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Robotics in Early Childhood Education – Technology Becomes the Playground

Posted By KinderLab Christina On April 2, 2019 in Blog

In this third blog of this series, we share key reasons why early childhood educators should be incorporating robotics in their classrooms. In this blog, we are focusing on Key #3 – Technology Becomes the Playground. Keep an eye out for subsequent blogs on the importance of robots in early learning with STEAM learning tools!

To review the other key reasons, see:

Early childhood is a wonderful time to sparks kids’ interest in coding, robotics, and engineering. Young children are curious about the world around them, and today that world includes technology. But how can educators promote positive, creative, and educational engagement with technology with our youngest learners? Integrating robots and coding for early learners is easier than you may think, with hands-on, screen-free tools like KIBO. KIBO is a kids learning robot, where, in a screen-free way, young students learn STEAM concepts in a fun and creative way.

Robotics in Early Childhood Education – Technology Becomes the Playground

As adults – whether early childhood educators or parents – we have a responsibility to ensure that children’s exploration of technology is age-appropriate, safe, and creative. In her writings, KinderLab Robotics’ co-founder and chief scientist, Dr. Marina Bers explains that a technology-rich experience for children should be modeled on the idea of a playground. On a playground, children move and explore, they invent games and stories, and they collaborate with peers and negotiate conflicts. They are supervised by adults throughout, but they lead their own experience.

Research states, “Coding can become a playground, an environment to be creative, to express ourselves, to explore alone and with others, to learn new skills, and to problem solve. All of this, while having fun.” (Bers, 2018)

The best technology experiences for children are technology playgrounds, filled with creativity, exploration, and social engagement. When building and programming with KIBO, children follow their own creative interests within a technological space that has been carefully designed to support their developmental needs. They work together, they discover, and they share as they create.

Learn the 6 Key Benefits of Using Robotics with Your Youngest Students!

Introduce coding and robotics into your early childhood classrooms – in a fun and playful way!

‘Hard Fun’

Dr. Bers delves into this concept further in the EdSurge article, entitled “Make Your Classroom More Like a Playground Than a Playpen Using ‘Hard Fun”.

In the article, she shares:

 “I often use the metaphor of “playgrounds versus playpens” to distinguish between learning experiences that are likely to have a wealth of benefits and those that are less useful. In my latest book, “Coding as a Playground,” I discuss how playpens keep children safe, but they also keep them isolated. They limit their options, eliminate creative opportunities, cut off any chance of real exploration and erect physical barriers to collaboration with other children.

Playgrounds, on the other hand, allow children a much greater deal of autonomy and choice. Playgrounds encourage kids to explore and play together and create new games alone or collaborate with their peers.

The ultimate goal of classroom play is to help children express themselves. Each child expresses themselves in different ways. The teacher’s role is to facilitate that rather than direct it, hopefully even orchestrating it so that the students look to one another for help, instead of their teacher.

What KIBO Robotics Offer Young Learners

Based on this playground concept and research, KIBO was created. KIBO, the kids learning robot, offers an inviting, engaging platform for children to start their journey into creating with code in a fun and creative way. KIBO’s block-based coding language gives children control over the robot’s movements, sounds, and sensors, allowing them to express their imaginations with code. And, when accompanied by our STEAM curriculum, children are able to tell stories, create characters, and explore their world with KIBO.

Learn more about how the KIBO Robot can help early childhood educators teach the fundamentals of programming and STEAM concepts in a fun and engaging way and our mission to introduce coding to children by watching Dr. Marina Bers’ Tedx Talk – Young programmers — think playgrounds, not playpens.

Stay turned for the next blog on additional key reasons why robotics is important for young learners.

Supporting research:

  • Bers, M. (2012). Designing digital experiences for positive youth development: From playpen to playground. Cary, NC: Oxford.
  • Bers, M.U., (2018). Coding as a playground: Programming and computational thinking in the early childhood classroom. New York, NY: Routledge press.