As I continue my series on making games on your Chromebook, we’re leaving Godot behind and moving on to something young audiences and students of ChromeOS can tackle. Today I’m going to show you how to get your kids to learn logic and programming in a fun way while creating something playable right through the web browser!
If you’ve never heard of “Scratch” before, it’s the world’s largest coding community for kids. Your little ones can create stories, games and animations to share with others around the world just by dragging and dropping a few puzzle-like blocks. Let me explain.
Scratch is designed specifically for ages 8-16, but is used by people of all ages. Millions of people create Scratch projects in a wide variety of settings, including homes, schools, museums, libraries, and community centers.
Before doing so, I should clarify that Scratch was created by the Scratch Foundation. It is a non-profit organization that wants to help children around the world express their ideas through coding, learn to innovate, collaborate and learn in a community setting. Over 200 million kids have used it so far, but if yours hasn’t, don’t worry, we’re about to get into it now!
To get started, just visit the Online Scratch Editor and follow the getting started tutorial. There is also a Google Play Store app for both standards Scratch and Scratch Jr. – an application allowing the little ones to enjoy the same advantages as creating with the platform.
All you have to do once you’re in the editor is take the colored blocks from the left, drag and drop them into the main window, and put them together. Once you click on the green “Go” flag at the top right, you will see the cute cat character start executing the commands given to him. Telling it to move a certain number of steps, go to a specific x and y coordinate, and more all exist in the section of blue blocks called “Movement”.
However, you may have noticed that there are other colored tabs on the far left of the screen. Basically, these give you access to many more “logic blocks” that you can put together like Legos. Below I will give a brief explanation of what each is used for when creating.
- Purple – Looks
- Pink – Sound
- Yellow – Events
- light orange – Control
- Light blue – Detection
- Green – The operators
- Orange – variables
- Pink – My blocks
In addition to this “Code” tab, there are two other tabs you can navigate to in the editor. First, there is a “Costumes” tab, and there you can change your cat’s appearance. Paint clothes on it, add text, shapes, etc., or rearrange its limbs (for more fun). On the “Sounds” tab, you can create audio cues like a cat’s meow that can be run as logic blocks from the purple sound tab of the coding tab.
Oh, and you can also change the editor background, import your own non-cat sprite character image, create or paint one in place, and more. These additional tools can be found in the chat and image icons at the bottom right of the editor. Scratch is available in over 70 languages and is completely free. Since it’s available directly as a web app, you can turn it into an icon on your child’s Chromebook so they can practice a little every day!
I just want the steps!
1. Visit Scratch Editor via Chrome Browser
2. Select a code block tab on the left using the colored dots
3. Drag and drop logic blocks into the main body of the editor, nesting them
4. Tap the green “Go” flag at the top right of the screen
5. Adjust your code to get the desired result and test again
6. Visit the “Costumes” tab to change your cat’s appearance
7. Visit the “Sounds” tab to create audio cues you can use while encoding