Tag Archives: scratch

Can I draw shapes in Scratch?

Step 1 – Predict…Which blocks do you think you will need? Have a look at the blocks available and make a prediction.

Step 2 – Build…Start putting your blocks together – how do you think they need to be connected?

Step 3 – Test…Has your program worked?

Step 4 – Improve…If it worked, how can you improve it? If it didn’t how will you fix it?

Creating a countdown timer with year 5

Following on from last week, this week we are going to look at variables in more depth. You will have the chance to remind yourselves of what variables are and how you can add them to a game.

We will then look at how we can add more complex variables, such as a countdown timer, and make things happen as a result using conditional blocks.

To begin with we will use the same base project as last time:

Pong without scoring

Tip – for all instructions, think about when you want them to happen.

Mild: Create a timer variable and set time to 20

Medium: Use a wait block to and a change block to change the time:

Hot: Use an if/then conditional block (and others) to make something happen when the timer reaches zero.

Introducing Scratch to year 3

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.

Dance Party
Paint with Gobo
Maze starter
Piano

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?

Variables – week 2

Following on from last week, this week we are going to look at variables in more depth. You will have the chance to remind yourselves of what variables are and how you can add them to a game.

We will then look at how we can add more complex variables, such as a countdown timer, and make things happen as a result using conditional blocks.

To begin with we will use the same base project as last week:

Pong without scoring

**UPDATE**

Here’s Kaitlin, Chand and Emily’s project – not only did they get the timer working without any additional support, they also switched backgrounds with the background varying according to how the game ended. Click on the link to the project page to see how they it.

Can I add variables to a game in Scratch?

Last week we decomposed Scratch projects to find and fix errors in their code. This week we will focus on one particular project – Pong. The objective is to improve Pong by adding in a scoring system, and for some of you adding in a timer to limit the length of each game.

Decompose the game on your sheet in as much detail as you can.

To begin with you will need to plan exactly what you want your scoring system to do – think about these questions:
– How will you score points?
– How much will the score change by?
– When will the score need to change?

Pong game without scoring

Here are your challenges:

Mild – Add variables ‘score’ and ‘time’ to a game

Medium – improve the game by introducing a score which increases as you play and resets at the beginning of each game

Hot – Add a countdown timer to your game

Extra Hot – End your game when the timer counts down to zero

On your prompt sheets are some of the blocks you will need, and some that you won’t…

Registering with the Scratch community

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.

Computing resources to use at home

It was great to see so many parents and carers last night taking such an active interest in computing. A number of people asked me how they could help support learning at home, and which apps or websites to use. Here is a quick summary of the tools I use with the children in school. Where possible I like to use apps which are free, however there are some where there is a small charge.

Key Stage One:

Bee-bot
We have a set of Bee-bots in Foundation Stage, so by the time the children get to year one they are familiar with these great little robots. There is an app which mirrors the physical robots and is a good introduction into how computers need algorithms (instructions) to function.
IOS Bee-bot app (free)

Blue-bot
This is an extension to Bee-bot and lets you see the algorithm as a whole. We will shortly have a set of Blue-bots in school. They do the same as Bee-bots, but can be controlled from an iPad via Bluetooth.
IOS Blue-bot app (free)
Android Blue-bot app (free)

A.L.E.X.
Another free app, which build on the skills learned in Bee-bot. A.L.E.X. is also based on controlling a robot, but with this app you can also build and design your own levels.
A.L.E.X IOS app (free)
A.L.E.X. Android app (free)

Scratch Jr
ScratchJr is a fantastic entry point for children to explore more open ended programming. It introduces characters, background, more movements, repeat loops and basic if/then routines and offers children the opportunity to experiment and play. There are lots of great ideas for projects on the ScratchJr website.
Scratch Jr IOS app (free)
Scratch Jr Android app (free)

Key Stage Two:

Scratch
The logical next step from ScratchJr, Scratch is a brilliant platform for children to broaden their skills, and to become part of a wider community, sharing their own ideas and borrowing from others. It is a block based platform which all children in Key Stage two will use at Lowerplace. Please see this post for instructions on how to register a Scratch account and why it is a great project to be involved in.

Scratch is web based and needs to be run on a PC or Mac with flash player installed.

Lightbot
Available online, an IOS app or on Android, this is a great too for developing logical thinking and introducing processes into programming. Lightbot also shows that there can be more than one solution to a problem and that some are more efficient than others. There is a free version with a limited number of levels and then paid versions for more levels and challenges.

Lightbot is part of Microsoft’s Hour of Code project, have a look at their website for lots of other great games and activities.
Lightbot free (IOS)
Lightbot full version (IOS)
Lightbot free (Android)
Lightbot full version (Android) – £2.33

CargoBot
Another app to develop logic and reasoning, but more challenging than Lightbot. The aim is to move pallets around using a crane which you program with loops and repeats. Make sure you start with the easiest levels!
Cargobot IOS (free)
Cargobot Android (free)
Erase All Kittens
This is great fun. There is a free demo version, or for £4 you can buy the full version. Erase All Kittens is a good way of progressing from block based tools such as Scratch to coding using characters, in this case with HTML. It’s a great activity to do with your child, you’ll be surprised what you can learn too.

Swift Playgrounds
This is a new app which has been developed by Apple for iPads. It is based on the Swift programming language which is used to develop many populart iPad apps. It’s not one I have much experience of yet, but I will be introducing it to children in Key Stage two next term.

Physical Computing

In addition to all these great apps and online tools, you can also experience physical computing at home for a reasonably modest outlay.

Codebug
Starting from about £10, codebugs are great little devices which you can program from a computer using a Scratch like interface. It has a set of LED lights which you can control from your computer as well as input and output ports for connecting peripheral devices.

BBC Microbit
Again starting from about £10 the Microbit is similar to the Codebug, but with more resources online.

Raspberry Pi
The Raspberry Pi is a fully functioning computer which fits in the palm of your hand. you can buy one with a Linux operating system for about £45. Once you have connected a monitor, keyboard and mouse you can do pretty much anything you can do on a £1000+ PC or laptop. There are masses of online resources and accessories which you can add to Raspberry Pis such as cameras, sensors and motors – the possibilities are endless.

Crumble Kit
The Crumble is another cheap microcomputer which can perform a variety of functions. The kit comes with the main motherboard, an LED light, a power supply, a servo motor and an ultrasonic sensor. It also has all the wires and connectors you need for basic projects. Once you get familiar with it, you can combine elements, so you could make the light illuminate when the ultrasonic sensor is triggered. This is also programmed through a simple Scratch type interface.

Class 4B’s Scratch projects

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.