Get All Access for $5/mo

Fisher-Price's Cute New Toy Aims to Teach Preschoolers the Basics of Computer Programming The legacy toymaker is finally gearing up to cash in on to the trendy kid-coding movement with the 'Code-a-Pillar.'

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Fisher-Price

This article was updated on Jan. 6, 2015, at 1:08 p.m. ET.

Bill Gates was 13 when he started to code. Elon Musk was 12 and Mark Zuckerberg was 10. Compared to today's growing crop of software-savvy kids, they learned coding pretty late. Nowadays, when it comes to learning the ABCs of coding, you can't start too young.

Today, there's no shortage of books, toys, classes and camps to nudge the next generation of coders along the path to promising careers in technology. Among the latest are Dash and Dot, a pair of funky robots that school kids in the pillars of programming. There's also Hello Ruby, an entire ecosystem of exercises, games and apps designed to dole out the basics of coding to pint-sized geeks. Even Barbie went techie for a controversial minute.

Related: Your Next Vision Exam May Involve Playing Video Games

Not to be left out of the tiny tot tech toy trend, news arrived today that Fisher-Price is finally joining the race. Last night at CES in Las Vegas, the legacy mainstream toymaker debuted its first coding-focused toy for preschoolers -- yes, for preschoolers -- technically kids ages 3 to 8.

The colorful plastic toy -- which features an adorable motorized head, twists and turns from side to side and lights up -- is called the Think & Learn Code-A-Pillar. Mattel, long Fisher-Price's parent company, filed trademark paperwork for the product's clever name last January.

The interlocking segmented gizmo won't exactly educate preschool kids on the specific intricate nuances of writing code, but it will expose them to a handful of simple computer coding gateway skills overall.

Related: 12 Sites That Will Teach You Coding for Free

"As an early childhood development company, we wanted to create a new, fun way to expose preschoolers to critical thinking and problem solving, which are skills they'll need to be successful in life, not only in the computer programming profession," says Fisher-Price spokesperson Amber Pietrobono.

Code.org co-founder and CEO Hadi Partovi agrees that preschoolers aren't too young to pick up the basics of coding. "Any preschooler can learn the ABCs of computer science, which can help prepare them for a society that is increasingly interwoven with technology," he says. "Every 21st century child deserves a chance to learn some foundational basics about how technology works, and how to give complicated instructions to computers or robots."

As for how it works, the Code-A-Pillar's 8 removeable segments contain USB port-like connectors that enable them to be snapped together. The smiley-faced musical gadget executes different programmed movement sequences based on how kids arrange its illuminated command shape-emblazoned segments. It can also be programmed to travel to targets set up throughout a room.

Related: Meet Dash and Dot, Robot Toys That Teach Kids How to Code

"The future coders of 2035 may only be preschoolers today, but their journey to tech hubs around the globe begins now," reads the text of a promotional image for the toy. "When playing with the Think & Learn Code-A-Pillar from Fisher-Price, kids will be exposed to the foundational skills of coding, like thinking skills, problem solving and sequencing."

The Code-A-Pillar, which works in tandem with companion iOS and Android apps, will retail for $50, with various expansion packs priced at $15 each. Fisher-Price says the code-themed toy caterpillars will appear on store shelves next June.

The company will release additional details about the product at next month's Toy Fair in New York City. In the meantime, to see the Code-A-Pillar in action, check out this short video from Fisher-Price.

Related: What To Expect From CES 2016

Kim Lachance Shandrow

Former West Coast Editor

Kim Lachance Shandrow is the former West Coast editor at Entrepreneur.com. Previously, she was a commerce columnist at Los Angeles CityBeat, a news producer at MSNBC and KNBC in Los Angeles and a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times. She has also written for Government Technology magazine, LA Yoga magazine, the Lowell Sun newspaper, HealthCentral.com, PsychCentral.com and the former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Coop. Follow her on Twitter at @Lashandrow. You can also follow her on Facebook here

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business Solutions

Increase Productivity with This Microsoft 365 Subscription, Now $25 Off

It can make the entrepreneur life a lot easier.

Business News

Apple Pay Later Is Ending. Here's What's Taking Its Place.

The program was available for less than a year.

Leadership

This Artist Answered a Businessman's 'Powerful' Question — Then His Work Became 'the Poster Child for Juneteenth': 'Your Network Really Becomes Your Net Worth'

Reginald Adams was the executive director of a Houston-based art museum for more than a decade before he decided to launch his own public art and design firm.

Leadership

Harvard Business School Professor Says 65% of Startups Fail for One Reason. Here's How to Avoid It.

Team alignment isn't nice to have -- it's critical for running a successful business.

Business News

Here's What Companies Are Open and Closed on Juneteenth 2024

Since it became a holiday in 2021, Juneteenth has been recognized by some major corporations as a paid day off.

Growing a Business

I Hit $100 Million in Annual Revenue by Being More Transparent — Here Are the 3 Strategies That Helped Me Succeed

Three road-tested ways to be more transparent and build relationships that can transform your business — without leaving you feeling nightmarishly over-exposed.