August 3, 2015 by wendy
In Lesson 6, we saw how we can use timing and messaging to synchronize sprites. This week, we continue to investigate how we can coordinate sprites with backdrops!
Why might it be useful to be able to coordinate the stage, or backdrops, with sprites? Can your students think of some examples?
Suppose we want to add a start screen to one of our projects. Take, for example, the joke project that we made last week. We can remix the project so that when the start screen is clicked, the joke begins.
Show your students that they can add new backdrops by clicking on the Stage to the left of the Sprites area and selecting the Backdrops tab. The stage can have multiple backdrops just like sprites can have multiple costumes.
Click back to the Scripts tab. We can write code for the stage just like we can write code for sprites except that the stage has different code blocks. For example, the stage doesn’t have any motion blocks, but it does have looks blocks like “switch backdrop to…” and “next backdrop”.
Work together as a class or have your students work individually to add a start screen to an existing project. Choose any project or try our Knock Knock Joke with Start Screen project above that has notes for you to follow along! If your students worked individually, ask for a few volunteers to share their backdrops when they’re finished.
By adding timing, messaging, and backdrop changes, we’re adding a lot of complexity to our projects, which can also add glitches or bugs. Trying to fix these bugs can be frustrating. Here are some problem solving tips that you can share with your students:
For the rest of the class, your students can keep working on their design projects. Challenge them to incorporate multiple backdrops!
July 28, 2015 by wendy
At this point, your students might be asking, “How can one sprite tell another sprite to do something?” Let’s find out!
Give some examples of features that your students might want to have in their design projects. Maybe they want a sprite to appear or disappear when another sprite says something. We can do this!
Start with some role-playing. In Scratch, show the script that’s above on the left to your students. Ask for a volunteer to perform the script. Reveal the script for another sprite that’s on the right. Ask for another volunteer, and have both volunteers perform the scripts at the same time. What’s the problem? Our sprites talk over each other! We need to coordinate them, but how?
We can tell sprites to wait for each other by using wait blocks. How can we use wait blocks to fix our problem? Work as a class to come up with a solution and have your performers test it. Your solution should look like the scripts above.
Wait blocks worked in this scenario because we knew how long to wait, but what if we didn’t know how long to wait? Is there another way?
Introduce broadcast and receive blocks. In Scratch, sprites can send invisible messages like radio signals to other sprites. Other sprites can choose to do something when they receive certain messages.
Revisit your solution with the wait blocks, and as a group, try to replace them with broadcast and receive blocks. Your solution should look like the scripts above. Run your scripts to make sure they work.
Give your students 10 minutes to create a joke project. They can remix an existing project or start a brand new one. At the end of 10 minutes, ask 5 volunteers to share their jokes with the class.
For the remainder of the class, students can continue to work on their design projects. Encourage them to incorporate timing or messaging into their designs!
July 13, 2015 by wendy
Congratulations! You’re halfway through our Coding for Kids program! We’ve learned how to sequence instructions to build complex behaviours, how to use events to make interactive programs, and how to use loops to create animations and music. In this lesson, students have the chance to design their own projects.
An open-ended design project is an opportunity for students to not only develop greater fluency in concepts such as events and loops, but also design a project that’s relevant and meaningful to them. What topics are your students most interested in? What types of projects would they like to make?
Explain to your students that today, they’ll be coming up with their own Scratch projects. They can choose to work individually or in pairs. They’ll continue to work on their projects over the next few lessons. Then on the last day, they’ll present their projects to the class!
Today, their job is to brainstorm, come up with an idea, make a plan, and to gather feedback. If they finish early, they can start working on their projects.
Remind your students by reviewing past projects that they’ve learned a lot. Now that it’s their turn to design a project, what will they create? Start a discussion with your students about topics that interest them and the types of projects that they would like to make.
Give them the option to build on an existing project or to create a brand new one. Also remind them that it’s okay if there’s a part of the project that they don’t know how to make yet. We’ll still be learning new concepts over the next few lessons, and they can also research on their own!
Give your students time to explore and brainstorm. Perhaps they can add projects that inspire them into their own Scratch studios. Encourage them to sketch their ideas, and to write down any questions and how they might find the answers.
Once your students are ready, ask them to share their project plans with other students and to gather at least 3 suggestions. If there’s time remaining, students can start working on their projects, and at the end of class, ask for a few volunteers to share their progress.
July 6, 2015 by wendy
We continue to explore loops, music, and animation by building dance parties with our favourite songs!
Last week, we played with repeat loops to animate sprites and make music. How are repeat loops helpful? This week, we’re experimenting with another type of loop called the forever loop. Can your students guess what a forever loop is for?
Start the lesson by looking at some dance party examples like the ones above. How did each sprite have so many different looks? In Scratch, we need costumes!
Create a new project and make sure that Scratch Cat is selected. Click on the Costumes tab next to the Scripts tab. Notice that even Scratch Cat has two different poses or costumes: costume1 looks like Scratch Cat is walking and costume2 looks like Scratch Cat is running. If you click between the two, Scratch Cat starts to animate, but how do we animate using code?
By combining forever blocks with costume blocks, we can make sprites dance. Choose a sprite with multiple costumes, and then demonstrate different ways to animate the sprite:
Don’t forget to show students that they can also paint new costumes to create their own animations.
Ask your students to think of a favourite song to add to their dance party. Follow these steps to add a song from a YouTube video into a Scratch project:
Give students time to find their favourite song and to explore different dance parties. Here are a couple of places to start: Dance, Dance, Dance Studio and Scratch Day Dance Party.
They can also watch the Make your sprite dance video or try the Dance, Dance, Dance tutorial by clicking on “Tips” in the Scratch editor.
Encourage students to create their own project or to remix an existing project. Challenge them to animate the backdrop. Have your students add their dance parties to the class studio and gather feedback from at least three other students.
June 30, 2015 by wendy
Unplugged activities are a great way to demonstrate new concepts. This week, we’re Getting Loopy with an unplugged activity by Code.org!
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?
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!
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.
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!
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:
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.