Thursday, February 24, 2011

Scratch: Programming in Puzzle Pieces, Even Kids Can Program!

Do you find your kids spending hours on playing games? You may want to introduce them to Scratch. They can create their own games and animations, recreate others', and share them to other kids - all without having to write lines of codes. Scratch is a programming language where you program by dragging and dropping code pieces together, like those in a jigsaw puzzle.

Scratch is developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab. It was first released on 2007 and it aims to target young audiences to introduce them to the programming world. Since most kids have lesser tolerance than adults, they wouldn't stay long on the default coding environment where you need to know the syntax and need to type them manually to the screen.

I created a simple program to show you a sample. Note: You need a Java installed on your computer. Here it is...

And this is how the codes look like:

That's just a simple program. You can do even more complex things like games, animations, motion clips, and other programs you can imagine. As their tagline says: imagine, create, share.


Before creating a program, the most crucial part is trying to visualize what we want it to be when you finished it. By using Scratch, you are not limited to what you just know, like the syntax per se. As long as you can imagine it, you can do it.


When creating a program, most programmers spend their time coding (or typing the code to be literal about it). When you use Scratch, you don't have to worry about a missing semicolon or browsing through lines of codes. The large rectangular area called stage is where you'll see how your program looks like as you put the blocks of codes together. You can run it by clicking the green flag on the upper right, and stop the program by clicking the red round button.

Photo: My workspace while creating my sample project.

The Scratch library is full of ready made sprites, backgrounds, and music which you can use.

You can create music, too!

There are lots of things you can do here. //imagination goes wild//


On the Scratch website, you can view galleries of projects submitted by the creators. You can download and re-create programs.

You can also embed it to your website, like what I did with my sample above. To share your projects online, you just need to click the Share menu on your workspace.

To share it on your website without having to upload it to Scratch's website, you can view the how-to here.

Scratch is free to use, copy, and distribute. However, the source code is only available for non-commercial purposes.

And hey, I created my profile on the Scratch website. ☺

If ever I have time to make projects from Scratch (woah that is dual context), I'll post them on my Scratch gallery. ☺

And if I am to make my own Scratch tagline, I'd say: All you need is logic.

A current version, Scratch v.2, is under development.

See for more info.

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