Scratch – Visual Programming for Kids

Scratch – Visual Programming for Kids

Scratch is a free programming learning application designed for children. The authors emphasize that Scratch is forever a free application. It exists in versions for Windows, macOS, ChromeOS, Android and, iOS, as well as a website. It was created and is maintained by the non-profit organization Scratch Foundation. The programming language used in the application is called Scratch; it was created by MIT Media Lab. Scratch 3.0 is the latest version of this application released in 2019.

What is Scratch?

In short, Scratch is an application, programming language, and online community. Scratch is the largest programming community for children in the world. The programming language is specifically tailored for kids. The most common use of Scratch is creating animations, games, or simply telling stories. The application’s website provides a step-by-step guide for those who are starting to have fun or work with this application.

The Scratch Foundation primarily focuses on computer literacy in children. It teaches them computational thinking and problem-solving skills using creative learning and collaboration methods. Typically, the application is used by children between 8 and 16 years old. For younger children (5-7), a simplified version called ScratchJr has been created. The Scratch community is dedicated to protecting children’s rights and privacy. It supports a playful but safe environment that suits children’s needs. All users must adhere to the Community Guidelines. The community encourages users to report inappropriate content. Data that Scratch has about its users are not shared with anyone else. Having an account is not necessary to play or program in the application, but it is required to save projects, share them, and comment on the forum.

Scratch - Desktop

Scratch is supported by all major web browsers as a web application. This allows it to exist on every platform, reaching a larger number of children. Another way is to install the standalone application on Windows, macOS, ChromeOS, Android, and iOS. The Android and iOS versions are designed for tablets, while separate mobile phone applications only allow viewing of projects at the moment. Although the official website states that Linux is not currently supported, we found Scratch Desktop 3.0 Offline Editor for Linux on GitHub. (The screenshot above was taken on the Linux platform.) The installation versions of the application are useful when there is no internet access or when computer hardware capabilities are very weak. Currently, working in Scratch is possible in over 70 languages.

Programming in Scratch

Programming in this application is easy, if programming can ever be easy. When working in Scratch, the following sequence is typically followed. Upon entering the application, a new project is opened or a previously started project is continued. Then, characters and objects are chosen from the provided gallery, or new ones are created. Now, programming the behavior of the characters and objects begins. This is done using a visual block-based system. Users drag and connect blocks with functions and statements to define any changes in the code of the characters and objects. These changes can include movement, sound playback, text display, and much more. Drawing and animation tools are used to create backgrounds, effects, and transitions between scenes. Testing of the created program is also done within the application itself. The created project or program can be shared with others or uploaded to one’s web page. That’s a brief overview of working in Scratch. Of course, when it comes to programming, nothing is as simple as smoothly going from the beginning to the end of the process.

The Importance of Scratch

Some of the most popular projects created in Scratch include Flappy Bird, Super Mario Bros, Geometry Dash, Undertale: Sans Battle, and Piano Tiles. The authors wanted to encourage children to explore, try things out, and experiment. The idea was to present programming in an interactive and fun way.

Creating a user-friendly environment for children, especially those under the age of 13-14, to program was not an easy task. Their cognitive functions have not yet matured to the level of understanding the abstract concepts that programming involves. Additionally, the application had to be appealing to children to hold their attention. Judging by the number of users, Scratch has succeeded in this regard.

We live in an age of information technology, and the future will undoubtedly be even more so. Understanding the basics of programming is becoming a matter of general culture and basic literacy. This knowledge also opens doors to easier job opportunities. Not all children around the world have the social and financial means to afford formal computer science education. They are forced to seek alternative options, and Scratch is one of the best options available.

Windows, macOS, ChromeOS, Android, iOS, and the website



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