Technology Focus: In this Classroom Catalyst, you will be learning how to utilize the Scratch Junior App to create a digital science journal entry and/or scientific explanation for Primary students.                                                                                          

Required Tools:    Scratch Junior App - iTunes (free) or Scratch Junior App - Google Play (*free)

Description: Scratch Jr is an introductory programming language that enables primary students to create their own interactive stories and games through coding. It is a developmentally appropriate interface for younger students that does not require reading and promotes problem solving. Students connect visual programming blocks to make characters move, jump, dance, and add backgrounds. Students can modify characters, add their own voices and sounds, as well as insert photos to create authentic explanations, stories and animations.

Level: Basic

To utilize this technology, a basic level of technical knowledge is required.  All students and educators using this tool will require a tablet and/or iPad with the app installed.

*Check with your school district for app installation procedures on school devices.

Audience:  This catalyst is targeted towards Primary Grades (K-3); however, Scratch Junior can be used in Junior Classrooms (4-6) and it is applicable to all disciplines of Science and Technology.

Tool Highlights: This catalyst will highlight the use of the Scratch Junior app to create scientific explanations, stories and animations with Primary students using iPads.

Kindergarten - Problem Solving and Innovation

13.2 make predictions and observations before and during investigations

13.4 communicate results and findings from individual and group investigations 14.1 ask questions about and describe some natural occurrences, using their own observations and representations


Grade 1 - Needs and Characteristics of Living Things


Overall Expectations:

2. investigate needs and characteristics of plants and animals, including humans; 3. demonstrate an understanding of the basic needs and characteristics of plants and animals, including humans.


Specific Expectations:

2.3 investigate and compare the physical characteristics of a variety of plants and animals, including humans

2.4 investigate the physical characteristics of plants

2.7 use a variety of forms (e.g., oral, written, graphic, multimedia) to communicate with different audiences and for a variety of purposes

3.2 identify the physical characteristics (e.g., size, shape, colour, common parts) of a variety of plants and animals

3.6 identify what living things provide for other living things


Grade 2 - Growth and Changes in Animals


Overall Expectations:

2. investigate similarities and differences in the characteristics of various animals; 3. demonstrate an understanding that animals grow and change and have distinct characteristics.


Specific Expectations:

2.2 observe and compare the physical characteristics (e.g., fur or feathers; two legs or no legs) and the behavioural characteristics (e.g., predator or prey) of a variety of animals, including insects, using student-generated questions and a variety of methods and resources

3.1 identify and describe major physical characteristics of different types of animals

3.2 describe an adaptation as a characteristic body part, shape, or behaviour that helps a plant or animal survive in its environment

3.3 identify ways in which animals are helpful to, and ways in which they meet the needs of, living things, including humans, to explain why humans should protect animals and the places where they live


Grade 3: Growth and Changes in Plants


Overall Expectations:

3. demonstrate an understanding that plants grow and change and have distinct characteristics.


Specific Expectations:

3.2 identify the major parts of plants, including root, stem, flower, stamen, pistil, leaf, seed, and fruit, and describe how each contributes to the plant’s survival within the plant’s environment

3.3 describe the changes that different plants undergo in their life cycles

3.6 describe ways in which plants and animals depend on each other

Prior Skill Set:

Students should be able to use an iPad, open the Scratch Jr. app and take photographs using the iPads independently.


Students will learn about the pollination of plants, as well as which insects and/or animals are considered pollinators. Students will capture images of plants and pollinators (if possible) during a class nature walk in the schoolyard or community using iPads. Please note that it is best for students to add images through the Scratch Jr. app using the paint editor tool if they would like to use real images for their project instead of the clip art flowers and/or pollinators in the Scratch Jr. character library. Teachers will have to pair students or place them in groups of 2, 3 or 4 (max), depending on how many iPads are available. When students return to the classroom, they will conduct further research on pollinators and open the Scratch Jr. App to create a story, explanation and/or animation to explain how pollinators pollinate flowers. Each student will import 2 images/characters into their project. One image/character should be a flower, the other should be an example of a pollinator. Students can either use the images gathered during the nature walk or select clip art from the characters library in Scratch Jr. Students will then use the visual block codes to program the pollinator to pollinate the flower, as well as use the voice record feature to explain how the pollinator pollinates the flowers.


Steps (Inquiry on Plants and Pollinators to be conducted over the span of 3 - 4 weeks):

  1. Class discussion on plants to assess for learning: What are some characteristics of plants? What are the parts of a plant? Make a list of all the flower parts they know. Show students a detailed image of a flower with it’s parts labelled (see support resources) to conduct a discussion about the names, and location of the parts, as well as their role and function.

  2. Provide students with an opportunity to examine real plants using a magnifying glass. Students will make observations and identify the different parts. Some potential questions students might consider are: What do you notice about the flower? Does it have a specific shape, colour or odour? What parts can you identify? How do plants attract pollinators?

  3. Conduct a discussion on pollination. What is pollen? What is pollination? What are some ways that plants are pollinated? Have the students brainstorm ways plants are pollinated. Teacher records student generated ideas in a chart on an interactive whiteboard (or chart paper). Have students watch the following video on pollination: (Start video at 1:00 and stop at 3:43). Teachers will ensure that students understand that pollination is the process of moving pollen from one plant to another and the importance of pollination to all living things.

  4. Discuss different pollinators. Ask students to consider whether they think insects or other animals are involved in pollination. Have them brainstorm different insects and animals that might be considered pollinators. Teacher records student generated ideas in a chart on an interactive whiteboard (or chart paper). Have students formulate a hypothesis on how plants are pollinated by pollinators. Have students continue watching the video on pollination: (Start video at 3:43 and stop at 7:11). Teachers will ensure that students understand the ways in which pollinators pollinate plants and the importance of pollinators.

  5. Display  various images of insects and animals. Have students classify each example as pollinator or non-pollinator and organize the images in a T Chart on the IWB. Students can come up to the board and classify the insect or animal as pollinator or non-pollinator. (Non-tech option: move pictures to appropriate column on a chart). Show a variety images of pollinators on the IWB (Interactive White Board)/projector. Discuss how birds, bees, butterflies, bats, and moths pollinate flowers and how bees are considered the most important pollinators. Have students watch the following video on how bees pollinate flowers and their importance: Have students consider how they sorted the images on the chart. Do any images need to be moved now that they have a better understanding of pollinators?

  6. Teacher can guide discussion by making observations (i.e. Do birds drink nectar? I wonder if it is a pollinator?) and/or encourage students to ask questions and make their own observations to generate further discussion

  7. Students reflect on their findings: What characteristics do pollinators have in common? What are some examples of pollinators? How do pollinators differ from non-pollinators?

  8. Game: Arrange the students in a circle and give each student a Post-It Note with numbers that represent half of the number of students in the class. For 30 students, you will require two sets of Post-its numbered 1-15 (so teachers will have two students with #1, two students with #2 etc.). Teachers will also need a ball, which represents the pollinator. In each scenario (round) the ball must always get a post-it (pollen) from each student, (flower). Teachers explain to the students that the ball represents a pollinator and that each students represents a flower. The ball will start in the center with no Post-It-Notes on it. The first student who gets the ball tossed to them will play their Post-It-Note on the ball and not get one in return (the bee has just left the hive and landed on its first flower). That student will then toss the ball to another peer. Students catch the ball when it is tossed to them and will remove a Post-It-Note with a different number from their own and place their Post-It-Note on the ball. The goal is for students to be fast and efficient so the bee can get back to the hive. Teachers can set a stopwatch for 30 seconds and begin passing the ball and exchanging numbers. The only number students cannot take is the same number they started with. When the time is up, explain that the students who did not get a different number were not fertilized and therefore cannot reproduce. Discuss the implications of this with the students (i.e. plants that do not reproduce disappear), as well as the ease or difficulty of pollinating the flowers and the dependence on the pollinator (see support resource). Discuss the benefits of pollination for both flowers and animals pollinators.

  9. Prepare students for their nature walk to observe and take photos of flowers and pollinators if possible by discussing expectations for excursions, how to take photos using the iPad and highlight that they are required to take a photo of a flower and a pollinator if possible.

  10. Students conduct further research. They will select a specific pollinator (i.e. bird, bee, butterfly, bat, moth, etc.,) and gather more information on the pollinator to gain a better understanding of what types of plants they pollinate (i.e. not all plants are pollinated by the same pollinator).

  11. Provide students with the opportunity to explore using Scratch coding blocks without the iPad (i.e. Unplugged) to familiarize themselves with the program. Teachers can print the coding blocks: and give their students opportunities to create a code using the blocks (i.e. Code a character to move forward 5 steps) and build on the complexity of the code as students become more familiar with the code blocks. *Tip: Printing the coding blocks using a colour printer will improve the experience for students.

  12. Provide a tutorial (see video resource) to show students how to use Scratch Jr. Students will then create a story, explanation or animation in Scratch Jr. to explain how their pollinator pollinates flowers.


Teacher Steps


  1. Set up iPads: Download all Scratch Jr. on to all iPads and/or tablets

    1. For iPads download iTunes Scratch Jr. app

    2. For Android Tablets download Google Play Scratch Jr. app


*You will need to check with your school district for app installation procedures on school devices.


  1. Review Visual How To Guide on Scratch Jr.: Prior to assigning the project to students, familiarize yourself with the program. The visual guide has been designed to help identify main features that students will be using in their assignment.


Visual How To Guide:

Video Tutorial: (Still under construction)


  1. Show students how to use Scratch Jr.:

    1. Open the app

    2. Open a new project

    3. Name their project

    4. Use the workspace (Provide an overview and describe the different functions)

    5. Select a background scene or draw their own backgrounds and add more scenes (There is a maximum of 4 scenes. Students working in groups will each create one scene)

    6. Select characters (sprites) from the library, take photos of plants and/or pollinators to use real images for characters, or draw their own characters.

    7. Use the code blocks to move the characters

    8. Record their explanation

    9. Share their project with their teacher


  1. Student Assignment Instructions:

    1. Students open the Scratch Jr. app

    2. Students open and name their project (Use student initials in the name)

    3. Each student should select or draw a background, take a photo or draw a plant, select, take a photo or draw a pollinator

    4. Use the visual block code to create their animation of the pollinator pollinating the plant

    5. Use the recording feature to describe the process

    6. Share the final project with the teacher via airdrop or email


Impact on Student Learning; Allowing students to gather images, and use a coding program to learn more about plants and pollinators using iPads allows them to build their digital fluency and develop their 21st century learning skills, as well as redefine how technology is used in the classroom (SAMR). Some of the key skills students will acquire through this inquiry: Taking photos, making observations, following directions, analysis, collaboration, making connections, communication, critical thinking, and problem solving.


Global Competency Development through coding:

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving:

  • Create a scientific story, explanation and/or animation using code with opportunities to program, problem solve and debug code

  • Acquire, process, interpret, and analyze information through photography of plants and pollinators things to make informed decisions (critical and digital literacy)

Global Citizenship:

  • Students learn more about pollinators and how to protect endangered honey bees

  • Create a positive digital footprint


  • Communicate effectively in different contexts in oral and pictorial form

  • Ask effective questions to acquire knowledge and deepen understanding


  • Learn from and teach each other when working in pairs, small groups or whole groups

  • Discover how to use visual block programming

  • Learn new discoveries, knowledge and understanding and share findings with peers

  • Develop social and communication skills through hands-on on science investigations and discussions


  • Students work together on a collaborative inquiry based science investigation

  • Conduct detailed research/investigation on plants and pollinators

  • Use real plant samples to label and identify, as well as an opportunity to take part in an outdoor investigation

  • Communicate and share ideas in creative video/animation presentation

Assessment strategy


For Learning: Gather students for a whole group discussion. Possible questions to ask: What is pollination? Why is pollination important? What insects and/or animals are considered pollinators? Record student statements. Digital option: Google Keep, docAppender extension.


As Learning: Take anecdotal observations of student conversations and statements during class nature walk. Educators can use Google Keep, Google extension: docAppender and/or photographs to document student learning. For Grade 1 - 3 - teachers and students can co-create success criteria and learning goals so that students can monitor learning and progress that is being made.


Of Learning: Review student stories, explanations and/or animations created using Scratch Jr, grade, provide feedback and return to students in a timely manner, as well as review all anecdotal documentation on students learning and growth.

Next Steps/Extensions/Accommodations:


If a nature walk is not possible, teachers can ask students to search for photos of plants and pollinators.


Students can be paired or grouped together to work on the project if there is a limited amount of iPads/tablets available. This would also benefit students who are not as familiar with using iPads/tablets and/or Scratch Jr.


Teachers can print and laminate Scratch Jr. blocks and have students engage in unplugged coding activities with the blocks to familiarize students with the program (see support resources)


Students can select more that one type of pollinator and explain how that pollinator pollinates flowers.


Students can compare and contrast how different pollinators pollinate flowers.


Create a floor mat with different flowers, have students use Bee-bot and code the robot to travel to as many different flowers as possible.

*Bee-bot is a programmable robot developed for preschool and primary students. It is an excellent starting point for teaching control, directional language and programming. See video for more information:


Have students use LEGO WeDo to design a bee and use the sensors and motors to make it move and/or respond in some way (i.e. move wings or head), then have students write about what makes the bee an effective pollinator.


Build a vibrobot pollinator using motors, wires, pipe cleaners, batteries, cork, foam core/board, cardboard, pool noodle. Create a floor mat using a large sheet of paper, markers/crayons to draw flowers, paint for flower stamen and paint for the flower stamen for the vibrobot to spread the pollen. Example video:

References: (n.d.). About Innovation in Learning in Ontario. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jul. 2018].


The Great Plant Escape. (n.d.). [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jul. 2018].


Candace M (2013). SAMR in 120 Seconds. [video] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jul. 2018].


Canadian Classroom. (2015). What is Bee-Bot? [Video]. Retrieved from [Accessed 26 Jul. 2018].


Earth Rangers (2014). Why Do We Need Bees?. [video] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jul. 2018].


Homeschool Pop (2017). Pollination for Kids | Flower Learning Video. [video] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jul. 2018].


Pickens, A. and Millius, A. (2018). Pollination | SEP LESSONS. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jul. 2018]. (n.d.). Pollination Parties! | Free Lesson Plans | Teachers. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jul. 2018]. (n.d.). Scratch - Home. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Jul. 2018].