Scratch is a free desktop program that allows you to create different types of multimedia, such as animations, digital stories, games, music, and art. Scratch is a free program that is developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, with financial support from the National Science Foundation, Microsoft, Intel Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Google, Iomega and MIT Media Lab research consortia. To download Scratch all you have to do is register. Scratch is available for Windows, the MAC, and Linux.
Scratch has a user friendly interface, which makes it easy to learn how to create a simple animation. Before starting my first project I watched the tutorials provided on their support page. After watching the videos I choose two Sprites and created me a short no frills storyboard. I created a background using the paint tools available in Scratch. In no time I had an animation with sounds I added using the record feature available in Scratch. You can not export the applet/project, but you can upload it to their website and share it online.
I would highly recommend Scratch for the classroom because of the level of academic rigor and the increased level of engagement you are sure to get when using Scratch in the classroom. Creating projects with Scratch is at the highest level of Blooms Digital Taxonomy. It is also affordable (free) and easy to learn. Using Scratch reinforces mathematical concepts, introduces programming logic,and encourages creative thinking. They also offer resources to assist teachers in using Scratch in the classroom.