Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 3.35.58 PMScratch (a programming language developed by folks at MIT) is fun.  Let’s just say that right off the bat. If it wasn’t, no 8 year old would go near it.

We offer Game Programming with Scratch class to kids 7-13 years old because the program is loads of fun, super interactive, and actually teaches the syntax and logic concepts behind coding in a way that offers immediate audio/visual feedback and positive reinforcement.  And you should see what these kids come up with!  Let us touch on the basics for a moment.

Let’s talk about “if else” statements.  Are you bored yet?

What if I gave you this cool yellow block to fit some puzzle pieces into?


I want to say “IF” I press the space key, then I want a thought bubble to pop up that says “Scratch is fun!” for 10 seconds. Or “ELSE” I just want the thought bubble to say “hmmm.”  Instead of now writing lines of code to account for these actions, I simply drag in the blocks (which fit together in a MOST pleasing manner) and snap them in place.  Voilá!


While seemingly simple, grasping this “if else” statement is an integral part of understanding how to code.  In addition, learning about actions & repeat loops are essential.  Action statements tell a command when to happen, and repeat loops specify if a script should repeat, and how often.

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Let’s talk briefly about “repeat loops.”  Instead of using endless lines of code, we can simply give one code that encapsulates the rest of the script and tells it to repeat a certain number of times, or in perpetuity.  In Scratch, a repeat block visually wraps around the script, so you can see what actions need to repeat.


What’s great about Scratch is that it presents these commands as a puzzle, giving clues to the user as to how the commands should fit together and interact with one another.  Notice how the “IF” statements are diamond shaped and blue.  The actionable script items are purple and link into the “IF ELSE” block.  The “forever loop” hugs the rest of the script, and the “when green flag is clicked” block always goes on top specifying the action that must be taken to run the script.  Neato!

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Pretty much anyone can learn Scratch.  That goes for you too, grownups!  But here are just a few prerequisites:

  • An affinity for games, puzzles, art or animation
  • A beginner to intermediate reading level
  • A basic grasp on visual & spacial awareness: Left right, up down, colors etc.
  • A basic understanding of numbers & counting
  • Curiosity 🙂

To learn more visit SCRATCH.MIT.EDU and explore.  Happy Scratching!

Emily Angell is a Scratch Instructor at the DAE. When she’s not teaching, she’s busy writing & recording songs, managing and acting as head engineer at the DAE recording studio, and marketing through events held at the DAE’s 8,000 sq. ft. loft space.  To learn more about the DAE, visit