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Coding for All: Dance and Scratch Workshops

With support from a National Science Foundation grant for an initiative called “Coding for All,” MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten group, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and the Digital Media and Learning (DML) Hub at University of California Irvine have been working together to explore the creation of interest-based pathways into creative computing.


In early March 2016, the Coding for All team went to Austin, Texas to participate in SXSWedu and lead a Scratch and dance workshop. In a previous ScratchEd story, we shared our reflections about facilitating a hip-hop and Scratch workshop with librarians at the Young Adult Librarian Services Association (YALSA) Symposium. The “Dance, Dance, Dance” tutorial on Scratch shows hip-hop moves, but it’s also really helpful if you want to explore another dance form, such as ballet or line dancing.


Not only can you create a dance scene, you can also see what others have made, and you can even upload pictures of yourself and create sprites that look just like you! Dance and music often use sequences which can repeat, making them ideal interests for coding in Scratch. Even if you can’t pirouette in real life, you can do it (gracefully) in your own Scratch project!


At SxSWedu, 50 educators and researchers participated in the workshop to create dance-related Scratch projects and explore how Scratch can be used creatively within the classroom.


Choose a Dance

The first step to create a dance-related Scratch project is to choose a dance form! Popular line dances include the Cupid Shuffle, Cha-Cha Slide, or even the Macarena. If a dance looks difficult, check out an instructional video to learn some of the steps. There are also lots of easy ballet videos you can view to see some of the dance positions. Don’t feel limited to hip-hop, ballet, or line dancing - try out samba, jazz, or the lindy hop!


Create a Sprite!

Decide on your first sprite - do you want to choose a dance sprite from the Scratch library? Or, try putting yourself and your friends (or students) into a project! With a camera (even a smartphone will do) and perhaps a few props (feather boa, anyone?), snap a few pictures of yourself and upload them to your project as costumes as a new sprite. Don’t forget to try out the new Magic Wand tool  to easily edit your photos.



For some of the participants, this was the first time they had the opportunity to play with Scratch, so offering enough time to tinker with and explore the Scratch Editor was key. Some participants snapped photos of ballet poses at our photo booth, while others did a few hip-hop stances, with the help of Santina from Progressive Arts Alliance. You don’t have to be a good dancer to be an amazing one on Scratch!


Share & Reflect

Participants shared the dance projects they had started, and we discussed some of the opportunities and challenges for implementing a workshop like this in their learning spaces and classrooms. One history teacher, for example, talked about using personalized Scratch projects for student presentations of various historical time periods. Everyone had a lot of fun, and we’re excited to see how others will incorporate dance into Scratch!



If you’re interested in exploring dance and Scratch together, check out some of these resources:

Do you have a story about interest-based learning or dance and Scratch to share? Please share your thoughts and experiences below. We’d love to hear from you!
Scratch Project: