Students confusing (conflating) sprite label and animation name

In unit 3, an overwhelming majority of my students have the idea that the sprite names are the same things as the animation names.

They assume if the sprite’s label is “horse”, then they must name its animation “horse”. In Lesson 16, Bubble 7 (Rainbow Horse, which is super awesome), most of my students created a third sprite called “unicorn” just so they can set its animation to the “unicorn” animation. This was evident in the horse still being behind the new unicorn sprite that appears when the rainbow touches the horse.

Is anyone else’s students having the same problem? How do you get them to disentangle the two concepts?

Right now I’m just explaining to students that sprites and animations are not the same thing. I tell them to think of sprites as objects on the screen and animations as “costumes” the objects can put on. (In that regard, I kinda like how Scratch names everything analogous to a stage/theater.) So a “horse” animation could wear a “horse” costume, but it can just as well put on a “unicorn” costume, so there’s no need to (and we should not) create an additional sprite.

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This is a great opportunity to dive deep and do a class demo with 1 sprite changing animations.

From the first moment I introduce sprites, I encourage my students to label their sprites with the following convention: horseSprite catSprite ballSprite

I explain that keeping “sprite” in the label will help them stay organized in the future when we learn additional tools and tricks.


That’s a really good idea. One thing that annoys me about the videos is the lack of naming conventions when they are giving examples with sprites. The names are always “sprite” and “sprite_1” etc…it seems to encourage sloppy naming in the programming…