Web-based intro to ScratchJr

It’s been bugging me for a while that there’s no web-based intro to ScratchJr, MIT’s awesome version of Scratch for younger children. And ScratchJr only runs on tablets. I made some simple block-coding activities like this turtle drawing game and this maze game of my own in Scratch because I didn’t have any tablets and I needed to teach coding to young children in Reception and Year 1 classes.

I’ve since been teaching actual ScratchJr on some borrowed tablets and it’s given me the idea to make a very much simplified version of ScratchJr that can be used on laptops and desktop computers – made in Scratch, of course.

You don’t snap blocks together – there are 10 blocks already there, which you click on to cycle through different block types, most of the movement blocks and show/hide. Click on numbers below to change number of steps moved or hop distance. Click on red end block to toggle ‘forever’. Click go flag to run program, cycle though backgrounds with picture button, you can add name with ABC button, click on cat to change sprite. Press i to show instructions being executed, D to add date (useful for teachers who need to screenshot evidence), N to remove name.

Guide cat to the planetHave a play, let me know what you think. It could be a useful introduction to ScratchJr, especially if tablets aren’t always available. You could also use it with children who have already used ScratchJr as an assessment tool: choose a background with a particular goal (planet, castle, end of the road) and ask the class to program their sprites to reach it. The limited set of blocks and options would stop children going too far off-task (which I find can be a problem with both the most and least-able children!).

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