Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Absolutely Awesome

Yesterday I introduced my first graders to Turtle Art. To be honest, I'm not sure what made me do so. Numerous knowledgeable people I respect have told me that Turtle Art fits best with 3rd graders or older. Earlier this year I introduced it to our AAP (advanced academic programs) 3rd graders and they loved it. Somehow though, it seemed like a good idea to set my first graders free with it.
So, yesterday I showed them a few, very basic things and let them go explore. A few got frustrated. Others were fascinated. After about 15 minutes I stopped them and showed them a bit more. Off they went again, this time with even more gusto. We only had half an hour yesterday so I arranged more computer lab time for us today.
Today I just let them get started. They immediately wanted to get help from each other so I made one rule. They could go anywhere in the room they wanted and talk to anyone they wanted. But they couldn't touch anyone else's computer. My reasoning, which I shared with them, was that doing the work in Turtle Art for their friend wouldn't help them learn anything. Talking through it would be good for both kids.
These videos are all from today. I barely spoke to the kids throughout the 45 minutes we were in the lab. I did stop them once to show them a couple more things. Otherwise I let them go to it.
Now, I know they don't fully understand the programming they are doing yet. That's fine with me. That will come, especially given their engagement in this. The most exciting thing for me today wasn't really their work in Turtle Art, although I loved that too, but the way they were teaching each other. I just sat down and one point and looked around in awe. Truly in awe.


Sue VanHattum said...

If the software works on Macs, I'd love to get it. I can't figure out how. (It says email us, but goes into an email program I only used when hooked into the internet at work.)

I've used Scratch some, but it has too many distracting bells and whistles, I think. It's easier to get, though, so you might want to tell kids about it.

Teacher Mum said...

It looks amazing - I have emailed them for the software because I think my students would love it - either for home, "spending day" or when they need quiet time.
Thanks for sharing.

Laura said...

I love turtle art, and Scratch is the next level up. I've used it with 4th and 5th graders and it's the main focus of my 8th grade class.

Sarah said...

I've never heard of turtle art but it looks fun!! :)

Josh Burker said...

So awesome! My third grade students loved TurtleArt, and when I previewed it for the second grade at the end of the school year many of the students took me up on the offer to make CDs with the program on it for them to play with over the summer.

I really hope to have a chance this summer to sit down with Brian and Artemis to learn how to build some of the more complex pieces like their examples showcase. I understand the blocks, but need to better understand the math that they are using.

Keep up the amazing work!

Jenny said...

Sue, They do have a mac version. I'll try to send you their email. I haven't used Scratch (I seem to be intimidated by it) but may have to give it a try after this success.

Teacher Mum, It is amazing! The images on the Turtle Art website are just astounding to me. I hope you all have fun with it.

Laura, When my girls get a little older I figure they'll get Scratch and then teach me!

Sarah, It is addicting.

Josh, I don't feel like I even have the basics mastered. The kids are pushing me which is a wonderful thing. I didn't expect that from first graders. I'll be curious to hear what you learn from Brian and Artemis. Next year I hope I can get some other grade levels rolling with this.

Anonymous said...

If you want a copy of TurtleArt please send an email to:

And yes, it can be addictive!
We play with it all the time...

Artemis and Brian