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You Can Be Anything With Barbie

By Canada Learning Code 60 minutes
Grades 1-3
English Language Arts,
  • Programming
Tools & Languages

Key Coding Concepts

  • Algorithms
  • Debugging
  • Events
  • Sequences



A step-by-step set of operations to be performed to help solve a problem.


Identifying a series of steps necessary to complete a task.


When one act triggers another to occur


An error in a program that prevents the program from running as expected


The act of finding problems or ‘bugs’ in our code and solving them.

In this lesson, learners will use Scratch to finish a short animation about what career they might like when they grow up! 



  • Computer
  • Internet connection 

Before the lesson…

Scratch is a great tool for teaching coding concepts, and building fun and creative digital games. If you aren’t familiar with the program: great news! There are tons of free, online resources to get you started. Here are a few that we think are awesome:

  • Familiarize yourself with Scratch
  • Review the activity
    • Review coding concepts and ensure you are confident describing them to your group
    • Code and build (if applicable) the workshop’s main project, ensuring you are comfortable with all steps outlined in the activity 

This activity was designed with support from Barbie®

Barbie logo - pink outline of a person with a ponytail's profile.


Watch Barbie Career Quiz video.


[Conversation about what learners want to “be when they grow up” or what they enjoy doing, or have them list possible jobs/careers that they have heard of before.]

Encourage parents, together with their kids, to explore the Barbie Role Model website, research about new/innovative careers or some related activity that would excite them or open them up to other/different career options that they didn’t know about before. 

“Today we are going to create an animation about your dream job!"


The prompts below are not intended to function as a word-for-word script, but as an illustration of the interactions we want instructors to have with learners as they co-create the project.

Show the example Scratch final project so learners know what they are working towards. Ask them what they see/hear - what is happening in this project?

💻= Coding concept that can be introduced at this point in the content.

STEP 1: Open the New Project
  1. Go to in your internet browser
  2. Click 'Create' (top, left corner), if online
  3. Create an account / sign in to save*
STEP 2: Add Sprites and Backdrops
  1. Add two sprites from the library

    Click on 'Costumes' tab in Scratch editor. Use the 'Flip Horizontal' and 'Flip Vertical' buttons in the 'Costumes' tab to change the orientation of your sprite.

  2. Select two new backdrops from the library - one for the start of the story and one for the office

    'Choose a Backdrop' button

STEP 3: Say Something

A: Main Character speaks to Friend after the green flag is clicked.

  1. Make Main Character speak (💻: Output)
    1. Ask: How do the characters talk to each other? (A: With speech bubbles.)
    2. Ask: Where do you think you can find blocks with speech bubbles? Hint: Speech bubbles are visual features! (A: The 'Looks' Category.)
    3. Do: Open the 'Looks' category > Add a  Say 'Hello' for 2 secs  block. Change the dialogue to say whatever you'd like your story to be.
  2. Make Main Character speak when the green flag is clicked (💻: Events, Input)
    1. Do: Test our your speech block by clicking on it. Adjust thee time so that you can read all the dialogue.
    2. Ask: What did I do to get the story started (A: Clicked on the green flag.)
    3. Ask: Will the green flag work right now if I try it? (A: No, because you never told the computer you want the green flag to start the project.)
    4. Do: Open the 'Events' category > Add a  when flag clicked  block.

    Main Character sprite'When green flag clicked', then 'say 'Hello' for 2 seconds'

STEP 4: Respond

A: Friend responds!

  1. Make Friend say something (💻: Output)
    1. Do: Select Friend and add a  Say 'Hello' for 2 secs  block. Change the dialogue to whatever you'd like. 
  2. Have Friend respond to Main Character (💻: Events, Sequence, Input/Output)
    1. Ask: When does Friend respond to the first character? (A: After the first character, Main Character, is done speaking.)
    2. Say: The two characters aren’t speaking over each other, they are taking turns. First one speaks, and then the other. Imagine it like a game of tag, one character speaks then ‘tags’ the next character so they know it is their turn to speak.  But all of this will happen behind the scenes. In order for Friend to respond, the first character must tag Friend to let her know it's her turn. In Scratch, we can ‘tag’ our sprites by using something called broadcasts. 
    3. Do: Select your first character. Open the ‘Events’ category > Add a  broadcast ‘message’ and wait  block and connect it under the speech block. 
    4. Say: Create a new message, so they are not just numbers. Try using a phrase from the speech block it's next to (e.g. ‘OMG’).
    5. Ask: Now that we have broadcast the message, does anyone know when to tell our Friend to start talking? (A: Use the  when I receive   block.) 
    6. Do: Select your second character again. Open the ‘Events’ category > Add a  when I receive  block and connect it on top of the speech block. 
  3. Continue the dialogue (💻: Events, Sequence, Input/Output)
    1. Ask: What do we have to do now to make sure the back and forth dialogue can continue? (A: Use the broadcast message block.) 
    2. Do: Add a  broadcast ‘message’ and wait  block, rename the message and connect it under the speech block.

    Main Character sprite'When green flag clicked', then 'say 'Hello' for 2 seconds', then 'broadcast 'Hello' and wait'

    Friend sprite'When I receive 'hello'', then 'say 'Hi, what are you doing?' for 2 seconds', then 'broadcast 'Hi''

STEP 5: Add Additional Dialogue
  1. Add additional dialogue
    1. Ask: What happens next in the story?
    2. Do: Challenge learners to use broadcast messaging to add additional back-and-forth dialogue between Friend and Main Character. Give 5 minutes to troubleshoot, then take up the solution.
STEP 6: Outer Space!

A: The background changes to the spaceship.

  1. Change the background (💻: Output)
    1. Ask: What category of blocks will let us change the backdrop? (A: The ‘Looks’ category.) 
    2. Do: Open the ‘Looks’ category > Add a  Change backdrop to _______   block and select Main Character’s spaceship (or any second backdrop based on the story). Connect the block under the speech block.

    Main Character sprite'When I receive 'cool'', then 'say 'Let me show you!' for 2 seconds', then 'switch backdrop to 'spaceship''

  2. Reset backdrop (💻: Output, Events, Bug, Debugging)
    1. Say: Test out your project. Make sure the characters are taking their turns and responding properly.
    2. Ask: Do you notice anything funny about your project after testing it a few times? Any ideas why this is happening? (A: The backdrop stays Main Character’s spaceship (or the second backdrop) the whole story because we told the computer to switch to the spaceship backdrop, but never told the computer to start with the bedroom backdrop.) 
    3. Ask: How can we make sure the story always starts with the correct backdrop? (A: Add a ‘Switch backdrop to’ block right after the green flag block.) 
    4. Do: Open the ‘Looks’ category > Add a  Change backdrop to _______   block and select the opening backdrop. Connect the block directly under the  when flag clicked  block.

    Main Character sprite'When green flag clicked', then 'switch backdrop to 'Bedroom 1'', then 'say 'Hello' for 2 seconds', then 'broadcast 'Hello' and wait'

Do learners use broadcast and when I receive blocks? Have learners thoughtfully completed the above activities?

Reflect: Have learners share some of the challenges they had while coding. Discuss strategies learners used to debug coding problems. Make a list of strategies (e.g. reread your code, try a different block, change a line of code, guess and run code to check, have a friend review your code, look it up on the How do I website for Scratch.

Design Journal: Have learners complete a design journal to document their design process and reflections. See an example Design Journal from Scratch Ed.

  • Have learners add a costume change for the Main Character
  • Have learners add sound
  • Have learners add additional backdrops and storyline
  • Provide free time for learners to remix (personalize!) their projects
  • Have learners demo their projects to their peers

Teach lessons that are tied to your existing curriculum!


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