Warning: This is an image/video heavy post. I wouldn’t recommend viewing it on data. Wait until you have a stable internet connection.
Because my final project is about coding, I decided to take some time to look at different coding apps. Also, because the coding I’ve been focused on it higher level, I wanted to try out some junior coding apps, which led me to ScratchJr and Hopscotch.
I played around with ScratchJr more than Hopscotch, so I’ll review that one. (But this isn’t the last you’ll hear of Hopscotch…)
ScratchJr started out as a Kickstarter campaign in 2014, where it raised over $77K (which is incredible for a crowdsourced campaign).
ScratchJr is available on the App Store for iPads (recommended iOS 9+) and on Andriod tablets (Kit Kat or higher). It is only available for tablets, not for phones.
When you launch, you’ll notice the colourful interface immediately:
It is obvious this is geared toward a younger crowd through it’s primary subject matter (locations of animals, dealing with friends etc).
I went through the intro video in the app and got started “coding”:
What I noticed right away was the similarity to the Codeapillar, which started me on the whole coding journey.
Both use direction arrows to get their character moving (caterpillar or cat). I think this could be a good feature for a preschooler moving into more advanced coding because it allows for familiarity with controls and commands.
Also, entering arrows instead of >>>print(“hello world”) commands was a huge shift. It struck me how diverse coding is.
My end result was a nonsense story about a cat, a chicken, and a grandpa having a fun day outside, playing. I wanted to try as many characters in a variety of strings of commands as I could while trying to maintain some coherence. It worked, for the most part.
- ease of use
- can be as difficult or as easy of a product as the user wants (to a point, obviously)
- layout is easy to use
- cheap (can’t get any cheaper than free!)
- export — couldn’t figure out how to export my final product to another source (maybe it’s me? Is there a way to upload the video to Youtube from the app? Or email it as an mp4?)
- once you’ve figured it out, the novelty wouldn’t last very long and kids may want to move onto something more complex quickly
Potential for the Classroom:
- I can’t see why a teacher wouldn’t want to use this as a jumping off point for teaching primary students about coding. It’s free, easy to use with very little prior knowledge needed (the prior knowledge I do have about coding — i.e., Python, was not a help in figuring this out)
- Using this is perfect timing as Hour of Code is December 4-10, 2017