Students will learn the basics of programming and animation. They will explore the events, control and motion sections in Scratch to make a word animated. This module teaches some of the basics of programming that are the building blocks for more advanced programs.
Students will build their basic understanding of programming. This module teaches some basic concepts that can be built upon for future programs. They will also practice their spelling by spelling out words on Scratch.
- Changing pictures quickly to make it appear as though there is movement.
- Something a program can react to, such as a key being pressed.
- Part of a program that repeats itself.
- Step by step instructions that perform a task.
- Movement left and right.
- Movement up and down.
- One of many sprite objects a user can choose.
- The images in a project that perform commands as they are programmed.
- The different command options used to build a sequence of movement.
- Do you know how computers work? Computers only do what we tell them to. We tell them what to do using algorithms.
- Have you ever heard of an algorithm before? Algorithms are step by step instructions, like a recipe.
This module aligns with the language curriculum. Students are animating words which can be added to their vocabulary or spelling repertoire. The command sequences they create help them learn various elements of science and physics as they explore different types of motion and simple mechanics. Students will also build on their math knowledge by exploring numbers, their order and magnitude.
As computers only do what we tell them to do, we have to be specific in our commands. For this activity students are going to pretend that they have become computers. Have students volunteer to come up one at a time to be a “computer” and perform a command. If your group is of reading age, write the commands down on pieces of paper and have them pick one out of a hat. For a non-reading group, have students come up and whisper the instructions in the “computer’s” ear. Keep the commands fairly simple. The other students then guess what command the “computer” was given. Some example of possible commands are spin around three times, hop on your left foot twice, or high five your teacher.
For this activity students will be spelling a word in Scratch and animating the letters. They will be using basic programming skills and exploring movements in Scratch.
- Open a new project and delete the cat by right clicking on it and selecting “delete”.
- Add a new sprite by clicking a character beside “new sprite”.
- Sprites are organized by category. For this module we will be using letters.
- Select the letter you would like to add. Double click it to add it to your workspace.
- Continue adding letter sprites until you have spelled your word.
- Now we will animate each letter individually. Click the letter you would like to program. To start our programs, we need to have an “events block”. Go to the events section under scripts.
- The events block we always begin with is “when green flag clicked”
- To have our commands repeat continuously, we need to add a “forever loop”, found in the “control” section.
- You will use different blocks from the “motion” section to achieve the motion you want for your letters.
- For spinning letters use the “turn” block. The arrow indicates which direction it will spin.
- To have a letter tilt back and forth you will use two turn blocks with a “wait” block after each of them. Wait blocks are found in the control section.
- To have a letter move left and right use the “change x by” block. To move up and down use the “change y by” block.
- To have a letter glide from one location to another, use the “glide” block. To set the destination point for your glide, drag your letter to the location you desire, then add the glide block to your program. It automatically adds the current location of the letter to the scripts area.
- All of the values in your program can be changed, simply click and enter a new number. Negative numbers will make the movements in the opposite direction of the positive numbers.
- Click the green flag to see your word come to life!
Now that we have experimented with giving commands, let’s test our skills by playing the Algorithm Game. Algorithms are a set of instructions that complete a task. The teacher asks the group to give them instructions on how to draw a smiley face. The students will need to be specific because the teacher will be acting like a computer, and taking the commands literally. Be silly and have fun with this activity. If the group successfully gets the teacher to draw a happy face, have them give instructions for drawing something more complicated, like a house.
- Code.org has online courses to teach children for ages 4-8 computer science fundamentals.
- Hour of Code has hour long sessions that teach programming and have different themes that are of interest to children. The students also get a certificate at the end of the hour that they can print. All the sessions are organized by grade and topic.
- Left Brain Craft Brain is a blog that has activities for teaching children how to code. The activities are a mix of off-screen and online.