future.

Based on the research, it is very possible that the code-a-pillar can be educationally beneficial to your child, so long as they are at the proper level of its use. It will help them to further practice and develop their problem-solving and critical thinking skills, which will be useful throughout their life. When determining if this is the right selection for you child, observe them, if you see them easily being able to complete tasks similar to this one then it may not be the best selection. It is likely that through the use of the toy they will learn what each piece of the code-a-pillar does, not only this, but it will get them up and moving around, which can help to develop motor skills. Therefore, the claims made by the company all seem to hold some truth, it is just not necessarily the case that it will be true for your child depending on their skill level. No educational harm will come from using this toy, the biggest thing to watch out for is any choking hazards.

If you are looking for a stimulating, yet entertaining, product for your child then you may have found it! The code-a-pillar could hold great benefits for your child if it falls within their skill level and is recommended for children whom it will be helpful to in an educational manner.



  • Klahr, D. (1981). Investigation of Pre-School Children’s Problem Solving Processes. Final Report. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie-Mellon University
  • Bornstein, Marc H. (2013). Development in Infancy: A Contemporary Introduction. Taylor & Francis



One thought on “Code-a-pillar: Developing Problem-Solving Skills

  1. u0769419 Keegan Summers
    I enjoyed reading about this toy. I actually think it’s a pretty neat idea and even though it was aimed for 2-4 year olds, I actually think it might be neat to play with and see how it works! I agreed with the point you made on how it really does depend on the child’s level of understanding. I find it hard to believe that a 2 year old would be advanced enough to understand the concept of the different turns it would make based on the buttons on its tail. I think it would probably be a more suitable toy for a young child rather than an infant at the age of 2. Things brings up a good question on how do they decide how young of age would a child be able to fully understand this concept.


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