Using Scratch across the curriculum

By Neil Rickus on

As schools move towards implementing the new Computing curriculum, many are choosing to link programming skills into their existing subject topics, with some key theories / principles being taught in discrete lessons.

Outlined below are five cross-curricular Scratch projects linked to other subjects. I have listed the projects in order of skill progression, although they could easily be simplified or extended depending on the age or ability of your children.

History (Programming skills developed: Sequencing)

One of the first tasks often undertaken in Scratch is getting two sprites (characters) to interact, so why not have two historical figures speaking to each other? Alternatively, pupils could create a virtual Q&A session, such as an interview with a woman working during WWII.

Literacy (Programming skills developed: Sequencing, selection, inputs / outputs)

The History project can be extended into a full-blown story / animation, which I’ve found really effective at engaging those reluctant boy writers! Rather than just having characters interacting, they could also move around the screen and into different scenes (using a range of backgrounds). To extend the programming task further, the user could be offered a choice of events in the story. For example, the reader might decide whether the hero saves the day or the monster takes over the world!

Maths (Programming skills developed:  Sequencing, selection, inputs / outputs, repetition)

Computers are obviously extremely effective calculators, so why not get pupils to make a Maths quiz? This could involve addition questions for younger pupils or a multiplication challenge. On answering a question correctly, the sprite might dance, play a sound, etc, whereas an incorrect answer could lead to the correct answer being displayed or further guidance being provided. To offer more of a challenge, the random number generator can be used to vary the calculations used in questions. Two example multiplication challenge programs can be downloaded here. Pupils might even vary the type of questions, such as naming shapes or converting fractions to decimals.

PE (Programming skills developed: Sequencing, selection, inputs / outputs, repetition, variables)

Still image and video cameras are increasingly used in PE to record evidence of achievement and give feedback to children. These images can easily be made into Scratch sprites and the pupils then asked to animate themselves! The sprites could be made to dance, move across obstacles, or even become part of a keyboard-controlled game. A score variable may also be introduced to reward the player for completing certain challenges within the game.

Science (Programming skills developed: Sequencing, selection, inputs / outputs, repetition, variables, controlling / simulating physical systems)

Pupils need opportunities to demonstrate their understanding in Science, which can be easily done with Scratch. For example, when examining electricity, pupils could produce a program that only lights a bulb sprite when the circuit is complete (similar to this BBC Science Clip). You could even link the Scratch program to interact with external devices, such as Makey Makey, Lego WeDo or PicoBoards, as outlined here.

Let us know what you think of these ideas and whether you have used Scratch effectively in other curriculum subjects. Contact us and I’ll share some of your thoughts! Miles Berry also has a range of interesting cross-curricular ideas here.

Do you need further guidance on how to implement computing in your school? Computing Champions’ most popular package, programming training for teachers, links to the new Computing programme of study and provides a hands-on introduction to a range of technologies. Get in touch or visit here for more information.