Scratch is great for coding! Scratch is a free helpful tool, developed by the MIT Media Lab, for learning how to code. It is a visual block-based programming language that is designed to be easy to use and understand, especially for beginners.
With Scratch, kids and teens can create interactive stories, games, and animations by dragging and dropping blocks of code. This empowers students to focus on learning the logic behind coding, without getting stuck if they make a typo in their syntax.
As a result, Scratch is an engaging way to quickly learn fundamental coding concepts, such as loops, conditionals, and variables. Even within their first time interacting with the tool, learners are able to see their code really come to life and make things they're proud of, from a bouncing ball game, to a story about their day, to teaching someone how to sign something in American Sign Language.
Furthermore, Scratch provides all children, from all backgrounds, with opportunities to learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively - not just learn to code. These skills are essential for everyone in today's fast-changing world, not just those planning to become engineers and computing professionals.
Jump right into learning Scratch coding with live expert guidance in a class designed by professionals from Google, Stanford and MIT:
Is Scratch the Best Programming Language for Beginners?
Scratch coding is the best programming language for child and teen beginners, especially for younger students. However even for middle and high schoolers can benefit from learning with it too. Here are just a few of the many reasons why it's a great place to begin:
- Visual: You how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? Well, Scratch helps kids harness coding concepts by using a very visual language. It uses blocks of code (think LEGOs) that represent different actions or commands. This makes it easier to understand and work with, especially for beginners who may not be familiar with text-based programming languages.
- Interactive creative outlet: With Scratch, you can create interactive stories, games, and animations. This makes learning to code more fun and engaging because students can literally watch their work come to life. As they code in the interface of the left, they're able to run their code on the right to watch it in action.
- Teaches fundamental coding concepts: Scratch is a great way to learn fundamental coding concepts, such as loops, conditionals, and variables, in a hands-on and interactive way. These same concepts are later used in even more complex real-world programming languages such as Python.
- Easy to use and free: Scratch has a simple and user-friendly interface that is easy for beginners to navigate. The website also has a variety of video tutorials kids can follow and incorporate their own ideas within, and make their own variations from, to start learning how to use Scratch's many features. Scratch is always free and is available in more than 70 languages worldwide. All you need is an Internet connection!
- Large community: Scratch has a large and active community of other kids (and even adults such as Griffpatch) who share their projects, offer support, and collaborate with one another. More than 120 million projects have been made on Scratch, and there are more than 100 million members. This can be a great resource for learners who want to get help or feedback on their projects, or even inspiration for what to make next.
- Make real world things: Combine the magic of digital and physical worlds! You can even run motors and other hardware sensors off Scratch. With tools such as Microbit, kids can make their own game controllers.
Watch how easy it is to get started with Scratch coding:
While students are learning with Scratch at all levels (from elementary school to college) and across disciplines (such as math, computer science, language arts, social studies), it is important to note that Scratch is a limited programming language, and there are some tasks it can't perform. The block-based nature of Scratch can make it difficult for users to have fine-grained control over their code.
How Effective is Scratch for Teaching Kids to Code?
Scratch is very effective for teaching kids to code. But beyond that it's teaching them to learn! In the process of creating and sharing Scratch projects, students are not only learning important mathematical and computational concepts, but also they are deepening their understanding of ideas in other disciplines and developing a broad range of problem-solving, design, collaboration, and communication skills.
In the Coding at a Crossroads study, authors Mitchel Resnick and Natalie Rusk conclude that in many educational settings, coding is introduced in narrow ways that focus primarily on teaching specific concepts, rather than supporting students in developing the creativity, collaboration, and communication skills needed to thrive in today's world.
However, in their research group, they've developed four guiding principles for supporting creative learning and computational fluency, which they call the Four Ps of Creative Learning: Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play, and Scratch employs all four which helps kids learn more effectively.
- Projects: Provide students with opportunities to work on meaningful projects (not just puzzles or problem-solving activities), so they experience the process of turning an initial idea into a creation that can be shared with others.
- Passion: Allow students to work on projects connected to their interests. They will work longer and harder—and learn more in the process.
- Peers: Encourage collaboration and sharing, and help students learn to build on the work of others.
- Play: Create an environment where students feel safe to take risks, try new things, and experiment playfully.
Today Scratch is the world’s largest coding community for children and teens, ages 8 and up. Keep in mind there are some drawbacks including minimal moderation on the platform, and kids need to be self-motivated to keep learning. They may also have questions no one is able to help answer.
So another option is to learn Scratch coding with the help of a live expert. Many coding platforms offer classes and lessons in Scratch, such as nonprofit Code.org, and Create & Learn to help guide kids through the process of learning and building their creativity in a safe, collaborative environment.
In Create & Learn's award-winning small group live online Scratch classes (and Accelerated Scratch classes for middle schoolers and up), students will be challenged to be creative and solve tough (but fun!) problems while learning how to create a cool interactive game with a ball, conquering a wizard tag game, building animations with moving and talking characters (also called Sprites) based on their interests, and even navigating and customizing a jungle adventure! Students will build their critical thinking skills and learn core coding concepts such as loops, conditional, events, cloning, sensing, and variables, through exciting new projects in every session - and so much more. There's no risk in trying today with a free introductory session led live by an expert.
So Is Scratch Good for Coding?
Now you know if it's the right fit for your student! Up next, start them out with a fun tutorial on how to create a game on Scratch.