Countdown to Coding is a series of online training modules designed to help library staff and other caregivers understand basic computer science concepts and learn to integrate these concepts into regular storytime and playtime. Each module takes about 15 – 20 minutes to complete. At the end of the training series, participants should feel comfortable describing five basic computer science concepts to families, selecting books that reinforce each concept, and engaging children with activities that help them learn about computer science.

Coding is a new literacy standard that today’s young children will encounter when they reach school. Libraries and childcare centers have the opportunity to help lay the foundation for understanding fundamental computer science concepts, just as they lay the foundation for reading by introducing early literacy skills.

NOTE: At the end of each Countdown to Coding learning module, you will need to fill out the survey that is linked to the last slide so that we can keep accurate statistics on who has completed this course.

Launch Countdown to Coding – Part 1: Codes & Algorithms
Launch Countdown to Coding – Part 2: Patterns & Loops
Launch Countdown to Coding – Part 3: Conditionals & Testing


These bookmarks explain each of the five computer science concepts discussed in the Countdown to Coding learning modules. Each bookmark also contains suggested picture books and activities to accompany each concept. Hand them out to families who attend your computer science storytimes.

These five storytime plans demonstrate each of the five computer science concepts covered in the Countdown to Coding learning modules. You can use the entire plan, parts of it, or just use it for inspiration as you create your own computer science storytimes.

Here is a survey you can hand out to families to help evaluate your computer science storytime (Note: this survey is based off the Public Library Association’s Project Outcome Early Childhood Literacy survey. If your library is participating in Project Outcome, email Jennifer Redford for an electronic copy of the survey):

Girls Who Code: Join students and educators across the country by partnering with Girls Who Code to bring computer science opportunities to elementary, middle and high school girls in your community! Girls Who Code Clubs are FREE after-school programs for 3rd-5th or 6th-12th grade girls to join a sisterhood of supportive peers and role models and use computer science to change the world. Learn more by signing up for an upcoming Girls Who Code webinar. has lots of lesson plans and online learning platforms for learning about computer science. The Unplugged Curriculum is especially useful when working with preschoolers.

Libraries Ready to Code is an initiative of the American Library Association that “provides resources and strategies for coding and computational thinking activities that are grounded, aligned with library core values, and support broadening participation.”

Dr. Marina Umaschi Bers, PhD, is a professor at Tufts university who researches computational thinking and coding for preschoolers. She has several studies that lay the foundation of how to engage young learners with computer science and her book, Coding as a Playground, is a solid professional development read.

Idaho STEM Action Center has Idaho-specific information about computer science initiatives and learning opportunities.

NOTE: Program is Full

Thank you to the 25 libraries who were the first to complete the Countdown to Coding Course and receive materials to implement computer science during regular storytimes. While ICfL no longer has books and tools to send to libraries that complete the Countdown to Coding course, we encourage anyone who is interested to take the modules and begin integrating computer science into their work with young children. The storytime plans, bookmarks and resource links will continue to be available to anyone who wishes to use them.

We’ll help you get started

In addition to the information contained in the training modules, the first 25 Idaho libraries with staff members who complete the entire training series will be eligible to receive the following:

  • A set of five hard-cover books that illustrate the five computer science concepts covered in the modules
  • 30 paperback picture books to hand out to families who attend a storytime at the library that introduces computer science concepts
  • Bookmarks that explain each of the five concepts to handout to families
  • A Botley coding robot that helps children learn how to code through pictures

In return for receiving these materials, libraries must agree to the following:

  • Introduce computer science concepts to families as part of regular library storytimes (you won’t be able to use computer science in every storytime, but we would like you to make it part of your routine)
  • Assess at least one of your computer science storytimes using this family survey, and return completed surveys to Jennifer Redford at ICfL (you may want to use the paperback books that we send you as incentives for providing feedback)
  • Fill out a short report on your experience within six months of completing the Countdown to Coding learning modules and receiving your computer science storytime materials

Thank you to the Idaho STEM Action Center for funding the creation of these learning modules.

Idaho STEM Action Center


Jennifer Redford

Youth Services Consultant
Email / 208-639-4147
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