How to Code with Scratch for Kids

What is Scratch?

Scratch is a programming language and website designed and managed by the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab.

Scratch website serves as an online community for children to develop and share interactive media such as games and animations with people all around the world. While Scratch was initially created for children aged 8 to 16, it is suitable for people of all ages who want to learn about programming.

Scratch is intended for people of all ages; however, smaller children may wish to try ScratchJr. ScratchJr is a collaboration between Tufts University's Dev Tech Research Group, the MIT Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten Group, and the Playful Invention Company to produce a simplified version of Scratch for ages 5 to 7.

What is Scratch Jr?

How to Use Scratch for Kids

There are plenty of projects you can take a look at and get inspiration from in the Scratch community. So, instead of a project tutorial, here is a quick rundown of each component in Scratch and how you can use it to code with kids.

1. Start a Project

To begin a project, select "Create" from the menu bar. This will open the Scratch workspace. You'll see a box on the right called the preview window (it usually starts off with an orange cat on a white background) and a box below it containing any sprites and backgrounds used. On the left, you will see a list of programming blocks, and the middle of the screen is a coding area where you will create your program by combining blocks into routines.

2. Change Spites and Backgrounds

To change or add a sprite, click the blue cat symbol in the bottom right corner of the sprite window, then select the "Choose a Sprite" menu option. You may also remove a sprite by clicking the trash symbol in the upper right corner of the sprite image.

3. Add Coding Blocks

Once a sprite character is chosen, orders can be dragged from the block list area into the middle code area, allowing the sprite to carry out the commands.

Is Scratch Ideal for Your Kid?

Learning to code is a good practice in and of itself. The repetitive experience of taking a concept and turning it into a full program is especially beneficial for children. Scratch is the ideal tool for this because it is a high-level programming language that makes it easy to complete tasks rapidly.

Hopefully, this quick guide gave you an idea of how to code with Scratch and all you can do with it.