With the success of the 3rd grade Superhero Scratch project in March, I decided to see if 2nd graders could make a similar project and be successful. They study cloud types as part of their science curriculum so that’s the direction I went.
This project was very similar to the 3rd grade project but the drawing was easier – simple background and a white cloud – although even that turned out tricky. I trimmed down the code required to 5 lines. Still it took a while to complete. I have 2 of the 3 class videos completed. The other class just needs to Record Project Video and I’ll have all of their clips ready to put together.
Step 1: Introduction to the project: I showed the class what the project was going to look like and laid out the steps we were going to take. Many were excited that they were going to be on YouTube.
Step 2: Draw the Background: In the computer lab we used Paint to draw the background. I modeled drawing a horizon line, then using the fill bucket to fill in the sky and the ground. This could be done in Scratch as well. Save the Paint project and research clouds while everyone finishes up.
Step 3: Draw the Cloud: We used Paint to draw the cloud. I modeled filling in the background with gray or light blue and then using different Paint brush types in white to draw the cloud they had chosen: cumulus, stratus or cirrus were the 3 types that we ended up using.
Here’s where Paint and the different brush types helped add texture to the clouds. Save again. (I basically did one step per lab time, just so I didn’t lose anyone)
Step 4: Import the Assets into Scratch 2.0 (offline editor) – this was their first time in Scratch so we had to look around and notice the Stage and Sprites, code blocks… etc. Then we “cut” the Scratch Cat away and imported our background to the Stage (our Paint file didn’t quite fill the Stage, but that turned out not to be important when the video was cropped to wide-screen in production) Next we added our cloud Sprite. The Sprite included the gray or blue background but we removed that with the fill bucket by filling in “nothing” or “invisible” over the background. I’m not sure what is the best term to give to setting the alpha channel. This was a bit of a tricky part. Also resizing the cloud. Save the Scratch project – I had them save it in their picture folder where the background and cloud files were.
Step 5: Coding the Animation: It’s only 5 lines of code. When the green flag is clicked, the clouds says it’s name and then floats to the left or right forever (bouncing off the edges). When I modeled this, we noticed that 10 steps at a time is too fast for a cloud. 1 step is more cloud-like. I made half-sheet printouts of the 5 lines of code. I wrote the cloud names on the board so they could spell correctly. Saving really seemed to be our biggest issue. I did spend some time troubleshooting clouds not to flip upside-down or go off screen.
Step 6: Record Project Video: The last step. I wrote up a detailed step-by-step for my sub, hoping it would happen. The other two classed did a great job but occasionally would forget to click the green flag, so we got 20 seconds of a un-animated cloud. Having the 2nd graders do this step is a big time saver for video production.
The next step was for me to convert the project files from .flv to .mov or .mp4, (I used Free MP4 Converter software) put them together in movie making software (I use a iMovie at home, but WinMovieMaker at work), find some cloud music –Ferde Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite seemed to fit the bill. And finally, upload to YouTube. I showed one class their video today and they were pleased, although some couldn’t pick their cloud out of the group. -hmmm, maybe a bit more customization of the background…
I will see next year when these students are 3rd graders if making the Superhero project is easier or if we can do more with it. I wasn’t able to do this project with all the 2nd grade classes, but it is a start.