Activate Creature Powers! Inspired by the WILD KRATTS, in this activity children will be challenged to create PBS KIDS ScratchJr projects that explore different animals and their unique behaviors and traits.
Total time to completion: 1 hour and 45 minutes
Getting Started: 5 minutes
Play: 10 minutes
Explore: 20 minutes
Watch: 15 minutes
Create: 30 minutes
Share: 15 minutes
Keep Going: 10 minutes
Children will learn how to create projects, add characters, and how to use the programming blocks to make their characters animate and move on screen. They will explore coding and computational thinking practices as they utilize technology as a tool for creativity, expression and learning with the PBS KIDS ScratchJr app.
- Programming / Coding - Creating a sequence of instructions that tells a computer (or other technology) what to do
- Sequence / Algorithm - A series of ordered steps to solve a problem or accomplish a task
- Unique - Particularly remarkable or special; unlike anything else
- Traits - Qualities that makes one person, animal, or thing different from another
- Habitat - The home of an animal or a plant
- iPads or Android tablets for each child (or group of children)
- The WILD KRATTS "Creature Power Challenge," episode
- TV, projector, computer, or other device to play the episode
- A document camera to display tablet work to the whole group or a cable to connect the tablet and projector
- Chalkboard, whiteboard, or poster paper
- Design Handouts
- PBS KIDS ScratchJr Simon Says Cards
- Parent Handout (English | Spanish)
The context in which you are engaging in this activity will impact how you get started. Take the time to set up cues, preview what you’re going to be doing and why, and to get the kids ready and focused for a fun and creative PBS KIDS challenge.
Today, everyone will be making their own programs using PBS KIDS ScratchJr that are inspired by WILD KRATTS. Children will choose an animal and will create a project that shows off that animal’s Creature Powers.
Ask a focusing question and have each child answer: What is your favorite wild animal?
Have the group stand up to play a game of PBS KIDS ScratchJr Simon Says. Instead of giving verbal commands, print and utilize the PowerPoint presentation going slide by slide. The presence of a Start on Green Flag Trigger block on a slide is the same as if a facilitator were to say “Simon Says…” If that block is present, then the children should complete the action. If that block is not present, then Simon didn't say and the children should do nothing.
Before playing, make sure you establish specific actions for each of the Motion and Looks blocks that are used in the game; Up, Down, Left, Right, Hop, Grow, and Shrink.
This game is a great way to extend the fun of Simon Says while giving kids the opportunity to physicalize and embody some of the core programming concepts embedded within PBS KIDS ScratchJr as well as the functionality of the blocks. Programs in the app are a lot like Simon Says; they all need a yellow Trigger Block (the equivalent of saying “Simon Says…”) to make them go.
Model and have the group follow along as you explore how to use the Hide, Show, Grow, Shrink, and Speed blocks inside PBS KIDS ScratchJr by dragging each of them into the programming area and discovering what they do. When modeling blocks and features, first ask children what they think each block will do before testing out their guesses. Make sure you also utilize the Start on Green Flag block to continue to reinforce the need to set-up triggers for your programs.
Additionally showcase the functionality of the blue Motion blocks. See the PEG + CAT – Tree Problem Activity to learn how to add characters and backgrounds and how to use the Motion blocks.
Make sure you give children some free time to openly explore the app on their own. Kids are curious and fearless with technology. After taking the time to introduce and model specific features of the tool, it is valuable to provide kids with opportunities to explore, discover, and learn on their own. Give children opportunities to share any new and exciting discoveries with the group. Keep your tablet connected to the projector so that you can continue to provide support.
Show and Hide Blocks - These pink Looks blocks can make your characters appear and disappear. Ask the group when they think it would be a good time to make an animal Show or Hide.
Grow and Shrink Blocks - These pink Looks blocks change the size of your characters.
Reset Size Blocks - Use these blocks to reset your character to its original size.
Speed Blocks - The orange Speed block will change your character's speed.
Start on Green Flag Blocks - The yellow Trigger blocks are what trigger / cause a program to begin.
Editing and Creating Characters and Backgrounds - To edit or create a character or background, tap the blue plus sign on the left or the landscape icon at the top of the screen, and then the paintbrush icon.
Reset Blocks - The reset button places characters back at their starting points.
Ask the children to define "habitat" and "unique". Then, click on the image above to view the 10-minute WILD KRATTS episode, 'Creature Power Challenge,' and ask the group to focus on the animals in the episode, the habitat they live in, and the Creature Powers that make those animals unique and special. After the episode, discuss the animals from the episode and the Creature Powers that help them each thrive in their habitats.
Have everyone choose an animal that they would like to use for their project. They can choose one of the WILD KRATTS animals, any of the other animals in the app, or they can draw their own with the Paint Editor. The Design Handouts can be used to help kids think about and plan their projects before they begin designing and coding. Take stock of the time, and your knowledge of your students to gauge how much time to spend planning vs. actually creating / coding.
Challenge everyone to use all of the new blocks introduced + the Motion blocks to create programs that show off their animal’s creature powers.
Providing the structure below can help make open-ended tasks more manageable for kids. Encourage kids to stick to the core themes of the project and to get creative!
- Is their animal really big and that’s what protects it from other animals? Encourage using the Grow block.
- Is their animal really fast and that’s how it hunts? Or how it escapes being hunted? Encourage using the Speed block.
- Does the animal camouflage into its environment to hide and show itself only when it’s safe? Encourage playing with the Hide and Show blocks.
- Also make sure they add a background to their projects that shows off their animal's habitat.
Make sure everyone has a tablet and make yourself available to lend support as everyone works on their projects. If children are stuck and want help, ask questions and help support their thinking as they work to overcome challenges. Also encourage children to turn to each other for support and inspiration.
Make It Simpler
Have children focus exclusively on the Motion and Trigger blocks to make their animal move around the screen.
Have children pair up and share their projects with one another. Presenting projects to the group can help build confidence, and inspire new ideas and discoveries. Model and encourage the giving and receiving of both warm and cool feedback. Examples of both types are:
Warm Feedback: Specific and positive feedback
- "I really like how you..."
- "It was really interesting when..."
- "It was clear you worked hard on..."
Cool Feedback: Specific and supportive suggestions
- "Have you thought about..."
- "What if you tried..."
- "It might be clearer if you..."
Also encourage children to share and discuss the following:
- What are your animal's unique traits?
- How do those traits help your animal survive in the their habitat?
If you have extra time, give children the chance to work on whatever they would like. If they received useful feedback, were inspired by other projects, or want to attempt one of the extensions below, this is a wonderful opportunity to do just that. Or they can start a whole new project and can create whatever they would like.
- Challenge children to try adding a Kratt brother and using text or speech to add some facts about the animals in their projects. They will need to use Say blocks to add speech bubbles or the Recorded Sound blocks to record facts with their own voices.
- When introducing children to the Speed blocks, have them compare one character to another by seeing how long it takes them to complete the same actions at different speed settings.
- First, add two characters to your stage. Then, try giving them the same program with different speeds set for each one.
- Encourage children to create and keep a written fact sheet about the animal they have chosen. This will help them remember which traits they want to focus on programming once they have a tablet in hand.
- This is also a great opportunity to provide children with books, nature magazines, and websites to help find out about animal traits. They may want to take photos of the animal pictures they find to include as characters or backgrounds in their projects. To get started, have them check out the Creaturepedia on the WILD KRATTS website
- After children have finished creating their Creature Power projects, they can involve the real world by designing habitats out of craft supplies to house their tablet-based animal projects. Children with animals from similar habitats can collaborate and work together.