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ScratchJr

ScratchJr is a great platform for younger students who are learning to code. They don’t even need to be able to type!

ScratchJr is a visual programming language designed to introduce programming skills to children ages 5–8. By creating projects in ScratchJr, young children can learn to think creatively and reason systematically, despite not being able to read. It is available as a free app for iOS, Android and Chromebook.

ScratchJr is a derivative of the Scratch language, which has been used by over 10 million people worldwide. Programming in Scratch requires basic reading skills, however, so the creators saw a need for another language which would provide a simplified way to learn programming at a younger age and without any reading or mathematics required.

ScratchJr User Interface

Children create code in objects called sprites – which can be characters or other objects. ScratchJr comes with a library of sprites, and sprites can be edited or new ones created using the “Paint Editor”.  Many of the sprites are animals such as dogs, cats, or horses.

Code is created by dragging blocks into a coding area and snapping them together. All the blocks are completely icon-based (no text) which is how children can use this language before they can read or type. Blocks are connected from left to right, like words.

The user interface is much simpler than that of Scratch. Both the number of categories of programming blocks and the number of blocks within each category have been reduced, so that only most basic ones were retained. ScratchJr is a great preparation for students who will be using Scratch when they are a bit older.

ScratchJr interface