Year 6 have spent the first part of this term honing their programming skills using Scratch on the iMacs and the Cargo-Bot iPad app, which are both freely available if you have suitable equipment to run them. Both of these, and all the other tools I have used with them prior to this year are block based. This means the children can apply computational thinking to create programs without having to type any physical code.
This week, I have introduced Sonic Pi to bridge the gap between block based and text based programming. Sonic Pi is another free application which was initially developed for Raspberry Pis computers, but proved so successful it has also been ported to Macs and PCs. You can download it from the link on this post.
In simple terms, Sonic Pi creates music using computer code. The music can be as simple as individual notes or as complex as complete songs with multiple instruments and loops. You can either create your own music from scratch or adapt and modify other people’s projects.
We began by looking at some existing code and changing parameters to change the pitch and tempo of a beat – here is a quick video to show how this works:
The children then began to experiment with their own sounds. Here is Robert and Ayesha’s from 6C – can you recognise the tune?
Year 6 have also been developing their problem solving skills after creating some fantastic times tables games in Scratch. They have been using the CargoBot app, which really tests their ability to think through solutions to complex problems using logical thinking.
Despite not having used this or any similar app before, the children were willing accept and learn from their mistakes and improve their skills. The sound around the room progressed from initial groans as solutions did not work, to moments of elation as breakthroughs were made. It’s great that the children have the determination to keep going – this will serve the well not just in computing, but across the rest of the curriculum too.
As with most of the apps and websites I use, Cargo-Bot is free and available now to download from the App Store for IOS devices or from Google Play for Android devices. Please download it if you can and play the game with your child, you will see that it’s addictive and frustrating in equal measure!
Here is a link to a video of Cameron’s optimum solution to one of the trickier levels and pictures of the children attempting some of the other levels.
4L have been applying their programming and problem solving skills which they developed during their Scratch projects. Problem solving is a fantastic skill, not only for computing, but across the whole curriculum and is a great way to encourage higher order thinking in children.
We used the brilliant Lightbot Hour of Code app to practice simple instructions, repeats and loops. The app is free and is available to download from the App Store for IOS devices or Google Play for Android devices.
Please support your child’s learning by using these apps with them, you will be amazed how skilled they are!
Having designed and tested their own maze games, 4L will now look at another version of the Maze game, but with a twist. This is a remix of a working version, but I have removed or changed some of the blocks so it no longer works. Their task will be to fix it!
Year 4 have been developing their own games in Scratch games, based on a Maze game. The children have designed their own levels, programmed the movement of sprites, introduced levels and devised their own scoring system. In doing this they have used a wide variety of programming blocks, including movement, repeats, variables and if/then statements.
I have now completed 3 lessons of Scratch Jr activities with year 1. It’s great to see that a number of children have already downloaded Scratch Jr onto their devices at home. If you haven’t yet you can download it free from the App Store, or Google Play.
If you would like to have a go at some projects over half term, please click on the link below to access some activities on the Scratch Jr website. They are ordered from easiest to hardest, so it’s best to work through them in order.
If you try any of these, please leave me a comment to tell me how you got on.
KS1 are using Scratch Jr to develop their programming skills.
What is ScratchJr?
ScratchJr is an introductory programming language that enables young children (ages 5-7) to create their own interactive stories and games. Children snap together graphical programming blocks to make characters move, jump, dance, and sing. Children can modify characters in the paint editor, add their own voices and sounds, even insert photos of themselves — then use the programming blocks to make their characters come to life.
ScratchJr was inspired by the popular Scratch programming language (http://scratch.mit.edu), used by millions of young people (ages 8 and up) around the world. In creating ScratchJr, they redesigned the interface and programming language to make them developmentally appropriate for younger children, carefully designing features to match young children’s cognitive, personal, social, and emotional development.
ScratchJr is now available as a free iPad app or Android app. You can download it from the App Store, or Google Play.
Last week, 3C and 3P had their first experience of programming using Scratch. Following the previous week’s session where they learned how to log, navigate to Scratch and change sprites and backgrounds, we moved on to placing blocks and making things happen on screen. We used the Scratch tutorial as a guide. In doing so, they used the following blocks:
This afternoon, year 3 will be using Scratch for the first time.
You are all familiar with Scratch Jr. Scratch Jr is a block based programming interface which gives you the opportunity to create characters and backgrounds and get them to move and interact with each other.
This year we will move on to the full version of Scratch.
In today’s lesson we will learn how to get on to Scratch, using tabs in a browser and how to create a character or sprite and a background.
You can access Scratch by clicking on the links in this post or the permanent link on the right hand side of this blog.