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My Excellent Vacation: a Scratch project

Media Mashup is a new website created for informal educators looking for support in facilitating multimedia workshops using Scratch and other tools. Rather than trying to be a be-all do-all website to support Scratch - which there are already many wonderful websites - the site focuses on a small number of successful workshop ideas with supporting resources ranging from beginner Scratch programming (AllAboutMe project) to more advanced mashups involving digital audio editing, animations, and conversations about fair use and copyright (2Minutes 10Seconds project).
Each Scratch project outline is supplemented with screencasts and resource pages covering tips on teaching and incorporating other digital media tools. The projects have been developed and tested by informal educators around the country.

To give a sense of how we are approaching the creation of these resources, Peter Kirschmann, who works in the
Learning Technology Center at the Science Museum of Minnesota, has written the story of the development of one of the projects, My Excellent Vacation.

    As a youth media facilitator I spent two years working with a local teen produced television show. We spent our after school hours talking about media production, storytelling, media literacy and the importance of creating local, place-based stories. To facilitate brainstorming for these pieces, I would draw from community-based theater exercises and team building activities. One activity that I would always return to was a community mapping activity, in which participants were asked to think of a place based on a prompt (your most important place, a community resource, or an important trip), we would draw a picture representing this place, and then physically map the places in a large open room and take a walking tour of our locations. Each participant shared their drawing and story. I was inspired by this activity and various innovative digital maps (such as Cambridge Community TV’s Local Media Map, a Google Map of local media) to create a workshop around collaborative media mapping using Google Maps and Scratch.
    In preparing for the class, I spent a lot of time looking at different maps--historical, highway, and hand-drawn. I recorded the questions I was asking myself while I was exploring. Who made this map, and what was important to them? What is included on this map, and what was left out? All the maps told stories about people and places, and as I said to the participants on the first day of the class, now we were going to create a map that told our stories. I created a small gallery of maps on one wall in the classroom, and we spent the first portion of the class exploring the maps and asking questions about them. We then used the activity described above to make a room sized collaborative map. Because the class was taking place early in the fall, our prompt was focused on the participants’ summer vacations.
    From here we jumped into Scratch with the goal of creating an interactive digital version of our room-sized map. Students spent time drawing or importing digital photos of our characters and places from our summer vacation. The majority of the participants in the class had never used Scratch before, so our projects focused on simple animations of our stories. We then used Scratch’s audio recording or text functions to narrate our stories. Next, we shared our stories to the Scratch website, and then embedded our projects into a Google Map. The final step was returning to our walking tour, only this time digitally, by projecting our map and Scratch projects in the classroom and sharing with each other.
    The process of the class and the final projects were guided by the interests and experience of the participants. Some students were interested in incorporating viewer interaction (controlling a character or item with key strokes) or making a simple game while others were interested in having a slide show of photos from their trip


As a facilitator, it was important to remain flexible and responsive to the directions different students took but also redirect students back to the project. While some of the participants wanted to incorporate advanced gaming techniques, that was outside of both the scope and time frame of the workshop.
    The finished projects from the class showed a great variety in style and storytelling. Some students focused on painting a picture both with words and Scratch’s drawing tools while others created games and interactive animations based on their experiences. The variety of storytelling techniques came together into a rich collaborative media map that is fun to explore.

One challenge we ran into in the class was the technical process of embedding our Scratch projects into the Google Map. I had made a step-by-step (which number sixteen individual steps) but it was still a lengthy and tedious process to guide the class through, from locating Chincoteague Island to making sure that the entire embed code made its way from the Scratch website to the box on our map. This process ended up taking longer than I had originally scheduled, but all of the map pins eventually found their place.

    I hope to extend the framework from My Excellent Vacation to map other stories and information. Online mapping can provide an opportunity for youth to collaborate across geographic boundaries or with a very local geographic community. It is a way to negotiate spaces and communities through digital technology. A Scratch workshop in a library might create a map of resources for youth in the neighborhood. A social studies class could research and map the untold local histories of their city. An inter-generational workshop might have grandparents and grandchildren mapping a family’s story of immigration. Communities can use these maps to share the diverse stories and experiences found within a few city blocks.

You can read a project outline for My Excellent Vacation and learn how to create your own Scratch and Google Maps mashup at Media Mashup. Be sure to share your comments, insights, and experiences using and adapting these Scratch projects.

Scratch Project: 

 I just finished 7 weeks, 4 sessions per week of teaching My Excellent Vacation in an hour long format. Here are my notes:


 I just finished 7 weeks, 4 sessions per week of teaching My Excellent Vacation in an hour long format. Here are my notes:


Thanks to everyone who came to our workshop at the Scratch Conference. The PDFs from the session are listed above, and be sure to send me a message here or email pkirschmann (at) if you have new applications, ideas, questions, ...

Our collaborative map can be found here: 

Add your own projects!


 You can find just the map making part here:

Thanks! Peter


Keith and Peter,

This is incredibly awesome. I love, love, love the Scratch/Google maps mashup.

I'm probably staring right at it, but not seeing it -- where can I find the step-by-step for embedding Scratch projects in the Google map?

Thank you so much for sharing this,