Scratch

Common Sense Media says

Graphical application gives kids a taste of programming.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The site consists mainly of tutorials and Scratch creations uploaded by users who want to show off their work. Most Scratch creations are crudely drawn (think South Park) but G-rated and occasionally quite clever.

Violence & scariness

Some Scratch animations are reminiscent of The Simpson’s Itchy and Scratchy cartoon, with stick figures clobbering one another and spilling copious amounts of red Paintshop “blood.” Still, it's pretty tame stuff compared with your typical 3D shooter.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language

Some characters featured on the Scratch site talk smack, such as vowing to “kick butt” or kill each other.

Consumerism

This MIT-sponsored site is ad free.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this site teaches reasoning skills and a basic understanding of programming that will serve kids well no matter what their future occupation.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • geometry
  • graphing
  • patterns

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • problem solving

Creativity

  • making new creations

Tech Skills

  • digital creation

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Students who experience success meeting small programming goals will love progressing along the learning curve. However, students who struggle will need help setting and reaching reasonable goals. The interface could be more attractive.

Learning Approach

Coding can accommodate the creative expression of any content kids bring to it. Bonus: It embeds tacit math learning. Some kids will need help persevering as they follow the many steps.

Support

While there's a supportive online community behind Scratch, it'll take patience, purpose, and perseverance to help kids accomplish their programming goals.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • geometry
  • graphing
  • patterns

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • problem solving

Creativity

  • making new creations

Tech Skills

  • digital creation

Kids can learn to make their own animations, video games, art, and music videos with Scratch’s visual block-based form of computer programming. It may seem easy to stack blocks using commands such as "move 10 steps" or "turn 15 degrees," but kids can quickly learn valuable programming concepts like loops and conditionals, as well as bottom-up problem solving. Collaboration is encouraged, and fellow Scratch kids can give helpful comments on each other's projects. An incredibly clever intro to computer programming concepts, this site could use additional real-time support.

This Learning Rating review was written by Deborah Fields

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

Scratch is a free, downloadable application that lets users combine graphics, photos, music, and sound to create simple interactive animations, games, and slide shows. Users create scripts by dragging and dropping graphical blocks that snap together like puzzle pieces. They can then post their creations on the Scratch site, where others can view and download them. This MIT effort is named after scratching, the technique hip-hop DJs use to create music by combining turntable manipulation with prerecorded clips and synthesizers.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

There are easier ways to create, say, an animated greeting card than to use a program like Scratch. Then again, most greeting card software doesn't attempt to teach programming like Scratch does. With building blocks divided into intuitive categories such as "motion" and "sound," older kids should be able to quickly knock together creations in which characters sing, dance, and talk.

Scratch is certainly easier to pick up than eToys, a similar visual programming app for kids. Where Scratch stumbles is in explaining variables, random numbers, and other mathematical concepts. Unless kids have already learned these in school, they'll need help in understanding and using them in Scratch. One other nit: Too many of the Scratch creations featured on the site load very slowly or not at all.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the benefits of mastering Scratch, a program that, despite a pretty good interface, will almost certainly overwhelm kids who are not mathematically inclined. Younger children especially will need adult assistance, both in getting started and understanding the program's most complex concepts.

Website details

Genre:Educational
Price:Free
Pricing structure:Free

This review of Scratch was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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Written byAnonymous January 13, 2015
AGE
2
QUALITY
 
LEARNING

Horrible

Scratch doesn't let you import files (GIF, JPG, PNG, Etc.), The games it creates are horrible in every way (Ex. Dog simulator, all it is is naming a dog and eating and drinking and that is it), it makes 12-13 year olds think they can be better than everyone else because they can "Code", and it lets kids "Animate/Program" Whatever they want, even sex, violence, ANYTHING
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Safety and privacy concerns
Kid, 9 years old February 12, 2011
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

awesome website!

This website is really cool! Some kids can post bad stuff like with swears or violence,but you can easily flag them and the people over at MIT can take them off the website...other than that its great!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Educational value
Kid, 10 years old April 28, 2010
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

Youtube for Kids!

I love scratch- I've been doing it for a year and a half now on my account, MagicRabbit. It's a perfectly fine website as long as kids have discipline. Kids can pretty much type whatever they want, but swear words and crap are filtered out. (Most kids get past it by spelling it with symbols replacing some letters- e.g.: cr@p) As for projects, (basically the games, pictures, and animations) you still can post any content but other users WILL flag it if the Scratch Team doesn't get to it first. It's a lot like a YouTube for kids designed by M.I.T! You can 'love it' and 'favorite' a project as well as add tabs to categorize it. You also can add friends to your friends list (basically the 'subscription' button on youtube) Hop online and go there! scratch.mit.edu
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages
Safety and privacy concerns
Kid, 10 years old April 14, 2010
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

LOVE it!

i'm in love with this site! when i first made my account, i coudn't stop coming back even though at first i was a nobody but now i've made so much nice friends! plus it makes programming easy and fun, a 7 year old could do it! but some uploaded content may be innapropriate, it is flagged and removed immediately. btw my username there is flemzy

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