As I continue my series on making games on your Chromebook, let’s leave Godot behind and move on to something for the younger ChromeOS audience and high school students to explore. Today I’m going to show you a fun way to get your kids learning logic and programming while creating something playable right from the web browser!
In case you’ve never heard of Scratch, it’s the world’s largest programming community for kids. Your little ones can create stories, games and animations to share with others around the world by simply dragging and dropping a few puzzle-like blocks. let me explain.
Scratch was designed specifically for the 8-16 age group, but is used by people of all ages. Millions of people create Scratch projects in a variety of settings, including homes, schools, museums, libraries, and community centers.
Who Uses Scratch?
Before I do that though, I should mention that Scratch was created by the Scratch Foundation. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children around the world express their ideas through coding, learn to innovate, collaborate and learn in a community. Over 200 million kids have used it to date, but if yours hasn’t, don’t worry, we’ll get to it now!
To get started, all you have to do is visit Scratch Editor online and go through the getting started tutorial. There’s also a Google Play Store app for Standard Scratch and Scratch Jr. – an application for smaller children who can enjoy some of the same benefits of creating with the platform.
All you have to do when you’re in the editor is grab the colored blocks from the left, drag and drop them into the main window, and stitch them together. As soon as you click on the green “go” flag in the top right corner, you will see the cute cat character begin to carry out the commands given to him. When you tell him to move a certain number of steps, go to a certain x and y coordinate, and more are all within the blue block section called “Move”.
However, you may have noticed that there are more color tabs on the far left of the screen. Basically, these give you access to many other “logic blocks” that you can snap together like Legos. Below I will give a brief explanation of what each one is used for when creating.
- violet – Looks
- pink – sound
- Yellow – Events
- Bright orange – control
- Light Blue – perception
- Green – operator
- orange – Variables
- pink – My blocks
In addition to this Code tab, there are two other tabs that you can navigate to in the editor. First, there is a “Costumes” tab where you can change your cat’s appearance. Draw clothes on it, add text, shapes and more, or rearrange its limbs (for extra fun). Over on the Sounds tab, you can create audio cues like a cat’s meow, which can be executed as logic blocks from the purple Sounds tab run of the Encoding tab.
Oh, and you can also change the editor’s background, import your own non-cat sprite character image, create one in place or paint one, and more. These additional tools can be found in the cat and picture icons at the bottom right of the editor. Scratch is available in over 70 languages and is completely free to use. Since it’s available directly as a web application, you can turn it into an icon on your child’s Chromebook for a little practice every day!
I just want the steps!
1. Visit the scratch editor via the Chrome browser
2. Use the colored dots on the left to select a code block tab
3. Drag and drop logic blocks into the main part of the editor and snap them
4. Press 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 to use while coding