Following on from our work with Bee-bot and Blue-bot last term, Year 1 and 2 are now moving onto Scratch Jr. This introduces more opportunities for developing computational thinking, programming and coding skills in a more creative environment. This half term we will be working towards animating a short story.
LO: Can I tinker with Scratch projects?
After last week’s visit from the Sandwich Bot, class 3B are using Scratch for the first time this afternoon.
After an introduction to the Scratch we interface, we will start by looking at four Scratch projects aimed at those just starting on their Scratch journey. To begin with we will ‘tinker’ with these projects. For those new to the word, tinker means to mend or change something by playing and experimenting. This is a great way to start with Scratch, as all projects are completely open source and can be changed by anyone.
Below are links to four projects – start by reading the instructions for each project and see if you can work out what they do.
Then try the following challenges:
– Click on ‘see inside’, what happens if you change some of the blocks?
– Can you make the project do something different?
– Can you add something new to the project?
Year 2 have been having great fun programming robots through iPads. We’ve been using Blue-bots which are based on Bee-bots, but can be controlled through tablets via bluetooth. The children applied their knowledge of directional language and instructions to create algorithms for the Blue-bots to follow.
In common with many of the tools I use in school, the Blue-bot app is free and is available for Android and IOS devices. Click on the links below to find out how you can download it on to your device at home.
This term KS2 will be using Scratch software which can be accessed free online http://scratch.mit.edu. Programming has become an important part of learning about technology to meet expectations in the new curriculum. It develops children’s thinking and problem solving skills, builds resilience and is great fun too! Using Scratch is a great way to add to the experience of learning to program and also to learn about e-Safety.
Your child can use Scratch without registering with the site. However, to enable your child to be able share the programs and games they create they will need to register with the Scratch community. This allows them, their friends and their family to see what they make at school and at home. They can also view programs created by other people to see how they have been made and can make changes to adapt it to create a similar game of their own.
The site lets anyone in the world see what you have created. Anyone can leave comments about your work. This is fantastic way for children to get feedback and can be very encouraging. They may get suggestions of ways in which they could improve their game. There are many benefits but also the risk that someone might leave a comment you don’t like. The Scratch Team includes a group of moderators who work each day to manage activity on the site and respond to any reports of misuse. When logged in, your child can delete any comments they do not like and can report anyone who is not following the community guidelines. It is extremely rare to see an inappropriate comment but we feel we should let you know that this could occur.
Scratch has guidelines for use which you agree to when you sign up:
* Be respectful. When sharing projects or posting comments, remember that people of many different ages and backgrounds will see what you’ve shared.
* Be constructive. When commenting on other’s projects, say something you like about it and offer suggestions.
* Share. You are free to remix projects, ideas, images, or anything else you find on Scratch and anyone can use anything that you share. Be sure to give credit when you remix.
* Keep personal info private. For safety reasons, don’t use real names or post contact info like phone numbers or addresses.
* Help keep the site friendly. If you think a project or comment is mean, insulting, too violent, or otherwise inappropriate, click ‘Report’ to let us know about it
The e-Safety aspects of being part of the Scratch Community will be explained to your child. We are writing to suggest that your child signs up with the Scratch Community so they can further their computing learning at home, and share the great work they are doing.
Here are some useful e-Safety messages for children using Scratch (and other websites):
* Use a safe alias
* Keep password and personal information private
* Give positive feedback to others
* Recognise copyright in terms of acknowledging other people’s ideas
* Recognise inappropriate content – consider whether others would find a project or comment mean, insulting, too violent, or otherwise inappropriate
* Know how and when to report inappropriate content and when deleting a comment is the sensible action
* Consider appropriate length of time to spend online creating and playing games
We would suggest you have a look at the website http://scratch.mit.edu to make sure you are aware of how it is used and that you are happy for your child to be part of the Scratch community. They have a page for parents which may answer any questions you have http://scratch.mit.edu/parents/, or you are welcome to arrange a time to come into school to discuss this with us.
Year 5 used Sonic Pi yesterday as their first step from block to text based programming. Their first lines of code made beep sounds with intervals (sleeps) between. By the end of the lesson some children were coding their own tunes. Can you identify the tunes?
4B have spent the last four weeks developing their own versions the Scratch maze game which 4L and 4O worked on earlier this term. Here are some examples of their work.
Abdullah and Zanira have used event blocks, move blocks and if/then blocks to control the movement of their sprite. They have also created a ‘score’ variable to improve their game. Next they need to move their game on to the next levels, which they have created, but currently are not coded into the game.
This is Aleem and Ayaan’s. They have added in sound effects to their project:
Hadia and Hafsa have coded their sprite to move, now they need to think about how they can use if/then blocks to make the obstacles work.
4L have been using the brilliant Erase All Kittens (EAK) website to gain their first experiences of text based coding. As well as being great fun, EAK helps children learn that there is code behind everything you see on a computer, and that once you decompose it, it’s not that complicated. if you have a PC, Mac or a similar laptop you can try it for yourself by clicking on the link in this post.
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 1 have been using the skills they have gained in Scratch Jr over the last few weeks to create their own project. Their task was to make algorithms which would create an animation. The three levels of challenge were as follows:
Eilyah from 1H completed the medium challenge. She added three characters and got one of them to move when she clicked on the green flag…
Sahim from 1H completed the hot challenge. He added three characters and got them all to move at different speeds using the repeat end block.
Haider from 1H also attempted the hot challenge. He added three characters, and got one of them to move at a different speed. He also used the repeat end block
Zahra from 1H also completed the hot challenge…
Nicole from 1H completed the medium challenge and was working towards the hot challenge when this was filmed.
Finally, from 1H Eiliyah completed the hot challenge.
From 1L, Harry completed the hot challenge.
Jennifer from 1L completed the mild challenge and was working on the medium challenge when this video was taken.
Liam from 1L completed the hot challenge and added an additional character.
Jaiden from 1L also completed the hot challenge.
Kaylum from 1L completed the mild challenge, and was looking to get all his characters moving.
Finally, from 1L Aysha also completed the mild challenge and was working towards medium.
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.