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A Kiwi Scratch Day @ Forrest Hill School NZ

I first learnt about Scratch Day in 2009. I was keen to give it a go, however time was against us and I pulled the plug on the idea. So this year I was watching the scratch website for Scratch Day dates so I could start putting arrangements in place early.


Our computer suite has 18 computers, give or take a few always needing attention! We also had the use of three neighbouring classrooms with another 18 computers in total if we needed them. So I was not thinking too big for the day.


We opened our day to the public on the scratch website but asked for registrations. We invited all the Year 3-6 classes and families from Forrest Hill School, by sending a note home with the newsletter. In addition, I invited 30 students from my Boys in School group at Coatesville School, Albany, Auckland. This was going to be about as many as we could handle if everybody turned up!


On the day it was a perfect turn out. We had all 40 computers running full time using scratch from 3pm to 6pm. We had about 15 scratch helpers, mostly from Forrest Hill School. My brother in law Phill Patton is the Sales Manager of IBM New Zealand. He supported us by supplying IBM lanyards for all the helpers and spot prizes like caps and mugs. It was all a bit last minute as we were turned down by local companies, however Phill came through for us.


As an introduction to the day, I talked about the basics of scratch and showed various examples of student work.   Our first activity involved everyone. We did a variation of the 8 block challenge found online. I intended this to take about 15 minutes. However, the scratchers became very creative and fully involved in their projects, so half an hour later they were still at it. After nearly an hour, I called everybody together and outlined the plan for the remainder of the session. I showed everybody the scratch account and the galleries that they could contribute to on the day. We had areas in particular galleries; LEARNING BY PLAY – GAMING (Gallery 1), CREATE A QUIZ (Gallery 2), SCRATCH A STORY (Gallery 3), SCRATCH CARD CHALLENGE – 12 SIMPLE PROJECTS(Gallery 4) , ECOLOGY NEW ZEALAND (Gallery 5), MUSIC IN ME (Gallery 6).  

You can view these on our website:


Our server decided to be difficult and blocked the uploads so we went to Plan B and saved our work on the local server in folders to represent the particular galleries we had. The helpers spread themselves out over the four rooms and the buzz started again. It was inspiring to watch, interesting to help and excellent to talk with the parents and even grandparents who were trying out scratch for the first time along side their kids. Some of the adults went solo and created a project by themselves.  


Scratch Day was a success and I have received encouraging feed back from the parents and children who attended. There are, however a few things I will aim to improve for next year.


  • A dumbie run with the helpers so they know more precisely what their roles are on the day.

  • To set up skype with other scratch groups prior to the day and make definite times to go online with them.

  • To check the scratch upload is working on our server. It shouldn’t be a problem next time around as we think we have remedied the problem already.

  • Ask more adults to help with lead up organization.

  • I would like to have a Wedo as one of the activities next year as I run a NXT robotics classes at Coatesville School.


On a personal note, Scratch Day organization was a lot of work but well worth the time. I have learnt considerably more about scratch and have new lines of discovery for the students to investigate. My students are now building projects using new blocks like transmit and receive as well as making lists for response based projects. We have started exploring the musical side of scratch as well. The students are all keen to share their work with the wider scratch community. I am encouraging them to do so, as in the past we have stored our projects largely on the school servers. I have expanded the galleries on our scratch day account and will create more accounts over time. 


Thanks to Christine Robson(Teacher Y4), Penny Elson(Teacher Y4) and Enid Watson(Principal) for their support and help on the day.  


Student Responses:


Just walking in and hearing the briefing is enough to feel what the atmosphere is like.  First, my family and I did the 8 block challenge.  We had to use a collection of blocks to make a mini ten second animation. 

After that we thought we did so well, that we decided that we should go to the advanced projects room.  In that room, we did: follow the mouse, colour change, dance twist, whirl and arrow keys.  After that my brothers found a computer for themselves, so I decided to remake and improve the Scratch game that I made when we got Scratch in 2008.

It was fun remaking a game that I made two years ago!!

In all I thought Scratch day was absolutely amazing.  I enjoyed all three hours of Scratch.

- Tymon Porter (Year 6) Forrest Hill School


On Saturday 26 May 2010 Forrest Hill School held it’s first ever Scratch Day. I was asked to be a scratch helper. I enjoyed helping other people to complete the scratch cards. It was fun knowing more than the adults and my mum had to ask me for help. Scratch is great fun everyone should have a go.

- Jack Culley (Year 6) Forrest Hill School


It was awesome making all the scratch games.  I still play with scratch at home.

- Samantha Culley (Year 4) Forrest Hill School


On Scratch Day my dad learnt how to program and he loved it! I made a game that I called wizard chase. Iain my little brother made a not quite finished game called monster chase. He even got a prize for it! In wizard chase what you do is you try to get all the letters that spell W.I.N. but there is a wizard that is programmed to chase you. There are three levels in wizard chase. 

-  Ross (Year 5) Coatesville School


Students on the day:





Scratch Project: 
Bruce Cichowlas

 Great story!  Interesting projects!  I'm glad the turnout numbers worked out.

Katherine Key


 Hi James,

I'm just new to this Scratch thing and I have to say that I'm very impressed with what it has to offer! I just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading about your Scratch Day and it sounds like you had a really fantastic day.  I am so inspired that I might try something similar next year.  I particularly like how you included student responses and videos from the day.  Thanks for putting together such a comprehensive outline of the day’s activities :) 





Karen Brennan

Thank you so much. What a totally awesome report of your Scratch Day activities! It sounds like it was a really great day -- and I particularly appreciated how you described what you'd change for next year.

I'm working on a revised Scratch Day event guide for next year -- a type of how-to manual for hosting your own Scratch Day event. If you're willing, I'd love to include your event and activities as a model. Let me know if that seems OK to you and if/how you might want to get involved.

Thanks again,

James Robson


Hi Karen,
Thanks for the positive feedback. I would be more than happy for you to use my event and activities as a model. The activities I used as you know were based on resources designed and made by the Scratch team including some of your work. I am keen to be involved in the development of your how to guide. Every Tuesday lunchtime run computer club. Computer club children come to the IT room and work on their own projects.  There is a lot of collaboration and the children virtually look after themselves. I give the occasional lesson and help when requested.  Scratch is very popular during computer club. I’m sure this group would be happy to trial any new activities you may come up with. They may come up with some of their own! During class time I have four classes a day in one hour blocks. These classes are on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s. It is possible one of these classes would like to be involved. At my other school I run a Boys in School program.
I have three groups. My senior boys (9-10yo) are working towards robo cup using the NXT robots, my middle boys (7-8yo) are learning Scratch and my juniors are doing projects with lego duplo. There is lots of scoop here to develop ideas as well.
Karen Brennan

Great -- thanks for the response! I'll be working on the draft during the summer and I'll send it along to you for feedback.

Thanks again,