Apps, Computer Science, Education, Games, K-12, Student Products, Teaching Tools

Scratch Your Itch to Learn Programming

image from Scratch Jr. Kickstarter site
image from Scratch Jr. Kickstarter site

Yesterday I mentioned the free online course being offered by Mitch Resnick and his colleagues at the M.I.T. Media Lab called, “Learning Creative Learning.”  It starts today, so check out my post if you are interested – no registration required!

Mitch Resnick, of course, is one of the creators of Scratch, a great (and also free!) way for anyone to learn the basics of programming.  I noticed that there is a Scratch Day coming up on May 17, 2014, and I want to encourage to mark your calendars for that date.  Even if you don’t choose to host a Scratch day event, you can visit the site to find events in your area.  According to the site, “The events are for educators, parents and children 5 years and older. Beginner Scratchers are welcome!” If you haven’t done any Scratch programming before, this might be a fun opportunity for you to learn.  Last semester, I attended a Scratch class with my daughter, and I was so glad that I did!

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 4.24.59 PM

You also might be interested to know that Scratch Jr. is currently a Kickstarter project.  Scratch Jr. is designed for students 5-7 as an introduction to programming.  It uses the same concept of snapping together programming blocks on the screen to create interactive stories and games as the original version of Scratch (designed for 8 years and up).

Scratch Jr. is being developed for the iPad, but will hopefully be available eventually on multiple platforms.  The creators are determined that it will be free for everyone when it is released, so they are looking for Kickstarter backing now to pay for the cost of creating it.

I have seen how excited students get about Scratch, and about programming.  I can’t wait for Scratch Jr. to be available for my younger students.  This will be a valuable resource for educators and parents everywhere to help their children learn sequencing, logic, and the joy of creating in a new “language.”

To see more of my posts about programming for kids, type in “programming” in the search bar on this page, or visit my Pinterest Board.


Apps, Education, Games, K-12, Problem Solving


Cargo-Bot is a free iApp that I can’t decide if I love or hate.  Currently, I am stuck on one of the levels – and it’s in the Easy Category.  But, I can’t stop!  I will keep working on it until I figure it out.  This is why it would probably be a good app for gifted students.  They need challenges that they cannot immediately solve, but that they really want to unravel.

While navigating Cargo-Bot, users are learning the basics of computer programming.  This may not sound like fun, but this app is strangely alluring with its simplicity.  The user is asked to direct the program to move colored crates into certain configurations.  It gives tutorials, and then progresses to the challenges, which begin at Easy.  After Medium and Hard are the Crazy and Impossible levels.  I am halfway through Easy.  I think this says more about my ability to do logic than it does about the difficulty of the app…