MIT's Scratch is one of my favorite ways to introduce students to programming.
I have used it in projects over the last 5 years in after school classes, digital art classes and extensively in my computer science classes (part of the CSTEM program). I have used Scratch with 4th-6th graders, and they love it.
One of the biggest reason to use Scratch, is community. Students can share and learn from people around the world (3 million projects and counting are online), and teachers can learn from the vast supportive teacher community that shares lesson plans and best practices. It comes with sound research and pedagogy from MIT. Some other reasons to use Scratch are below under 'Why Scratch'
Some of my own lessons / projects that I have used in my classes
Some recommended resources to learn more on Scratch
Already know Scratch? Try Debugging other's code
Good starter set of Debug activities created by Scratch Ed team
Other debug activities from the CSTA 2013 workshop by the ScratchEd Team
- Pong (http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/11413907/)
Hide and Seek (http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/11413999/)
- The paddle doesn't follow my mouse pointer the way I expect.
- The ball should stop when it hits the strip of red at the bottom of the screen!
- Gobo should move around the stage, rather than always appearing in the same spot!
- The score should decrease by 1 when I click on something other than Gobo.
- The orange ball shouldn't be able to go through the walls.
- A new level should appear when the orange ball reaches the green goal.
Explore Scratch 2.0 Advanced features
(from the CSTA 2013 workshop by the ScratchEd Team)
- How does the camera feature work?
Example projects: http://scratch.mit.edu/studios/201435/
- How does cloud data work?
Example projects: http://scratch.mit.edu/studios/202852/
- How does "Make a Block" work?
Example projects: http://scratch.mit.edu/studios/201424/
- How does cloning work?
Example projects: http://scratch.mit.edu/studios/201437/
- Community! Community! Community! Encourages, sharing, remixing and learning.
- Open, and really Free
- Years of research from MIT
- Used in schools, clubs and more for 5+ years
- 3 million+ projects to learn from
- Free shared resources from teachers across the world
- Vector graphics, sound editing - inspires original creations
- Interfaces with Lego WeDo and other hardware
- Multi-lingual support - remix projects made in a different language