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'Crayons and Computers'       Send a link to a friend

[APRIL 27, 2005]  "Crayons and Computers: Computer Art Activities for Kids Ages 4 to 8," by Carol Sabbeth, Chicago Review Press, 1998, 139 pages

Review by
Louella Moreland

Are you looking for a great way to use the family computer with your kids but are concerned that too many computer games could be stifling their creative juices? Check out Carol Sabbeth's book "Crayons and Computers," full of great projects to use with the computer. Projects can be made with either a Macintosh or a PC with Windows. All that is needed is a computer and printer (color ink is optional). Some projects do require adult supervision and are so noted.

An introduction in the front of the book tells parents or teachers what materials will be needed, along with a comparison of the basic software, tools and options. Pros and cons of software are also briefly discussed, and anyone unfamiliar with the use of "drawing" software can pick up a few hints on these pages. Before using it with a child, exploration with the actual software by an adult would probably be a good idea. Children who are adept with mouse and computer may already have explored the use of this software.

Chapters are set up to explore the use of color. Beginning with primary colors, Ms. Sabbeth goes on to explain "temperature" of colors, complementary colors, seasonal colors and how colors can make you feel. Famous artists are covered in Chapter 2 with a brief explanation of their life, style of art and how to create a project based on their style. Not all projects are two-dimensional either! From a water lily picture in Monet's impressionistic style, to a decorated cereal box a la Van Gogh, to Pixel Cartoon books like Walt Disney movies, visual art is explored, explained and brought into a child's world with easy-to-complete projects using common materials from home… and the family computer.

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According to the author, Mother Nature's colors may by far be the most useful. Children explore habitats and the way insects and animals perceive, through learning how colors attract mates, how camouflage helps them hide or how warning markings protect. Projects with a "disappearing" fish or an earthworm can teach scientific principles in a fresh, innovative way.

Sprinkled throughout "Crayons and Computers" are interesting history lessons. Did you know that the color purple came about by accident? A young chemist was trying to make a substitute for a medicine. While mixing chemicals, William Henry Perkin noticed a purple-colored substance that he thought could be used to dye cloth. Spending the life savings of his father and older brother, the family did market the new product, making Perkin a wealthy man. They called the new color "mauve."

A chapter of the book is devoted to Internet exploring as well. Along with a bibliography, index, charts comparing software, and helpful hints to adults and educators, this book offers many ways to expand computer use by kids.

To check out this book or more conventional craft and project books, visit us at the Lincoln Public Library, 725 Pekin St.

[Louella Moreland, youth services librarian,
Lincoln Public Library District]

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