Freeware versions available for both Mac and Windows.
Scratch is a relatively new piece of software developed by MIT. It’s designed to introduce younger children to some of the fundamentals of computer programming and control using graphical commands that you can drag around.
The interface is somewhat reminiscent of Alice, for those that have tried it. Pupils simply drag in a command (handily organised into subcategories of Motion, Sound, Control [for loops, conditional statements, etc.] and so on) and double click to see what it does. There’s a great PDF on the site to get you started and I printed, cut out and laminated a load of Scratch Cards with quick instructions for different techniques for my Year 7s – who really seemed to love it.
For those who fancy a more cross-curricular bent it’s relatively straightforward for pupils to put together an animation to show a heart pumping, a river creating deeper S bends, an electric circuit switching on and off, etc…
There’s a comprehenisve gallery of existing projects on the website, so have a look and see what you think.