Learn to code by creating your own animations, stories, and games.

Some of my favorite memorabilia from my childhood are the stories I wrote and “published” as a first grader. Bound in wallpaper and stapled at the seam, these physical artifacts demonstrated my learning and my creativity, and I was so proud to show my family when I had finished one. Still today, when I read these books, I recognize my past self’s innovative use of simile, invented spelling, and creativity.

Scratch allows kids to make the same kind of artifacts, but in a much cooler, digital format. While developing vital skills, like systems thinking, creative problem solving, early programming, and critical reasoning, kids can animate a story about a unicorn under the sea, create a racing game, or make almost anything that they can dream up!

Scratch is an open-ended creativity engine where kids come up with their own questions and challenges, and then develop innovative solutions. By dragging pieces of code into their workspace, kids can snap the individual parts together. Depending on how they’re stacked and assigned, creatures may move, a sound may play, or a question may be asked. The parts themselves are designed like puzzle pieces: it’s very easy for kids to see which pieces can snap together and which can’t.

Within the Scratch website, kids can share their original creations and view others’ stories and games. This can provide a lot of extra inspiration, as it allows kids to see the code that their peers have put together and adjust or repurpose it to their own imaginations. As an adult, I made a simple Scratch project for one of my classes, and without getting help from other peoples’ code, it would have taken a lot longer to figure out.

Scratch takes the natural abilities of children, like creativity, imagination, and quick learning, and makes an incredible tool for kids to learn pretty complex skills. And while they will never be stapled in the center or stuck on your bookshelf (like my early creative works), creations made in Scratch will provide a great portfolio of kids’ inventive thoughts and creations as they grow.