New code-teaching toys at libraries help kids learn STEAM skills

March 4, 2019

Teaching computer coding is not a new concept in Virginia Beach public libraries. Visitors can find a variety of library classes that teach basic computer coding skills; you can even borrow a robot to take home and learn a few skills, while having some fun.


New library programs, for children in kindergarten to second grade, also teach basic computer coding skills, but now with wooden robots, rather than computers or other devices that are typically associated with computer "coding."


Cubetto and KIBO, both, teach the basics of computer programming.


Cubetto is a wooden robot that explores the world through different stories, while KIBO encourages imagination through creative play.


Both toys help spark interest in science, engineering, art, technology and math concepts, often referred to as "STEAM" concepts, without requiring a computer, tablet or smartphone to participate.


The "unplugged" nature of the toys removes barriers in teaching basic coding concepts to young children, who can't yet read instructions.


The city's library department purchased multiple sets of Cubetto and KIBO to use in programs throughout the library system.


The toys were funding by a $23,000 grant from the Virginia Beach Library Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that raises funds in support of library programs and services for the community.


For more about the foundation, visit


"Coding is the new literacy for the 21st century," said Nicole McGee, technology training coordinator at VBPL.



The new coding programs are entitled, "Adventures with Cubetto: Storytime," offered in eight classes across five branches in March and April; and, "Coding with Kibo," offered at Great Neck and Bayside Area Libraries.


"Coding is the new literacy for the 21st century," said Nicole McGee, technology training coordinator for the city's public library system. "It helps build skills essential for today's world, such as, problem-solving, collaboration and persistence. And, with computing jobs as the top source of all new wages in the United States, a basic understanding of coding is an important career development skill."


For registration and additional details about these and other programs, as well as, Take Home Tech options, visit



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