At the April Tinker meeting, we talked about the digital media design program Scratch. We took a tour of the Scratch 2.0 interface and then did a short group project involving adjustable swirling dots. The directions are here.
Every time I do a Scratch program, I write out the directions for the project. (I wait until after the program to give the kids the directions. That way they can work on them at home and spend the time in class focusing on the group activity or trying to find answers on their own, with the help of classmates and the librarian.) Since I’ve been running Scratch programs since 2009, I have accumulated a substantial stack of projects, and I’m happy to share the directions. Here is a sampling: a Mad Lib and a Wimpy Kid-inspired game. If you have questions, or you’d like another set of directions for a different project, please e-mail me, Janet Piehl, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, here’s a recap of the basics of Scratch programs, à la Wilmette Public Library.
What is Scratch?
Scratch is a digital media design program created by MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten group. Users can make games, stories, videos, music, and more. It’s often described as an introduction to computer programming.
What works at Wilmette Public Library?
- Scratch is installed on PC laptops with Internet access.
- Classes accommodate ten kids, working individually.
- One librarian instructs. One other librarian or youth volunteer answers questions.
- Offered mainly to grades 5-9, occasionally to grades 2-4. Participants must be able to read confidently.
- Classes are usually two hours long, but we’ve also tried two two-hour sessions or one three-hour session.
- We usually do group projects. The librarian creates a project and goes through it step by step. Everyone starts one project together but finishes on their own. We try to make projects easy to customize.
- Occasionally we offer an Open Studio. Everyone does their own thing. We work on something simple together for the beginners in the group.
- Participants should bring flash drives to save their projects.
- Check out some of the WPL kids’ projects.
Scratch 2.0 was released in the summer of 2013. It runs in a browser. If kids create accounts, they can save their projects online. Scratch 2.0 can also be downloaded. If you have concerns about kids creating their own accounts or if your Internet connection is unreliable, this is the option for you. The previous version, Scratch 1.4, is also available for download.
Extra Sound Effects and Images
- Nelson, Jennifer and Keith Braafladt. Technology and Literacy: 21st Century Library Programming for Children and Teens. Chicago: American Library Association, 2012.
- Ford, Jerry Lee. Scratch 2.0 Programming for Teens. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2014.
- The LEAD Project. Super Scratch Programming Adventure! San Francisco: No Starch Press, 2013.
- McManus, Sean. Scratch Programming in Easy Steps. Leamington Spa, United Kingdom: In Easy Steps Limited, 2013.