Imagine your kids building Web sites. Imagine their sense of competence. They can do it! Not only that, but with our guidance, kids can learn to program their own games!
From: Phyllis Wheeler, the Computer Lady from Motherboard Books
There's plenty of information out there on how to build a Web site and how to program. But how much of it is aimed just at teaching real skills to youngsters?
Kids in elementary, middle, and high school now have the opportunity to learn computers from the inside out, using our award-winning homeschool computer science curriculums.
I am a veteran homeschooling mom who has helped many kids build a solid foundation of computer knowledge. I can help yours too.
Are you worried that your homeschooled youngsters may be missing something essential?
I understand your worries that your youngsters may have trouble catching up with kids whose schools taught them a lot about computers.
I've been in that position myself!
So, where does a youngster get a good foundation?
- At school in many cases
- At home, using our computer science curriculums.
Logo Adventures for kids 8 to 12. Your child, with your help, can work on MicroWorlds programming projects developed just for this age group. (No parent expertise required! and kids over 10 usually work independently.)
Computer Science Pure and Simple for middle and high schoolers. This award-winning creative curriculum has delighted kids for ten years. For more info, read below.
For the entrepreneurially minded, we offer ebooks on making websites, for elementary and middle school, Let's Make a Webpage, and for high school and adult, Website ABCs. Website ABCs even explains how to market your site! Both are revised for 2013.
If your kid is over age 12, read on for more about Computer Science Pure and Simple. (If not, click on one of the links just above.)
You might ask what the prerequisites are. Computer Science Pure and Simple students (grade 5 or 6 through high school) need to prepare with some keyboarding using a separate application such as Mavis Beacon, Typing Tutor, or Captain Keyboard. They need to prepare with a little practice in how to use a word processor on their own.
In addition, an available adult must be comfortable using a word processor, saving files, searching the Internet, and using email.
With Computer Science Pure and Simple, here's what students in fifth grade and up learn over two years:
- more about a word processor--how to create a newsletter, for instance
- how to use and program a spreadsheet
- simple html
- simple Web site creation using free software
- programming drawings, animations, and games using the Logo language
Our curriculum provides a foundation so that they can study further to:
- Launch into Web site design and building
- Easily learn common workplace programming languages
Let's get more specific. Exactly what does Computer Science Pure and Simple offer?
Book 1, Third Edition (grades 5 and up, spiral bound, 8 1/2 x 11 inches, 145 pages including answer key) provides a comprehensive introduction to
- HTML (Web page language) using Notepad, Windows accessory software already on your computer. Create a Web page (see a video tour) and make simple Web pages using free trial software Cool Page. (See a page from the book.)
- Beginning programming using the Logo language as found in MicroWorlds software, creating drawings and animations. See a video tour: a student's drawing and animation, with code. For this you will need a MicroWorlds disk, sold with the curriculum.
- Office applications: word processor and spread sheet (something like Word and Excel must be already installed on your computer). Learn to format a newsletter and work with the spreadsheet.
See the Table of Contents!
Logo is a computer language designed to teach kids reasoning skills. It gives kids feedback that delights them.
Purchase Computer Science Pure and Simple, as a package or separately!
The kids command a tiny robot turtle carrying a pen and a bucket. They tell it where to go on the page, giving commands like forward 50 (go forward 50 turtle steps). The turtle draws lines as commanded and dumps colors. For animations, the turtle assumes a variety of shapes.
Not only is Logo great for teaching reasoning to young kids, but it has all the bells and whistles of a robust programming language, including parallel processing. So it's a natural for teaching game programming. Skills learned on it transfer easily to other languages. In fact there are many computer professionals out there who got started by learning Logo. To find one, just ask around! My curriculum uses Logo as formulated in MicroWorlds software.
Book 2, Second Edition (grades 7 and up, spiral bound, 8 1/2 x 11 inches, 176 pages including answer key) builds on Book 1 and provides more work on
- Programming using Logo, combining what we have learned to create games. (MicroWorlds disk required) (See a page)
- A multi-page Web site, and advice about how to put it on the Internet (using a free shareware software download) See a video tour of a fourth-grader's site. See a page.
- Programming spreadsheets (spreadsheet application such as Excel already installed on your computer). See a video tour. See a page.
See the Table of Contents!
Do you worry about exposing your child to violent computer games?
Using Computer Science Pure and Simple Book 2, your child can create his own games! Look at videos of student games:
(For programming parents, here are the skills we learn: looping, incrementing, if-then statements, if-then-else, use of variables, starting with diagrams, and so on--the usual tools of programming.)
You can look at our Gallery of Greats--great student projects. To see them you will need to download special software. Be sure to come back!
How do we make these games?
Here's a line of code from a maze game:when [colorunder = 15] [announce [sorry, you lose!]]
Do you worry about allowing your child Internet access, for fear he will stumble on something he should not see?
In Book 2 I outline some safeguards you can take:
- Install a filter such as Covenant Eyes, NetNanny, or SafeEyes
- Set the filter in Google to SafeSearch.
- Direct your kids to use www.surfsafely.com as a search engine.
- Limit their access to email, and keep the computer in a well-used room.
- Have a long-on password that only the adults know, and control how long the kids are on the computer.
The third component of the curriculum is the MicroWorlds disk. This is provided by a Canadian company, LCSI, that worked closely with Logo's creators at MIT, and even now sells to top-quality schools around the world.
What about tech support?
- I have tutorials to get you started.
- Check the appendices on troubleshooting and HTML guide in the back of the book.
- Look at my FAQ on the Product Support Page.
- If all that fails, email me with your question at info "at" motherboardbooks.com .
Purchase Computer Science Pure and Simple, as a package or separately!
So, how did this curriculum come about?
I told you I had been in the same position as you, worried that my kids would fall behind in computer skills. I was homeschooling and teaching in a homeschool coop.
But I had something to offer in this field! I am a mechanical engineer who has taken a number of programming courses over the years. I worked as a programmer one summer in college. I decided to offer a computer course at our co-op for grades 5 and up, since I had the skills. (I am also a writer, and that helps too!)
The first thing I did was look for a computer curriculum to use. Homeschoolers these days can find curriculum on all kinds of great subjects. But there wasn't one! I would have to invent one! Since I had to go to all the trouble to figure out what to teach, I decided to record what we were doing and share it with others who might also be stuck looking for the same thing.
I found assistance through the co-op from several computer professionals. These professionals contributed to my computer class that became Computer Science Pure and Simple Book 1:
- Virginia Sparks, BS in Computer Science
- Laura Breidenbach, professional Web site developer
But where to start? I chose to start with the Logo computer language, because my daughter had worked with it in school and had loved it.
Logo programming isn't dry mathematical code. It's personalized instruction to the turtle. Kids love it.
I already had a Logo-based manuscript by Don Sleeth, a Canadian programmer, and permission to modify it.
Over the course of the year we knit all this together to teach the class, which met once a week for an hour and a quarter, with homework. I recorded what we were doing as a set of self-study lessons with answer key. In class we tested the lessons and made some modifications based on what worked and what didn't. Here's a sample chapter from Book 1.
The following year, I took the same classes forward, and we learned a lot more programming, Web site construction, and spreadsheets. That year of study became Book 2. Here's a sample chapter from Book 2 .
Later I again taught a co-op computer class--this time to kids aged 8 through 12. The result, Logo Adventures, is ready to teach reasoning, creativity, and computer savvy to your younger kids.
Introduce your kids age 12 and up to researching the Internet using MotherboardBooks.com’s Internet Scavenger Hunt. Kids gather fun and weird facts about animals and geography as they crisscross the Internet using Google, after setting it to SafeSearch to screen out the bad stuff. Some typing skills are required. Value: $10
Join my email newsletter list here, and get a free download of The Internet Scavenger Hunt, a fun, very helpful lesson in doing Internet research.
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The third component of the curriculum is the MicroWorlds disk. This is provided by a Canadian company, LCSI, that worked closely with Logo's creators at MIT, and sells to top-quality schools around the world.
What if you want to add the book for younger children, Logo Adventures, to your order?
Order below one of the Computer Science Pure and Simple Curriculums, which includes a disk, and then also buy just a Logo Adventures book from the Logo Adventures page.