By Ollie Bray
When a lot of people think about computer coding, they see it as a technical skill, but when the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT designed Scratch (a visual programming language and online community targeted primarily at children), they designed it to be a playful learning experience. At the LEGO Foundation we believe that some of the best learning happens when play is used to promote children’s drive and motivation to learn, and this includes play in both the physical and digital world.
We say that learning though play happens when the activity: (1) is experienced as joyful, (2) helps children find meaning in what they are doing or learning, (3) involves active, engaged, minds-on thinking, (4) as well as iterative thinking (experimentation, hypothesis testing, etc), and (5) social interaction. These five characteristics of play draw on evidence for how children learn best (the science of learning) and how to foster a playful mindset.
There are many ways that Scratch supports the five characteristics of play, but they are perhaps best summarised by Mitch Resnick (LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research and the Director of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab) in the video below.