Saturday, August 29, 2009

Review: Web Design for Kids (...and Curious Grown-ups!)

Most kids today are pretty tech savvy. If they aren't, they certainly want to be. Unlike their parents, they've been immersed in the digital age of communication of clicking, Googling, emailing, and instant messaging. It is no wonder that kids who receive communication via the computer screen will want to send information that way as well. And what better way for kids to do this than create their own little piece of the web with their own website?

Web Design for Kids (...and Curious Grown-ups!) by Click-Drag Solutions teaches basic html in a step-by-step friendly manner. The DVD is broken down into 7 lessons, taught by
Brian Richardson, a middle school computer literacy teacher. By the end of the DVD, students and adults will have the knowledge to create a basic website, including scrolling text, colored backgrounds and pictures. No special software is needed; only Notepad and Internet Explorer, included with every Windows-based computer, are required.

Specific topics included in this 1 hour 22 minute DVD are:
  • The 10 Basic Lines of Code
  • Coloring the Background and Letters
  • Making Letters Move Across the Screen
  • Designer Backgrounds
  • Changing Fonts
  • Adding Pictures
  • Bonus Chapter on File and Folder Management
The DVD presentation is intended for viewers to build a website as they watch, along with the two children on the DVD, while Mr. Richardson carefully explains each step with built-in review. If you have a laptop available, this is ideal. My son started watching the DVD on a TV screen but found that he had trouble reading the text on the screen. Playing the DVD on the desktop computer while using the laptop to build the page worked much better. A portable DVD player next to the computer would have the same results.

My son would pause and start the DVD as needed while completing the steps. Working along with the DVD kept him engaged and gave the instant gratification of each step that all boys love.

For most steps, Internet access is not needed. Finding background patterns, rather than solid colors, and pictures that aren't already located on your hard drive are the exceptions. Since our laptop doesn't have Internet access, I just had my son complete and save his basic website and we copied it to another computer when he had finished the lessons. At that point it was easy enough to add pictures and different backgrounds to his design.

I'll have to admit that my knowledge in the area is limited – very limited. It isn't because there is a lack of information, but quite the opposite. There is too much information. I've found very few products that have scaled the information back enough to be successfully used by a child (or curious adults!) just starting out. Not only are those thick html books intimidating to most, some just learn better visually and with an instructor. The hand-holding approach of Web Design for Kids (...and Curious Grown-ups!) is simple enough for even young elementary children to follow. The technical terms and steps are explained in a language that anyone can understand. Brian Richardson originally targeted this DVD for ages 10-adult, but after seeing younger kids use it and speaking to parents, has since lowered the bracket to age 8.

Kids that already have some html knowledge or who need a lot of bells and whistles in presentation may not have as much appreciation for this program. Flashing graphics, exciting sound effects, and snazzy dialogue are absent from this DVD. However, for my son, this was a positive. We actually own a DVD explaining html from a popular series that my son previously attempted to use as a learning tool. All the pizazz of the program was too distracting for him to learn. As a hands-on resource for learning basic html and to pique interest in website design for those just starting out, Web Design for Kids (...and Curious Grown-ups!) is effective.

My son's only complaint about Web Design for Kids (and Curious Grown-ups!) was that the children on the DVD sounded a bit scripted. While I don't disagree, it did not take away from the instruction. In addition, the kids in the DVD ask a lot of questions that may come up while your child is building their web page. Below is a segment of the DVD, which is representative of the style of each lesson.




Overall, the program was a good experience and a great way to make web design, a topic that often befuddles adults, less intimidating to kids. I was pleased that it helped with typing and writing skills, in addition to helping my son create his own little piece of the web. To see his creation, click here. Most everything needed to create this website was taught on the DVD. He is already talking about creating another website on a different topic.

Note: The DVD does not provide instructions on how to publish your website, but it will be available on an upcoming continuation of Web Design for Kids (and Curious Grown-ups!). In addition, the DVD does not show how to make links (as on the bottom of my son's page), but that was required in order to use the background my son selected. This, too, will be taught in the next DVD.

The retail price for Web Design for Kids (and Curious Grown-ups!) is $39.99. However, Click-Drag Solutions is currently offering a summer special price of $19.95 (plus $3.99 shipping and handling). Furthermore, Click-Drag donates a part of its proceeds to five different charities as a way to give back to the community. It is refreshing to see a small business giving back, especially at a time when many charitable organizations have seen a drop on donations. Visit the website to see a list of recipients or to purchase your copy of Web Design for Kids (and Curious Adults!).

To read more reviews on this product, visit the official TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This review was provided as a result in my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew, a team of 100+ homeschooling parents. While the product was provided at no expense to me in order to provide this review, I have not received any other compensation. Furthermore, receipt of the product does not guarantee a positive review. I strive to give a balanced overview of each product, detailing my opinion of both pros and cons of how the product works for my family. What works for one family may not work for another. I encourage you to read reviews of other Crew members and research sufficiently to determine if any product will be a benefit to your homeschool.

4 comments:

Lcarens said...

Hi, I'm Logan Arens, and I just wanted to say there is another way to make a website, where you only have to fill out a form, and then you can customize it however you want. Plus they will host it for you at no charge.
It's called: IPB-Free, and it also has a built in Arcade option.

If you have a moment, you can also see my website by clicking my username. (Lcarens)

Heidi said...

Nice website, Logan! I know of a couple free template websites, such as Webs.com, and we've done those too.

The Web Design for Kids DVD focuses on writing your own code to build from scratch. Knowing the code also helps in maintaining a website. Most people don't hand code their sites and use programs instead, but Mr. Richardson hand-coded his entire website!

Sravani said...

Hi Heidi,
Pretty cool. Thanks for sharing your kids' experience with this. I will keep this mind for someone who may be in need of such a product. I will ask my ds to check it out too...
Hope everything is fine with you and your family
Subadra
http://bookslinksandmore.blogspot.com/

Eric said...
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