Countdown to Coding is an online tutorial designed to help library staff and other caregivers understand basic computer science concepts and learn to integrate these concepts into regular storytime and playtime. The entire course take about 1 hour to complete. At the end of the tutorial, 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: Countdown to Coding is on the ICfL Niche Academy platform. You will need to create a free account on Niche Academy to access to course. 


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.

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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