Playing at Coding

September 3, 2021

Worldwide Day of Play is coming up on September 21, 2021. This annual event was launched by Nickelodeon in 2007 to encourage children and parents to turn off their television and play together! The channel suspended programming for three hours and a special message appeared on the screen:

Yes, your TV is working. Yes, this is Nickelodeon. And yes, this is Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Day of Play! This is Nickelodeon’s celebration of all things active-an entire day devoted to play! So, get off the couch, get up from the floor, and definitely quit slouching in your bed. You should be celebrating! Ride a bike, do a dance, kick a ball, skate a board, jump a rope, swing a swing, climb a wall, run a race, do ANYTHING that gets you up and playing! Once you’ve played, there’s more Nick at 3pm. But until then, get up, get active, and GO PLAY! This message will repeat until 3pm, so unless you want to get bored, GO PLAY!

Sometimes we forget how important play is for children, and for adults. Play is important for our well-being, for reducing stress, and for keeping our minds sharp. Here are 10 things every parent should know about play from Laurel Bongirono.

  1. Children learn through their play.
  2. Play is healthy.
  3. Play reduces stress.
  4. Play is more than meets the eye.
  5. Make time for play.
  6. Play and learning go hand-in-hand.
  7. Play outside.
  8. There’s a lot to learn about play.
  9. Trust your own playful instincts.
  10. Play is a child’s context for learning.

Playing is also a critical feature of working with computers. Just like when playing, in coding there are multiple strategies for each solution. Playing around helps the brain be flexible and develops perseverance. There are many applications and platforms designed to create playful environments where children, or adults, can learn coding. Take some time this week to play at coding.

Scratch is a coding platform that lets you create interactive stories, games, and animations. With a focus on creativity, there are no right answers with Scratch, just solutions that do what you want – and those that don’t. So, play around, be creative and have fun here.

Lego’s coding toys and robots are another way to play at coding. Lego offers a variety of projects for children of all ages. These hands-on toys bring together creativity and problem-solving. The motivation to get your code to work is all in getting the robot to do what you want.

Lightbot is a puzzle game that requires you to use programming logic to find the solution. The app is available on iTunes, Amazon, or Google Play. With each victory, the game becomes more challenging.

Code Monsters is an online game that is a little more challenging than Lightbot, designed for preteens and older. You will explore the enchanted forest to capture monsters and learn how to program them by completing coding puzzles. Then your monsters get to battle in the multiplayer arena.

CodeCombat takes you into a magical world that combines gameplay with personalized instruction in coding and practice using text-based coding to survive a fantasy adventure. This game is designed for 9 to 16 year-olds and requires reading and typing skills. Players can learn to code in JavaScript, Python, HTML, and more.


Saundra Wever Frerichs, Science Education Specialist, Click2SciencePD

“My work – tightly focused on informal science education – has included efforts with 4-H and other youth development organizations and museums in the US and UK. In the area of developing resources for learning, my work has included museum-based programs for youth, adults, and educators; science learning kits; museum gallery exhibits and traveling exhibits; youth curricula; and educator professional development.”