Scratch Logo, courtesy of MIT Media LabLiteracy from Scratch

Materials by Teachers in English - Primary

Space Project (Rebecca Cosby)


Space Proiject Pupils should develop an awareness of the past, using common words and phrases relating to the passing of time. They should know where the people and events they study fit within a chronological framework and identify similarities and differences between ways of life in different periods. They should use a wide vocabulary of everyday historical terms. They should ask and answer questions, choosing and using parts of stories and other sources to show that they know and understand key features of events. They should understand some of the ways in which we find out about the past and identify different ways in which it is represented:

Cross Curricular

History, Computing, Literacy (comprehension skills)


During the Computing Curriculum Enhancement I have created a teaching resource to be used as an introduction or plenary for a lesson on Neil Armstrong (‘significant historical event/individual’) using Scratch (1.4).

Throughout the module I have seen how Scratch can be used in the classroom; the types of learning that can take place and how cross curricular the tool is. My confidence with the program has grown hugely during the enhancement.

While I have designed a project that could be used as a learning tool for children I can see how you could adapt it and teach children how to create their own space projects. The sound tool in particular would be an interesting focus, children could create a soundtrack in a music lesson to run alongside the project.

What went well?

I have found Scratch to be a relatively simple program to learn the basics on however it did take much trial and error to work problems out. Quite quickly I was able to change backgrounds, import a sprite and enable my sprite to ask questions for the pupil or class to answer. The colour coding definitely enables speedy navigation.

I wanted my sprite, ‘Neil Armstrong’ to take the pupil(s) on a journey through space and ask questions along the way about the first moon landing. Having decided on a linear journey with a few changing backgrounds along the way I set about adding the coding for asking questions. Having created the coding for one question this could then be replicated and used again for a series of questions. This process of generalisation saved time and is a technique that would be simple to teach children in the future. Finding photos and appropriate sprites was a simple task as well with the import tool easy to use.

It was important to note that children may either get the answer wrong or spell it incorrectly, therefore I had to think about this when adding the coding. The solution was quite easy to find, I needed to add different answer options. This would then enable the story to continue on.

As well as using photos from the day of the launch I also wanted to add sound to the project, especially audio clips from the actual space launch. It is not possible to import audio clips from the internet so I had to record the sound and import it into Scratch that way. A little detour but by no means difficult. The use of sound added another important layer to the teaching tool.

What I found difficult?

Having not used Scratch before it was a learning process, however the main issue was a case of overcomplicating the project. I found that working with numerous ‘stages’ and ‘sprites’ caused timing issues.

Decomposing the project and focusing my attention on one issue at a time was the solution to most issues. Instead of changing several elements at once it was best to change, test and then save the project to work out one problem at a time.

Secondary to this was my lack of clear planning ahead of beginning the project. It is tricky to plan a project when you are unsure of its limitations. The section with the newspapers spinning with the headlines proved particularly time consuming. To get each paper to spin a certain degrees needed much trial and error. Unfortunately I am still slightly unsure on how I was able to get them to turn in the right way.

Lastly my final issue was making the project interactive and appropriate for the year group. I used a multisensory approach with the use of audio clips. The type of questioning I used though had to be quite simple, and the answers given need to be spelt correctly for the sprite to move on. The only solution to this was to allow variations in answers.

How can it be used in the future?

This project could be used as a teaching tool for KS1, as a whole class teaching resource, in partner work or as part of a plenary to check understanding.

In terms of teaching computational thinking sections of the project could be used in lessons to model and then teach children how to use computing. For example the use of variables, coding and sequencing.

Notes from the Course Tutor

These files are for use in the classroom. They can, of course, be adapted by teachers, with further resources, such as Sprites or Backgrounds, added by pupils.

I have included all the work of my teaching group here. There are many wonderful teaching ideas, and if we did not solve every coding problem effectively (none of us is an expert in Computing, including me!), the creativity of these young teachers more than makes up for it.

The teaching programme covered 30 hours of work at the computer, so if you start with one session of 60 minutes per week, you will become as proficient as they have been well before the end of your teaching year!

The key to success is to work with a partner, share ideas, and problem-solve together.