ScratchJr is a free programming language for children ages 5-7. ScratchJr utilizes block programming to allow children to create their own imaginative stories and games. The ScratchJr programming app was created as a collaboration among the DevTech Research Group at Tufts University, MIT’s Lifelong Kindergarten Group, and the Playful Invention Company through generous funding from the National Science Foundation (DRL-1118664 Award) and the Scratch Foundation. In the summer of 2014, ScratchJr was released as a free iPad app. Today, as of October 2020, the app has over 22 million iOS downloads and is available on iPads, Android tablets, and Chromebooks. Furthermore, volunteers from around the world have helped translate ScratchJr into 48 languages!
Visit ScratchJr Connect, our brand new curated database designed for educators and parents!
Find here a summary of all of our freely-available curricular resources for ScratchJr.
Coding as Another Language – The Coding as Another Language (CAL) curriculum puts computer science ideas into direct conversation with powerful ideas from literacy. CAL is grounded on the central principle that learning to program involves learning how to use a new language (a symbolic system of representation) for communicative and expressive functions. Young children are taught to code and engage in computational thinking through a process that incorporates pedagogical methods used for teaching literacy as well as problem solving strategies used by the STEM disciplines.
As a part of the Coding as Another Language project, we offer 24 lesson curricula for Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade. Additionally there are shorter CAL curricula designed for emergent readers and readers.
Building on emerging literacy skills, this unit was created with emergent readers in mind.
Collaborative ScratchJr Project Guide – When starting out, children often use one tablet to play with ScratchJr. With more complex programs and more iPads, ScratchJr can be used to make a multi-tablet collaborative project, an interactive game, or both! With a multi-tablet collaborative project, the images and movements can span across multiple screens to make their story even more dynamic. The characters on each tablet can be programmed to play at the same time or even staggered to make them appear to move between tablets. ScratchJr can also be used to create a game where multiple tablets have characters that interact with the other iPads and with the players. Collaborative ScratchJr projects can have an overall theme, storyline, or learning goal and allow children to interact with the app and with each other in new, creative ways!
ScratchJr Scavenger Hunt Guide – The ScratchJr Scavenger Hunt is an activity that encourages children to include off-screen elements in the games they program. It’s just like a regular scavenger hunt, but it is designed in a way that includes the ScratchJr app. To play, each participating child programs a game or challenge to be completed. When the challenge on an iPad is solved a clue is given that brings the players closer to the treasure. This activity can be done with two or more people, and either one or many iPads. Students interact with other students, their physical environment and the ScratchJr app in an engaging and challenging way!
Transitioning from ScratchJr to Scratch – This guide is for educators whose students have mastered ScratchJr, or are feeling restricted by it, and wish to move on to learning Scratch. While there is always more room for creativity in ScratchJr, there is also a potential for expanding both the creativity and the computational thinking learning in Scratch. There are a wide range of resources available for learning ScratchJr and Scratch, but this guide hopes to offer resources for the transition between the two platforms. The curriculum focuses on building on students’ knowledge of ScratchJr in order to ease their transition into learning Scratch.
ScratchJr. Art Curriculum – This three lesson curriculum allows students to explore self-expression and creativity through self-portraits. Two lessons involve creating offscreen art projects that incorporate student’s work in ScratchJr. This is a beginner to intermediate ScratchJr activity – students should know how to add a character and change the background. The lessons will culminate in students creating frames from recycled materials that will frame their tablets to show off their self-portraits.
Limudei Code-sh Project – Funded by the The David Lear Sulman Computing, Science and Engineering Education Fund, the Limudei Code-sh Project integrates the teaching of coding, robotics and computational thinking with Judaic Studies. Most specifically, six curriculum units are being developed for K–3rd grade, to teach powerful ideas of computer science, through the use of ScratchJr and KIBO robotics, and engage both formal and informal learning setting in the creation of computational projects around the Jewish holidays.
Find other curriculum resources for ScratchJr on the ScratchJr website.
In parallel to curriculum development, DevTech Research Group also works to build assessment tools to measure children’s knowledge and skill levels within the ScratchJr programming language. There are currently two validated ScratchJr-related assessments: the Coding Stages Assessment and the ScratchJr Project Rubric.
The Coding Stages Assessment (CSA) assesses progress in learning the ScratchJr programming language in the framework of Coding Stages (De Ruiter & Bers, 2021). This assessment is conducted one-on-one by asking the child or teacher interactive and open-ended programming questions. The assessment probes the five Coding Stages (Emergent, Coding and Decoding, Fluency, New Knowledge, and Purposefulness) that children go through when engaging with ScratchJr. CSA is administered as a game and take anywhere between 5-45 minutes to complete depending on experience levels.
The ScratchJr Project Rubric captures children’s ability to transform their coding knowledge into creating purposeful and creative projects (Unahalekhaka & Govind, 2021). There are two main aspects in the rubric: Coding Concept and Project Design. Multiple subcategories in this rubric are highly related to the computational thinking concepts such as Sequencing, Events, Repeat, and Number Input. The Coding Concept evaluates coding blocks’ complexity, efficiency, and functionality, while the Project Design focuses on aesthetic elaboration and customization. The ScratchJr Project Rubric can be administered after children complete their ScratchJr projects, typically taking around 3-5 minutes per project.
Additionally, we have developed TechCheck, which is an unplugged, platform independent assessment of Computational Thinking. More about these three instruments, including trainings, certification steps, and downloadable materials, can be found at our validated research instrument website.
To participate in research involving ScratchJr visit our Get Involved page.