Review by James Denby, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2019

Scratch

Creative sandbox opens the door to coding in any subject area

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • Math

Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
1–12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (103 Reviews)
Privacy (See details)

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Pros: Massive community for resources and support, easily integrated in different subjects.

Cons: Doesn't offer the next step into text-based coding languages.

Bottom Line: Scratch draws students of all types into coding and lays a foundation for future learning.

Teachers can use Scratch to teach students just about any coding concept or element of computational thinking. Then, after students are proficient in using it, Scratch can become another tool for demonstrating learning in just about any content area. Through animation, audio, image, and text, students can tell stories, explain concepts, and create art. The Scratch platform can be another option for any project-based assessment or activity -- an alternative to writing, presentations, etc. For coding teachers, Scratch is a great springboard to traditional text-based coding languages like Ruby or Swift.   

Scratch has a huge associated community of users and educators (from around the world, since Scratch supports multiple languages). Because of this community, everyone from the complete novice to the seasoned expert can find tutorials, answers to questions, projects to remix, and, most important, inspiration to continue building their coding skills and finding new challenges.

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Scratch (version 3.0) is the latest iteration of the block-based coding language created by MIT's Lifelong Kindergarten Group. It can be used online or downloaded and used without an internet connection. Like its predecessors, Scratch allows students to learn and put to use all the essential elements of coding and computer science. From creating variables to building functions, students snap drag-and-drop blocks of code together to create programs for animation, digital storytelling, art, math -- you name it. With Scratch, students can also program a variety of peripheral devices (like the micro:bit) for robotics, science, and engineering learning. This latest version of Scratch isn't much different from previous versions, so users won't have trouble getting used to it. Instead, it's another iteration of a very powerful learning tool. In addition to the new look and layout, Scratch programmers have new extensions that allow them to include text-to-speech and language translation. For teachers, the most important upgrade in 3.0 is that Scratch now runs on tablets, too.

The Scratch screen is divided into three sections: the stage on the right side (where you see the results of your code in action), the workspace in the center (where you put the code together), and the blocks palette on the left (where you find all the code blocks). Students code the actions of multiple sprites (the different characters) or screen elements and can also add sounds, images, and textual elements to build almost anything.

Scratch is a powerful platform for learning to code not only because it teaches all the essential concepts of coding, but also because it can be easily integrated into almost any subject area. Since most of us can't transform our classes into coding academies, this ability to integrate Scratch is incredibly valuable. It means students can do meaningful projects that express understanding of novels, historical events, and math and science concepts while also reinforcing coding and computational thinking skills. As a foundation for learning to code, Scratch removes the obstacles that beginners often find so difficult (syntax, terminology, etc.) but lays the groundwork for those who go on to learn languages like Java, Ruby, or Python.   

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Not every student wants to be a coder, but Scratch offers a huge range of entry points to coding so that just about any student will find something they like to use it for (e.g., storytelling, art, games, surveys, robotics, etc.).

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Scratch offers almost unlimited possibilities for teachers wanting to integrate coding with different subject areas. Its design supports learning through exploration, practice, play, and collaboration.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Through the Scratch community, teachers and students can find a huge range of lesson ideas and tutorials to help develop coding skills. Shared projects allow for remixing and give inspiration for new challenges.


Common Sense Reviewer
James Denby Educator/Curriculum Developer

Teacher Reviews

(See all 103 reviews) (103 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Melissa Z. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Liberty
Springfield, United States
Remix for the Future!
I think Scratch is an outstanding tool. My students are actively engaged every time we go on Scratch. They are going home and creating their own complex games on Scratch using what they have learned in class, but also through their on research on Scratch. Scratch is great for all levels of learners. There are tons of help videos online about Scratch. Also, one of the great features of Scratch is the ability to Remix. Students who need more support could remix an already made Scratch to help them learn ...
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