What is Snap?

Recently a friend told me that his high school aged son was working with Snap in school and had emailed him an animation that he had created in class.  I am interested  in using graphics with high school programming classes so I thought I would give it a try.  First I wanted to know what Snap is – turns out it is based on Scratch (from MIT) and was created by the good people at Cal Berkeley so it’s got a pretty good pedigree.

About Snap.

I quickly saw that there is an AP CS Principles course available on line so I went through the first activities.  I followed the student instructions to create this simple animation game in about an hour.

What I liked:

  • This is an actual course that students can follow, lesson by lesson
  • Course is written to be done in partners, which has a lot of benefits for learning and for keeping individual students from getting stuck
  • Just like Scratch students can visualize how their code is put together
  • Students can publish their work and email links to friends and family to run right away on other devices (like phones)
  • The very first assignment uses graphics


  • I found the embedded video tutorials and instructions a little clunky to scroll through on my PC but it’s definitely not a barrier

I definitely think Snap is worth checking out if you are looking for tools to use for teaching programming at the high school level.  If you are using it please send me a note to let me know how it’s going – it’s not clear to me why you would use Snap over Scratch  unless you are following the full course.


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