Friday, June 7, 2013

TOS Review: Motherboard Books

How far we’ve come. It seems like only yesterday Josiah was whacking on the computer while playing his favorite preschool computer game. Now he’s had experience designing his own webpage. As a homeschool mom, there are a lot of things that I want to make sure Josiah is learning. These times are a'changin'. In today's world, it is so important that are kids are computer savvy. How terrific that I can add programming with HTML as one of things he’s had experience with!  Motherboard Books recently allowed a group of us at TOS to review some of their resources. Motherboard Books offer resources to teach all manner of “techy” things, especially to kids. We got to review Let’s Make a Webpage.

What We Received

Let’s Make a Webpage ebook (for ages 8-12) – 19.95. 

The Computer Lady, Phyllis Wheeler, from Motherboard Books is a homeschool mom with a background in mechanical engineering.  She’s created  the Let’s Make a Webpage course specifically for homeschoolers in mind, but I can guarantee that any child would benefit from it.  The book is 60 pages long and guides students through the steps to create their own webpage using a free trial version of Coffee Cup software. The software is compatible for Windows XP, Vista or later but not MAC.  (We have Windows 8).

The book is written especially for children, but it is recommended that there is parental supervision. The Internet holds many wonders…it is also a dangerous place for kids. Especially if that kid has a fascination with the JAWS movies (which he is not allowed to see) and has discovered he can watch JAWS clips on youtube (which is another issue all together).

How We Used It

We downloaded the Coffee Cup Trial Version without any difficulty. In the book, the student is asked to create a webpage around an interview they have conducted with someone they know. Mrs. Wheeler uses an example of an interview her son conducted with her church secretary. Instead of an interview, I chose to have Josiah use a “How-To” essay he was currently writing. This essay was a “How-To” on caring for chickens (his choice).  

He had specific ideas about what people should know about chickens (a warning on chicken poo) and even spent a little time  photographing said chickens for his webpage. 

In one section of the book, the student is taught how to experiment with background images as well as download and insert clip art. Josiah was more concerned with the content of his page than the actual design. I’m not sure, but that might be a “boy” thing. He picked a bright yellow background and was content to keep it there. I wanted to make it cute. I know! Not my project. Though I am tempted to try this tutorial out myself (I have always toyed with the idea of a website). It is certainly simple enough to understand.  

The project contains 10 lessons. With each lesson are screen shots that assist students (and parents) that benefit from visual instruction. I think it helped some that we had just finished a course on computer programming, but I don’t think that you need any special skills.  In Josiah's case, I did help him work through the project. He is dyslexic. I don't believe the vocabulary itself was overwhelming, but he worries if he sees a lot of words. We simply took each Lesson at a time and he was able to apply the instructions to the software.  The hands-on experience was invaluable.

Please keep in mind that the book is written to assist webpage building with the Coffee Cup software. The trial version is free for 30 days. It was plenty time of time for us to complete our project, but I wish we could have had it up for you to see! Bright Yellow background and all :<). Because Let's Make a Webpage comes in a PDF file, you have the option to print it out. I chose not to. Ink can be pretty pricey, but I did download it to my Kindle so it was easy to navigate. Josiah and I could read the Lesson and follow the instructions while working with the Coffee Cup software on my laptop.

I don’t believe the instructions found in Let’s Make a Webpage are limited to the Coffee Cup software. I think the information can be applied to working with a variety of webpage builders.
I would recommend it to any “geek-in-training!”  Mrs. Wheeler made the scary world of webpage building truly enjoyable.

You can visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read more reviews on this product and Logo Adventures (a full-year homeschool computer science curriculum).


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