CONCEPT: The acclaimed Scratch coding system comes to the iPad, tweaked to suit even younger students.
DELIVERY: Scratch. It's become a cornerstone in the modern ICT classroom and the inspiration for a lot of other software thanks to its ridiculously simple jigsaw style interface. If programming is the new literacy, Scratch is like the phonics that can help you to learn to use it. And now it's even easier
Finally arriving on the iPad, this Jr incarnation makes the most of the touchscreen and applies a reduced-text interface to enable very young students to dip their toes in the coding pool. It is ostensibly aimed at 5-7 year olds but my 3 year old had a lot of fun playing around with it.
The basic premise remains the same - click coding blocks together in the programming area to develop algorithms to animate cartoon characters across a series of slides. The blocks include movements, text speech bubbles, enlargements and more. There's also the ability to record your own audio clips, add your own backgrounds and personalise your characters through the built in editor to allow for greater personalisation and creativity.
As with the original Scratch, it's incredibly easy to pick up and play to learn, though there are screens to show you what each icon is for as well as a built in tutorial video. Youngsters will soon be creating their own mini coding masterpieces and having a great time doing it. Despite the streamlining of this Jr version, the possibilities for creative kids to express themselves is still expansive and the banks of characters, props and backdrops help ease them into the land of code. It's practically stealth learning as the app will seem like a game to the young rather than any sort of learning tool!
LIMITATIONS: This is the Jr version, so stick with the main Scratch if you have older students who need a more complex experience.
CONCLUSION: With the increased focus on computer programming in the earlier years of school, ScratchJr will no doubt become a core component in the introduction of coding. Easy to use, fun to use and bursting with creative potential. An essential download. 5/5
Teaching young learners to code
Developing reasoning and logic skills