Traces in movement

Drawing between the real and the virtual thanks to characters and objects brought to life by body movement

In this activity, students can use the movement of their character (Sprite) to leave a visible trace: the moving character leaves a trail in the virtual environment, creating a shape or an abstract drawing, depending on what you are trying to do. This activity can be a continuation of Bodies in motion between the real and the virtual, or it can be the starting point for other explorations, for example repeating or reproducing the traces you created with body movements.


This activity was developed starting from the Scratch online platform designed by LifeLong Kindergarten at MIT Media Lab (Boston) , which scintillae has been in dialogue with since it opened.
For those unfamiliar with Scratch:

The continuous interaction and exchange created between the real and the virtual worlds emphasize an idea of the digital that is not alienating, but one which favors and supports the relationship between the child and the surrounding world. The interconnection between different fields of knowledge and school subjects becomes fundamental and generative in the creation of new knowledge and in promoting and supporting the research processes of children.


children aged 8 / 14


computer connected to the Internet, webcam, tablet or mobile phone (optional)


geography (cardinal points), spatial perception, math concepts

from designing to sharing


This section is a guide for adults to orient and support children’s and young people’s projects. The children’s hypotheses, starting from some initial questions, will be verified and deepened during the activity.

 Questions to start with:

Can you play with movement?
What happened in the trailer you saw?
How do you think this happened in the trailer you saw?
What inspired your drawing?
How can you use the sprite trail (for example: drawing, writing or using virtual space in an unusual way)?
What happens by changing the size of the sprite?
What happens if the sprite rotates as it moves?
What changes when the movement is slower or changes in intensity?
How does the trail of the sprite change with respect to the movement perceived by the webcam?
What combinations of speed and sensitivity interested you most and why?
What difficulties did you encounter? What strategies did you use to solve them?
What happens if you move away from the computer webcam?
What happens if you use an object to move the sprites?

What is the relationship between the position of your body in real space and the position of the sprites in their virtual space?
How did the Scratch environment change your initial design?


In this project, we use some blocks from the Scratch < Video Sensing >. These blocks activate your computer’s webcam and allow you to use motion to activate and animate sprites in Scratch.

/ in the first case (post-it), you need to “touch” the sprite to activate it, always maintaining this connection in order to guide and move it in the Scratch space.
/ in the second case (leaf), you need to “touch” the sprite to activate it, but unlike the first sprite, it will move away as soon as it perceives a movement.



→ Starting from the trailer, ask your students to imagine a mark, a shape, a drawing. You can take inspiration from a topic you are dealing with in class: geometric shapes, orientation in space, etc.


→ Ask your students to develop a project to define the characteristics of the image they have in mind (type of mark, form, etc).



→ If they don’t already have an account, ask them to create an account on Scratch.

Teachers can create and manage a class account:

Otherwise, each person – adult or child – must have their own account on the Scratch platform. It can be created here:


→ Share Traces in movement, a Scratch project created by the scintillae team, that you can find here with your students.


→  Ask the students to click on the  < green flag > to try moving the sprite in the virtual environment and understand how the interaction takes place.


→  Introduce the codes assigned to each sprite to your students, by clicking on the button < See inside >.


→  In order to begin to create a new game starting from the scintillae team project, invite your students to use the < remix >, function to automatically create a copy in their Scratch account.


→  Ask your students to import all of the sprites for their game, to be remixed (as illustrated in the activity Transforming the real with the digital).


→  Suggest that your students follow the steps in the tutorial below to copy and paste the scintillae project code onto their sprites
> view the tutorial
> download the tutorial


→ Collect your students’ projects in your Scratch Educator/Teacher account, or save them/ask the students to save them as images on the educational exchange platform already being used (ex. Google Classroom).

→ Invite the students to explore each other’s projects, either saved in the class account, or searching for them in the Scratch community.

how to continue the project

→ Invite the students to imagine a new image, mark, drawing of form inspired by their favorite subject at school.

 Scratch allows students to collect their favorite elements also from other projects through the tool < Backpack > to use whenever they want, as many times as they want.

Ask the students to draw a few geometric figures and import them into a new Scratch project as sprites.

You can also invite your students to select some objects they have at home (with specific geometric features or interesting material qualities to explore) and import them into Scratch as sprites.
What changes when you use real objects to drawing tools?

Suggest your students test other ways to make the sprites interact with the movement perceived by the webcam (e.g. use and test other blocks in addition to those already set, or change the variables entered at the start or the block sequences to see how the program changes).

Invite your students to explore the visual possibilities offered by their sprite: what can they draw? Can they draw all the figures?

Remember that experimenting with the more technical aspects is not an end in itself, but can offer students new possibilities to imagine and generate new ideas.

Using Scratch, students will be able to continue working on their own projects, enriching them with drawings, photos or elements from other projects..

Through the exchange platform already being used (Google Classroom, Moodle, etc.), you will be able to add further comments, reflections or proposals.