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Back to Early Math Symposium June 2024

Creative Coding: How Block Play Develops Computational Thinking

Red block, blue block, red block. What comes next? Among the many benefits of block play is the opportunity to develop computational thinking. Even very young children can use blocks to create patterns and solve problems, while building a foundational understanding of coding and algorithms. Learn more about the surprisingly rich connections between block play and computer science. Presenter Ann Gadzikowski, author of Robotics for Young Children, will share ideas and activities that can turn open-ended block play into exciting learning experiences that teach a range of STEM skills and concepts.

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  • Presentation PowerPoint


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Ann Gadzikowski

Ann Gadzikowski is an award-winning author and educator with a passion for challenging children to think creatively and critically. Ann’s book Robotics for Young Children won the Midwest Book Award for Best Educational Book and her book Creating a Beautiful Mess won gold in the National Parenting Publications Awards. Ann’s newest book with Redleaf Press -- Problem Solving with Young Children -- offers teachers practical ideas for inquiry-based learning in early childhood classrooms.


Ann has many years of experience as a teacher and director of early childhood programs and her work with children embraces both the arts and the sciences. Ann’s credentials in music and literature informed her role as executive director of Preschool of the Arts, a Reggio-Emilia inspired school in Madison, Wisconsin. Ann also developed expertise in robotics, computer science, and engineering through her role as early childhood coordinator for Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development.


Ann currently serves as the director of Families Together Cooperative Nursery School in Chicago, and teaches early childhood courses at Oakton College. For more information, visit

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