I have been following a fun topic over on Edutopia called Coding for Kindergarteners It is a fun read that lists a few great tools for introducing Coding to young children. The comments section keeps getting new suggestions all the time so I now get e-mails when ever someone posts. Many of the tools and techniques they suggest, I already use when working with young Kiddos, but new tools are being created on such a regular basis, that I find it immensely helpful to find a article like Coding for Kindergarteners. Especially where people are sharing new things they have tried out for themselves in a classroom setting.
One of the newest tools out there is one that MIT introduced for the iPad, Scratch Jr. It is geared toward pre-readers and makes use of drag and drop icon based programing. I think it will be a nice introduction to new and very young programers, however, I think we underestimate our Pre-K and Kindergarten kiddos when it comes to introducing them to coding. My Kindergarten aged kiddo has been working with the full 2.0 version of Scratch for over a year now and has become very good at it. He can tell me what the drag and drop blocks do even though his reading skills are not strong. He is able to navigate the interface at lightning speed and often shows me tricks that he has learned on his own. I wanted to share his latest project as it is a great example of what a very young child is capable of.
Lucas got up this morning and the first thing he did was pull up our Scratch program and start working on a project. I sat down next to him, after a little while to check my e-mail. He was adamant that I keep the Scratch window open so that he could continue to work on his project when I was done. I asked him what he was so intently working on. Just as he was about to clue me in, his older brother walked in. My youngest started yelling at his brother to go away. I was puzzled, I asked him why he was yelling at his brother. He said “I’m making a Birthday card on Scratch for his birthday.” Awe!! How cute. I couldn’t help but be interested now. I sat next to him and watched as he created two sprites and programed them to react when the space bar is pressed. He added a background and recorded his own sounds for the sprites to “say” a birthday greeting. It was really impressive to see a 6 year old take the initiative to make a card for his brother for his Birthday all on his own. It was very cool that I didn’t have to do a thing to help him (and that there was no messy clean up ♥)
With out further ado Check out Lucas’ Birthday card for his big Brother Jameson:
Press the green flag to start the program and then follow the instructions at the bottom of the screen.
When my mom came down from Oregon for a visit she sat down with him and he showed her how to use Scratch too. He helped her create a sprite and record her voice. Click on the “Nonna” icon (the middle stick figure) to hear her addition to the program.