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SCRATCH Coding Cards

I was asked a few weeks ago if I'd like a review copy of these cards and I thought, 'why not?' and then promptly forgot about them.  Fast forward to last week and they rock up on my doorstep as promised :)

I was a huge fan of the old SCRATCH Cards, designed for version 1.4.  They were freely available for download and I even went to the trouble of laminating several sets for use with my workshops.  They were well put together with simple, small activities that kids could work through at their own pace and with 12 different cards, each highlighting a different aspect of SCRATCH, it was a great way to get kids up and running.

Things have been been greatly improved since, with the release of the box set of 75 (Yep, 75!) Cards for use with SCRATCH 2.0 from No Starch Press.  These cards have been put together by Natalie Rusk, one of the lead developers of SCRATCH at MIT.  

My first impressions; I'm really impressed.  It is great to see them laminated (will make them last longer in a classroom).  I also really like the way they have grouped them into projects based around  theme.  Each theme has a header card that briefly describes the project, and then lists the other cards in the series that you need to complete to finish the project.  I'm a big fan of this method of instruction, guiding the kids into breaking down a large problem into several smaller problems (a central tenet of Computational Thinking) and then letting the students have lots of small 'wins' as they progress through the cards.

Some of the projects are structured such that you can complete the cards in any order, others need to be completed in a specific order.

Each card has two sides (obviously).  On one side is the 'Aim' of the card (what the student hopes to achieve by completing the card, the other side gives some basic instruction on how to assemble the code blocks.  It will point you in the right directions for finding sprites or changing backgrounds, but a rudimentary knowledge of Scratch certainly helps to fill in the gaps.

The only thing that I would have liked to have seen more of, are some prompts to get kids to make changes to their code and explore the effect on their program.  There are a few 'tips' scattered amongst the cards, but a deliberate structure would have been nice.  ie. "What would happen if you changed xxx to zzz?  Try and and see what happens.  Now you make your own change and see it it does what you expect". 

You can get them from Amazon here - SCRATCH Coding Cards

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