ScratchJr finally brings programming for juniors to the iPad

In many new national curriculum's around the world coding is being viewed as a new form of literacy as we try to entice kids to become tech creators and not simply tech consumers.

Scratch Jr is the little brother to the very popular Scratch that was released nearly a decade ago by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or (MIT).  Scratch revolutionized coding for kids as it changed lines of irrelevant syntax with variable jigsaw pieces that could be manipulated by students with far more simplicity and success.

Scratch has never worked on the iPad unfortunately and there have been numerous forums discussing the potential of making it happen.

So ScratchJr is now available on the iPad and it is targeted at students aged 5 - 7 years old.  It is free.

As young children code with ScratchJr, they learn how to create and express themselves with computers, not just to interact with it. In the process, kid's learn to solve problems and design projects, and they develop sequencing skills that are foundational for later academic success. They also use math and language in a meaningful and motivating context, supporting the development of early-childhood numeracy and literacy.

ScratchJr is somewhat limited in what it can do in comparison to Scratch but then again it's also aimed at a younger audience. 

Younger students have no trouble picking up the concepts and the basic skills behind ScratchJr but you will really need to reinforce to them what they are doing with it or else it might just come off as a poor man's animation tool for the iPad.

If student understand they are in fact controlling a computer much like video game makers do they will value the process far more.

ScratchJr is available on iTunes now with Android coming soon.


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 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?