Education

Coding in Scratch for Kids

What is Scratch?

It is a visual programming language that lets users create a 2D world. Each block has unique code that you can find written into rules separately for each block with results live on the screen. Scratch is suitable for kids between the ages of 8-16, but it is also helpful for younger kids because it does not require typing.

Process of Scratch

Coding in Scratch for kids involves choosing the background and graphical characters known as sprites. These blocks combine and program the sprites to make a 2D world. The workspace is clear, and you can find a command palette to the left; a central panel where you can see the script for the selected sprite. In addition, you can find a live demonstration of the code on the top right (called ‘stage’), while you can see a list of the project’s sprites and backgrounds on the bottom right. The interface has a single window that keeps track of all the elements of the project.

Kids animate by using a command palette. The palette’ ‘Code’ tab has color-coded sections that include Sound, Motion, Events, Control, and Variables. It has a unique system that arranges different blocks according to simplicity and usefulness. Kids need to click and drag the blocks into the central pane to create the code.

Moreover, each block consists of default parameters; you can quickly check what each block does. In addition, you can change the values to alter the background. Notably, you can find the palette organized and straightforward, allowing new coders to quickly learn the fundamental programming terminology and commands. There are ‘Costumes’ and ‘Sounds’ tabs that are useful to customize the color and sounds of the sprites and backgrounds.

Blocks in Scratch consist of different shapes similar to blocks/lego; this helps create connections easily. Notably, the blocks that do not make any computational sense to combine cannot fit together. For instance, the C shape of the ‘repeat’ block shows that the user needs to place the other blocks inside. On the other hand, Boolean blocks encompass a hexagonal shape, and thus it is best to fit in the corresponding gaps.

When you drag a block, Scratch indicates a white highlight over the block where you need to attach it. If you make an error while choosing values, you will see a red border around the sequence of blocks that suggests something is wrong.

When blocks combine, the top-right ‘stage’ shows a live demonstration of the code. Kids can drag and move blocks in and out, and they do not need to go through a lengthy script before using their code. Tinker is one of the key features and lets users experiment with different sets and combinations of commands.

Show your Creative Skills on Scratch

Scratch offers multiple projects for users and has features like a ‘low floor, high ceiling, and wide walls.’ The benefit of various activities is they provide programming freedom to users and a meaningful personal connection to their learning. Most commonly, projects incorporate interactive stories, puzzles, presentations, tutorials, art, and music. Interestingly, many schools are making Scratch part of their ICT curriculum to improve kids’ learning experience.

Moreover, Scratch presents plentiful opportunities to users to show their creativity. Kids can customize their projects by designing or uploading sprites and backgrounds to enjoy the immersive experience of their programmed world. Scratch helps increase kids’ creative skills as they can use visuals and audio files of their choice. Interestingly, it does not need any typing skills.

Furthermore, Scratch (Scratch 3.0) has introduced an innovative extension system with new blocks sections. Kids can use this system by connecting the new sections to program physical devices like motors and lights in the micro:bit or LEGO MINDSTORMS robotic kits. In addition, they can program sprites to speak foreign languages using a Google Translate extension. They can also talk loud with an Amazon Text-to-Speech extension. Moreover, it has a Video Sensing extension where sprites react to movements sensed through a webcam.

You can find many tutorials on the Scratch website that assists new coders with different types of projects like stories, games, animation, art, and music. It is helpful for kids to learn from in-platform tutorials or download coding cards to understand the process entirely.

Scratch Promotes Peer Sharing

Coding for kids has remarkable benefits for kids because they can learn from peer sharing and self-directed learning with the help of instructions. It allows kids to upload their projects to Scratch’s website and receive good remarks for their projects. Besides, budding coders can also ‘remix’ the projects of advanced users and code online. It will teach them about the reuse of online materials. Users upload thousands of new projects on the Scratch website daily. Kids can also connect with other coders and ‘Scratchers’ and get involved in joint projects.