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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
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.
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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.
- Devices: iPad, Android, Chromebook, Kindle Fire
- Subjects: Math: sequences
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: deduction, defining problems, logic, problem solving, solving puzzles
Creativity: combining knowledge, making new creations, producing new content
Tech Skills: digital creation, using and applying technology
- Pricing structure: Free
- Release date: October 23, 2017
- Category: Educational Games
- Size: 41.00 MB
- Publisher: DevTech Research Group at Tufts University, Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT Media Lab, and Playful Invention Company
- Version: 1.2.5
- Minimum software requirements: IOS 8.0 or later; Android 4.4 or later
For kids who love coding
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.