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ScratchJr – Visual Programming Language for Children Ages 5–7

by , 30th Dec 2017

Just as writing helps you organize your thinking and express your ideas, the same is true for coding. Coding enables you to craft your own interactive stories and games and thus express yourself creatively on the computer.

In the modern technological climate children are born with the expectation of a screen of some sorts being presented to them from a very early age. As technology dominates our lives, learning basic computer programming isn’t just a smart idea; it’s an essential skill for grown-ups and children alike.

While coding used to be something reserved for the highly technical and programmers, it is now a valuable, universal language that is surprisingly easy, fun, and useful for our kids to learn. Computer coding for kids is a new type of literacy that will allow them a different way to communicate with others, use problem-solving and be creative.

Coding programs for children have gained considerable popularity with the introduction of tablets which make computer interaction more palatable for little hands. Coding apps like ScratchJr not only give children the opportunity to learn skills essential to computer programming at an early age but also support parents to integrate technology into their children’s lives in a meaningful way.

Copyright: Syda Productions

Beauty and joy of kids coding

ScratchJr is an introductory programming language that encourages creativity and expression, enabling five- to seven-year-old children to create their own interactive projects through coding. Using ScratchJr, children can snap together programming blocks to make characters move, jump, dance, and sing. They can modify how their characters look, design their own backgrounds, add their own voices and sounds and even photos of themselves and then use the programming blocks to bring their characters to life. In this way children explore concepts of computer programming and digital content creation in a safe and fun environment.

ScratchJr was inspired by the popular Scratch programming language also developed by the MIT Media Lab and already used by millions of children aged eight and up around the world. The ScratchJr team redesigned the interface and language to make them developmentally appropriate for younger children, with features to match young children’s cognitive, personal, social, and emotional development.

Benefits of ScratchJr for children

As young children code with ScratchJr, they learn how to create and express themselves with the computer, rather than just interact with software created by others. Children learn to think sequentially, explore cause and effect, and develop design and problem-solving skills. At the same time, they learn to use math and language in a meaningful and motivating context. They also get instructed how to divide complex problems into simpler parts, iteratively refine and improve their work, remix and build on the work of others and persevere in the face of challenges. These skills are important for everyone, not just people who will grow up to become scientists, engineers, or computer scientists. With ScratchJr, children aren’t just learning to code, they are coding to learn.

Copyright: Africa Studio

Let’s code together

The most important educational value of any programming environment is that it allows children to make their abstract thought processes visible on the screen. Once the thoughts are made concrete, they can be easily manipulated and controlled in a more tangible way. And, because they are displayed visually on the screen, parents and educators can gain insight into what and how a child is thinking. Scratch was designed so that this visualization is very clear. In addition to sharing their own games and animations on the web, children can invite parents, grandparents, siblings, extended family members and friends to step into this amazing world of coding and work together to create new projects in ScratchJr.

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