Sunday, 21 February 2016

Getting Started with Scratch Coding in a Primary Classroom

I started coding with my students three years ago. I knew nothing about it, but was impressed with the opportunities for critical and creative thinking that arose from coding activities. The built in "failure leads to success" mechanism of adding code and being able to immediately test it was appealing as well. We started at and both the students and I learned as we went through the levels.

I had been introduced once, or twice to, but I thought it seemed very complex, and too hard to try with Primary students. Each time I checked out a project someone was sharing in Scratch, it looked something like this:

I used other options, but wanted to do more for students who were ready to move on. So I started playing around with Scratch. I found that it wasn't too hard for my students to use, we went step by step and began to learn how to use this powerful tool. I run a Primary Coding Club, consisting of Grade 1, 2, and 3 students and introduce them to Kodable, Scratch Jr, Hopscotch, and Lightbot. They love all of these apps and worked happily away learning to build various projects with code.

This year I decided to try something different, I wanted to see if I could introduce them to Scratch, and have them build their skills as they learned. I was surprised how well it went. Language seems to be the only barrier. I have created tutorials that will help teachers and students who have never tried coding before. All you need is an open-mind, a computer or Chromebook, and lots of enthusiasm!

I will list the first few tutorials here, and more are coming. I have tried these with various Grade 1 and Grade 2 classes, and the lessons have gone well. As time goes by lessons will be added that increase the complexity of the tasks. I am working with teachers in every grade up to Grade 6. None of them had any experience coding before, so don't be afraid to try!

Each of these tutorials can be played for the class, students should click on the Scratch Project Page link directly below the video to get started. It may be easier to take your students to this website where I am posting the tutorials:

The first tutorials focus on how to use Scratch. Here they are:

Getting Started with Scratch: 
Part 1, Part 2, Playing with Sound Part 1, and Part 2

1. "Hi, My Name is..."

Video Tutorial:

Scratch Project Page:

2. "Welcoming a New Student"

Video Tutorial:

Scratch Project Page:

3. "Playing with Sound Part 1"

Video Tutorial:

Scratch Project Page:

4. Playing with Sound Part 2" To do this project students will have to join Scratch, otherwise they won't be able to record their voice. Other advantages to joining Scratch is that they can save their projects, and share them with others. If you are not ready to have your students sign up, then just skip this tutorial.

Scratch Project Page: This is the main Scratch page. Students will need to click on the "Join Scratch" button. 

Stay tuned for more projects! Next time we will look at projects that need debugging!

Part 2: