My 5-year-old wrote his first computer program with Scratch

January 12, 2011

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My husband found this amazing program, Scratch, that lets kids write their own computer programs without knowing a single word of programming language.  Best of all, it’s created by the MIT Media Lab with lots of funding to make it completely free!

This little program may not look like much, but the cool part is:  My 5-year-old wrote it!  He calls it “fat the cat”.

The cat starts spinning and gets bigger and bigger, thus the ‘fat’ part.

He wrote it using these innovative programming ‘blocks’ used in Scratch.  Here’s an example of a piece of his code:

You use the blocks to animate your ‘sprites’ (images), give them sounds, change their colors, and lots more.  Then, you can put a ‘forever’ block around the whole thing and have the action keep repeating.

There is no complicated code to learn, and kids aren’t frustrated by typing the wrong punctuation or variable by accident.

My 11-year-old son wrote and posted his favorite program:  Stick Gun Wars.

I know.  Four boys and I’m still trying to encourage their less violent ideas.

He loves the big Scratch online community where he is able to learn from programs other kids have posted.  He browses through the Scratch creations online and when he finds one he likes, he looks at the code to see how it was programmed.  And when he finally finishes one he is proud of, he can post it for others to see.

It’s saying something that the first week my kids had this program, all four of the older ones spent every spare moment programming, and still love to poke around on it months later.

Here are some links to get you started:

If you have any other good programming tools for kids, we’d love to hear about them!

Enjoy!

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Posted under Homeschool Software

3 Comments »

3 Comments so far

  1. docmisty May 31, 2011 9:27 am

    Glad you’re enjoying it – this is an amazing resource and I was hoping to get the word out to more homeschoolers. With all the fun my kids have ‘gaming’ it’s great to teach them the creative side of how it’s done.

    Misty

  2. Annie Kate May 31, 2011 6:32 am

    Wow! I think you’ve give us a life-changer. Thank you so much!

    It will go on some of the kids’ summer dream lists, and it may even go onto my summer assignment lists!

    Annie Kate,
    Popping by from the Carnival of Homeschooling

  3. Michael Badger January 13, 2011 10:10 pm

    Scratch is an incredibly fun programming environment. Thought I’d share two other Scratch resources. MIT sponsors an annual community event called Scratch Day where small groups across the world gather to promote Scratch.

    I’m also the author of a book for parents/teachers/teens. called Scratch 1.4 Beginner’s Guide. for information and free Scratch tutorials, click on the link in my comment.

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