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Scratch - Lifelong Kindergarten Group, MIT Media Lab

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Want to get in touch with your inner child? Get Scratch! Warning: The use of this application is quite fun and engaging! Scratch is a downloadable program that creates interactive ...more
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Want to get in touch with your inner child? Get Scratch! Warning: The use of this application is quite fun and engaging! Scratch is a downloadable program that creates interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art. This application can be used for bringing simple ideas and projects to life. It has great use as a paint program without using the animations. Download/install files are available for Mac or PC. Menu tabs include an Idea tab where you will find a Getting Started Tutorial, Activity Guides, Coding Cards, and Starter Projects. FAQs and support pages are also available for help in using the application.

Material created can only be viewed within the program. Drawings are not saved as a JPG or pic file. However, a "snapshot" of the screen can be created by using these keys in Mac: apple, shift, and 4 and click/drag to surround the portion to save. In PC use: control/print screen. These snapshots can be uploaded or used as a picture in other applications.

tag(s): animation (62), coding (90), computational thinking (41), critical thinking (112), design (79), drawing (60), problem solving (226), STEM (265)

In the Classroom

Be sure to "play" with this program before you present it to students; or, you could have computer savy students in your class pair up with not so savy students to investigate together. There are many tabs, folders; and icons to investigate. You (or students) could click Create and in the center pane, click on the tutorial. To begin your creation follow the steps in the tutorial. Once you have the idea, choose your own features from the menu on the left, and on the bottom right are two more menus; Look for the cat icon and the backdrops. Different colors, pens, and materials can be used to create the background or an image can be brought in from your computer. Objects in Scratch are called a Sprite and can be added in by choosing the folders below the screen. By clicking the script tab, blocks can be moved in to create motion, add sounds (even record your own message), and change the look of the Sprite. Blocks are linked on to each other to create a series of events. A control block dragged to the top of the blocks control which key starts the event. Advanced options include adding variables and other controls.

Be sure to check with your Technology Department, as many districts require authorization to download or install new applications. Projects can be shared online; however an account is required.

Work is saved to the computer itself and only shared online via an account. To avoid problems concerning content made by outsiders or issues with sharing, save the work locally and either create your own gallery on a supervised class website/wiki or set up a single account where you share the "best" projects online via your own log-in. Remind students of the school's Acceptable Use Policy and consequences of violations, if you do allow them to join/share. Images used should adhere to all copyright rules. Use pictures taken in class or those with Creative Commons licensing (and provide attribution!).

Practical tips: Students quickly catch on to this program when allowed to play and easily see what they can make from it. Provide a simple assignment with defined rules/tasks to learn the tools. Younger students may familiarize themselves more easily working with a partner. Have students use a storyboard to write down what they will do/draw/say in their creation in order to keep tabs on what students and their creations.

Possible uses: For the lower grades, Scratch provides unlimited possibilities. Use as a new way to show vocabulary usage. Use the paint program to add information to a picture from your class field trip or science experiment. Use Scratch to help in storytelling a concept in a new and unique way, such as how rocks are formed. In the upper grades, use Scratch to show complex material in a new way. For example, students can draw DNA and show replication, etc. through their drawings and storytelling. Draw the different movements of landforms in plate tectonics. Draw or illustrate solutions to Math problems.

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