It’s great to see the arrival of ScratchJr which is now available to download for free on the iPad, here’s the link.
ScratchJr is a graphical programming language, meaning you build programs by combing command blocks together for the programmable objects, called sprites, (such as the cat that loads by default) in your project. There are a range of command types which can be used to create programs, including motion, looks and sounds commands. There is also a repetition command which can be used to repeat parts, or all of, a program by a fixed number of times.
The layout of ScratchJr is similar to that of Scratch (http://scratch.mit.edu/scratch_1.4/) making it an ideal programming language for pupils in key stage 1 and early key stage 2 as it prepares them for moving on to Scratch when they are ready.
How does it work?
I’ve made a quick walkthrough video to introduce you to the ScratchJr programming environment. It goes through creating a simple animation and explores the different commands in the process. Please click the link below to view it.
How would I use ScratchJr with my pupils?
ScratchJr is ideal for pupils to use to program animations. The content of the animation could link to any number of wider curriculum topics that your pupils are learning about at the time (historical figures discussing their achievements or animals naming themselves and their habitats for example!). I’ve made a very, very simple (sure others could do far better) planning sheet for pupils to use – it assumes pupils’ animation will have just one background and two characters… so it’s quite basic. You can download it here: ScratchJr Plan By firstly completing this sheet, pupils plan their animation as they write the algorithm describing how the characters are going to move and what they are going to say. They can then implement this animation in ScratchJr using the commands. Simple 🙂
If you give this a go, please let us know how you got on…