What is Scratch Day?

By Saskia Leggett

This post is the first in a series on tips for hosting a Scratch Day. This year, Scratch is celebrating our 10th Anniversary during the month of May, but you can celebrate any day of the year!

Each May, on Scratch’s birthday, we invite our community to participate in Scratch Day, a global network of events that celebrates Scratch — and the young people who code and create with it. During Scratch Day, kids and adults gather in homes, schools, libraries, museums, and community centers to share projects and learn from one another.

What makes Scratch Day special is its emphasis on supporting a community of creative thinkers: there’s a spark created when people meet in person to connect over mutual interests, share projects that they’re proud of, and learn new skills together. Whether they are creating their first coding project, experimenting with new materials, or collaborating with new friends, they are supported, encouraged, and celebrated.

These three principles — meet, share, learn — lie at the heart of Scratch Day’s core. The event was originally conceived as an opportunity for Scratchers around the globe to feel connected to their communities and see how others participate (meet), to express their interests and explore their self-identities by creating with Scratch (share), and to expand their knowledge and skills by teaching and learning with their peers (learn).

“Scratch Day is magical,” says Karen Brennan, Associate Professor of Education at Harvard University, who conceptualized the first Scratch Day event. “It takes the best parts of the Scratch online community — passionate creativity and playful collaboration — off the screen and into the local community. Kids sitting shoulder to shoulder, sharing their work and supporting each other’s learning. Parents mixing and mingling, exchanging stories with one another and being inspired by kids’ constructions. I look forward to Scratch Day every year and I’m so grateful to all the organizers around the world who continue the joyful Scratch Day vision of learning through creating and connecting.”

Last year, the Scratch community participated in 659 Scratch Days in 74 countries, crafting colorful celebrations in spaces of all kinds. Over 170,530 projects were created on May 14th, 2016 in the Scratch community!

Children gathered in Alcobendas, Spain to construct Scratch-powered Rube Goldberg machines and experimented with MaKey MaKeys at a Computer Clubhouse in the Wanganui District in New Zealand. Scratchers shared projects with each other in Japan and posed with Scratch Cat cutouts in Oman. People gathered in museums in Mexico, cozied up on couches with ScratchJr in London, and even baked birthday cakes in Florida and Zaragoza.

To help you prepare for your Scratch Day, we’ll be highlighting activities, providing tips and resources, and showing you glimpses of Scratch Days around the world on this blog.

Here’s how to get started:

We can’t wait to celebrate with you!

Saskia Leggett is Outreach Manager for the Scratch Team.

Information about Scratch Day’s history was gathered from Karen Brennan’s paper “Meet, Share, Learn: Organizing a Worldwide Day of Gatherings for Scratch Creators” written for the AERA 2010 Annual Meeting.