The learning environments we design for children are always evolving Key concepts to consider when evaluating resources and tools to add should include creativity, cooperative learning combined with opportunities for coding and experience with Computational Thinking skills. There are several tools and resources available that nurture these skills, some screen free and some online. Scratch is a FREE online resource to evaluate for consideration in your classroom.
A project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group, MIT Media Lab, Scratch is a block based creativity tool designed for children. Easy to use and learn for users of ANY age, Scratch provides a blank slate where learners can create an animated illustration of a concept they have learned, stories, games, and quizzes. These are just a few examples. Because Scratch has that “no ceiling, no basement” environment for learning, that I feel is critical, there is no complete list of what a student can do or ways to integrate it within the curriculum. Scratch also works with auxiliary tools such as MaKey MaKey, and Dexter Robots, furthering opportunities for creativity. While there are those who see Scratch as an introductory tool for Programming (coding) , Scratch does not provide an authentic programming experience that they would encounter in languages such as Python, C+ or Java.
Logo, created at MIT Media Lab as well, is a text based language written specifically for younger children, (K-12) and is what I would recommend if you are looking for something to introduce programming. Logo has been teaching students programming for 30 years integrates especially well with Math curriculum.
ScratchEd Meetups provide a great opportunity to learn more, see examples, and get started if you choose. Meetups also provide an opportunity for those already using Scratch to exchange ideas, tips, and help others. To see if there is a ScratchEd Meetup near you click here. Don’t see one in your area? Why not host one? Click here to learn more.