Coding... That unknown entity!

A look at computational thinking and problem solving
Reading time: 4 minutes


Computational thinking was first proposed by the American computer-science expert Jeannette Wing in 2006. According to Wing, computational thinking allows us to “reformulate an apparently complicated problem into workable units that we are able to solve, by simulating it, or by incorporating or transforming it into something else”.

Basically, it is a mixture of cognitive skills which come in extremely useful for solving everyday problems, including quite tricky ones. These kinds of abilities, which would be an asset for anyone and not only for computer experts, have been championed by the European Community as a key competence for citizens in general and a basic in compulsory education, on a par with reading, writing and doings sums!

What exactly is computational thinking and how can we get better at it?

This skill can be described as:

  1. Breaking a problem down into smaller parts;
  2. Analysing data and organising it in a logical fashion;
  3. Working out which elements keep cropping up in different situations;
  4. Arranging the information in an orderly manner;
  5. Setting out instructions for solving the problems (creating algorithms);
  6. Last of all, learning from the experience and using the knowledge to tackle future problems.


But let us give you an example. When a child is learning to tie their laces, they are building an algorithm in their heads, or rather a sequence of operations that will allow them to go from A to B (to have their shoes laced up). This algorithm will be then generalised and applied to all similar situations.

A pupil who is trying to solve a mathematical problem also uses computational thinking. The problem requires them to analyse and organise the data, breaking it up into smaller units, and then to apply the correct algorithms (e.g. the actual operations) used for other problems with a comparable structure.

In addition to the practice kids get in everyday life, we can find a host of different tools online for our children to play with and hone their computational thinking, creativity and problem-solving abilities even further. The most famous one is undoubtedly Scratch (, a digital environment designed by the MIT of Boston which allows users to invent animated cartoons, stories, video games and artistic drawings...the only limit is your imagination!


Products like this are created using a block-based programming language, meaning that sequences of instructions are written to define the behaviour and interaction of the various characters and backdrops. If you have children aged between 4 and 6, we recommend that you choose ScratchJr (, the junior version of the Scratch world!

Another really famous platform for enhancing computational thinking is ( it contains plenty of guided exercises that will help you discover the world of programming and learn the basic notions of computer science in a fun way.

If, on the other hand, you want to stick to “pen and paper” (so, “coding unplugged”, as it is called), we suggest that you download the free e-book called Computer Science Unplugged (here is a link to the English version or take a look at another link called Programma il Futuro (Programme the Future) ( that gives lots of interesting insights and amusing exercises that will help kids gradually learn about binary numbers, algorithms, graphs and much more!


Computational thinking and its advantages

There are lots of different programming languages available so we can improve our coding abilities and skills by creating “lists of instructions” that will come in handy for solving a problem.

Working coding into play experiences helps kids to develop both digital and transferable skills.

Indeed, coding activities may require children to interact with robots;

children may interact with a variety of digital tools, such as computers or tablets; they often have to carry out internet searches, explore interfaces and organise or transfer files. These are all instances of digital skills to be honed and really are a growth opportunity for children in this day and age.

While kids are playing with coding, they are also practising other skills: they are learning to plan their work, they are proceeding by trial and error in order to achieve their goal and they are learning the value of making mistakes.

All of these abilities are transferable, or soft, skills, and they are universally recognised the world over for being indispensable in today's society and the world of work in the twenty-first century.

And let's not forget another fundamental factor. Coding, creating sequences of blocks, inventing digital products based on one’s passions and interests and building robots are all activities that put children in a position to “push the boundaries” when it comes to accepted practices and an ordinary view of technology! From passive users they become active designers (as Seymour Papert already predicted in the 80s) and this helps them to delve into the workings of the digital world and become more aware citizens.

Now that we know more about the great potential of coding and the importance of computational thinking, we can start playing and experimenting!

Older Post
Newer Post
Close (esc)

Sign up for our newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter and be the first to know about all the latest from the Clementoni world.

Privacy & cookie policy

Age verification

By clicking enter you are verifying that you are old enough to consume alcohol.


Menu principale

Shopping Cart

Your cart is currently empty.
Shop now