Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Toys at Chicago public library teach building blocks of code - without a computer.

Parnell, Jacqueline 
Jackson, C. V. (2017). Toys at Chicago public library teach building blocks of code - without a computer.

Learning Beautiful is a startup up company that specializes in creating Research-driven and Montessori-tested toys for young children. These toys are made of natural materials to preserve simplicity and craft that goes into their design. The Chicago Public Library system is Learning Beautiful’s first library customer and will have these toys available for use at their newly redesigned Thomas Hughes Children's Library at the Harold Washington Library Center.

What makes these toys so special is that they help teach children, as young as 3-years-old about the fundamentals of computer science. The toys are designed with concepts in mind such as binary numbers and pixels. The Chicago Public Library is already using toys such as BeeBots, Finch Robots, Cubetto, and Lego WeDo robotics kits to encourage computational thinking, design, and mindfulness. The idea behind bringing these toys to the library is that we don’t need high-tech toys or gadgets in order to teach children how to code. This is also an effort to match local schools in bringing more technology into early childhood learning. Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon stated,

"We thought if our education system sees this, then we should be making the same kinds of things available, at scale, through our neighborhood libraries, and in our programs," Bannon said. "These kinds of programs are linked back to what we're trying to do as a city, which is building … curiosity in the children that we have in our city today in the careers that will drive our economy.”

The Learning Beautiful company has plans in the future to distribute their toys to other libraries and museums before making them available to homes.

This is a great collaborative effort and will allow so many children access to learning tools and building blocks in their educational endeavors. It would be wonderful to see these types of toys in every library.

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