Peg and Cat have a really big problem! Cat is stuck in a tree. Again! In this activity, children will be challenged to create projects with the PBS KIDS ScratchJr app where they help Peg rescue her friend Cat.
Total time to completion: 1 hour and 50 minutes
Getting Started: 5 minutes
Play: 10 minutes
Explore: 20 minutes
Watch: 15 minutes
Create: 30 minutes
Share: 15 minutes
Keep Going: 15 minutes
Children will learn how to create projects, add characters, and how to use the programming blocks to make their characters animate 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 - A series of ordered steps to solve a problem or accomplish a task
- Horizontal and Vertical
- Left and Right
- iPads or Android tablets for each child (or group of children)
- The PEG + CAT "Yet Another Tree Problem," 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
- 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 get the kids ready and focused for a creative PBS KIDS challenge.
Peg and Cat are best friends who love to have fun, go on adventures, and solve problems using math. Today, everyone is going to create PBS KIDS ScratchJr projects to help Peg and Cat solve a really big problem. Cat is stuck in a tree and Peg needs help getting him down! Children will learn how create projects and how to use the Motion blocks to help Peg reach Cat so she can rescue him.
Play ‘Simon Says’ with the group. As much as possible incorporate spatial vocabulary into the game; up, down, next to, below, above, right, and left. 'Simon Says' is a game that aligns really nicely with computational thinking. In the game, if ‘Simon Says,’ to do something, then everyone does that thing, but if Simon doesn’t say, then participants do nothing. Characters in PBS KIDS ScratchJr behave in the same way; they need to be triggered before they will begin their animations.
Project your tablet onto a big screen with a document camera or with a cable, open PBS KIDS ScratchJr, and start a new project. First, talk about programs and coding. Programming / coding is creating a list of instruction that tells a computer or other technology what to do. In PBS KIDS ScratchJr, each block is a different instruction. By adding and snapping blocks together, you are programming/coding; creating programs that tell a character exactly what to do.
Then model how to create programs for your characters using Motion and Trigger blocks. When modeling blocks and features, first ask children what they think each block will do before testing out their guesses.
Show everyone how to add characters and how to create programs by dragging blocks into the programming area, snapping them together, and testing them. Then give everyone at least 5 minutes to explore and make discoveries on their own. Giving kids free time with app and championing their discoveries is a great way to get kids engaged in the experience. It's more than okay if they discover blocks and features that aren't included in the activity. Invite children to share their fun discoveries informally with each other and with the whole group.
Add Characters and Backgrounds - To add a character or background, tap the blue plus sign on the left or the landscape at the top of the screen.
Delete a Character - To delete, tap and hold the character until you see a red X. Tap X to delete.
Place Characters - Once a character is added to your screen, you can move it by dragging your finger.
Motion Blocks - Blue Motion blocks cause characters to move on the screen.
Start on Green Flag - The yellow Trigger blocks are what trigger / cause a program to begin.
Change Block Values - PBS KIDS ScratchJr can help make it simpler for characters to do the same thing more than once.
Reset - The reset button places characters back at their starting points.
Click the image above to view the 11-minute PEG + CAT episode, "Yet Another Tree Problem." Have the group pay attention to what Peg, Cat, and Ramone do to solve their tree problem. After the episode:
- Review and discuss the spatial feedback introduced during the episode.
- Review and discuss what the characters did to solve their really big problem.
Now it's time for everyone to use their knowledge of Motion blocks and spatial awareness to help Peg and Cat solve their really big problem. Make sure everyone has a tablet to work on and make yourself available to lend support as everyone works on their projects. Asking questions to help children articulate their thinking is a great way to support their creative process. Example questions include:
- "Tell me about your project"
- "Why did you..."
- "What does this program do?"
- "What are you still hoping to accomplish?"
Write the basic parameters of the project at the front of the room to help guide everyone’s work:
- Encourage everyone to add Peg, Cat, and a tree character to their projects.
- Encourage everyone to place Cat or Peg in the tree and the other character somewhere else on the screen. Cat (or Peg) is now stuck in the tree!
- Challenge the group to use their powers of spatial awareness and the Motion blocks to create programs that move Peg to Cat so she can rescue him (or vice versa). When creating programs, remind everyone that they can use the number pad to keep their programs short and simple.
Ask for volunteers to share their projects with the group. Encourage children to share, even if their project isn't finished. Sharing and getting feedback on unfinished work is a great way to inspire new ideas.
Have them share their projects and more specifically, which blocks they used to help Peg save Cat. Model giving warm and cool feedback and encourage the same from the children. 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 workd hard on..."
Cool Feedback: Specific and supportive suggestions
- "Have you thought about..."
- "What if you tried..."
- "It might be clearer if you..."
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.
- Once Peg rescues Cat, the problem is solved and it's time to celebrate. Have children add blocks to their programs to help Peg and Cat celebrate. They could use Motion blocks to make them dance, and Voice Record blocks to make them sing. What else could be created and programmed to add to the celebration?
- Challenge children to come up with additional ways that Peg could rescue Cat. Jet packs? Ladders? Flying Carpets? Have children add their creative solutions to their projects.
- For children having trouble determining how many steps are needed to move Peg to Cat (or to check their guesses) have children turn on the grid background. The grid will help them keep track of where their characters are and how much they move. Use the grid to discuss vertical and horizontal axes in more detail.
- Although this activity is predominantly math focused, children are still creating a narrative involving Peg rescuing Cat. You can expand on this by encouraging children to use speech bubbles and text in their stories to create more of a story. For example, have children think about why Cat is stuck in a tree and how Cat got up there to begin with. Is Cat scared? Is Peg nervous about getting Cat down? Have children think about the emotions of each character and use pink Say block and/or the green Recorded Sound blocks to create a dialogue between them.