Scratch Junior is a wonderful way to engage younger learners in the basics of computer programming. It is a free App for both iOS device (via this link) and Android devices (via this link) and is targeted at younger learners, aged 5-7. The app builds on the popular programming language, Scratch which is commonly used by older learners.
The idea of teaching 5 year olds how to programme could be considered unrealistic but Scratch Junior makes it possible. The real beauty of this app is its simplicity, it uses a basic interface that allows a child to create simple programs such as stories, games and animations or whatever they can imagine or make use of the built in template backgrounds and/ or characters. There is a video available on the Scratch Junior website to demonstrate how to use it but the app is sufficiently intuitive so that children can explore the app themselves without the video. There are also some suggested activities available on their website to help children to familiarise themselves with the app but there are times where we think we need to encourage children to just learn for themselves and create things without guidance and this app is perfect for that challenge – so ignore the video and suggested lessons and just let the children loose!
The app uses colour coordinated visual coding blocks which allows children to create their own projects. This is where this app excels as it gives children the freedom to create what they want and when it doesn’t quite go as they planned (as it invariably will) they are able to identify their mistakes and correct the code. From a teachers perspective this app allows you to see what the children are thinking, whether a child has the imagination to create their own animations or game and whether they have the critical skills to debug their own code.
Please get in touch if you require any further advice.