A Teacher’s Guide to Scratch: Lesson 3

June 30, 2015 by wendy

Scratch Music Project
Let’s make music by marshmallowcoding on Scratch

Unplugged activities are a great way to demonstrate new concepts. This week, we’re Getting Loopy with an unplugged activity by Code.org!

Lesson 3: Getting Loopy

Through dance, students are introduced to the concept of loops, or in other words, actions that repeat over and over again. Why are loops important in computer programming? How can we use loops to create animations and music?

Loops unplugged

Unplugged-Getting Loopy by Code.org on YouTube

First, play the Getting Loopy video from Code.org to introduce students to the concept of loops and the upcoming activity. The music, dancing, and light suits in the video will definitely get them excited!

Warm up

Review the definition of a loop. A loop is a set of actions that repeat over and over again. Before starting the dance, warm up with the Repeat After Me activity to demonstrate why loops are important in computer programming.


Uptown Funk featuring Bruno Mars by Mark Ronson on YouTube

Now that everyone is warmed up, let’s dance! Choose an upbeat song that your students will enjoy, like Uptown Funk featuring Bruno Mars. Project the dance routine, The Iteration, onto a screen so that everyone can follow along. Practice the routine once slowly without music. Then perform the routine at full speed with music!

Loops in Scratch

In Scratch, one way to make a loop is with the repeat block. Demonstrate different ways to create an animation or song using repeat blocks:

  • Drag the “move 10 steps” block into a repeat block
  • Drag one of the turn blocks into a repeat block
  • Drag the “change color effect by 25” block into a repeat block
  • Drag the “change size by 10” block into a repeat block
  • Drag the “play drum” or “play note” block into a repeat block
  • Snap two repeat blocks together
  • Place a repeat block inside another repeat block

Animation, music, or both

After some experimentation, challenge students to create an animation or music project using loops. They can remix an existing animation or music project, create their own, or attempt to combine the two! Once everyone is ready, have students walk around the classroom to see everyone’s creations.

Makerspaces for Kids

June 22, 2015 by wendy

Maker Faire Bay Area 2015
Maker Faire Bay Area 2015 by Bill Johnston is licensed under CC by 2.0

We’re taking a break this week from our Teacher’s Guide to Scratch to share with you some kid-friendly makerspaces that you can check out this summer!

GearBots Summer Makerspace Camps

GearBots offers one-week summer camps that introduce basic engineering and computer programming. Students learn how to program robotic devices, such as motors, switches, and light sensors in order to complete a number of engineering challenges. Visit their summer camps page for more information.

  • Ages: 9-15+
  • Cost: $115-$140
  • When: June 29 to July 3 (no class July 1), Aug 31 to Sept 4, 9am to 12pm
  • Where: Abbotsford Sr. Secondary School

Inspiration Lab at the Vancouver Public Library

The Inspiration Lab is a free space for anyone interested in creating and sharing digital media. You can record your own audio in their sound studios; produce videos using their editing software; digitize VHS tapes, audiocassettes, photos, and slides; and access thousands of free online tutorials through lynda.com. Check out the Inspiration Lab event calendar to get started.

  • Ages: All
  • Cost: FREE
  • When: Mon to Thurs 10am to 9pm, Fri to Sat 10am to 6pm, Sun 11am to 6pm
  • Where: Central Library

Launchpad at the Richmond Public Library

The Launchpad is a community space for all ages to create, experiment, and collaborate. It features a 3D printer as well as a photo scanner and printer for digital publishing. To get started with 3D printing, browse their calendar for 3D printing events or review the library’s 3D modelling and printing guide before scheduling an orientation.

  • Ages: All, but must be 12+ for the 3D printer orientation
  • Cost: $1 per 3D printer booking plus $0.10 per gram of filament used
  • When: Mon to Fri 9am to 12pm and 4pm to 8pm, Sat to Sun 1pm to 5pm
  • Where: 3D printing is only available at the Brighouse Branch

Vancouver Hack Space

At Vancouver Hack Space, members share an interest in 3D printing, art, crafting, electronics, laser cutting, machining, programming, and robotics. Kids can also become members with parent supervision. To check out their space, visit their open nights, every Tuesday from 7:30pm to 10:30pm.

  • Ages: All
  • Cost: $30 per month for new members
  • When: Visit isvhsopen.com for real-time information
  • Where: 1715 Cook Street, Vancouver

Zen Maker Lab

Zen Maker Lab offers summer camps each week from mid June to the end of August. Their well-equipped makerspace gives kids the opportunity to learn about 3D design and printing, electronics, computer programming, and robotics. Kids also play floorball for added fun and exercise! Visit their summer camps page for more information.

  • Ages: 8-14
  • Cost: $425-$500
  • When: Every week from June 22 to Aug 28, 9:30am to 3:30pm
  • Where: 272 East 1st Street, North Vancouver

A Teacher’s Guide to Scratch: Lesson 2

June 15, 2015 by wendy

Scratch Events Project
Where are my friends? by flyingcows79 on Scratch

Now that everyone has their Scratch accounts and has explored the interface, it’s time to dive in. A common question during the first lesson is, “How do I make my project run when I click the green flag?” Let’s investigate!

Lesson 2: Press A to Start

The goal of this lesson is to introduce the concept of events. An event is an action that causes something to happen. For example, if we can detect when the green flag is clicked, then we can cause our program to run. Before we introduce this concept, let’s review what we learned in Lesson 1.

Program the teacher

In the first lesson, we defined code as instructions that tell computers what to do. Let’s see if your students can program you to move to a spot in your classroom. Pretend that your classroom is a computer screen and decide which direction is right, left, up, and down. You’re a sprite on the screen and your students must program you using the following instructions:

  • Move 1 or more steps
  • Point in direction right
  • Point in direction left
  • Point in direction up
  • Point in direction down

Introduce events

Unplugged-The Big Event by Code.org on YouTube

To answer, “How do I make my project run when I click the green flag?” we need events. Play The Big Event video from Code.org to introduce the concept.

Events unplugged

Earlier, your students programmed you. Now, it’s your turn to program them! Try The Big Event activity with your students to see events in action.

Events in Scratch

Start with a project that has multiple sprites with some code blocks in each like our Events Starter Project. Make the project interactive by adding events blocks. Work together as a class or have students remix the project to work individually. Have students personalize the project by encouraging them to change the background, music, and sprites to make it their very own.

Share their projects

Create a Scratch studio for your students to share their projects. Be sure that all students have confirmed their email addresses with Scratch. Invite each student to curate the studio. Check that each student accepts your invitation, and demonstrate how to share and add projects.

A Teacher’s Guide to Scratch: Lesson 1

June 7, 2015 by wendy

I Love Scratch
I Love Scratch by Blackhawks215 on Scratch

To give teachers an in-depth view of our Coding for Kids program, we thought we’d share each of our lessons in a blog post. Our lessons are based on the Scratch Curriculum Guide with some modifications and additions from other curriculums. Here’s the first lesson in a series of 10 that will follow in the upcoming weeks.

Lesson 1: Exploring Scratch

The goal of the first lesson is to introduce students to computer science and to give them the opportunity to explore, experiment, and play with Scratch.

What is a computer?

It’s important to begin the first class with an understanding of what a computer is. A computer is an electronic device that receives and processes information to produce a result. Start a discussion in which students share examples of computers and what they do.

What is code?

Code tells the computer what to do. As computer programmers, we write instructions for computers to follow. After defining what code is, ask students for examples of instructions that they follow in real life. What are the steps?

Introduce Scratch

Scratch Overview by ScratchEd on Vimeo

Scratch is a programming language that we can use to give instructions to computers. Show students the Scratch Overview video and/or sample projects that they’ll find interesting and inspiring. Explain that they’ll be creating their own Scratch projects!

Make an account

Show students how to navigate to the Scratch website and click on “Join Scratch”. Discuss what makes a good username and password. Make sure each student has an email address to create an account.

Create a project

After demonstrating how to create an account, show students how to create a new Scratch project by clicking on “Create”. Give a brief overview of the interface and give them examples of how they can experiment on their own:

  • Drag a block into the scripts area.
  • Click on it to see what it does.
  • Snap blocks together and click on them.
  • Click on the “?” icon then click on a block.
  • Click on “Tips” then click on a tutorial.

Encourage your class to explore, experiment, and share! Challenge them to add a sound, change the background, or add another sprite. Remind them to ask their neighbours for help and to share what they learn with others.

Let them play!

Give students time to register for their Scratch accounts, update their profiles, and play with the Scratch interface. Make sure to record their usernames and passwords in a safe place.