Pure and Simple

Computer Science curriculum for homeschoolers

Winner of Practical Homeschooling Magazine’s 2010 AND 2011 AND 2012 first-place Reader Award for Computer Science (chosen by reader poll)

“I wish Tom was as excited about math and history as he is about computer!… It’s great to have a lesson that he thinks is just plain fun!”– Becky Ascough, Lecanto, FL

When planning your curriculum for the year, don’t forget to include the essential skill, computer science. Avoid gaps in your child’s education, and prepare your child for the 21st century. You’ll be able to relax knowing you have done your job.

Thousands of homeschool families have used this curriculum, including Tammy Zilinski of East Dundee, IL, who said, “Your course has been extremely helpful for us and I’m thankful that you have written it!!” See what others are saying about it!

What are the prerequisites?

Computer Science Pure and Simple students (ages 12-18) need to prepare with some keyboarding. They need to prepare with a little practice in how to use a word processor on their own. In addition, an available adult must be comfortable using a word processor, saving files, searching the Internet, and using email. CSPS students must be old enough to understand the abstract concept of variables, something that normally occurs at around age 12 or 13.

What is Logo?

Logo is a computer language designed to teach kids reasoning skills. It gives kids feedback that delights them.

The kids command a tiny robot turtle carrying a pen and a bucket. They tell it where to go on the page, giving commands like forward 50 (go forward 50 turtle steps). The turtle draws lines as commanded and dumps colors. For animations, the turtle assumes a variety of shapes.

Not only is Logo great for teaching reasoning to young kids, but it has all the bells and whistles of a robust programming language, including parallel processing. So it’s a natural for teaching game programming. Skills learned on it transfer easily to other languages. In fact there are many computer professionals out there who got started by learning Logo. To find one, just ask around! My curriculum uses Logo as formulated in MicroWorlds software.

Book 1, latest edition, (spiral bound, 8 1/2 x 11 inches, 145 pages including answer key) provides a comprehensive introduction to:

  • Beginning programming using the Logo language as found in MicroWorlds software, creating drawings and animations. See a video tour: a student’s drawing and animation.
  • HTML (Web page language) using Notepad, Windows accessory software already on your computer. Create a Web page (see a video tour) and make simple Web pages.
  • Office applications: word processor and spread sheet (something like Word and Excel must be already installed on your computer). Learn to format a newsletter an program a spreadsheet to do calculations.

Book 2, latest edition, (age 14 and up, spiral bound, 8 1/2 x 11 inches, 176 pages including answer key) provides more work on:

  • Programming using Logo, combining what we have learned to create simple games. (See a page.)

Take a look at some student work. Note that your child’s will no doubt look quite different from these.

Do you worry about exposing your child to violent computer games? Using Computer Science Pure and Simple Book 2, your child can create his own games!

How do we make these games?

Here’s a line of code from a maze game:

when [colorunder = 15] [announce [sorry, you lose!]]

(For programming parents, here are the skills we learn: looping, incrementing, if-then statements, if-then-else, use of variables, starting with diagrams, and so on–the usual tools of programming.)

Do you worry about allowing your child Internet access?

Here are some safeguards you can take, outlined in the books:

  • Install a filter such as Covenant Eyes, NetNanny, or SafeEyes.
  • Direct your kids to use www.surfsafely.com as a search engine.
  • Share your email account with them (as opposed to their having their own).
  • Keep the computer in a well-used room.

What about tech support?

  • I have tutorials to get you started on the Support page.
  • Check the appendix on troubleshooting and the HTML guide in the back of the book.
  • Look at my FAQ on the Support page.
  • If all that fails, email me with your question at info “at” motherboardbooks.com. I answer emails as soon as I can, normally within a day.

The third component of the curriculum is the MicroWorlds disk. This is provided by a Canadian company, LCSI, that worked closely with Logo’s creators at MIT, and sells to top-quality schools around the world.

(What if you want to add the book for younger children, Logo Adventures, to your order?

Order below one of the Computer Science Pure and Simple Curriculums, which includes a disk, and then also buy just a Logo Adventures book from the Logo Adventures page.)

Features for Computer Science Pure and Simple :
- Uses the Logo computer language, developed just for kids at MIT
- Teaches fun programming, web site creation, & spreadsheet
- Uses variables, great for kids over age 12
- Takes two years–or less, depending on the student
- Tailored for homeschooling, using self-study book & answer key

Price: $161.98 with MicroWorlds EX software (works with Mac OS X 10.3.9 and later plus Windows 2000 and later)

30-day Money-Back Guarantee!

You may return the books and disk for up to 30 days for a full refund if you are dissatisfied.

(Email before 30 days are up for your authorization.)

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What are others saying about this curriculum?

Computer Science Pure and Simple has been used and loved by many homeschooling families since it was introduced.

“My son has enjoyed your Pure and Simple curriculum. He loves computers and it has been a tremendous way for him to learn.” –Juanita Otieno, Brookhaven PA

“I’ve spent this school year working through both Computer Science Pure and Simple Book 1 and Book 2. They have been extremely enjoyable for me. I started programming earlier this year at a class in which we used Microsoft Visual Basic. Needless to say, Logo is remarkably easier to understand and more enjoyable. Through your teaching on internet design, I’m currently designing a website for my church’s youth group.”–Nathan Harris, age 16, Lyman, ME.

“I have been using your computer science program and I am really enjoying it. Usually I do what you tell me and then try to take it to a new level on my own.

“Once again, I really appreciate your course. I have always been extremely interested in computers, so I relish the opportunity to learn programming and advance any skills I have in that area. I hope you enjoy my programs, they took a lot of work, but I think the end result is worth it.”–Shane Smith, age 16, Kansas

“Your course has been extremely helpful for us and I’m thankful that you have written it!!”–Tammy Zilinski, East Dundee IL

“I have homeschooled my twin daughters now for eight years and for the last two years they have done your Computer Science Pure and Simple book one and book two and we have really enjoyed it.  It has also helped me to show our school district that we are trying to keep the kids up to date with doing computers.”–Susan Bizari, Rochester NY

“Phyllis’ books are written to the child and are engaging and entertaining.  The activities are not dull and boring, but have the student doing skills that provide them with instant successful feedback.  I highly recommend these programs! “–Kim Kargbo, Olive Branch MS

“Your course is very easy to use. I just handed it to my son and he started in on his own. He’s loving it and has asked to go through the program faster than what I had scheduled for him. I see where learning Logo (or any computer language, for that matter) gets them started with the idea of how to ‘talk’ to a computer. He loves that he’s making animations right away.”–Kelly Stone, The Dalles OR

“We are using both Computer Science Pure and Simple and Logo Adventures. Both my children love them! Thank you for the great books and all that you do.”–Debbie, Wilmington, DE

“About a month ago I was praying for something new and exciting for my fifth grader who is homeschooling for the first time this year. I was struggling to make “school” fun so as to ease the transition from his previous school. I wanted him to feel like we have neat things “happening” here too. Seriously, in a dream I recalled my college Logo programming experiences and I woke up wondering, “Whatever happened to the Logo language? Kids would love Logo.” (The only time I had ever seen it used was while student teaching in a school in England.)

“…Now that we own Microworlds and your easy-to-read and follow lessons, I think I have found the answer to my prayers. It is really a blessing as my son is so quick with electronics, as most children are, but has always struggled in school. We do not own or encourage video games so it is great to hear him saying, ‘Well now I can write my own, Mom!’”–Jeanette H

“I wish Tom was as excited about math and history as he is about computer!

“My 13 year-old son, Tom, started the Computer Science Pure and Simple Book 1 just last week. I’m so happy to report that he absolutely loves working with MicroWorlds, and is flying through the lessons. He is working on his own, as we don’t have a co-op in our area. He doesn’t mind though, since he’s able to go at his own pace. Thank you for providing this wonderful computer curriculum. It’s great to have a lesson that he thinks is just plain fun!”–Becky Ascough, Lecanto, FL

“Concerning Computer Science Pure and Simple, I would say that I was thrilled to find it because it seems that there is very little available which is appropriate for young learners. My son is thirteen, and once he got through the first couple of lessons, I couldn’t get him to stop. He has programmed various games, including mazes, hangman, a house building game, and a Star Wars attack game. I highly recommend it.”–Judy Jenkins, Delmar DE

“I am a sophomore in high school, and this exciting program is my favorite subject in school!”–Stephen Smith, age 15, working his way through Book 1

“Thank you so much for the books (Computer Science Pure and Simple and Logo Adventures). I have four children whom I homeschool, and now there are arguments over who uses the computer. The books are great. Once again many thanks.”–From Katie Bennett,Warooka, South Australia

“(My 16-year-old son) at first thought he already knew it all. But when he got into the book, he realized that it was telling him just what he needs to know–how a computer works.”–Deb E., St. Louis MO

“I have to start by saying this is a dream come true for homeschooling parents who want to teach their children computer skills! …The book is well designed and easy to use. Each lesson is very detailed and includes graphics–but not so detailed that you get lost. You will get immediate results when you follow the instructions to the letter–but if you have problems the answer key is included. I love that this book teaches you everything from animations to viruses!

“We found this program was easy to follow and fun to use. I thought I was computer-literate but this book taught me a thing or two! My children loved watching their work actually WORK when they did what the book instructed. …I would strongly recommend this curriculum to anyone wanting to learn some basic computer skills that includes adults and students! …”–Anissa DeGrasse for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

“From the very first lesson, we found this program to be well organized and easy-to-understand. … My (12-year-old) son was able to work through the lessons with very little help from me. … My son completed several lessons in one week. … My son LOVED learning Logo! In fact, even if he didn’t do any of the other lessons in the book, the exposure to MicroWorlds and the Logo language makes this book worth the price. …

“I can’t say enough about the MicroWorlds component – if your child is even remotely interested in programming/video games, this is the best way to give them a feel for what it is like to develop their own programs. The lessons for all of the topics are presented so well that most students can work through the course independently. I eagerly look forward to reviewing future products from Motherboard Books!”–Cindy Prechtel, Editor, Homeschooling from the Heart

Computer Science Pure and Simple for Homeschoolers is an excellent introduction to three of the most common ways that people interact with computers: office skills, computer programming, and website design…

Computer Science Pure and Simple for Homeschoolers gets kids working immediately taking what they read and applying it. The instructional detail is just right, not over explaining and thereby confusing, nor skipping steps that may be intuitive to more experienced computer users.”–Beverly Krueger, Eclectic Homeschool Online

“This (Book 1) is a good introductory course for those with little hands on computer experience.

Concerning Book 2, “This book, like the first, is first rate for beginning programmers. Its engaging style makes it very fun to work with.”–Elliot Robinson, age 14, a reviewer at www.HomeschoolChristian.com

“Thanks so much for your help in educating our kids. You certainly do use the gifts you’ve been given for the betterment of so many.”–Doreen Wood, Auburn CA

“…A decent introduction to how to use some of the applications on your computer, what programming is and how to design a web page, making it worthy of your consideration. … The choice of MicroWorlds Logo programming is a good one. These sections will guide you through the basic steps of starting to program and give you a good basis for understanding what programming is.”–Theresa M. Schultz-Jones writing in Practical Homeschooling Magazine Issue Number 61 Fall/Winter 2004

“Computer Science Pure and Simple Book 2 is obviously an extension of the course in Book 1, but delves deeper and focuses in more on the fun of game programming. Book 2 is for more intermediate or a bit more advanced students, Motherboard recommends 7th grade age and up, and is the same in its nice spiral-bound, soft cover, but is 175 pages containing 31 lessons with answers. Book 2 teaches creating a website and learning how to put it up on the web! It also gives instruction on programming calculations into an Excel spreadsheet, as well as creating your own more complex games, and more!

“Computer Science Pure and Simple books use MicroWorlds software, and children can use this program independently or along side their parents! The instruction is very simple to understand, they instruct step by step, make learning computer language seem a lot less intimidating and therefore makes it enjoyable to learn for any age!

“I would highly recommend Computer Science Pure and Simple, as it gives our children and us a very good foundation in computer basics and beyond!”–Lisa Barthuly & Family writing for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine website.

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CSPS EX Curriculum, $161.98: Book 1, Book 2, and MicroWorlds EX disk
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Computer Science Pure and Simple Book 1 (without disk), $29.99
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Computer Science Pure and Simple Book 2 (without disk), $32.99
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