From Scratch to Javascript in one easy bound

s2jsScratch to Javascript ( answers the question about where to take students after Scratch.

Scratch is a wonderful starting point to teach kids programming, but it has its limits and I’ve struggled for years with the question of where to move them to. Originally I moved my coding groups to Python, but then I swapped to Javascript for a lot of good reasons. But that still left open the question of how to actually transition the kids.

And that’s what S2jS aims to do – explicitly move kids from Scratch to Javascript by translating the concepts they learnt in Scratch into Javascript terms and taking them step-by-step through the process of making a familiar game in the more complex language.

It must be said, S2jS does a lovely job of teaching Javascript even if you haven’t played with Scratch. It has clear sequential instructions and non-technical explanations but doesn’t patronise the student. Students can see the results of their coding immediately and can share what they’ve done with anyone on the Internet. The open coding environment also means s2js is useful beyond the limits of the explicit course – you can use it as an environment to write any HTML / Javascript you want.

s2js moveIf I had a wish for S2jS it would be that it focused less on the canvas. The thinking is obvious – the canvas allows the creation of games much like those a student would be familiar with in Scratch. But I like students to learn more about HTML and controlling it through Javascript – how to populate drop-down lists, how to manipulate text, and many other examples. I’d love to see some more of that in S2jS and in fact there’s more promised. S2jS is under active development, the interface was nicely upgraded in the last week or so. It’s perhaps still not the prettiest thing you’ll see, but that in itself is a nice transition for students moving from Scratch to a more adult coding environment.

A student working their way through S2jS will end up learning all they need to know to create a Flappy Bird type game. That is both exactly what most students have in mind when you mention coding and also provides all the core skills you need to go on to make almost anything else.

S2jS was created in Sydney and is already being used in a number of schools around the World. It is completely free. If you are a teacher, parent or student looking to move on from Scratch to do some ‘real’ coding you should go and take a good look at S2jS. It won’t really move you to Javascript in a single bound, it’s always going to take some effort and work to learn a new language, but it’ll make the process straightforward and enjoyable.

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