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Robotics in Early Learning - Coding Develops Computational Thinking Skills
KinderLab Robotics, the creator of KIBO, the Screen-free STEAM Robotic Kit, shares key reasons why robotics should be incorporated in early learning classrooms. This second article, Coding Develops Computational Thinking Skills, describes how young learners can engage in computational thinking, a process that can increase both their cognitive and social-emotional skills.
Solving Problems

How do you solve a problem in a structured way? With computational thinking, you model the problem, break it down into smaller sequential steps, invent solutions, and test them out. The term “computational thinking” grew out of work in the 1980s by Seymour Papert, a pioneer in teaching children to create with code.
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More recently, theorists and educators have begun to explore the connections between computational thinking and the cognitive skills developed in early childhood. For example, when children use code to create algorithms (a series of ordered steps to solve a problem) they develop their sequencing ability: an important foundational skill needed for reading and mathematics.
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Research States, “As early as pre-kindergarten, children are able to master foundational concepts regarding programming a robot and that children as young as 7 years old are able to master concepts as complex as programming a robot using conditional statements.” (Sullivan & Bers, 2015)
When children plan a sequence of actions for KIBO to perform, they assemble their program as a line of wooden command blocks. They scan the blocks with KIBO’s barcode scanner, one by one in sequence. When the robot acts out the sequence, children can follow along by referring to the blocks they’ve scanned. Using KIBO, educators can integrate coding into all curricular areas to promote literacy, math, science, engineering, and the arts through a project-based approach.
Computational Thinking Research Behind the Scenes
KIBO’s programming method is rooted in years of research identifying the most effective ways to introduce coding in early childhood education.

Research shows that young children can learn programming and engineering at a very early age. This is possible when children are given tools that are developmentally appropriate, that encourage open-ended play and that allow the integration of technical skills with expressive arts, math, literacy and cultural explorations.
“Young kids learn by doing” 

They learn best by playing with physical objects: by making things, testing things. To learn programming and engineering, they need materials designed in the spirit of traditional learning manipulatives in early childhood (physical, as opposed to on-screen).

Children engage in playful learning, cultivate their curiosity for the technological world, explore problem solving, and understand concepts such as cause-and-effect, sensors and motors sequencing and programming, .
Robotics in Early Childhood

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