Scratching for a Purpose


Posted by Shane | Posted in Animations, Computer Programming, Scratch | Posted on November 6, 2012

So scratching for a purpose.. Funnily enough I don’t mean when we have no clue what is going on so sit scratching our heads. In fact, what I actually mean is using the Scratch software (discussed in my previous blog) to create something that can have a purposeful use within a classroom and also to describe where it could potentially fit into the curriculum.


So, I guess the first thing to say is that whilst animations are fun to create, games created using scratch, in my opinion, can be a lot more purposeful in the classroom as they use the same techniques as building an animation, but with a little extra sizzle (a few more buttons) they can be used to further support learning in many areas of the curriculum.


As a result me, and Claire Atkinson (Yep, I can’t take all the credit… Most of it should also probably go to her) created a game featuring several underwater creatures, that when clicked on disappear, along with a sound to associate with it, and a score is made to see how many can be clicked. To make this we started with the key foundations as those mentioned in my previous blog changing the background and animating a sprite. However as can clearly be seen we needed to add more sprites (Clicking one sprite wouldn’t be much of a game) so this is done by pressing one of the star buttons above where sprite 1 is displayed, these give you three options;

1. Painting a new Sprite

2. Choose a new Sprite from file (pre-made sprites)

3. Get a surprise Sprite (Chooses a random pre-made sprite)

Scratch Game In The Making

However in making a game there are also several more key commands that will also need to be included such as; making sprites appear and disappear at random and also making them disappear when clicked, and accompanying this with a sound effect. This can be seen in the game (pictured left) where the command buttons are split into three distinct sections; the first controls the left-right movement of sprites, the middle section controls how sprites appear and disappear at random with the final section controlling how the sprites disappear when clicked, playing a sound at the same time. Below is the final completed scratch project made up of several sprites that follow the same commands… Feel free to have a play around with it.



Learn more about this project

This game can be used in two main ways within the curriculum both in the Foundation Stage/Year 1 and also in upper Key Stage 2. Within the foundation stage the main focus of this game would be to reinforce the learning of counting from 1 upwards, the number being determined by the score the child gets. As well as counting upwards to the score that the playing child achieves, children can also practice counting down along with the timer displayed in the top left of the screen.

In Key Stage 2 the use of this game would be a lot more related to computer programming with children using this as a template to create their own game. There are however several ways in which this can be delivered to the children to develop it in stages; children could be given the original game and asked to change the background (an important starting point for creating a game) before investigating the commands used to create the movement of the sprites and seeing if they can replicate it for a new sprite. Another interesting way of developing children’s knowledge of scratch could be to let them explore for themselves for a little while to see if they can create anything. After this children could be guided through the software step by step, however this would take time to build up to a finished product (perhaps 8-9 sessions).

However this game could have been further improved/adapted to make it more suitable for use in certain areas of the curriculum; for example changing the game to require children to click on the sprites that would live in a certain habitat, an idea that another group made a game for (Can’t remember who to give them the credit however).


So there we go, a quick look at how to use a game to support the curriculum and, perhaps more importantly, have some fun whilst doing it. If anyone has any questions feel free to comment (starting to sound like Facebook) but I guess thats all from me, for now, and as Arnie would say.. ‘I’ll be back’


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