Making the Connection: Computational Thinking and Early Learning for Young Children and Their Families is a poster in the 2020 PNLA Virtual Poster Session. We encourage you to engage in discussion by leaving a comment on the page. The author of the poster will respond to comments the week of August 4-7, 2020.

Presenter: Claudia Haines, Jacqueline Kociubuk, Kathleen Campana, & Paula Langsam

Track: Public & School Libraries

Abstract: Curious about computational thinking (CT) for young children? Want to offer play-based learning experiences (digital and offline) for families that introduce key CT concepts alongside early literacy and math? Come learn more about PLA’s new white paper on computational thinking for young children and their families.


*While audio is embedded into the slides, speaker notes for this presentation are available by clicking on the settings icon.

About the Presenters: Claudia Haines is the Youth Services Librarian at the Homer Public Library. She supports the diverse learning needs of youth and families with dynamic programs and access to great media of all kinds. She works on projects locally and nationally that support families and literacy in a connected world. Contact Claudia at

Jacqueline Kociubuk, is a Youth Services Librarian in northeast Ohio. Her research is centered around inclusive experiences in children’s literature and library programming, non-traditional learning environments for youth, and public library outreach. Contact Jacqueline at

Kathleen Campana, PhD, is an assistant professor at Kent State University’s School of Information. Her research focuses on understanding the learning that occurs for children, youth, and families in informal and digital learning environments and how those environments support and impact the learning process. Contact Kathleen at

Paula Langsam is the Youth Services Manager at the Martin Luther King Memorial Library at DC Public Libraries. She provides service to all community members with a programmatic focus on youth and families. She began exploring how to incorporate computational thinking into public library work in 2017. Contact Paula at


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3 years ago

Thank you so much for teaching me about computational thinking. I wonder if you can talk more about how programming like this might intersect with a library’s makerspace.

Claudia Haines
Reply to  Rick
3 years ago

Hi Rick,
Great question! Tell me more about your makerspace! What kinds of activities happen there? Is it a space for multiple ages, including young children?
Makerspaces offer lots of opportunities for supporting CT, even with young children and families. Many of the projects typically supported in makerspaces (cooking, conductive paper or playdough play, origami, coding simple robots, etc.) can grow CT skills with intentional prompts or grown up tips that encourage kids to break projects down into smaller parts (decomposition), think through processes and their sequences (algorithmic design), as well as apply a skill in different ways (pattern recognition and abstraction). Library staff can turn familiar activities into CT moments with targeted prompts or questions, especially with young children and their families who may be hesitant to try something new.

3 years ago

Such a great presentation! Thanks for demonstrating simple ways to include computational thinking Have you explored or used any map-type abstractions in storytimes?

Claudia Haines
Reply to  niki
3 years ago

Hi Niki,
Yes, I have used map-type abstractions in several storytimes! I’ve had preschoolers help me map the story Going On a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen with pictures representing places the book family visits. National Geographic also has a nice story-based map activity that has helped groups of preschoolers in my storytimes better understand what the symbols on the a map can represent when shown in parallel to the images in a story, in this case Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins. (We used the map together during the story and then kids made animal puppets and colored their own map of Rosie’s Walk to take home and use for their own storytelling.) After reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, I’ve also guided play with a code-a-pillar that involved kids coding the small bots to find food (according to the sequence in the book) using a simple grid map taped on the floor. For example, they needed to add 2 straight blocks to move the bot ahead 2 taped sections to get the bot close to the lollipop from the story. This activity takes some kids more tries to achieve their goal, but still satisfying.
Did the presentation remind you of any other activities that support CT with young children?

Claudia Haines
3 years ago

Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by to learn about computational thinking with young children in libraries. Post your questions here and Jacquie or I will be replying all week.