It’s safe to say my kids are currently somewhat obsessed with Phyllis Wheeler’s Logo Adventures available from Motherboard Books. I had never heard of the Logo computer language, invented years ago at MIT to teach children problem solving. Apparently Logo was learned by many of today’s computer programmers as children. Logo Adventures teaches the basics of computer programming using the Logo language and is geared towards children ages 8–12.

To use Logo Adventures you’ll need the MicroWorlds software, available from either Motherboard Books or In MicroWorlds your child will learn to “hatch” and command turtles by typing instructions in the software’s command center.

For instance fd 50 means “forward 50 little turle steps.” If you want your turtle to draw a line as he goes, type pd and he will place his “pen down” as he travels. To make a 90 degree turn, issue the command rt 90. Want your turtle to create a perfect square?

fd 50 rt 50 <enter>
fd 50 rt 50 <enter>
fd 50 rt 50 <enter>
fd 50 rt 50 <enter>

Got it? Later you’ll discover that you don’t have to type out each line and hit enter, but can code the command to repeat, such as repeat 4 [fd 50 rt 50]. The lessons challenge your child to think, sometimes by reading the commands and trying to figure out how the final design will look, sometimes by looking at a figure and writing code to make it appear.

Logo Adventures contains 26 lessons that will take your child from the basics to creating fireworks and shooting stars. It teaches computer programming and logic in a fun and entertaining fashion.

Logo Adventures review

Motherboard books has a follow up called Computer Science Pure and Simple, which we we’re interested in using, too. It can be started at around age 12–13.

Let’s Make a Web Page!

Phyllis Wheeler also has an ebook for ages 8–12 called “Let’s Make a Web Page!” My 12-year-old daughter tested this product by interviewing me and then creating a one-page website with photo, background image, interview text, and animations using a 30-day free trial of CoffeeCup software. She was amazed at how much code was involved when viewed in the code editor. To me, this is one of the most important things to understand about websites: they’re built on code, and how they are viewed depends on how your web browser interprets that code (explaining why the same site can look different when viewed in different browsers). It also opened an opportunity to discuss the differences in serif and sans serif fonts and when each is appropriate.

The book covers choosing fonts; creating links; inserting tables; and more. Chapter 6 involves searching for animations on the internet, but comes with the following instructions: “Lesson 6 takes your child out on the Internet to look for animations. I highly recommend that you accompany your child on this outing, for safety reasons.Lesson 6 suggests you turn on Google’s SafeSearch feature, and that you supervise kids on the Internet. It is also a great idea to have a filter like Netnanny in place.  In addition, be sure to turn on Google’s SafeSearch every time your child starts a new session with Google.”

Table of Contents:

Introduction for Parents
Lesson 1: An Interview
Lesson 2: Download and Set Up the Program
Lesson 3: Add Text
Lesson 4: Make a Table
Lesson 5: Add Photo
Lesson 6: From the Internet, Add Animations
Lesson 7: Browser Check, Backgrounds, Photos
Lesson 8: Sound
Lesson 9: Links
Lesson 10: Post Your Work
Appendix: How to Upload to the Internet

To say that my daughter is proud of the website she created is an understatement. “Let’s Make a Web Page!” is a great resource for introducing your child to the tools necessary for building a web site.

This e-book retails for $29.95, however it is currently on sale for $19.95 at CurrClick.

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