Scratch Jr. is a free app for Android and iOS devices. It is an easy, fun program for future Web designers and developers. A much simpler version to its big sibling, Scratch, you can primarily create stories and animations.
I offer hour long programs for Kindergarten to 3rd graders. Scratch has lesson plans available online and the plans make it very easy to break the program down for young students (Lesson 1). I start the program off with a simple explanation for what coding is and why it is important. Then before I pass out the tablets (I strongly caution you to with hold the tablets till you are ready for them to play) we play Simon Says and explain how when you don’t say “Simon says” you aren’t supposed to perform the said task. This is similar to computers in the sense that unless you correctly tell the computer what to do, it can’t perform the task.
Next, we play “program the teacher”. I make a path out of computer paper and have them tell me how to get from one end of the path to the next. I use pictures of fruit, stand on the image of the apple and ask, “how many steps do I need to take and in what direction to get to the banana?” They have to tell you exactly what to do or you can’t do it.
After this, I hand out the tablets and go through each of the different color blocks, how to drag and drop, how to erase, start and go, how to add a sprite and background, and then it is play time. Here is a PDF for the block explanations.
Here is a PDF for Scratch Jr.’s complete lesson plans.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.
-Alison Tseng, Algonquin Public Library (firstname.lastname@example.org)