Programming for Young Learners: ScratchJr

Scratch Cat on StageThis is a first STEAM course for young learners between 4 and 8 years old. It starts by teaching responsible device usage. Students learn when it is OK to use their devices and when they should be put down for more important activities.  Critical thinking and basic Computer Science concepts include sequential thinking, cause and effect, and how to combine math, language and art in their designs. Fostering a healthy creative mind is a constant goal.

ScratchJr is a block, or visual programming language designed for very young learners. It provides young children with opportunities to design, create, and express themselves. This first programming course is designed for learners as young as 4 through 8 years of age or older.  It is taught in English but only a basic knowledge of the language is needed to get started. The few necessary English words are taught in class.

From The Official ScratchJr Book:

Using ScratchJr, children can snap together programming blocks to make characters move, jump, dance, and sing. They can modify how their characters look, design their own backgrounds, add their own voices and sounds and even photos of themselves – and then use the programming blocks to bring their characters to life.

As young children code with ScratchJr, they learn how to create and express themselves with the computer, rather than just interact with software created by others. Children learn to think sequentially, explore cause and effect, and develop design and problem-solving skills. At the same time, they learn to use math and language in a meaningful and motivating context.

ScratchJr Animal RaceThe course starts by setting class rules and rules for how, when and how long students should use their devices each day. Devices such as tablets and smartphones are now widely used. Most people (students and adults alike) have not had the necessary training or experience with proper and balanced usage. Device addiction and improper use (distracted walking for instance) are now huge problems around the world. We believe the best time to introduce these devices, TOGETHER WITH GUIDANCE ON USE AND DISCIPLINE, is at a young age.Programming for Young Learners: ScratchJr is an active, project based learning class. Students are expected to be actively involved in the design of their animations, games, and stories. The course outline follows the book closely. Students are encouraged to come up with their own variations of the suggested projects. They are asked to read their code and explain their thinking. Creativity, independent thinking and exploration are all actively encouraged.

Learning Outcome

Students who finish this course should:

  • be comfortable with tablet usage and have started to develop a proper discipline on how, when, and where usage is acceptable.
  • show a basic knowledge of sequencing (ordering of actions to achieve a desired outcome) through animated programs.
  • feel comfortable with asking “what if” questions and independent exploration.
  • be able to design, debug and show basic ScratchJr programs (animation, games and stories).


The Official ScratchJr Book by Mariana Umaschi Bers and Mitchel Resnick is used in this course.

Required Class Supplies

ScratchJr BookA modern tablet running Android or iOS is needed. Tablets of 10 inches in size or large are highly recommended. Smaller tablets due to their small screen size are much more difficult to use for ScratchJr. If the student needs to purchase a new tablet, Teachers Network has relationships with local manufactures we can recommend to you. These are usually less expensive than the alternatives, are known to work well with ScratchJr and come with local warranties.

ScratchJr is a free app available for all modern Android and iOS devices. It can be freely downloaded through most of the normal app stores. Installation needs to be done before the first class so the student can actively engage with the class from the beginning. It runs natively under Android and iOS and with some emulators under Windows and possibly also macOS.

ScratchJr has been tested successfully with the BlueStacks emulator running on English Windows 10 ( The Chinese language version of the emulator was used with the latest ScratchJr APK (at the time of this writing). No testing has yet to be performed with macOS.

Additional Resources

Programming for Young Learners: ScratchJr Course Outline – provides a detailed outline of the course syllabus.