Activity 5: Beyond Storyboards with our Invention

Digital Storytelling with Scratch

Let’s create a digital story with your invention statement, drawings, and model. Do you use Scratch in school? Perhaps you already have a Scratch account. Scratch is a very popular, free online environment for coding. It doesn’t require you to download any software from the Internet. You can learn a lot about coding with the easy-to-use coding activities. Here are some tips on how to get started just in case you aren’t familiar with Scratch:

Getting Started with Scratch (tips):

  • Go to the Scratch website:
  • For learners who are new to Scratch, we recommend that you click on the “Explore” tab on the top. You can explore projects completed by other coders.
  • Click on the “Ideas” tab and learn to use Scratch through the tutorials.
  • We also recommend that learners create their own Scratch accounts so that their work (both unfinished and completed) can be saved and published.
  • Click on the “Create” tab when you are comfortable to create on your own. Don’t worry. You can always go back to the “Ideas” tab and watch more tutorials.
  • There are keywords that may help you understand the Scratch coding environment and its tutorials. Remember, this is like learning a language.

Here is the brief cheat-sheet:

  • Blocks Palette: Just like an artist’s palette of colors to paint with, the blocks palette has choices to create code with. The blocks are color-coded for the different output types of the “sprite” or actor (see below).
  • Scripts Area or Workplace: This is where users drag and drop the blocks to create a sequence of actions.
  • Stage: This is a 480- by 360-pixel area where the coded actions take place. You can change the stage background by adding and selecting backdrop images.
  • Sprite: This is an “actor” on the stage. Sprites, like actors, can have action scripts, make sounds, and wear costumes. The default sprite is the cat.
  • Costumes: These are different images that are used to animate the sprite. Costumes can be changed, but every sprite must have at least one costume.

This is what you will see when you click on the “Create” tab. Don’t be overwhelmed or intimidated. This stage environment will feel friendlier and more useful the more you go through the tutorials and practice.

MIT Scratch screenshot

photo of students using Scratch

Create Your Story in Scratch

Use the Scratch Story Cards to help you tell the story of your invention in Scratch. This will be fun, but it may also be frustrating if you have never coded before. Take your time and practice. Also, don’t worry. You will have to problem-solve when your code is not working correctly. You will learn by making mistakes, though. Coding is a useful tool—as is storytelling—for all inventors.

This activity will probably take you a day or maybe two. Like everything we do, coding gets easier with practice. Have your parent share the story of your invention on the Full STEAM Ahead forum.

Finally, think about some things that were difficult for you while inventing and coding this week.

Name one example when you were stuck and how you solved the problem.

What strategies did you develop for solving your problems when coding?

Congratulations, Problem Solver!

You are a problem solver. All inventors are problem solvers. We hope you had fun inventing this week. Did you know that you can protect your useful and unique ideas by applying for and receiving a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office? This federal office has issued more than 10 million patents! Not all good ideas have to be patented. Many are, though, especially if the inventor intends to make a financial profit from their useful and unique idea. Trademarks can also be protected. Trademarks are recognizable by the small symbols ™ and ®. Names of products are often trademarked to protect them from being used by other people. Check out the Trademark Activity Book and the Inventor’s Notebook published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. To learn more go to:

Extend Your Learning

Did you enjoy El Deafo? Check out the teaching and learning guide made available by Abrams Books.