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Friday, August 28, 2009

Review: Web Design for Kids


Brian Richardson, founder of Click Drag Solutions, has put together an engaging little DVD that will teach your kiddos HTML. As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I had the opportunity to review this product and I recruited my 9-year-old son, David, to try it out with me.

This is a nicely produced video featuring Brian and 2 middle school-aged children as the students who ask the scripted questions at the appropriate times. The program is divided into 7 lessons that cover the (very) basics of HTML, from the first few lines of code to changing background and text colors, to inserting pictures. Each lesson runs approximately 15 minutes, though you may find that your child spends much more time than that depending upon how quick a typist he is. Here’s where having a pause button comes in handy---no pressure to complete the task ultra-quick.

There are no additional purchases necessary if you are using a Windows machine. All you need is notepad and a web browser (Internet Explorer is specified, but we were able to use it quite nicely with Firefox with a few minor modifications). I would recommend using it with a laptop, as you can then easily watch the video and type on the laptop at the same time, but you could have your child take notes and use a desktop computer. An internet connection is not 100% necessary, though the video does show you how to get free backgrounds and pictures off of the web---you can easily sub files from your own computer.

David had no HTML experience prior to viewing the video and I wanted to see if the instructions were simple enough for him to do it independently, with me available in the wings to provide any needed support. He did very well and after completing the course was able to create this webpage (sorry, it’s not hosted, so you won’t be able to see the marquee title scrolling across the screen):


I did need to help him add some additional code not provided in the video to correctly size the pictures. What I love is that as he was working on the code, he was inspired to do some experimenting trying to build off of what he learned…anything that can do that ok in my book.

While David worked on the program afternoons, I took one evening after the kiddos were in bed to go through the entire DVD to evaluate it from the point-of-view of someone with some HTML experience. The program is very, very basic, which is fine for kiddos to start with. It moves at a moderate pace, broken up into easily digestible chunks. It will take you by the hand and teach you to create a website (web hosting is not covered in this DVD, but Brian has put together a page on this due to so many requests), and how to customize it to some degree.

I was a little disappointed that while the video shows you how to insert pictures, it doesn’t for instance, show you how to size those pictures. And while it does show you how to change text colors, it does not show youo how to make your text bold or italic. But once you’ve learned how to add an attribute, it’s a simple matter of downloading an HTML cheat sheet and playing with the code yourself.

I do think that it is enough to inspire someone who is truly interested to learn more on their own, or maybe even buy the second video when it comes out.

Web Design for Kids regularly sells for $40, but is on sale now for $19.99 + $3.99 s&h, and it comes with a money back guarantee.

Download a free sample clip here.

For more reviews of this product by other homeschoolers, go to the TOS Homeschool Crew blog.

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