Terrapin Resources

Computers have opened up an exciting world of learning for children. The Logo language and Kinderlogo, an adaptation for young children, reach beyond traditional educational uses of computers. Logo provides a stimulating environment for creative exploration, problem solving, and discovery. In Logo the child controls the computer. The computer does not control the child, as is the case in so many of the educational programs that merely give fact drills based on rote learning.

Kinderlogo and Young Children

Kinderlogo uses the Logo language in a way that is appropriate for children as young as four years old and also for children with special needs. Using single keystroke commands, children guide the Logo turtle in journeys around the screen, creating exploratory rambling lines or intricate patterns that have been carefully organized. Children can grow with Kinderlogo. The activities and concepts presented are aimed at ability levels that include non-readers as well as children with beginning reading and writing skills.

Kinderlogo Commands

Kinderlogo commands are divided into five levels that accompany the child’s developmental growth. As children experiment with each new set of commands, they are:

  • gaining control over the turtle,
  • observing cause and effect relationships,
  • improving visual discrimination,
  • developing problem-solving skills,
  • predicting events, and
  • working toward goals.

Kinderlogo commands are directly related to Logo instructions in a simple manner, allowing a smooth transition to Logo when the child is ready.

Exploring and Experimenting

Kinderlogo (along with Logo) is a non-threatening environment for children. One doesn’t fail when the turtle doesn’t do what was expected. Instead, one gets an interesting surprise. Then the choice is to try to figure out why the turtle did what it did, or go off on a new tangent based on the turtle’s unexpected behavior.

These accidental discoveries allow the turtle to draw wonderful designs that one could never have imagined or tried to create. A five-year-old using Kinderlogo for the first time sat back and studied the screen. “It was going to be a flag,” she said, “but this is a neat design anyway.” The experience of discovering one thing while intending another is an exciting aspect of Kinderlogo.

Kinderlogo and Children with Special Needs

Because of the learning opportunities that Kinderlogo provides in an atmosphere that is free from pressure, children with special needs can gain confidence and skills through success with turtle experiences. Special education teachers who have used Kinderlogo are delighted with the response their students have shown. Children with special needs will create as interesting designs as the rest of their classmates. Kinderlogo is a wonderful equalizer!

How Kinderlogo Prepares Learners for Logo

Teachers have tried teaching Logo to young children who have had no prior Logo experience using the regular Logo commands (such as FORWARD 100, abbreviated as FD 100, or RIGHT 90, abbreviated as RT 90). Some children did manage to move the turtle around, but with great effort. The need to manipulate large numbers and the amount of typing required proved to be tiring for them. The children’s energies were devoted to the mechanics of the language and their limited math skills rather than to the exploration and experimentation that should have been the main focus.

Kinderlogo removes these obstacles, allowing young children to share in as much of the Logo world as possible. As your children become aware of the learning process through the use of Kinderlogo, you can observe their approach as they rule over the turtle’s kingdom.

Learning Kinderlogo

Kinderlogo expects no previous computer experience from either child or adult. Sections about each level present the commands for the new level. The teaching tips help you introduce commands to the children and offer descriptions of the additional learning games and activities that reinforce the new concepts. The introduction to each level shows sample pictures created by children using that Kinderlogo level, and other explanatory pictures and designs are interspersed throughout the text. Picture and Command Patterns in the Resource area illustrate uses of the commands, and the Design Ideas can serve as models for inspiration.

The Role of the Teacher

As the children explore the turtle’s world on their own, your role is merely to guide them, help only when needed, and make sure that the children are allowed ample time just to draw and play with their new turtle friend. You can watch your children’s development as they pass through several predictable stages, which are apparent in the types of designs that they create.

Kinderlogo activities provide additional learning experiences at each new level. By directing the turtle to pop balloons, travel through mazes, tie a colored string to a kite, and play tic-tac-toe and shape guessing games, children can practice the new commands and deepen their understanding of new concepts.

Other activities that can be done away from the computer help teach and reinforce the new ideas. Graph paper, coins, construction paper, and other household materials can help children learn about patterns, opposites, and even structured programming.