I'm really getting excited for computer science week next week. I've been pushing into classrooms and exploring coding and introducing new applications to our teachers and students to help expose them to programming. One of the best apps for introducing young learners to coding is Scratch Jr.
Scratch Jr takes everything about coding and boils it down to it's simplest parts. It breaks down all sorts of barriers kids have had with coding. Reading is not an issue, because all of the buttons are symbols, which means it can be used with Kindergartners or even preschool age children. It allows quick customization of backgrounds and characters with a paint style editor.
There is still a lot of complex stuff going on under the hood with Scratch Jr. Yes, a kid can make a cat walk back and forth, but the message system adds a really neat layer to the equation. Scratch Jr uses icons that look like letters to kick off events. Basically, when something occurs with a character it will send a "yellow message" Then there is a matching "if" block that's listening for that yellow message. When the yellow message is heard, another set of actions occur, even on another character.
Scratch Jr. is super fun. Kids love playing with it and creating their own characters. I'm going to keep exploring.
Instructional Technology Coach