Free Course: SCRATCH For Your Kids

SCRATCH for Your Kids is a free course that teaches how to lock colourful code blocks together (like Lego) into scripts that make a character (or sprite) do what you instruct it to do. All the scripts are deliberately short and easy to follow. SCRATCH coding is a new fun-filled art, literacy, music and magical maths medium that supports creativity, mental health and children’s learning. It was designed for children to be simple and engaging, giving them the tools to explore ideas and experiment with them on the screen. SCRATCH is free and used by millions in homes and schools to help slow learners and in libraries and computer clubs, to create online animations, picture games, word games, clicker puzzles, designs, patterns etc. Why just settle for playing games that others have created when you can create your own in SCRATCH? Play them on laptops, desktop computers, tablets and hand-held devices. To get the most out of the SCRATCH tools and features, a laptop or desktop is best.

Up and Away

To get Up and Away, have a quick look at the SCRATCH web site at https://scratch.mit.edu. Try one or two of its short tutorials. You can see for yourself that, SCRATCH is visual programming by dragging and dropping graphical code blocks from a palette into a coding area in the centre of your screen. Normally code is type-written. SCRATCH does it by snapping colourful blocks together (like pieces of a puzzle) into a script. Your script is a stack of blocks that makes a character (or sprite) do exactly what you command it to do. Make a cat follow the movements of a little mouse. Make the mouse run across the bedroom floor. SCRATCH can even be used by adults to support children’s learning at school or at home. SCRATCH takes the mystery out of coding and turns it into an exciting new creative and engaging hobby. It’s for everyone.

Art And Music

The 3 TABS in the top left corner of Scratch are Code, Costumes and Sound. Under Code you see the colourful palettes and code blocks. Click Costumes to see the sprite’s costumes and the toolbox to edit the sprite on a checkerboard background in the centre. This area is the Costumes Editor (also the Graphics, Paint or Backdrops Editor). Click Sounds to open the Sounds editor and at the bottom the Choose a Sound icon to open the Sounds library. With the Art toolbox in the Paint editor, you can draw sprites and costumes without code. With blocks from the Pen extension palette (see Section 4) you can code beautiful Design art. The Music extension is a musical playground to compose your own music with code blocks for notation, a wide range of instruments, percussion. Save the Stave lines and a unique Notation sprite to use in your own Scratch music projects. 

Fun PaletTes

The Fun Palettes are the Sensing, Operators, Variables and the Pen extension. They are the interactive tools that make the fun and enjoyment of SCRATCH complete. 9 palettes full of blocks, are all we need to excite and inspire creative coding. Count sprite collisions and interaction. Code one sprite to sense another sprite’s location, direction, costumes, size, colour and the distance between them. In the Mouse, Muffin and Cat Game, the Cat’s distance to the Mouse is its cue to move. Mouse touching Muffin can count as a score. Muffin reports the score and calls time on the game. The Variables and the round and pointed Operators (with not one stack block among them) all fit in perfectly, to contribute their magic to fun creation. The Fun Palettes are the key to creating amazing games, animations, puzzles, quizzes and interactive learning excitement for children of all ages.

Design Art

For Design Art code any sprite with the Pen (from the extensions). By default, the pen is up, blue and 1 pixel in size. Slider options of Color, Saturation and Brightness make any colour or shade possible, from white to black. At a size of 600 you can fill the stage with pen down. Get amazing designs from rotated copy images of your sprite with the stamp block. Combine the pen with the pick random operator to get beautiful live abstract art that mesmerises as it self-creates in front of your eyes (e.g. the Jelly Beans and Rainbow Spaghetti). Visit the Pen Art Gallery on page 65 for more. Rotational designs of geometric shape demonstrate another unlimited potential of the pen. Add Magic to a Maths in the classroom as an alternative to pen on paper (Sections 6 and 7). It is amazing what can arise out of one short script of code on the pen. The Pen can offer creative fun at any age.