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TUAW's Parenting List 


Got a favorite application, website or widget for Mac-loving parents? Let us know about it below. If you want editing access to this page, leave a comment at this post and we'll invite you onboard.


Show outline


Set up a "Kid Mac"


Find your Mac


  • What kind of Mac is appropriate? A G3 is probably as old as you're going to want to go. It can run OS 9 well (OS X moderately, depnding on the Mac) and you'll still be able to find compatible software and hardware.
  • Where to get an old Mac. Several options -- Ebay, Craigslist, The Low End Mac Swap List, schools, the town dump (if you have one). Retailers sometimes sell refurbished old machines for a discounted price.
  • Identify the Mac you've got. Mactracker, baby.
  • This is a good website that details each computer, code name, etc.: http://www.apple-history.com/
  • If you're really ambitious, anything above a tray-load iMac will run Tiger. You can even manage to get Tiger onto a tray-load if you take the hard drive out, image it separately using an IDE to USB converter and then put the hard drive back into the machine. This is not pretty, but it's possible. You will need a "take apart manual" for those tray load iMacs. Not for the faint of heart.
  • Most of those old iMac G3s (the gumdrop flavors) come with a standard 10GB HD. You may need to really strip down the image. Remove anything unnecessary from the OS and folders, just be careful. Make sure OS9 is not installed. That will save some room. You can also clear out the receipts files and get rid of most all the printer drivers. I've used Monolingual in the past to strip out all the extra language files, but be really careful with that one. And, make sure you install any special language learning software, like BYKI, AFTER you run something like Monoligual. Learned that one the hard way, duh.
  • Our son is only 21 months old and I set up a Tangerine slot-load iMac for him. Someone was getting rid of it and gave it to us. Right now it's just got AlphaBaby and iTunes loaded onto it. The DVD drive was busted and we salvaged that from my husband's old Bondi iMac that was still being held together with duct tape! We also replaced the hard drive with a slightly larger one. (I think. Or maybe that was some other Frankenstein project.) The only thing I don't like about the cute little Tangerine is the wireless airport card is so old it won't except our WiFi security key. It doesn't work with WPA2. He's not even 2 so it's not like he even needs the internet anyhow, so that's ok. By the time he is old enough, maybe something better will come along from someone else's Spring Cleaning.
  • Configuration for a Kindergarten-aged child and under: see my Vimeo space for a slideshow tutorial I set up a while ago. It's for Tiger and I'll make a new one when I upgrade to Leopard. This setup has been working so great on my laptop. When my toddler climbs up next to me, he signs "book" and when I click on the user switch icon and the screen flips the cube, he gets so excited. It's a hoot. http://www.vimeo.com/TheMacMommyBlackboard


Find your software


  • OS - same locations as above. Avoid 9.0. I like 9.0.4, personally. Don't forget you can use the machine-specific CDs that shipped with your Mac originally if you can find them.
  • Others ... see below :)
  • Another shameless plug, but I have a boatload of links on my website for all this kind of stuff. www.themacmommy.com and then click on the learning links hyperlink (unfortunately since I'm using GoDaddy.com and my free ISP webspace, the links are masked or something like that. I don't quite understand how this redirection thing works yet, but here is the physical link: http://members.cox.net/themacmommy/themacmommy/learning_links.html (one of these days I will try to tweak that on my site and see what's up with that)

Language education



Math Magic rocks, teacher and kids love it, they can even print out little certificates and little kids love rewards for a job well done







Starfall - free, my son LOOOOOOOOVES this. His favorite letter is "i" right now. We just do the ABCs, but it's really great for pre- preschool.


TumbleBooks (paid subscription, but ask your school Library if they subscribe and can give you their user name and password to use for free)


If you use the trial and want to see a really really great TumbleBook, check out "One Duck Stuck" it's awesome.


Art/Creative Play

TuxPaint! That is my favorite kid art app. I could talk about that for days. A couple of months ago, I went nutty and scoured the web for TTF fonts for it and picked out my 100 top kid-friendly, kid-pleasing fonts (out of a few thousand). The default fonts that come with it are, well, they suck, ok. If you tell it to load the system fonts it doesn't always play nice depending on what you did with your fonts. If you have a background in graphics, chances are you probably have lots of extra fonts. TuxPaint can choke on them and give you spinning beachball of death love. Kids are impatient so as it is. You do not want spinning beachball of death when they are having a meltdown over wanting some computer play time.


One of the next projects I plan on doing will be a How to Hack TuxPaint review. I'd like to cover how to best configure the admin settings based on my experiences with labs full of kids using it. (trust me, in a lab setting, turn off the freakin sound settings unless you want to start hearing voices in your head speaking Tux Tongues) I've installed TuxPaint on several hundred computers while I was a Site Tech at 2 elementary schools. Kids loooooove TuxPaint. I once had 2 Kindergarten classes draw their "self portraits" using TuxPaint. I fished out all the files and got them printed on a color printer at the school and then I made 2 huge murals for them to decorage the computer lab.


Tux Paint is the modern replacement for KidPix. Kids are downright addicted to KidPix if there are still old systems running it. KidPix is like crack for some kids. I had a heck of a time trying to upgrade a school from OS9 to OSX because of KidPix. I had to go toe to toe (or mouse to mouse) if you will with several first graders to convince them of Tux Paint's worthiness. (the trick is to get the kids hooked on Tux Paint on a couple of machines before you go pulling the plug on KidPix) (yeah, it's reall that bad.) [Worth noting that KidPix 3x Deluxe works just fine on OS X --mtr]


Start things off with a trip over to the Tux Paint website and before even trying it out, view the Gallery. It's got Tux Paint art from kids of all ages from ALL OVER THE WORLD!  http://tuxpaint.org/



I normally don't play many "games" unless they are educational. This game is just kind of fun, really addictive, challenging and not really educational per se, but it sure does work your hand-eye coordination as well as rhythm. I guess it sort of tricks you into being educational? It also helps if you like INXS. There is an online, Mac and Windows version. I have found the BEST way to play this game is with a Wacom Tablet and stylus. Don't blame me if you lose a day to this game, ok?





Here is a great way to stay in touch and brighten someone's day. If you own a newer Mac with a built in camera, then you probably already know that you have a really fun toy built right into your Mac — Photo Booth! Put a smile on someone's face today and take a snapshot of you and the kid(s) and email it off in seconds! Mess around with the special effects and watch the look on your little one's faces as they explore different colors and morphing! Have fun!

My husband really enjoys getting a snapshot of our son sent to him at work that he can see when he checks email on his break. He says it really brightens his day. He also enjoys sharing some pics with other co-workers, especially the school Librarians who love to coo over babies!




If you can swing it, an old Wacom Tablet can be loads of fun. a new one, even better! My Wacom tablet is about 7 years old and still works. They are pretty good about keeping up with their drivers. I read that mine will still work with Leopard for when I upgrade, but only time will tell.



Keyboarding Skills


4th Graders especially love this typing game

(I have lots of other games I can lookup some other time, but this one is my favorite right now)

Arcade Typing Tutor is another. I haven't tried this on recently, so that will be YOUR homework! If you can get it to work, it's really fun and at the end it makes noises that sound like Homer Simpson and it says "Game over man!"




Comments (3)

TheMacMommy said

at 3:47 pm on Apr 12, 2008

will try to add more later today and tomorrow after getting taxes done :)

TheMacMommy said

at 3:47 pm on Apr 12, 2008

I've got a BUNCH of stuff to share, can't wait to crank it out :)

TheMacMommy said

at 8:14 am on Apr 13, 2008

Well, I eeked out a few more things on here. There are so many I'd like to share, but it would take weeks to get through! See you all Sunday night! :)

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