Coding as a Playground: Programming and Computational Thinking in the Early Childhood Classroom, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Coding as a Playground

Programming and Computational Thinking in the Early Childhood Classroom, 1st Edition

By Marina Umaschi Bers


184 pages | 35 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2017-08-21
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Coding as a Playground is the first book to focus on how young children (ages 7 and under) can engage in computational thinking and be taught to become computer programmers, a process that can increase both their cognitive and social-emotional skills. Readers will learn how coding can engage children as producers—and not merely consumers—of technology in a playful way. You will come away from this groundbreaking work with an understanding of how coding promotes developmentally appropriate experiences such as problem solving, imagination, cognitive challenges, social interactions, motor skills development, emotional exploration, and making different choices. You will also learn how to integrate coding into different curricular areas to promote literacy, math, science, engineering, and the arts through a project-based approach.


"If you were teaching a child to write, would you only teach them spelling, grammar, and punctuation? Of course not: you would provide them with opportunities to tell stories and express themselves. In Coding as a Playground, Bers makes a compelling case that we should treat coding the same way. She argues that coding should be seen not as a technical skill but as a new literacy—a new way for children to express and share their ideas."

—Mitchel Resnick,Professor of Learning Research, MIT Media Lab, and author of Lifelong Kindergarten

"Researchers and practitioners have long relied on Bers' deep understanding of early childhood computer science education and turned to her vision for the future of the field for inspiration and guidance. Her ideas have influenced my own philosophy of education, including the work at In Coding as a Playground, Bers consolidates her ideas into practical recommendations that any CS education advocate can apply."

—Pat Yongpradit, Chief Academic Officer,

"Coding as a Playground is the ultimate resource for true advocates of early childhood education. Bers artfully describes coding as a new literacy, or a 'playground,' designed to support computational thinking, communication, and personal expression in childhood. Her research-based insights into developmentally appropriate coding experiences within a 21st century context make this essential reading and an important contribution to the field."

—Sue Cusack, Assistant Professor and Director of the Lesley STEAM Learning Lab at the Lesley University Graduate School of Education

Table of Contents

Part I: Coding as Playground 1. In the Beginning There Was Language 2. Coding as Literacy 3. Tools and Language 4. Playing With Code Part II: Computational Thinking 5. Thinking About Computational Thinking 6. Powerful Ideas in the Early Coding Curriculum 7. The Coding Process 8. Personal Growth Through Coding Part III: New Languages for Young Children 9. ScratchJr 10. KIBO 11. Design Principles: Programming Languages for Young Children 12. Teaching Strategies: Coding in the Early Curriculum

About the Author

Marina Umaschi Bers is a professor in the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development and an adjunct professor in the Computer Science Department at Tufts University. She heads the Developmental Technologies Research group where she studies innovative ways to promote positive childhood development through new learning technologies. Marina co-developed the ScratchJr programming language in collaboration with Mitch Resnick from the MIT Media Lab and Paula Bonta from the PICO company. She is also the creator of KIBO, a robotics platform for children 4 to 7 that can be programmed with wooden blocks (no screen needed), which allows young builders to learn programming and engineering while integrating arts and crafts.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Preschool & Kindergarten