Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. It is provided free of charge. Education Queensland schools are mostly utilising the Scratch 2.0 Offline Editor.
This allows for the creation of digital content without the need for being online (great in poor connectivity areas or where Internet connections are expensive).
The online community website on this website - https://scratch.mit.edu/ has a huge range of content that other users have created and shared online. One great aspect of this is that you can download the content they have created and reverse engineer how they made their content and got interactive elements to work (a great learning opportunity). Always be aware of the content for age appropriateness.
The software utilises a range of features to help code the interactive elements in the content you create. Using drag and drop blocks the user is able to program the various 'sprites' (characters or items) to perform in various ways. It is an incredibly powerful tool once you know the basics.
There is a huge range of support documents, help files and tutorials via their Scratch Wiki. Much of the materials supplied my MIT Media Labs are free. Other 3rd party providers/ authors selling support materials/ books to support this wonderfully challenging program.
The MIT Media Lab has also released a free simpler version for younger users called ScratchJr. This iOS and Android app is designed for younger users just starting their learning journey with logical and computational thinking.
Kids right from Prep age love this app and some really get into the problem solving nature of the app.
Check out either the full application for older children or the simpler app for the younger audience and get coing with your kids!
Here are a range of online articles that explore the use of Scratch:
Wall Street Journal
(April 2015) Why Coding is Your Child's Key to Unlocking the Future
"'When you learn to code, you start thinking about processes in the world,' says Mitchel Resnick, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor heading up the effort to build the child-friendly programming language Scratch."