Scratch is a free graphical, drag and drop style, programming language for elementary & middle school kids, ages 7 -12. It is developed by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). It is a wonderful way to introduce your child to the concepts of computer programming! Why Learn Scratch will tell you all the benefits of teaching Scratch to your kids. Learn about Scratch by taking these Scratch Tours, which will show you some examples of what can be done. To try your hand at Scratch follow these steps:
- Download Scratch for free at Scratch Software.
- Install and launch the Scratch Software on your computer.
- Following the steps in Getting Started With Scratch.
- You can also watch video tutorials at Scratch Video Tutorials.
- Read over the Scratch Reference Guide. It’s pretty short and you will definitely understand how to use the Scratch interface after reading it.
- Now that you have a feel for Scratch, try some of the projects at Redware Scratch Projects. I am especially fond of the Fish! project, which I used for a summer programming project with some 4th and 5th graders at my son’s school. I had to break the steps down a little more, but the kids loved it! Redware Scratch Projects also offers great lesson plans & video training for parents or teachers interested in teaching their kids Scratch.
- Also take a look at the Learn Scratch website. This website also offers wonderful lesson plans & video training for parents or teachers interested in teaching their kids Scratch.
- You can learn everything you want to know about Scratch from the steps above. That’s how I did it. However, if you or your child feels more comfortable using a book, here are some options:
Enjoy & happy programming!
Here are links to some free programming environments & tools geared towards elementary & middle school kids. I introduced them in the order listed:
Elementary School Age (4th & 5th graders) & Early Middle School (6th grade):
Note: My 3rd grade daughter plays with Scratch, so younger kids can do it. It just depends on the kid. My experience at a local elementary school was that 5th graders seem to pick it up easier than 4th graders, but the 4th graders got it with a little more help. For the best way to learn Scratch using free web resources, see my Scratch Tutorial.
Middle School (6th – 8th grade)
Once your child has a good grasp on programming with these tools, you could introduce them to Arduino which is, basically, a programmable microprocessor/circuit board. It’s not free ($85), but it is way COOL! My geek momness is coming out…. We purchased ARDX – v1.3 Experimentation Kit for Arduino for my 11 year old son. Ben had a lot of fun building and coding the blinking LED. Coming soon… an Arduino tutorial on the best way of learning to use and program the Arduino utilizing free web resources.
As a software engineer, I wanted to introduce my children to computer programming concepts in a way that was fun. Scratch fit that quest. Scratch is a free graphical, drag and drop style, programming language for elementary & middle school age kids written by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). It is a wonderful way to introduce your child to the concepts of computer programming! Not only did I use it with my own kids, who loved it, but I also piloted a summer fun programming series with 4th and 5th grade students at a local elementary school. Over the summer, I emailed the kids detailed instructions each week and, of course, answered any questions via email. At the end of the programming series, the children had learned enough about Scratch to head off on their own. They also had a very cool program, which they wrote themselves, to show off to their family, friends and teachers. Most all of the students reported back that they loved it! Many went on to create some neat projects of their own.