It should be news to no one that Turtle Art is our favorite environment for introducing kids and their teachers to the world of computer science, programming, and computational fluency. This focused and block-based version of the Logo programming language benefits from being:
- Simple with a low threshold and no ceiling
Turtle Art allows users to communicate mathematical ideas to the computer in service of creating beautiful 2D art.
Getting Started with Turtle Art
One way to get started learning Turtle Art and learning to learn with Turtle Art is to recreate the programs created by others. Turtle Art designers, Brian Silverman, Paula Bonta, and Artemis Papert, created countless examples of images generated by Turtle Art. I have turned those designs into printable activity “cards” you may use yourself or with students.
A thumbnail of the image created by the program accompanies its block-based “code.” Recreate the program on your computer, run the program, check its results against the image on the activity card, debug if necessary. Then read the code, try to understand it, and then modify or extend the program – make it your own.
This process is no mere copying.
At its heart, it is a literacy activity. Read, think, understand, debug, and “remix” the program to make it your own.
Download the new Turtle Art Activity Cards
The Genius of Turtle Art
Turtle Art allows students to use mathematical reasoning, problem solving, counting, measurement, geometry and computer programming to create beautiful images.
Turtle Art uses block programming like Scratch, but there is only one turtle, no multimedia, and projects are focused on the creation of art through the use of mathematics. The genius of Turtle Art is that you can drag and drop an image from the Turtle Art website into the software and the static picture includes the blocks that created it. Borrow a block or two, remix a project, and when you save or email it to a friend, it looks like a normal graphics file in PNG format. Open that same file in the Turtle Art program and its blocks reappear!
Turtle Art allows you to build a piece of art from scratch or by reassembling someone else’s “painting.” Young children and adult artists alike are amazed by how easy it is to create beautiful images out of mathematics.
Learn more about Turtle Art
- Visit the Turtle Art site to request the the free software app for your computer. (Mac/Windows)
- Purchase the paid iPad app from the iTunes store
- Download Gary Stager’s Early Turtle Art activities for classrooms
- New programming environments for learning, including the web-based Turtle Art (Fall 2020)
- Learn more about why software like Turtle Art is a terrific way to learn coding in our book – Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom.