How I Use It
The Scratch Jr. App is perfect for introducing computer programming to elementary and middle school age students. The different components used to control the character, also known as a sprite, use symbols so students can easily predict the function of each one. This allows for students on all reading levels to start using the App right away. For older students the teacher can expand on how it relates to computer programming and transition the activities into the more advanced online tool Scratch. Students can create actions, animations and digital stories. For those students that are learning activities of daily living and communication skills the App allows them to create social stories to demonstrate understanding. The speaking component that allows students to record their voice further supports students speaking and conversation skills.
The Scratch Jr. website, http://www.scratchjr.org/teach.html, has a number of activities for teachers to get started or teachers can use the sample projects available when selecting the question mark at the top of the screen.
This is a very intuitive App that students of all skill levels will learn quickly and can complete teacher assigned activities. But the best thing I have observed with students is how creative they become in creating their own actions and animations. Students can even begin to create their own characters and backgrounds. The activities also will support cooperative learning and students supporting others in completing tasks. Because some students may not be on reading level it would help if the guide section had auditory support and not just text.