I have researched many coding platforms, and I have found Scratch by M.I.T is one of the best platforms for kids to start coding. In this blog post, I want to discuss the reasons I think Scratch is perfect for kids by showing you the features and benefits of Scratch.
Scratch Programming is visually appealing and easy to grasp for kids. It allows kids to see themselves more as creators than just consumers of computer games. Kids as young as 8 years old learn to think creatively, solve problems systematically, and work collaboratively with others on Scratch projects.
If you think you don’t have enough computer science knowledge or computer programming might be too complex for your kids, Scratch Programming could be your solution.
10 Reasons Why Scratch Programming Is A Good Choice For Kids To Start Learning To Code
1. Scratch is easy for kids to get started
It is easy to learn Scratch programming. Scratch is a visual, block-based programming language. Children can create games, interactive stories, or animations by dragging and dropping coding blocks.
Each type of command block comes in different shapes and colors. These attributes help kids to learn how and when to use them. They don’t get stuck on syntax and error messages.
2. Scratch Programming is fun and self-direct
While moving around the coding blocks, kids can see the result of their creation instantly. The coding environment is interactive and fun to operate.
The adorable characters, the lovely music, and funny animations will fill the learning time with smiles.
Scratch projects are easy to follow. Kids are often able to continue with the Scratch projects by themselves with limited adult support.
3. Scratch Programming teaches important coding concepts kids need to know
Although it is designed as a coding block, Scratch is a real programming language. Through the dragging and dropping of coding blocks, kids are communicating and giving commands to computers.
During the process of creating games or stories, kids learn about coding concepts like events, conditionals, loops, and procedures, etc.
4. Scratch builds logical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills
By learning Scratch programming, kids learn to think creatively and independently. The small challenges during the coding process push them to figure out solutions. While having fun creating computer games, kids are building logical-thinking and problem-solving skills.
5. With Scratch, Kids learn to be confident as creator, not just a player
Scratch encourages kids to create. Young coders see themselves as a creator, not just a player. They create stories, games, or animations and share them in the Scratch online community. Small successes give them a sense of achievement and confidence.
6. Scratch programming can be used to connect to hardware
Scratch can connect to the hardware. Kids can control devices or toys like LEGO WeDo 2.0, Joystick, Micro: bit, or Arduino Board through Scratch programming.
This ability opens up more creative possibilities for kids. They can code to control robots, create a game controller, or even a weather station.
At what age should you start coding with Scratch?
Kids can start learning to code as young as 5 years old. Scratch is designed for kids aged 8 to 16, but it is just a general guideline. Anybody can enjoy creating and sharing with the Scratch platform.
For younger kids who need simpler lessons, you can try out ScratchJr. It is the simplified version of Scratch. ScratchJr is designed for kids aged 5 to 7 years old.
What is Scratch? Background of Scratch
Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. It was started in 2003. It has been through 3 major upgrades. Scratch 3.0 was introduced in January 2019.
Before we look into more details about Scratch, here is an awesome introductory video of Scratch.
Scratch is also the name of the programming language you will learn. It is a visual programming language. Kids learn to code in Scratch by dragging and dropping the specially designed coding blocks.
Scratch is free of charge. It is available in multiple languages. The platform has been used in more than 150 countries to introduce coding to kids.
How does Scratch work?
There are two main features of Scratch: Learning to code and Community.
Once you have signed up for a FREE account with Scratch you are presented with 3 options:
This is the main coding platform where you start creating your games, stories, or animations. Coding is done by dragging and dropping the coding blocks.
This the Scratch online community sharing space. You can find all the games or projects created by other Scratch users. A good place to have fun and be inspired.
This the Scratch Tutorial and idea section. In this section, you can find the Getting started tutorial and activity guides.
All activity comes with a tutorial, downloadable coding cards, and educator guide.
Scratch is more than just a coding platform. It is a coding training platform as well. The educational materials like coding cards, educator guides, and tutorials allow older kids, parents, or teachers to learn the programming skill by themselves.
What are the interesting projects kids can do on Scratch?
For kids who just started, the Scratch team provides a library of Starter Projects. Young coders can play and make changes and add their own ideas into it.
Here a few of the starter projects that are suitable for new coders to check out.
Paint with Gobo
This little game reminds me of the classical programming language Logo. The code behind Paint of Gobo is simple.
The shape follows the movement of the computer mouse and plots its track on the screen.
Find out more about Paint with Gobo here.
This simple game requires the player to move the computer mouse to control the paddle. It teaches kids to integrate the movement of computer hardware (in this case, computer mouse) into a game.
Kids can challenge themselves by modifying the game. They can add more features like score tracking, adding more balls, etc to the game.
Find out more about Pong Starter here.
How about creating a piano on the screen by coding? This little project creates an on-screen piano. Each key of the piano plays a specific note.
Kids are free to change the sound and look of the instrument or add more keys and notes to the piano.
Find out more about Piano here.
There are more interesting projects available in the Scratch community. Encourage kids to explore, be inspired, and create.
I heard Python Programming is good for kids too. Which is better: Scratch or Python?
Python programming is another great choice for kids. However, for the first-time young coders, Scratch is often recommended.
Let me put it this way.
Scratch is perfect as an introduction to coding for kids. Kids at a very young age are often attracted by visuals, that’s why many kids enjoy playing and coding with Scratch.
However, Scratch is not a professional programming language. It is important to encourage kids to move on to text-based programming as soon as they are ready.
Python is a text-based programming language. It is used professionally in many industries. It is used to create websites, mobile apps, or complex data analysis, etc.
Python is often recommended for kids to learn due to its simple and English-like syntax. As long as kids are comfortable with text-based coding, learning python will enable them to explore deeper computer programming concepts and create more complex and powerful applications.
There are many benefits of teaching kids to code, Scratch is one of the best tools for young kids to get started. If you are teaching kids to code now, make sure to check out my blog post on Tips for teaching kids to code.