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Scratch 3 Programming Playground: Learn to Program by Making Cool Games Review by Renee Knoblauch

No Starch Press
Al Sweigart
245 8th St.
San Francisco, CA 94103 USA

Scratch 3 Programming Playground: Learn to Program by Making Cool Games from No Starch Press is an excellent resource to learn how to make epic games. Scratch is an ideal platform for children interested in creating programs and games. It has an easy-to-use drag and drop interface that makes it ideal for children wanting to learn simple programming and designing online games, interactive stories, and animations. In addition, it is a visually appealing program where you see results quickly without endless lines of coding.

Al Sweigart, a software developer, wrote Scratch 3 Programming Playground: Learn to Program by Making Cool Games; it is available as a print book for $24.95 and an eBook in PDF, Mobi, or ePub for $19.95.

Scratch is a free-to-use programming tool that does not require you to download software on your computer. It runs in a web browser and can be used on Windows, Mac, and Linux. The newest version Scratch 3, allows you to build games on a smartphone or tablet with an app. Scratch was designed for eight to sixteen-year-olds; however, it can be used with younger children and adults learning their first programming language.

You do not need experience with Scratch or programming. Instead, the book will provide step-by-step instructions throughout while creating the games. Parents, teachers, and students can use this book.

There is an introduction explaining the basics of the Scratch platform. You start with some basic skills and build upon the skills you had previously done in earlier chapters. This is a nice feature as you are still using skills that you learned in the beginning. More concepts and enhancements are taught and implemented as you get further into the chapters.

 Each game suggests that you sketch out planning parts of the program and what the final game will look like. Next, you have detailed instructions walking you through each step of the process. After completing the game, an optional activity is to create unique features and cheat modes for your completed game. There is a review at the end of the chapters to see if you comprehended the topics covered. Each chapter concludes with a summary of the concepts learned. Finally, at the back of the book, there are suggested resources to explore Scratch more.

Throughout the chapters are several full-colored illustrations to provide visual reinforcement of the steps. Some visuals, for example, are of the Scratch interface program like putting in variables, working with the paint, adding in Sprite. In addition, every game creation shows you the code blocks broken down by steps and the order in which the code blocks are placed. Finally, you will also have illustrations of the actual game and how it should look at specific points in the game's building. The graphics are easy-to-follow, with immediate results with minor supervision.

When you combine the Scratch coding blocks, you will learn programming concepts like strings, variables, and loops without dealing with complex codes to create the games. In addition, you have ample opportunity to test your code throughout with a reminder box, "Save Point."

The games that you will be creating are Rainbow Lines…In Space, Maze Runner, Shooting Hoops with Gravity, Polished Brick Breaker Game, Asteroid Break…In Space, and Making an Advanced Platform. The games are all different and give you a good overview of the types of unique games you can create using Scratch.

My son has been coding for several years now. He did not start out writing lines of codes. Scratch was what began his interest in coding. He still likes to create games in Scratch due to the easy and quick results it provides. He enjoyed working through this book and completing the games. He likes that the author's presentation is clear, concise, and engaging. There is no second-guessing with the illustrations if you are doing the steps correctly. My son feels that all the necessary skills are taught in this book to start creating your own unique creation in the Scratch interface. If anything, it gives you the confidence to explore other aspects outside of the book.

Scratch 3 Programming Playground: Learn to Program by Making Cool Games is an excellent resource to introduce children to the world of coding.

Product review by Renee Knoblauch, The Old Schoolhouse®, October 2021