Things You Always Wanted to Know About Sprites

Last Updated: May 4, 2023 12:47 pm
Things You Always Wanted to Know About Sprites

Images kids can create and program within a block-based coding interface are referred to as “actors” or “sprites.” Sprites can take a variety of forms, including random shapes, animals, and people, and the like. Different types of commands called code blocks are used to define how a sprite behaves. For example, looks blocks will define appearance, sound blocks make them audible, and motion blocks make them move. 

Here are some other things you may have always wanted to know about sprites.

What are Sprites in Computer Science?

In computer science, a sprite is like a picture or drawing that we use in computer programs and games. It’s not 3D or fancy; it’s just a flat image, like a character or an item in a video game. Think of it as a sticker that we can move around on a computer screen.

We see sprites a lot in video games because they’re great for making characters and objects move and do things. Imagine a game where a character runs and jumps. The sprite of that character changes very quickly to make it look like they’re running and jumping. It’s like flipping through a flipbook really fast to see a smooth animation.

Sprites also help make things in computer programs look nice. They can be buttons, icons, or even health bars in a game. So, sprites are like the building blocks of pictures and animations in the digital world, helping us create all sorts of fun and useful things on our computers.

How Sprites Work

Invented to minimize video game memory and storage requirements, they have since been adapted to perform in a variety of operations. Capable of being created from a blank screen or imported from other sources, sprites can be endowed with a variety of scripts, costumes and sounds. Instructions governing a sprite’s actions are referred to as scripts, while costumes define sprite’s appearance. The sounds a sprite makes are based upon its assigned audio clips. 

Once created, a sprite can be resized, rotated and animated. A sprite’s interactions with other elements on the screen such as walls, platforms, furniture and the like can be programmed as well.  

Coding Sprites

Kids code sprites by “snapping” graphical blocks together, as opposed to authoring lines of code as is required in text-based coding. Each graphical block informs a specific state — such as a sprite’s appearance, motion or sound. “Stacked” one atop another, each of the coding blocks is executed in a descending sequence when the program is activated. A simple program might look like this: When this actor is clicked, it will play the squeak 1 sound effect.

This makes block coding easy to grasp, which is why it’s ideal for young children. 

With these tools, kids can create sprites that talk, change costumes, grow, shrink and jump. They can also change backdrops and glide. With so much flexibility at their disposal, young programmers can create entire scenarios in which sprites perform in almost any manner they can imagine. 

Let’s say for example a child want to create a fish that changes color. 

To accomplish this, they would create a repeat loop by stacking a “when actor clicked” block atop a “repeat” block atop a “wait” block, which can be set to the desired number of seconds of delay before the color change. To get the fish to change colors, a “change effect by” block would be inserted between the “repeat” and “wait” blocks. Nearly any other actions, such as swimming in circles, or growing, can be programmed to using similar blocks. 

What are sprite examples?

Character sprites are like the actors in a video game. They’re 2D pictures that show the game’s characters doing different things, like walking, running, or jumping. Imagine a character in a game moving smoothly – that’s thanks to these sprites changing quickly to create the illusion of motion.

These character sprites also help show emotions and changes in the game. If a character is happy, sad, or surprised, the sprite changes to reflect that. As you progress in the game, characters can also get stronger or change their appearance, and these sprites show those transformations. So, character sprites are not just about how characters move but also how they feel and grow in the game.

Game designers put a lot of work into making sure character sprites match the game’s look and story. They want players to feel like they’re part of the game world, and character sprites are a big part of making that happen.

Introducing Variables

Numbers, words, and true-or-false values can be stored as variables. Variables can take one of two forms: local and global. A local variable is assigned to a particular actor or sprite, which is the only one that can access and modify it. Global variables can be employed and changed by any actor in a given project. This means that any data that needs to be shared by multiple actor can be stored as global. Such data can track the number of lives remaining for each character, or the overall score of a game.

In Summary

Among the things you may have always wanted to know about sprites, they can make block-based coding easier to grasp. Moreover, they have the potential to ensure kids get a sense of accomplishment as they play. In this way, sprites can make learning to code both easy and engaging. Block-coding introduces kids to the key concepts they’ll need to understand before moving on to text-based coding.  

How To With Tynker

Tynker calls sprites “Actors,” and you can see all the actors in your Tynker project by looking at the Actor List. Learn more about the basics of coding with Tynker by checking out the articles below!

Tynker Workshop Basics — Learn about coordinates and start coding with Tynker. Add sprites and move them on the screen.

The Drawing Tool — Learn how to use the new Vector-based Drawing Tool. Create custom sprites of your own imagining!

The Animation Tool — Take your sprites to the next level with custom animations. Learn about frame-based animation and other animation tips.

The Character Creator — Take control of custom rigs using the Animation blocks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Coding Good For Kids?

We’re living during a high-tech revolution, witnessing life-changing advancements in medicine, environmental conservation, and much more. At the core of all these amazing projects and discoveries is CODE. Code can be the thing that differentiates your child from peers and allows them to stand out as an asset for companies when they are looking for employment. The children who learn to code today will become the creators of the technology tomorrow. Learning to code can help children make a major contribution to the world that they live in and make a lasting impact.

As kids and teens learn to code, they also build essential skills like critical thinking, logic, and problem-solving. They learn to logically sequence events, create playable games, tell good stories, and model real situations. They also learn computational thinking by developing algorithmic and design thinking abilities. Coding for kids has become an essential element of a child’s education and an excellent way to express their creativity and imagination.

How Do I Start My Child Coding?

Coding, otherwise known as programming, is a creative activity for all children. Your child might not care about writing data processing algorithms, but they might enjoy creating games, programming music, designing websites, or just playing with code. Learning to code is for everyone; you don’t have to be good at math or a “techie” to learn how to code. Kids as young as five can learn to code and pick it up faster than most adults.

When your kids are starting, pick a program like MIT’s Scratch or Tynker Junior app. The visual style of these programs makes it easy for young children to learn to code. Scratch and Tynker have a graphical interface that works. Drag-and-drop code blocks snap together. Pieces of code that don’t make computational sense won’t fit together, making syntax errors impossible.

Older children can learn to code with Python by building games, art, music, and more. Some programs like Tynker offer a placement test to set your child on the right track for their age and experience level.

What Age Is Best To Introduce Coding To Kids?

Every child learns at their own pace. They can learn different subjects at varying rates and ways. Experts believe that children should learn coding at an early age. According to MIT, the best age for kids to start learning coding languages such as Scratch Jr. or Tynker Jr. is from 5 to 7. Many programs allow your children to progress at their own pace or hire an instructor to help them move along.

With Tynker, a placement test will place your child on the correct path based on age and skill level, and Tynker supports children up to age 18 with real-world text languages like Python and JavaScript. Children progress to more difficult coding courses with the support of interactive tutorials and video instructions at their own pace.

Which Is The Best Coding For Kids Program?

With so many great services available, learning to code has never been easier! For example, Scratch and Tynker provide innovative visual coding languages that make coding fun. Coding is a great way to broaden your child’s worldview and develop their creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Here is a few coding-for-kids options to review:

Game-based learning—Game-based platforms such as Tynker and the challenges on motivate kids to use code to complete game levels.

Independent learning with Scratch—Scratch from MIT is a great way of getting started with code. Although they don’t have courses, there’s a vibrant community to learn from.

Online courses—Enroll in a Python or JavaScript course on Codecademy or Tynker or learn to code with Processing on Khan Academy. Tynker offers advanced courses like Processing 1, using p5.js to introduce the foundational concepts of art and computer science.

Build an app—Learn to build your own iOS app using Swift. Install the Swift Playgrounds app by Apple.

Use a book—Learn by following along with books like Mission PythonSuper Scratch Programming Adventure, or Coding with Minecraft. Tynker has a series of super-informative coding activity books, including Code These GamesCode These Minecraft Mods, and Code This Art.

 Why Is Coding Needed?

Coding is the method of instructing a computer to perform a specific task. You may also hear coding referred to as software programming or computer programming. These instructions are communicated using a language that computers can understand, like visual blocks, JavaScript and Python.

Coding for kids lays the groundwork for our world’s technology, from microprocessors in everyday items like refrigerators and water heaters to sophisticated programs that run our cars and buildings. Learning to code is a great opportunity for children of all ages to develop their problem-solving and critical thinking skills, while building the necessary focus and organization to see projects through to completion.

Coding usually begins with drag-and-drop visual programming in which children connect blocks together to make programs. Visual programming teaches fundamental concepts without typing or syntax by placing the focus on the logic behind the code. Once they’ve learned the basics, children can transition to real-world programming languages like Python, JavaScript, and C.

From online coding courses and games to offline learning, from in-person coding instruction to live online tutoring, there are endless coding resources available. The best coding platforms and programs like Scratch, and Tynker give children of all ages and experience levels the ability to code while making the process fun and engaging.

Why Should We Use Tynker Coding For Kids?

Tynker is the world’s number one coding platform for children ages 5 to 18 for a reason—it works! Tynker powers the creativity of over 60 million students and serves thousands of schools and educators worldwide.

Tynker’s award-winning, gamified courses and coding for kids activities encourage kids to complete projects as they have fun, allowing them to progress from novices to experts using languages like Python. Tynker’s interactive lessons have built-in tutorials for all ages and skill levels. Our highly rated mobile app (4.7 stars) lets students take Tynker on the go. Learning how to code with Tynker unlocks and empowers children’s creativity, teaching them life-long skills they can use today and into the future.

How Do I Teach My 7-Year-Old Code?

Learning to code is for everyone; you don’t have to be good at math or a “techie” to learn how to code. Kids as young as five can learn to code and pick it up faster than most adults. Tynker Junior is a fun, interactive way to spark your kid’s interest in coding. Kids (ages 5-7) learn coding basics by connecting picture blocks to move their characters. Tynker’s immersive game-like coding courses and interactive lessons with built-in tutorials are perfect for beginners 5+ through experts 18+.

What Options Are There For Coding For Teens? has a yearlong course in Computer Science Principles that introduces students to the foundational concepts of computer science and challenges them to explore how computing and technology can impact the world.

Tynker has coding for kids courses that align with subject standards like CCSS-ELA, CCSS-Math, NGSS and CS standards such as CSTA, ISTE, CA CS, UK National Curriculum, and several state-level standards like TEKS.

Tynker is recognized by College Board as an endorsed curriculum provider for AP Computer Science Principles and AP Computer Science A.

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About Teri Llach

Teri Llach is Head of Marketing for Tynker. Teri is an experienced growth marketer with a highly successful track record in B2B and B2C, deep experience with start-ups, brands, and all functional areas of marketing. Teri lives in Palo Alto, CA.