Review: Learn the Magic of Coding
Imagine having an interactive wand like the ones at the Wizarding World parks but you could use it at home and create your own spells. Honestly, that’s my dream come true and exactly what you can do with the Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit. The kit is aimed at kids to teach them coding skills with a programmable interactive wand, but even as an adult, I had the time of my life with this kit. With a wave of your wand, you can make an owl multiply into a flock, levitate a feather, hit Bludgers with a Beater’s bat, and so much more.
I am deeply impressed at how beautifully the team at Kano has brought the wizarding world into this kit. They really understand and love Harry Potter. I was blown away by the range of spells and Harry Potter-related graphics available to work with. I had so much fun just discovering all the objects you can interact with. Some of my favorites were a drooling Fluffy, a rat poorly transfigured into a teacup, and a Death Eater dummy like the ones used by Dumbledore’s Army. I adore that this kit goes so much further than owls and Snitches, making for a wonderfully immersive experience. With so many Harry Potter products out there where the theming seems slapped on as an afterthought just to drive sales, this kit was an absolute breath of fresh air.
I’ve definitely never seen a wand this interactive before. I was practically giddy making things fly around my screen with just a flick of my wand. The sensors inside the wand’s “brain” allow it to recognize a wide range of speeds and gestures. It wasn’t long before I was casting the Engorgement Charm on pumpkins, conjuring butterbeers, and scattering a pack of grindylows. It even has a rumble pack inside that vibrates when spells are cast, making the magic feel so real! But as much fun as it is to play around with, the fact that you can program the wand to make the objects on the screen respond however you want is even more special. This kit helps you learn to code with drag-and-drop action blocks. No prior coding experience is necessary! It even has guided walkthroughs to help you learn how everything works. Once you’ve got the hang of things, you can dive into the many challenges and puzzles available or head right into free play mode. My favorite part is that you can unlock add-ons for your avatar by completing challenges. I saw an avatar with a Howler and I will do whatever it takes to get one for myself! Kano also has an online community where you can share your creations and see – or even build off of – what others have made. I had a blast exploring all the massively creative experiences people have uploaded to the Kano World library.
I can’t even begin to scratch the surface of how exciting it is to see a coding skills toy like this. Learning to code can be really overwhelming, but this kit melts all of that away. The skills you can learn with this kit are the fundamental building blocks to code, without needing to get bogged down by the syntax of programming languages or the complexity of building software. In this kit, it’s easy to drop in an action block that will, for instance, generate a troll every time you draw a circle with your wand. This action block equates perfectly to more complex coding concepts without requiring you to know how to write any code. Concepts like “if statements” and “while loops” may be completely foreign ideas, but using more approachable language like “every time I do this, I want something to happen” and tying it to a visual result like conjuring a troll helps demystify those challenging concepts. I’m honestly really bummed this didn’t exist when I was a kid. I would have been absolutely glued to it.
At this point, I want to call attention to how inclusive this kit feels. Too often, programming is a skill encouraged in boys, and careers requiring programming skills are dominated by men, so I’m really passionate about getting girls excited about coding too. I was ecstatic to see this kit being geared so equally to girls as well as boys, something that really isn’t common in toys like this. The CEO of Kano, Alex Klein, told me, “It’s been our intent from the beginning to create something that’s universally accessible and universally appealing [for] attributes that all humans share like curiosity and a desire to look inside… Those are just human things.” Harry Potter is so universally beloved, and I think it’s wonderful that everyone has the chance to feel a little more like a witch or wizard with this programmable wand.
I really can’t say enough great things about the Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit. Head on over to the Kano website to find out more about it and pick one up for yourself or a Potter-loving kid in your life.