Sunday, September 26, 2010

Proof Of Concept


Proof of Concept

Following are some sample activities I have designed to provide a Proof of Concept about the kind of activities I would design for a Christian Website aimed at 3-5 year olds. These activities are in no way complete but rather snippets of what could be possible. I am not a Flash, Java or HTML-5 programmer so I do not at this time posses the skills required to develop the kind of interactive animation needed.

I created these proof of concept ideas using an application called SCRATCH which is an educational graphics and programming environment. It is an excellent program and I am teaching it to my 6 year old at this time. This is my project page there: http://scratch.mit.edu/users/righteous-servant . You can check out all the projects and download the program for free.

Context

As mentioned, these activities are just snippets and not polished and complete and are limited by the graphics and programming ability of SCRATCH. When you view these, put them into the context of the whole website I am envisioning; refer to Poisson Rouge, my inspiration and guide for an excellent Christian website for 3-5 year olds. If you haven't checked out this excellent website yet, please do so before you read on and try my activities. It is important that you be able to put my ideas into a context such as Poisson Rouge.

Each activity has a Bible icon that directs you to a scripture or message related to the activity. In fully developed activities, there would also be sound files that would read the scripture as well as other words and letters found in various activities.

Please note also that all of these activities are 100% success activities.

The First 4 Proof of Concept Activities

1-Trinity

This activity is a not so simple maze for young children to practice their mouse skills. It also introduces the familiar Trinity symbol.




2-Shadow Lamb

This activity demonstrates the physical properties of light and shadow as well as paralleling a Biblical concept about the Lamb of God. (The code didn't render properly on this one for the upload so there are some strange things that happen in the shadow.) My 3 year old daughter repeatedly asks to play this one again and again.





Joseph Coat

This activity is just a fun painting activity and introduces the character of Joseph from the Bible.





Ruth

This activity is a shape recognition and spelling activity. In use on the website, a spelling activity like this may be an additional part to a parent activity for Ruth. You would hear the letter names when you click on them and you would hear the whole word once it is finished.





I hope you like my ideas. Please comment.

Markers of Excellence


Markers of Excellence: Websites for 3-5 year olds.

The website that gave me inspiration to create Righteous Servant and serves as guide for design, ideas and depth is http://www.poissonrouge.com/poissonrouge.php . Righteous Servant aims to be similar to Poisson Rouge but with the emphasis on teaching God's Word, principals, virtues, Biblical Stories and characters in a fun and engaging way. Please check out Poisson Rouge, it is awesome! If you know of any websites teaching Christian content to kids that comes close to the excellence of Poison Rouge, please share it with us.

My initial focus for creating Righteous Servant is aimed primarily at 3-5 year olds but older children will also enjoy using it as well. Righteous Servant will adhere to several markers of excellence for a website aimed at 3-5 year olds. 3 year olds or older beginning computer users will need assistance with any computer interacting. Practiced children should be able to interact with the website once the following prerequisites have been met one way or another.

Prerequisites: for traditional keyboard/mouse computing.
  • The child either knows how to or someone helps with these tasks:
    1. The computer is turned on/logged in.
    2. The website is brought up on the screen. (opening a browser and loading a website)
  • The child knows basic website browsing conventions.
    1. The arrow you see on the screen is related to the the mouse in your hand.
    2. When the arrow changes to a pointing hand, it means that you can click it/something should happen.
    3. A back arrow or a site specific icon usually or often means that you can go back to where you were before.
    4. A forward arrow usually means that that's what you can do next.

Markers of Excellence: Websites for 3-5 year olds.
  • The child's home page opens immediately to where a child may begin interacting. If a child cannot immediately begin interacting, you as an adult must stick around and help!
  • The child's home page is free from clutter. Links to other parts of the greater site for parents/adults/older children will be placed out of the way and will open in a new window/tab, but the focus will remain on the child's page. Children get confused when a new page opens and they don't know how to get back to what they were doing.

  • The design of the interactions are intuitive and easy enough for a 3 or 4 year old to understand. A child shouldn't have to ask for much or any help.
    • Intuitive forward/next and back/previous/home icons with consistent placement.
    • Arrow/cursor changes to a hand when you can do something.
    • Minimal if any instructional text.
  • Activities will be designed for 100% success such that there is no possible way to get something wrong. Children need to learn and explore at this age, they don't need to be tested on their skills.
    • If all the blue items go in the blue basket, then it won't be possible to put a blue item in a red basket and then later give a bad score for wrong answers. ONLY blue items can go in the blue basket and blue items can go nowhere else. 100% success!
    • If spelling a word, the “J” only goes where the “J” goes, nowhere else and no other letter can occupy the space where the “J” goes. 100% success!
    • Activities won't require completion before going back or to the next. Partial completion is still 100% success!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Vision-Mission-Rational


Vision

That children the world over may have the Word of God freely available to them via the Internet and other current telecommunications in a manner that meets their expectations of a worthy and interesting website utilizing current and future computer technologies.


Mission

Righteous Servant will be a website to acquaint and reinforce Biblical concepts, truths, characters, stories, events and virtues with truly engaging, educational and edifying activities for children aged 3-8 years old, bringing them closer to knowledge of and a relationship with God, knowing Jesus as their Savior. The website shall be such that once a child has it in front of them, they should need no further adult assistance.


Rational

The reality is that children are and will continue to use the Internet via computers and mobile devices. There is a lot of really great stuff out there for them to interact with as well as a greater amount of crap and not to mention the downright abominable. What is lacking in the really great stuff category are quality Christian websites for kids. There are innumerable sites that claim to be Christian in nature for kids but the sad reality is that Christian developers have either missed the mark or missed the boat completely.

I have spent many hours and visited hundreds if not in the thousands of websites claiming to be Biblical in nature and providing “fun”. “interactive” ... activities and games for kids to play. A large portion of what is out there is year 2000 era style Web 1.0 stuff: hangman games, matching games, printable mazes, Jesus PacMan, catch the stars that an angel drops etc… Another portion are trivia, quizzes and games that require recalling knowledge of the Bible, not teaching it and bringing it to heart. Another segment are Bible stories that require an adult to sit with them reading and explaining as they go along. A last category are commercial products. While they may be excellent and worthy, they do not fulfill my mission of being freely available.

I have not found any websites that fit my criteria outlined next in my Markers of Excellence post. If after you read on and you know of any Christian websites for kids that meet this criteria, please forward them to me via the comments. I will check them out.