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How to get your kids programming in one lesson with Scratch

For those of you who are not familiar with Scratch it is a computer programming language specifically aimed at students.  It removes all of the boring and meticulous coding elements by substituting a jigsaw like interface that allows the user to create video games, basic applications and multimedia by simply snapping together programming code in seconds which you can run immediately.

You'll need to download and install it first. Totally free of course.

I have had great success with Scratch with students as young as grade three.  They really love the fact that they can create a video game much the same as Mario Bros or Sonic with little to no effort.  Teenagers especially will appreciate the chance to do some programming.

Well if you are a complete newbie to Scratch and want to get your kids programming in one session this is what you have to do

1:  Before you start the lesson go to the support section and print out the 12 Scratch cards.  These have all the coding and examples of how to do specific tasks in Scratch such as animate a Sprite and add some basic image effects.  You'll need about 3 of each to keep things moving fluently

2:  Get your kids together and go to www.scratch.mit.edu.au and find the video introductions here.  Watch a couple of these with your kids just to get them enthused and to understand the basics of the interface in just a few minutes.

3:  Go to the Scratch Gallery and show your students on of the many thousands of video games made by their peers.  I tend to show them the Mario Bros remakes as this really impresses them.  There is a great one here.  Let your students know that they can download any game from Scratch and its code to alter it anyway they like.  More importantly they can upload their won finished products.

4: Finally hand out the cards.  It should take about 1 hour to work through all activities. And then let your students know it's up them from here.  Scratch is totally free and you can download it at home.  I gurantee in a couple of days you will have a few students show you something they have created and want to share with you and your peers.

It really is that easy.  Of course you can take it a lot further.  I'd love to hear how you go with it and I really like o hear from some Scratch Pro's as t what you are using it for?