Thinking Sideways: Computational Thinking and Early Literacy

How do we prepare young children to be able to communicate and express themselves in any medium? What are the key critical thinking skills that young children need in order to understand, navigate, and create material in all formats?

Computational thinking is a problem-solving process often associated with computer science, programming, and coding. However, the universal ideas behind computational thinking—decomposition, pattern recognition, and abstraction and algorithmic design—are concepts most children’s librarians and early childhood educators know. By exploring the relationship between early literacy and computational thinking skills, library staff can challenge themselves to think differently about the ways their work supports the whole child.

This on-demand webinar explores components of computational thinking, what it looks like in early childhood, and how library staff use developmentally appropriate activities to support whole-child development. Young children can become successful problem-solvers, creative thinkers, and lifelong learners at the library.

Originally presented December 4, 2018.

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this on-demand webinar, participants will:

  • Learn what computational thinking is, especially in early childhood;
  • Be able to make connections between early literacy and computational thinking skills; and
  • Learn how computational thinking can be introduced in library programs for young children using unplugged and digital activities.

Additional Resources

Who Should Attend

This free on-demand webinar is intended for children's services staff, managers, library directors and administrators, early literacy specialists, and technology specialists with limited or no knowledge of computational thinking.


Claudia HainesClaudia Haines supports kids, teens, and families with dynamic programs and access to great media of all kinds as the youth services librarian at the Homer Public Library in Alaska. She advises and trains other librarians on media mentorship and serves on both local and national committees that support families and literacy. She has written for multiple sources on the topic of media mentorship and literacy in the Digital Age.

Paula LangsamPaula Langsam is a children’s librarian at DC Public Library. With the Libraries Ready to Code grant, she led a group of library staff in creating and presenting family programs about computational thinking across the city. She is a contributor to the “50+ Coding Projects” publication expected in 2019.



This on-demand webinar is free and available 24/7 for your viewing convenience.

How to Register

No registration is required.

Tech Requirements

To playback this archived webinar you should have either the latest version of Flash running on your computer, or use a browser with native HTML5 support. Please use the most up-to-date version available of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer. A fast Internet connection and computer is recommended.

Credits or CEUs

PLA does not award credit hours, or CEUs, for its on-demand webinars and cannot verify participation.


If you have questions or problems accessing a recording, send a message to or call 800-545-2433 ext. 5PLA (5752).