Entry Level Web Design from Motherboard Books
With so many of today’s employment opportunities centered around computers and the internet, computer science curriculum is an essential component of a well-rounded homeschool plan. Motherboard Books offers computer science courses designed especially for ages 8-12. We’ve been using Let’s Make a Web Page in our homeschool, while other Schoolhouse Review Crew Members have been experiencing Logo Adventures.
While there are many resources available for an adult (or savvy teen) to learn web page creation, there isn’t much out there crafted with pre-teens in mind. Let’s Make a Web Page smoothly fills this gap, and does so in a way that is not just student-friendly, but simple for parents to use, too, with clear instructions and helpful screenshots to show the way.
The instructions in Let’s make a Web Page are based on the free trial edition of Coffee Cup’s Visual Site Designer. Visual Site Designer is a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) application, meaning that there’s no messing with the html code unless you want to. It’s highly visual, using “drag & drop” methods, so it’s easy to see what the end result will look like, because that is what you’re working with on the screen.
(A small side note – we reviewed the updated 6th edition – it doesn’t appear that the table of contents on it’s sales page have been updated.)
Let’s Make a Web Page leads the student (and parent) through ten lessons:
- An interview – this is a task intended to create content to put on the web page – great for the first go at it, but if your student has other ideas, or is working on additional webpages, of course, I’d recommend taking the needed info from this section and moving on)
- Downloading and setting up Visual Site Designer – this will be primarily for the parent who is doing the installation, no prior experience necessary other than a general familiarity with your computer)
- Adding text to the webpage – either from step 1, or unique content – this is how to get the words, the backbone of the site, into place.
- Adding a photo – put a picture on the page to highlight the text. If you interviewed a person, put their photo. If you wrote about something else, any complementary photo could be used.
- It appears there’s a minor editing error – the lesson numbers skip to 6. (This doesn’t affect usage, and the only reason I even noticed was because I was sharing info about the changes in the table of contents. The kids didn’t notice at all.)
- Adding animations from the internet – parent supervision highly recommended for this lesson. Included are instructions for using Google’s SafeSearch to make web browsing more appropriate for the targeted age group.
- Checking for actual appearance in a browser, adding backgrounds, using a photo as a background, and adding additional photos – Again, parental involvement suggested during any internet time, but suggestions are made for obtaining backgrounds textures and the like.
- Adding sound to a page – Adding sounds is fun, but it might also be good to mention that later on, when they’re designing pages for viewing by people other than themselves, that sounds on every single web page can be disruptive an annoying, so it’s better to use them in moderation.
- Adding links – the most important part of a web page – what does it link to? As this initial web page is intended to be a start page for students to use as a page that initially opens up when they start their web browser, this is an excellent place to include all the sites that you DO want your child to regularly visit, and page like this is a fun alternative to merely having a list of bookmarks in the browser.
- Posting your work – this is where the student learns how to make the browser open their page first, and is quite straightforward.
Also included are two appendices. The first explains how parents would go about setting things up so that web pages could be uploaded to the internet, viewable for anyone. The second is for troubleshooting any problems that might occur. The author, Phyllis Wheeler, can also be contacted through the Motherboard Books website with any questions that arise.
After your child works through this program (which, for a motivated child, might take only a couple of days), it makes an excellent reference as they repeat it for multiple pages later on. My kids have found it fairly easy to follow. Since I have web hosting in place for the blog, anyway, we may decide to upload their further efforts to actual pages – it’s going to depend on just what those are. Let’s Make a Web Page encourages creativity and exploration, but for these first few pages, at least in our case, should probably be left as their own home page. (And if they’re not careful, I *will* make them turn the sound off!)
That said, it’s an excellent way to set up personalized start pages for your students, especially if they have separate user names on the computer, because each browser can be individually assigned different pages. All in all, Let’s Make a Web Page is a great start to beginning web design.
Let’s Make a Web Page is $19.95 for a 60-page pdf ebook with many color images. We chose to go ahead and print it for ease of use, but did so in black & white to save on printer ink. (The images are still quite usable in black & white.)
Some Schoolhouse Review Crew members received Logo Adventures, a year-long course in computer programming (if used for about an hour per week). Logo Adventures uses the MicroWorlds software. Students learn logic and reasoning while giving a turtle instructions, with 26 lessons in drawing and animation. Logo Adventures is $129, and includes both the instructional material and the MicroWorlds EX disk.