Coding on the iPad isn't new — there are several apps that teach young kids the concepts of coding using interactive apps. ScratchJr. is relatively new (released in July), but it's fantastic, putting an extra layer on the coding by actually using it to tell a picture story. Kids can design an animated story and then even record a story to go along with it. The customization is amazing, including choosing the backdrop and all characters. ScratchJr. allows the user to experiment and explore, perfect for any school using a project-based or inquiry-based model of instruction.
I used to program our first computer using Basic, turning the television screen blue or flashing numbers in sequence. It was a thrill when I was a kid to be able to tell a computer what to do. iPads with coding apps can create a similar feeling for today's kids — instead of an app that just entertains, kids get to figure out how to get the app to do what they want. It's designed for kids ages 5-7, but it's definitely appropriate for kids ages 8-10 too.
To start your kids (or you!) off on learning coding and animating stories, please support Smart Apps For Kids and use our download button:
With ScratchJr, young children (ages 5-7) learn important new skills as they program their own interactive stories and games.
By snapping together graphical programming blocks, children can make characters move, jump, dance, and sing. In the process, children learn to solve problems, design projects, and express themselves creatively on the computer. They also use math and language in a meaningful and motivating context, supporting the development of early-childhood numeracy and literacy. With ScratchJr, children don’t just learn to code, they code to learn.
ScratchJr was inspired by the popular Scratch programming language (http://scratch.mit.edu), used by millions of people (ages 8 and up) around the world. The ScratchJr interface and programming language were redesigned to make them appropriate for younger children’s cognitive, personal, social, and emotional development.
ScratchJr is a collaboration between the Lifelong Kindergarten research group at the MIT Media Lab, the Developmental Technologies research group at Tufts University, and the Playful Invention Company. The ScratchJr project has received generous financial support from the National Science Foundation (NSF DRL-1118664), Code-to-Learn Foundation, LEGO Foundation, and British Telecommunications.
If you enjoy using this free app, please consider making a donation to the Code-to-Learn Foundation (www.codetolearn.org), a nonprofit organization that provides ongoing support for ScratchJr. We appreciate donations of all sizes, large and small.