What to expect in the 1st Scratch class??



In this session, students are introduced to computational creation with the Scratch programming environment by viewing a collection of sample projects and engaging in an exploratory, hands-on experience.


The students will:

  • understand the concept of computational creation, in the context of Scratch
  • be able to imagine possibilities for their own Scratch-based computational creation
  • become familiar with resources that support their computational creation
  • Introduce the concept of computational creation and the Scratch environment
  • Show sample Scratch projects
  • Review design processes
  • Explore the Scratch interface

Session activities summary

Session description

~Min. Activities
15 Planning: What is creative computing?

  • Ask students:
    • What are the different ways you interact with computers?
    • How many of those ways involve you creating with computers?
  • Explain that over the next several sessions they will be creating their own interactive computational media with Scratch.
  • A basic demo of Scratch, either through a live demo or through the Scratch overview video.
    • You build projects by snapping blocks together, just as you can build things in the physical world by snapping LEGO bricks together.
    • There are more than 100 blocks in 8 different categories.
    • As a small example, let’s make the cat do a dance.
    • Start by dragging out the “move 10 steps” block from the “Motion” blocks palette to the scripting area. Every time you click on the block the cat moves a distance of 10. You can change the number to make the cat move a greater or smaller distance.
    • From the “Sound” palette, drag out the “play drum” block. Click on the block to hear its drum sound. Drag and snap the “play drum” block below the “move“ block. When you click on this stack of two blocks, the cat will move and then play the drum sound.
    • Copy this stack of blocks (either using the Duplicate toolbar item or by right-clicking the stack and selecting “duplicate”) and snap the copy to the already-placed blocks. Change the second “move” block to -10 steps, so the cat moves backward. Every time the stack of four blocks is clicked, the cat does a little dance forward and back.
    • Go to the “Control” blocks palette and grab the “repeat” block. Wrap the “repeat” block around the other blocks in the scripting area. Now when you click on the stack, the cat dances forward and back 10 times.
    • Finally, drag the “when Sprite clicked” block and snap it to the top of the stack. Click on the cat (instead of the blocks stack) to make the cat dance.
  • Show the range of projects they will be able to create, by sharing some sample projects that students will find engaging and inspiring. The Scratch website (http://scratch.mit.edu) has many interesting examples.


15 Planning: Defining the processes of computational design

  • Introduce students to the other tools that they will have access to during their design activities:
    • Design notebook, for recording their ideas and plans, as well as for responding to the per-session design notebook question
    • Resource library, for accessing other forms of support, such as Scratch cards, or reminders of strategies for getting unstuck
    • Scratch website, for storing their projects and finding inspiration and help


10 Exploring: Something surprising

  • Give students 10 minutes to explore the Scratch interface in an open-ended way. One prompt is: “You have 10 minutes to make something surprising happen to a sprite.” Students are encouraged to work together, ask each other for help, and share what they are figuring out during the 10 minutes.


20 Reflecting: Our discoveries

  • Ask for 3 or 4 volunteers to share with the entire group one thing that they discovered.
  • Optionally, after the volunteers have shared, offer several challenges to the students:
    • Did anyone figure out how to add sound?
    • Did anyone figure out how to change the background?
    • Did anyone figure out how to access the help screens for particular blocks?