The Scratch programming language and Code Clubs
Volunteers throughout the UK are helping to run code clubs, teaching 9-11 year olds the basics of programming. Find out more!

Posted by Andy Brown on 24 September 2012

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Programming Lessons for Children - the Code Club

In a previous blog Andrew (no relation) introduced Small Basic, a version of Visual Basic aimed at children.  Now the MIT Media Lab have gone one stage further, and developed a programming language which is closer to colour-by-numbers than to hard-core coding.

The Scratch Language

Available as a free download from the Scratch website, Scratch looks like no other language I've ever used:

The Scratch icon

Even the icon is different!

 

Here are some examples of programming in this child-friendly language.  Want to create a variable?  That'll be the orange-coloured instructions:

Drag-and-drop variable instructions

Having created a variable called OwlName, you can drag any of these instructions into your code.

 

Scratch programs (or scripts) would have C# coders turning in their graves (or resetting the values of their rotational parameters):

Scratch script

Different types of instructions show up in different colours.

 

Having created a program (or project), you can share it with the world:

Sharing a project dialog box

The dialog box for sharing a project online.

Code Clubs

Code Clubs are (as they are succinctly described on the Code Club website) "A nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11". 

So if you're worried your Johnny (or Jeannie) isn't up to scratch (excuse the pun) on VB or C#, you could enrol him or her in a code club.  Whether you're a volunteer, school or parent, there are clear instructions on the website showing how to get involved:

Join in with code club

You can click to say whether you're a volunteer, school or parent.

Lessons start using Scratch (as above), but progress onto other languages after the first term.

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