Review: Scratch 2.0 Beginner’s Guide (Second Edition)

The Scratch 2.0 Beginner’s guide covers a variety of useful skills and applies them to practical applications created with Scratch. Somewhat unlike most tutorials for Scratch, the book focuses on an adult audience of parents and teachers, rather than just focusing on students in its audience; it is not too complex for students to grasp but it does also focus on giving educators and parents ways to explain the projects and Scratch itself to an audience.

Perhaps the most appropriate way to describe this comes out of the author’s own foreword, in which he points out that “I did not set out to write a computer science textbook. It’s… a tutorial… to learn how to use Scratch to create stories, animations, games, or art.” This is not to say that it does not give a good background, but the focus of each project is notably oriented on practical use of Scratch to achieve goals.

The Scratch 2.0 Beginner’s Guide is great as a starting point because it covers all the concerns that a novice to Scratch would have, whether they are tech savvy or not-its automatic saving, block structure, and more are all clearly explained in the early chapters.

The nature of the tutorials are well-balanced. There’s a conscious attempt made to move from novice difficulty to more advanced projects, so the early projects involve simple Scratch activities to demonstrate basic features, replete with in-depth explanations of Scratch’s drawing tools and file management system, while the later projects then move on to more scripting heavy projects. It’s a good flow throughout, and works well to help acclimate a novice to Scratch in ways that are easy to follow and satisfying to complete.

My favorite part of the setup for this book is the way in which it examines Scratch’s available tools. It is immediately apparent that the author is fluent with Scratch and knows how to utilize every possible method at his disposal when working in Scratch, and it comes through in the quality of the explanations throughout the book. While some of the tutorials may not be the most glamorous, focusing on seemingly mundane things like animating a birthday card or building a fortune teller, they manage to do a great job of exploiting a variety of the approaches to Scratch programming and providing a basis for understanding the process of programming rather than just using the methods and functions contained in the examples.

In short, the Scratch 2.0 Beginner’s Guide is set up as a very basic tutorial, but if you’re unfamiliar with either programming in general or Scratch in particular and want to teach a student or yourself to use Scratch, it’s a great starting point and will help you learn not only the basics of using Scratch but also put you onto the path for more advanced projects with Scratch.

If you’re interested in picking up a copy of Scratch 2.0 Beginner’s Guide, you can get it on Amazon or directly from Packt.

Disclaimer: I got a digital reviewer copy of this book from Packt. I was not and will not be financially compensated for writing this review, nor was I pressured to write a positive review.

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