What is this site?
This site offers a collection of activities and resources for educators to use to introduce children to creative coding by challenging them to create their own stories, games, and animations with the PBS KIDS ScratchJr tablet app. Each activity focuses on a different PBS KIDS show and is designed to engage children by giving them the opportunity to create their own projects featuring characters they know and love. Grown-ups are encouraged to utilize, adapt, and remix the activities in whatever way will work best for the children they are working with. The site also contains support videos and a self-paced workshop for educators looking to explore the what, why, and how of creative coding for young children.
The activities and professional development workshop were created by Marina Bers and the DevTech Research Group, the videos were produced by the Digital Learning Group, and the site was developed by Whistle Studios. A lot of the content on the site is built upon and inspired by content created by the ScratchJr, ScratchEd, and Scratch teams. All of the materials were piloted at local PBS stations across the country.
All of the content on this site was developed under a generous grant from the Verizon Foundation.
Who is this site for?
This site is for anyone interested in providing children, ages five to eight, with creative coding experiences centered around the PBS KIDS ScratchJr app. Teaching degrees, computer programming experience, and affiliations to public media are all optional. All you need is excitement, enthusiasm, and a willingness to embrace and facilitate the creative process of young children.
What is PBS KIDS ScratchJr?
PBS KIDS ScratchJr is a developmentally appropriate creative coding app for children ages five through eight. The app features characters from a number of PBS KIDS media properties including; WILD KRATTS, NATURE CAT, READY JET GO!, WORDGIRL, ARTHUR, PEG+CAT, and ODD SQUAD. Children can create their own interactive stories, games, and animations by snapping together colorful programming blocks to make their favorite characters move, jump, dance, and sing.
The app is available for free on iPad, Android, and Amazon tablets. It will run on any iPad 2+, including all iPad minis and iPad Airs with iOS 7.0+ installed. It also runs on any Android tablet, 7-inches or larger, that is running Android 4.2+. It does not need web-access to run.
The app is the product of the DevTech Research Group at the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University, directed by Professor Marina Bers, and the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, directed by Professor Mitchel Resnick. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF DRL-1118664).
What is creative coding?
Creative coding is an approach to the development of computational thinking skills that champions the process of young people engaging in the interest-driven imagining, designing, creating, and sharing of computational artifacts (PBS KIDS ScratchJr projects in this instance).
As young children engage in creative coding with the PBS ScratchJr app, they learn how to create and express themselves with technology. In the process, they are empowered to solve problems, design their own projects, demonstrate knowledge and develop computational thinking skills that are foundational for later academic success.
Can you share projects between tablets?
Yes! Projects can shared via email or airdrop to other devices that also have the app installed. To access the sharing options, go to the Project Information page by tapping on the yellow button in the top-right corner of the PBS KIDS ScratchJr editor and then follow the prompts.
What if the voice recorder and/or camera won’t work?
If you are unable to record sounds or take pictures with the camera, it might be that you didn't give the app access to the camera or microphone when it was first downloaded. You can change this by going to Settings > Privacy > Camera on your device. If the ScratchJr toggle is off, turn it on. Do the same for the microphone, under Settings > Privacy > Microphone
If you have a specific inquiry related to the PBS KIDS ScratchJr app and/or this site, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will follow-up with you as quickly as possible.