ScratchJr is a hands-on learning environment that allows young children (ages 5 to 7) to learn the basics of programming with a visual interface. It encourages and builds a host of vital skills, including problem-solving, organization, sequencing, and self-expression, in addition to building creativity.
Interactive, hands-on design
Allows story-telling, game play, and more
Graphic interface invites experiments and intuitive play
28 backgrounds, dozens of characters and a large collection of objects
Dozens of possible actions and interactions to make an endless array of projects
ScratchJr is a high quality app that will really add some high-tech pizzazz to your child’s ability to create stories and games. The interface on ScratchJr is graphic and very intuitive to use, so your youngster will be creating in no time. It encourages the kind of experimentation that leads to true learning. The app does include an introductory video that will help users find a place to start, but the sky’s the limit in terms of what types of projects can be created. Eight different sample projects show some of the app’s capabilities in a very clear way, complete with clear indication of how each effect was created to allow children to “reverse engineer” the displays in the same way real software professionals uncover the workings of systems they are interested in.
This app will have most children creating simple “apps” of their own in no time, and along the way, will teach many vital skills that are often overlooked, though they are foundational to academic and life success. Children can use a selection of backgrounds, objects, motions and interactions to create their own unique projects such as interactive scenes that respond to a touch or even games and puzzles that have users trying to accomplish a goal. The eight sample projects give everyone an idea of what the app is capable of doing, and give the imagination license to run wild. Add in the app’s built-in capability to record and to access photos, and the possibilities are absolutely endless. Kids can tell entire stories with the wide selection of resources.
Though it seems like “programming” should be conceptually well out of reach of most early elementary students, ScratchJr’s unique graphic interface makes it very possible. Each action or programmed response is contained in a color-coded piece that looks like a jigsaw puzzle. The pieces, once lined up and connected in the work area, cause that sequence of events to take place on the screen. The color-coding helps children know what type of action they are working with, from motion paths to growing or shrinking objects, and much more. The sample projects not only showcase possibilities, but also show how the projects were built from the puzzle pieces. It’s easy to duplicate these and include the same effects in your own project.
ScratchJr will nurture creativity, build problem-solving skills, and develop the ability to put items in order. It will also keep kids coming back to create increasingly complex projects and increase their ability to pay attention, work around frustration, and pursue a goal. There are also tons of secondary benefits, as well, including language development, math concept development, spatial awareness, and more. What a find!
If your child enjoys creating, apps, self-expression, or just playing with new concepts, then this app will be highly entertaining. It puts the mechanics of tablet technology into the hands of very young children, which will really give them a sense of empowerment. Projects can be saved and viewed again and again, or modified and extended whenever the child wishes. It’s a wonderful system that can help children understand important concepts in computer programming down the road and will give them a lot of joy and excitement right now.
This free app is a huge bargain! It’s not often that you find a freebie that not only is fun and entertaining for the intended audience, but that also offers so many opportunities for learning and skill development. Supported by some big organizations like MIT, The National Science Foundation and the LEGO Foundation, the app is intended to be a great lead-in to the Scratch computer language used by many schools and organizations to teach computer programming concepts to younger students.
The developers of this app were very thorough in their design, making it one of the safest experiences young children could have on a mobile device. There are no live links to the internet, no links to social media, and no advertising in the app. There is a detailed parents’ area that includes clear directions to use the app as well as an instructional video and access to the sample projects.
ScratchJr is a unique and powerful app that will empower young elementary students to learn beginning concepts of computer programming while they build skills in problem-solving, sequencing, memory and more.