Why Scratch Jr ? It isn’t “real” coding...
I hear that feedback sometimes and the person who says it is usually quick to regret it when I share my "why"! (I'm always polite yet maybe a tad too passionate).
Visual programming blocks enable the student to develop a real understanding of how programming works before they tackle a specific language. Many key computer Science concepts can be experienced in the Scratch Jr environment; events, sequences, loops, algorithms and one of the most powerful for self directed learning, debugging.
My experience with Scratch Jr is in a workshop environment, small, multi age groups 6-12 years, sometimes with kids that have learning challenges...I cannot say enough about this valuable learning tool, I really love it. (I have a feeling that isn't news at this point).
Scratch Jr is a program aimed at the K - 2 age group however I have found it to be very effective for older coders. It's simple intuitive interface, bright colours and quirky characters have obvious appeal and the simple snap together coding blocks provide a fabulous introduction to the exciting world of programming.
There are a lot of "monkey see, monkey do" coding environments out there. This can be positive, especially in the beginning, being able to copy code and then "run" a program is an undeniable thrill and it can lead to more exploration, however, it can also lead to shallow engagement & understanding of the process.
Scratch Jr's non threatening coding environment & simple tool set encourages innovation, students really want to push it to its limits and see what it can do.
Coding is all about the questions you ask and the logical (yet creative) way you design the solutions.
If you would like to explore Scratch Jr for yourself you will find links to download it for your device here: Free Resources.