When a lot of people think about computer coding, they see it as a technical skill, but when the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT designed Scratch (a visual programming language and online community targeted primarily at children), they designed it to be a playful learning experience.At the LEGO Foundation we believe that some of the best learning happens when play is used to promote children’s drive and motivation to learn, and this includes play in both the physical and digital world.
We say that learning though play happens when the activity: (1) is experienced as joyful, (2) helps children find meaning in what they are doing or learning, (3) involves active, engaged, minds-on thinking, (4) as well as iterative thinking (experimentation, hypothesis testing, etc), and (5) social interaction. These five characteristics of play draw on evidence for how children learn best (the science of learning) and how to foster a playful mindset.
There are many ways that Scratch supports the five characteristics of play, but they are perhaps best summarised by Mitch Resnick (LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research and the Director of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab) in the video below.
Professor Resnick is also one of the founders of Scratch that has allowed millions of children to learn about computer coding and develop holistic skills in a playful way.
At the start of 2019, it is exciting to see that the launch of the latest version of Scratch (version 3.0) will have even more features to help you program your own interactive stories, games, and animations as well as the ability to continue to share your creations with others in the Scratch online community. Importantly, Scratch 3.0 remains free to everyone, globally.
New Scratch 3.0 features include:
- Create, share, and remix projects on tablets (in addition to laptops and desktops, of course);
- Choose from dozens of new characters, backdrops, and sounds;
- New paint and sound editors make it easier to remix and manipulate characters, music, and sounds;
- With the new extension system, children can program physical devices (like the LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 and the micro:bit) as well as web services (like Google Translate)
Learn more about Scratch 3.0 in the video below
Ollie Bray is Initiatives Lead in the Connecting Play and Education Programme at the LEGO Foundation.