ScratchJr

App review by
David Thomas, Common Sense Media
ScratchJr App Poster Image
Tool helps kids program their first multimedia project.

Parents say

Not yet rated

Kids say

age 4+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational value

Kids can learn fundamental multimedia programming concepts. By dragging and dropping characters onto a stage and adding simple action, little programmers can bring simple, lightly interactive scenes to life. The Lego-like, snap-together commands make the basic programs easy to create, but the multiple trays, editors, and input screens take some getting used to. Watching and learning from the effects of their programming choices will help kids make decisions about how to craft their next program, and the customization options will engage their creativity. Ultimately, ScratchJr offers a rich and challenging environment for very young programmers.

 

Ease of play

Although ScratchJr was designed with with little kids in mind, the actual depth and complexity of the tool can be tricky for a beginner. Most kids will need an adult to help them figure out what each block of a script can do before they can really have fun experimenting. Once they get started, they'll be able to play independently.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that ScratchJr follows in the footsteps of Scratch, an online programming tool for kids, but is designed as an even earlier introduction to computer programming and multimedia creation. That said, even though ScratchJr was designed for little kids, it still requires adult help for kids to really succeed. There are both written instructions and an animated guide; the former -- which is the best explanation of what all the pieces do -- are written above the reading level of most kindergartners. And the animated guide shows a finger dragging and dropping pieces to make things happen, but it doesn't explain each piece of a script. But with a little up-front adult explanation, ScratchJr can provide hours of fun for kids, as the possibilities for creating scripts are almost endless.

User Reviews

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 13 years old Written byslick_fox April 3, 2016

Scratch for 8 and under

If you play scratch.mit you will love this! Scratch.mit.edu can be a little too advanced for younger children, (it was for me. Scratch is designed 8+) especiall...

What's it about?

SCRATCHJR is a drag-and-drop programming environment based on the popular, powerful Scratch system. Kids choose characters and backgrounds and then drag and drop pieces of a programming script in the form of interlocking pieces. Each piece causes the chosen character to perform certain actions -- jumping, moving forward and backward, disappearing and reappearing, etc. One programmed scene can lead into the next to tell an animated story. Along the way, kids can customize colors, create sounds, and revise their programs.

Is it any good?

ScratchJr's endless possibilities and immediate cause-and-effect action will keep kids engaged for hours. The tricky part will be getting them started. Because the individual programming pieces are only explained in the text instructions, which are really written for parents, it might be hard for kids to jump in and have fun through experimentation alone. But with adult help, ScratchJr is a helpful first step on that path to understanding that computers are a medium for making, not just consuming.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how computer and video games are all created by people using tools similar to ScratchJr. Ask your kids to imagine creating a game: What kind of video game would you want to create? Who would the characters be? What would they do?

  • Talk about what's fun and challenging about creating your own game.

App details

For kids who love coding

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