In Easy Steps Articles

June 10, 2023

What is Scratch?

Scratch is a programming language that is perfect for making games, animations, interactive stories and other visually rich programs. It’s a great introduction to programming for people of all ages. It’s widely used in schools and colleges, and it’s free!

Scratch is easier to use than most other programming languages for a number of reasons:

  1. You don’t have to remember or type any commands: they’re all on screen, so you can just drag and drop them.
  2. Commands fit together like jigsaw pieces, so there are strong visual hints about how you can combine them.
  3. Error messages are rare. Because Scratch commands lock together, programs usually make some kind of sense. It is possible to still write programs with logical errors in, if they don’t do what you expected, but Scratch guides you to write things that work, rather than nagging you when they don’t.
  4. The commands are color-coded and categorized, so you can easily find a command when you need it.








Many other programming languages require you to learn text commands, and have strict rules about how you can use them. Scratch doesn’t. That means you can focus your energy instead on the fun stuff: dreaming up ideas for new programs, working out how to build them, designing them, and sharing them with friends.

To start using Scratch open a web browser, such as Google Chrome, then visit and click Join Scratch in the top right of the screen, then follow the instructions. The main parts of the Scratch screen are:

Stage: This is where you can see your animations and games in action. When Scratch starts, there’s a large orange cat in the middle of the Stage.

Sprite List: The cat is a “sprite”, which is like a character or object in a game. Your project might include lots of sprites, such as the player’s spaceship, invading aliens and a missile. In the Sprite List, you can see all the sprites that are in your project, and click them to switch between them. The Sprite List is underneath the Stage.

Blocks Palette: In Scratch, you give the computer commands by using blocks, which are instructions that fit together like jigsaw pieces. The Blocks Palette presents you with all the blocks you can use. When you start Scratch, you can see the Motion blocks, which are color-coded in dark blue, and are used for moving sprites around the Stage. You can browse a different set of blocks in the Blocks Palette by clicking one of the buttons, such as the Looks button or the Sound button. You can also scroll through all the blocks in the different categories in the Blocks Palette.

Code Area: The Code Area (previously known as the Scripts Area in older versions of Scratch) is where you make your programs, by joining instruction blocks together. When you join blocks together, the result is called a script. The Code Area expands to fill the screen space available, so if you use a larger monitor, the Code Area will be bigger.

Backpack: The Backpack at the bottom of the screen is handy for copying sprites and scripts between different projects. Click the Backpack at the bottom of the screen to open it. You can then drag sprites or scripts into it, or drag them out into your current project.

The blue stripe across the top of the screen is used for managing your projects. You can use the File menu to save your work, including downloading it to your computer. The online version of Scratch saves your updates automatically, so you won’t need this often. The box containing “Untitled” is where you rename your project. Click the folder in the top right to find all your projects.

Now you know how easy Scratch is to use, get started with the fun stuff… learning how to create your own games, animations, music, art, or applications with these In Easy Steps books:

Scratch Programming in easy steps, 2nd edition
£6.99 ebook / £10.99 paperback
By: Sean McManus
ISBN: 9781840788594





Cool Scratch Projects in easy steps
£6.99 ebook / £10.99 paperback
By: Sean McManus
ISBN: 9781840787146





Coding with Scratch – Create Awesome Platform Games
£7.99 ebook / £9.99 paperback
By: Max Wainewright
ISBN: 9781840789546






Coding with Scratch – Create Fantastic Driving Games
£7.99 ebook / £9.99 paperback
By: Max Wainewright
ISBN: 9781840789560








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