Create stories, games, and animations
According to Professor Resnick, "As young people create scratch projects they are not just learning to write computer programs. They are learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively – essential skills for success in today's world."
An MIT project specifically designed for kids ages 8 to 16, Scratch has been used by educators and parents around the world to help kids develop animations, interactive stories, and games through drag-and-drop code blocks. It was the first programming tool I introduced my son to, when I was taking a programming course a few years ago. I remember saying, "Hey, Raghav, isn't this amazing? By changing this block I can make this dog meow like a cat." He was hooked ever since.
Scratch remains our favorite programming tool, mainly because it offers so much control. It's like Hopscotch, above, but more robust, and like App Inventor, below, but more user-friendly. In Scratch, there's a huge gallery of objects you can use or customize. (Don't underestimate the importance for a kid of coloring a character just so.) And with the vast array of methods available, you can make them do just about anything. Raghav wanted to make a game called "Car Racing" (like usual car race games, but rather than racing we had to save object from racing car), and the only tool we've discussed so far that could really pull this off is Scratch. Although they can't be turned into bonefide mobile apps, your kids' creations can be saved and shared on the site.