Book Info + Reviews: “Beginning Microsoft Small Basic: A Computer Programming Tutorial” by Philip Conrod & Lou Tylee

Beginning Microsoft Small Basic: A Computer Programming Tutorial (Kindle Version @

“The Beginning Microsoft Small Basic Programming Tutorial by Philip Conrod and Lou Tylee is a fun read and covers all the fundamentals of Small Basic programming.  I would recommend it to all my friends who want to learn Small Basic.  They do a great job explaining Small Basic programming in an easy to read self-paced tutorial.  I liked it so much, I got one for myself!”    – Vijaye Raji, Creator of Microsoft Small Basic


Back before Microsoft launched Microsoft Small Basic 1.0 in 2010, Philip Conrod met with Vijaye Raji, the creator of Small Basic, (pictured above) on the Microsoft Campus to discuss publishing a paperback Microsoft Small Basic programming textbook tutorial for beginners.  Vijaye thought it was a great idea and offered to review the final tutorial for completeness and accuracy.  Philip Conrod & Lou Tylee had already published dozens of programming tutorials for Microsoft BASIC, Visual Basic, Visual C# and Oracle Java so it was only natural for them to partner with Microsoft and publish the first programming tutorial for Microsoft Small Basic.  The first black and white edition was published in 2010 and a newer color edition was published in 2014 (pictured below).

The BEGINNING MICROSOFT SMALL BASIC is an interactive self-paced tutorial explaining in depth the Microsoft Small Basic programming environment using many Small Basic program examples. This course is written for the absolute beginner programmer and can be used by kids (10+) as well as adults. 

The BEGINNING MICROSOFT SMALL BASIC consists of 11 chapters explaining (in simple, easy-to-follow terms) how to build Small Basic applications and then compare them to other programming languages.  You will learn about program design, text window applications, graphics window applications and many elements of the Small Basic language. Numerous examples are used to demonstrate every step in the building process. The tutorial also includes several detailed computer programs to illustrate the fun of Small Basic programming.  These programs include a savings calculator,  a number guessing game, a card game, a state capitals game, Tic-Tac-Toe, a simple drawing program, fun logic games and a basic video game (Project Screen Shots).   Finished programs can even be published on-line to share programs with others.

The 11th chapter of the tutorial allows you to explore the source code for two different David H. Ahl’s classic Basic Computer Games ported to several different computer programming languages including Small Basic, Visual Basic, Visual C#, and Java.  These classic games include Even Wins and Mugwump.  The final chapter helps the beginning Small Basic programmer see how each of these Small Basic games could be further enhanced in another programming language.  If you have previous programming experience in either BASIC, Visual Basic, Visual C#, and Java, you can compare and contrast the Small Basic source code against any of these more complex programming languages.

The BEGINNING MICROSOFT SMALL BASIC is presented using a combination of over 500 pages of course notes and actual Small Basic examples. No programming experience is necessary, but familiarity with doing common tasks using a computer operating system (simple editing, file maintenance, understanding directory structures, working on the Internet) is expected.

Paperback: 442 pages

Publisher: Kidware Software; Color Illus. ed. edition (June 8, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1937161544

ISBN-13: 978-1937161545


About The Authors:

Philip Conrod started programming computers in 1977 after he borrowed a personal computer from his middle school math teacher over a long summer break.   He enjoyed programming so much that during high school he attended a two year Computer Programming For Business certificate program at WarrenTech where he graduated with honors in 1982.  Since then, Philip has authored, co-authored and edited numerous computer programming books for beginners.   Philip holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and a Master’s certificate in the Essentials of Business Development from Regis University.  He has also held various Information Technology leadership roles in companies like Sundstrand Aerospace, Safeco Insurance, FamilyLife, Kenworth Truck Company, and PACCAR Inc.  Today, Philip serves as the Chief Information Officer for a $2B manufacturing company based in Seattle, Washington.  In his spare time, Philip still enjoys publishing computer programming books and serves as the President & CEO of Kidware Software, LLC.    Philip makes his home with his lovely family in Maple Valley, Washington.


Lou Tylee has been programming computers since 1969 when he took his first Fortran course in college. Lou Tylee holds BS and MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering and a PhD in Electrical Engineering.  He has written software to control suspensions for high speed ground vehicles, monitor nuclear power plants, lower noise levels in commercial jetliners, compute takeoff speeds for jetliners, locate and identify air and ground traffic and to let kids count bunnies, learn how to spell and do math problems. He has written several on-line texts teaching Visual Basic, Visual C# and Java to thousands of people. He taught a beginning Visual Basic course for over 15 years at a major university. Currently, Lou works as an engineer at a major Seattle aerospace firm. He is the proud father of five children and proud husband of his special wife. Lou and his family live in Seattle, Washington.





1. Introducing Small Basic

Preview 1-1
Why Learn Small Basic? 1-2
A Brief History of Small Basic 1-4
Let’s Get Started 1-12
Downloading and Installing Small Basic 1-14
Starting Small Basic 1-18
Opening a Small Basic Program 1-21
Running a Small Basic Program 1-23
Stopping Small Basic 1-25
Summary 1-26

2. Small Basic Program Basics

Review and Preview 2-1
The Welcome Program (Revisited) 2-2
Some Rules of Small Basic Programming 2-5
Creating Small Basic Programs 2-7
Saving Small Basic Programs 2-12
Small Basic Files 2-15
Review and Preview 2-16
The Welcome Program (Revisited) 2-2

3. Your First Small Basic Program

Review and Preview 3-1
Creating a Small Basic Program 3-2
Small Basic – The First Lesson 3-6
Variables 3-6
Variable Names 3-7
Variable Types 3-8
Assignment Statement 3-10
Arithmetic Operators 3-11
String Concatenation 3-15
Comments 3-16
Program Output 3-17
Program – Sub Sandwich Party 3-21
Program Design 3-21
Program Development 3-22
Run the Program 3-25
Other Things to Try 3-26
Summary 3-28

4. Small Basic Program Design, Input Methods

Review and Preview 4-1
Program Design 4-2
Small Basic – The Second Lesson 4-4
Mathematical Functions 4-4
Program Input Methods 4-9
Input Methods Example 4-10
Program – Savings Calculator 4-14
Program Design 4-14
Program Development 4-15
Run the Program 4-18
Other Things to Try 4-20
Summary 4-22

5. Debugging, Decisions, Random Numbers

Review and Preview 5-1
Debugging a Small Basic Program 5-2
Syntax Errors 5-3
Run-Time Errors 5-6
Logic Errors 5-9
Small Basic – The Third Lesson 5-10
Logical Expressions 5-10
Comparison Operators 5-11
Logical Operators 5-14
Decisions – The If Statement 5-19
Random Number Generator 5-24
Program – Guess the Number Game 5-27
Program Design 5-27
Program Development 5-28
Run the Program 5-31
Other Things to Try 5-32
Summary 5-34

6. Small Basic Looping, Subroutines

Review and Preview 6-1
Small Basic -The Fourth Lesson 6-2
Small Basic Loops 6-2
A Brief Interlude – Guess the Number Game (Revisited) 6-12
Small Basic – The Fourth Lesson (Continued) 6-14
Small Basic Subroutines 6-14
Program – Lemonade Stand 6-18
Program Design 6-19
Program Development 6-20
Run the Program 6-27
Other Things to Try 6-29
Summary 6-30

7. More Small Basic Looping, Arrays

Review and Preview 7-1
Small Basic -The Fifth Lesson 7-2
Small Basic For Loops 7-2
Variable Arrays 7-6
“Shuffle” Method 7-11
Program – Card Wars 7-18
Program Design 7-18
Program Development 7-19
Run the Program 7-27
Other Things to Try 7-29
Summary 7-30

8. Small Basic Graphics, Mouse Methods

Review and Preview 8-1
Graphic User Interfaces (GUI) 8-2
Small Basic Graphics 8-7
Graphics Window 8-7
Colors 8-9
Pen Object 8-10
Graphics Coordinates 8-11
DrawLine Method 8-12
DrawRectangle Method 8-16
Brush Object 8-19
FillRectangle Method 8-19
Clear Method 8-22
Small Basic -The Sixth Lesson 8-23
Mouse Events 8-23
MouseDown Event 8-23
Mouse Properties 8-26
MouseMove Event 8-30
Program -Blackboard Fun 8-33
Program Design 8-33
Program Development 8-34
Run the Program 8-44
Other Things to Try 8-46
Summary 8-49

9. Timers, Animation, Keyboard Methods

Review and Preview 9-1
Timer Object 9-2
Small Basic – The Final Lesson 9-10
DrawText Method 9-10
Animation 9-12
Object Disappearance 9-21
Border Crossing 9-24
Object Erasure 9-28
Collision Detection 9-29
Keyboard Methods 9-34
KeyDown Event 9-34
Program – Balloons 9-39
Program Design 9-39
Program Development 9-40
Run the Program 9-56
Other Things to Try 9-58
Sharing a Small Basic Program 9-60
Summary 9-69

10.   More Programs

Preview 10-1
Program 1 – Computer Stopwatch 10-2
Program 2 – Loan Calculator 10-5
Program 3 – Units Conversion 10-8
Program 4 – Times Tables 10-11
Program 5 – State Capitals 10-14
Program 6 – Dice Rolling 10-20
Program 7 – Memory Game 10-24
Program 8 – Tic-Tac-Toe 10-30
Program 9 – Decode 10-35

11.   Introduction to Advanced Programming Languages

Preview 11-1
Program 1 – ACEY DUCEY 11-7
Small Basic 11-8
Visual Basic  11-12
Visual C# 11-24
Java 11-30
BASIC 11-35
Program 2 – EVEN WINS 11-37
Small Basic 11-38
Visual Basic  11-41
Visual C# 11-51
Java 11-58
BASIC 11-62
Program 3 – MUGWUMP 11-65
Small Basic 11-66
Visual Basic  11-69
Visual C# 11-77
Java 11-82
BASIC 11-86
Program 4 – LUNAR LANDER 11-87
Small Basic 11-88
Visual Basic  11-91
Visual C# 11-101
Java 11-106
BASIC 11-109



“Terrific product; terrific service. I have never had customer service that good! The people who run this company really care about whether you are a satisfied customer. And the product is good. I’m a high school teacher, and I’m teaching a first-ever computer programming class in our district. Small Basic is a great program for high school students, but the Microsoft provided tutorial is not enough. This book fills the gaps, and provides the information you need to learn Small Basic and to teach Small Basic. I am a very satisfied customer.” ​– George H. Seidel Jr. – High School Teacher

I enjoyed both books. I liked the format, Word & PDF, that way i can teach on my iPad. I’ll be back for more next year.” - Claudio Faenza, Teacher, Gainesville, FL

“My 12 year old son, Cole, has never programmed before so we bought this book not knowing what to expect. Surprisingly, my son easiy learned how to program his home computer with just this book alone (without any help from us). All he did was keep showing us the fun games he was writing every few days. He had a lot of fun creating the game projects and took a lot of pride in. Great for beginners. Highly Recommended! - Bob Nielsen, Parent, Mercer Island, WA

“Great Book for Kids, My son Loved it!!!!  My son loved the books ever since he started reading the first chapter. He was very inquisitive, learning and understanding more about computer programming. He is 11 years and I am really excited he loves it so much…..thanks for making this books so easy to understand for the kids, ITS A MUST BUY!!!!!” - Ahmed Alam, Parent, Washington

“Your Small Basic books are great!” - Neil Kendall, United Kingdom

“I have had plenty of fun reading your books about programming for hours. They were clearly written and very understandable. I think your books are worth distributing in classes at schools to inspire kids, teachers and other people in their leisure, too.  Your Small Basic and Visual Basic books are easily able to enthuse our kids during their lessons at school. Programming lessons can be so interesting, including those important aha moments, too.” - Gregor Burghardt, Teacher, Germany

“Very informative for those just starting out. Lots of examples and references.” Steve WalkerAmazon Review

I have read through the text contents and summaries and find that the book has a great deal of value for young programmers. The text is clear and concise, and has excellent explanations throughout the book explaining the basics of Small Basic. I can highly recommend it to any Parent/Child duo to enter into the world of programming. My prompting to purchase this book was to enlighten me on some of the functions used in the Free Tutorial for Small Basic. I recommend the tutorial too. My query was soon solved by the feedback I got from the author. I commend him for his help.  - Chris Einarsen (Amazon Review)


“These lessons are a highly organized and well-indexed set of lessons in the Microsoft Small Basic programming environment. Small Basic is a simplified version of the many BASIC (Basic All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) programming languages of the past. Small Basic has only 14 keywords (premised upon preexisting classes) – each providing their own set of commands (methods) and variants (overloads).  The Small Basic language is simple enough to allow programs to be written with keyboard driven input and text-only output, but powerful enough to create eye-catching graphical user interface (GUI) applications where input may come from a keyboard, a mouse, or even a touch-screen.  The Small Basic programming environment is very user-friendly – providing a context-sensitive command reference, so that the user learns the commands while typing. Each command has help on the side-bar providing an explanation of the syntax and the options available in order to complete the command. While the Small Basic environment is ideal for the youngest programmer, these tutorials are written to provide the best foundation to learn programming concepts in computer science – regardless of the language. The tutorials provide the benefit of completed real-world applications – fully documented projects from the teacher’s point of view. That is, while full solutions are provided for the teacher’s (and learner’s) benefit, projects are presented in an easy-to-follow set of lessons explaining concepts fundamental to all languages – data types, input and output, decision making, looping, built-in functions, the different types of errors (syntax versus logical), logical expressions, comparison operators, random numbers, arrays, and finally, and finally the GUI features of the language. An experienced teacher would recognize all of the above as a substantive list of topics in any first computer science course – whether for elementary, middle or secondary school students. The learner may follow the tutorials at their own pace while focusing upon context relevant information. Every bit of the lesson is remembered as it contributes to the final solution to a real-life application. The finished product is the reward, but the student is fully engaged and enriched by the process. This kind of learning is often the focus of teacher training. Every computer science teacher knows what a great deal of work is required for projects to work in this manner, and with these tutorials, the work is done by an author who understands the classroom experience. That is extremely rare!  Graduated Lessons for Every Project … Lessons, examples, problems and projects. Graduated learning. Increasing and appropriate difficulty… Great results. With these projects, there are lessons providing a comprehensive background on the programming topics to be covered. Once understood, concepts are easily applicable to a variety of applications. Then, specific examples are drawn out so that a learner can practice with the Small Basic commands. Finally, a summative program for the chapter is presented. Problems are broken down into manageable parts – the logical solution to the problem, the design of the user-interface and supporting sub-routines (code modules) come together in the finished product. By presenting lessons in this graduated manner, students are fully engaged and appropriately challenged to become independent thinkers who can come up with their own project ideas, design their own text-only or graphical user interfaces, and do their own coding. Once the process is learned, then student engagement is unlimited! I have seen student literacy improve dramatically as they cannot get enough of what is being presented.  Indeed, lessons encourage accelerated learning – in the sense that they provide an enriched environment to learn computer science, but they also encourage accelerating learning because students cannot put the lessons away once they start! Computer Science provides this unique opportunity to challenge students, and it is a great testament to the authors that they are successful in achieving such levels of engagement with consistency.  My history with the Kidware Software products: I have used single license or shareware versions for over a decade to keep up my own learning. By using these lessons, I am able to spend time on things which will pay off in the classroom. I do not waste valuable time ensconced in language reference libraries for programming environments and help screens which can never be fully remembered! These projects are examples of how student projects should be as final products – thus, the pathway to learning is clear and immediate in every project.  By following these lessons, I was able to come up with my own projects – An Equation Solver which allows a student to solve any equation that they are likely to encounter in high school, a dice game of Craps, a Financial Calculator covering all grade 12 Financial Math applications, and finally, the game of Mastermind – where I presently have a “Mastermind Hall of Fame” for the best solutions by students over the years. I have made several applications for hardware interfacing in Computer Technology class. I could do all of this only because of these lessons by Kidware Software! The exciting thing is that all of the above could also be done in other BASIC or Visual Studio languages – such as QBasic, Small Basic, Visual C# or Visual C++, though I first learned to do the programming using Kidware Software’s “Learn Visual Basic”. For me to go from one language to another is now an inevitable outcome!  With these lessons, I am able to concentrate on the higher order thinking skills presented by the problem, and not be chained to a language reference in order to get things done! In the Beginning Small Basic tutorials, the authors have provided a final chapter where 3 popular programs are presented in Small Basic, Visual Basic, Visual C#, Java and QBasic – just to emphasize how concepts and ideas are transferable from one language to another.  If I want to use or expand upon some of the projects for student use, then I take advantage of site-license options. I have found it very straight forward to emphasize the fundamental computer science topics that form the basis of these projects when using them in the classroom. Quick learning curve for teachers! How teachers can use the product: Having projects completed ahead of time can allow the teacher to present the design aspect of the project FIRST, and then have students do all of their learning in the context of what is required in the finished product. This is a much faster learning curve than if students designed all of their own projects from scratch. Lessons concentrating on a unified outcome for all make for much more streamlined engagement for first-time students of computer programming, as they complete more projects within a short period of time and there is a context for everything that is learned.   Meet Different State and Provincial Curriculum Expectations and More. Different states and provinces have their own curriculum requirements for computer science. With the Kidware Software products, you have at your disposal a series of projects which will allow you to pick and choose from among those which best suit your curriculum needs. Students focus upon design stages and sound problem-solving techniques from a computer-science perspective. In doing so, they become independent problem-solvers, and will exceed the curricular requirements of elementary, middle and secondary schools everywhere. Useable projects – out of the box !  The specific projects covered in the Beginning Microsoft Small Basic tutorials are suitable for grade 6 and above: Sub Sandwich Party, Savings Calculator, Guess the Number Game, Lemonade Stand, Card Wars, Blackboard Fun, Balloons, Computer Stopwatch, Loan Calculator, Units Conversion, Times Tables, State Capitals, Dice Rolling, Memory Game, Tic-Tac-Toe, Decoder/Encoder, and classic games such as Even Wins, Mugwump, and Lunar Lander.  As you can see, there is a high degree of care taken so that projects are age-appropriate. You can begin teaching the projects on the first day. It’s easy for the teacher to have done their own learning by starting with the solution files. Then, they will see how all of the parts of the lesson fall into place. Even a novice teacher could make use of the accompanying lessons. The lessons will provide more than just the coding of the solution – they will provide the correct context for the coding decisions which were made, and provide help in the investigation of related functions. Students then experiment with projects of their own making.  How to teach students to use the materials. Teachers can introduce the style of presentation (lesson, examples, end-of-chapter problems) to the students in such a way that they quickly grasp how to use the lessons on their own. The lessons are provided so that students may trust the order of presentation in order to have sufficient background information for every project. But the lessons are also highly indexed, so that students may pick and choose projects if limited by time.  How to mark the projects.  In a classroom environment, it is possible for teachers to mark student progress by asking questions during the various design and coding stages. Teachers can make their own written quizzes easily from the reference material provided, but I have found the requirement of completing projects (mastery) sufficient for gathering information about student progress – especially in the later grades.  Lessons encourage your own programming extensions.  Once concepts are learned, it is difficult to NOT know what to do for your own projects.  Once having done my own projects in one language, such as Small Basic, I know that I could easily adapt them to other languages once I have studied the Kidware Software tutorials. I do not believe there is any other reference material out there which would cause me to make the same claim! In fact, I know there is not as I have spent over a decade looking!  Having used Kidware Software tutorials for the past decade, I have to say that I could not have achieved the level of success which is now applied in the variety of many programming environments which are currently of considerable interest to kids! I thank Kidware Software and its authors for continuing to stand for what is right in the teaching methodologies which work with kids – even today’s kids where competition for their attention is now so much an issue.” - Alan Payne, B.A.H. , B.Ed. Computer Science Teacher T.A. Blakelock High School Oakville, Ontario (Amazon Review)


“Dartmouth College professors John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz invented the BASIC programming language in 1964 so that non-engineering students could get some valuable experience with these new things called computers. That version of BASIC was wildly successful, spawning uncountable successors. Programming in that first BASIC was really fun, and it was amazing what could be done with those 15 statements and 10 functions. As computers and their programming languages became more complex, a lot of the fun in programming went away. So Microsoft decided to invent (and make freely available, not insignificantly for them) a simple new version of Basic, Small Basic, to put the fun back into programming and possibly attract a new generation of programmers. This book is an excellent guide to getting started with this language.  The book is large, with more than 400 8 ½ by 11 inch pages. There are plenty of excellent illustrations and example snippets of code for the student to enter and try out. The first couple of chapters provide an excellent introduction for a student who knows the essentials of Windows and the PC but has no prior programming experience. New concepts are introduced in a logical way. First, the standard text window is discussed, then simple looping and subroutines are covered, and this leads to the graphics window and how events, like clicking the mouse or pressing a key, are handled. Techniques of animation are covered, because most kids are in love with games. By reading the text and following the coding examples, students will be able to create their own simple games. What better way for kids to learn programming than to use it to create something they love!  One chapter contains the code for 9 interactive programs to show how all of these programming structures and features can be combined to create really interesting programs, and the final chapter takes three sample programs (Even Wins, Mugwumps, and Lunar Lander) and shows the code for these programs in five popular programming languages: Small Basic, Visual Basic, Visual C#, Java, and a generic Basic.  The book covers it all, from a great introduction to what programming is all about to the specific syntax and structure of a Small Basic program. This is good because, currently, proper documentation for Small Basic is somewhat lacking; it does exist, but Microsoft doesn’t make it very easy to find. The advice and suggestions given in the book are spot on. I think this book is valuable in two ways. For a self-motivated student who wants to learn a nice beginning programming language, the book provides an excellent tutorial. Everything the student will need to create and run text window or graphics window programs is here. Secondly, this book can be used as a complete curriculum for teaching students about introductory programming. I currently am using the book to teach programming to middle-school students (ages 11-14), and the book is also excellent in that regard. Microsoft does make freely available a “curriculum” consisting of a series of PowerPoint slides, but I don’t believe that using these slides would be as effective as using this book. All teachers know that kids learn best when they are having fun. This book helps put the fun in this new language from Microsoft, and it is an excellent and valuable resource.” - Donald M. Shepherd, Teacher, Louisville, Kentucky

“Hayden (age 13) was excited to try out this course!  Hayden was able to sit right down and begin the first lesson without any help from me whatsoever.  Hayden was so excited that he actually made something work!  He came running downstairs jumping up and down and couldn’t wait to show me!  His enthusiasm and interest in the course began to skyrocket.  He thought that was pretty cool.  He has not encountered any difficulties or problems in completing the first 4 chapters, and he told me it has been really easy to use and follow. I love that he can complete this course independently.  I think the cost of the downloadable course is very reasonable, and with the enjoyment he’s gotten from using it so far I can definitely envision purchasing the next semester course when he finishes with this one. I would definitely recommend this course to others!” - Kelly B.

So far we have found working in the Small Basic environment easy and that ease relates right back to the straight forward and uncomplicated methods that are taught in Beginning Microsoft Small Basic. Each concept is thoroughly explained and examples are given throughout the material. From the download of the material to working with the material we have had no problems, glitches, etc. So far I would have to say our favorite lesson has been 5, Debugging, Decisions, Random Numbers. This chapter has taught us what causes Syntax, Run-Time, and Logic Errors. Off and on I will get Run-Time Errors on my computer. Now we know the basics of why that might happen. I think Beginning Microsoft Small Basic is a great product that students can learn much from and the economical price helps too. - Diane K.

“Having the chance to test drive Beginning Microsoft Small Basic has been one of the highlights of our spring semester. This is a super easy to use, easy to succeed at, beginning programming course for your homeschool student! I’ve been looking for something like this for a long time and was not disappointed!  Both Feeche (12th grade) and Cub (7th grade), with no previous programming experience have spent hours delving into this curriculum.  If your kids are like mine, go ahead and purchase both at once; they’ll love it, cruise through it, and beg for more! A must have for any conscientious homeschooling family.  Content- excellent, Organization – excellent, Presentation – excellent.” Lisa N

“I used this tutorial with my ten year old son. This tutorial was very easy to use and very easy to follow. Computers can be intimidating, especially if you have no programming experience, but the Beginning Microsoft Small Basic tutorial made it quite joyful to learn.   My son and I really enjoyed using the Beginning Microsoft Small Basic tutorial together; this was our mother/son time in the evenings. Even though my son was on the younger end of the age spectrum for this product, I feel he did really well with it.. I feel that this is an excellent, thorough, beginner’s course for computer programming. We plan to continue this course and then look into other courses that Computer Science For Kids offers.” - Sarah Avila

“I knew Charles (my 12 year old) would have an interest in learning basic programming.  He took off through the lessons. There were times when he did even more than two lessons for the week. The lessons were easy for him to comprehend for the most part. He worked through entirely self-directed.  Despite the amount of reading, he has had only good things to say about the program. He’s very excited about all he’s learning. And he often chooses to do the program even if I haven’t assigned it for the day.  This has definitely been successful for us, and I’m glad we’ve had the opportunity to use it.- Leah Courtney

“Liz quickly became very comfortable with the lessons and completed them all by herself and called me {constantly} to come see her fun little creations.    I was impressed with this narrative.  She likes the “games.” She likes the control and learning how changing just one letter or character can change the whole program. Her analytical mind at work! I love that she is learning about computers.   It’s great help to her in math since she has to calculate the size of shapes or borders within the graphics. She was all proud of herself and showing me all these little “games” she wrote.  It’s like a new toy! - Jennifer Lambert

“It is easy to use and takes you step by step through writing a code for different applications.  I loved how much fun my girls were having and I loved how much they were enjoying learning. They enjoyed this program so much that during non-school hours they would be in the Small Basic application trying to write new programs based on the coding they had previously learned.  Sometimes they would go back to an older lesson and expand the program to include coding ideas from their current lesson.   Thoughts from Tailorbear (14 Years Old, 8th grade):  I have… wondered about computer programming for a long time, but I never found the materials needed for doing it. I liked this curriculum.  It taught me how to do cool programs that make it like you’re actually “talking to” something! Put your name into a paragraph, or sentence, (input) and the computer responds! Over all this program teaches me the basic computer programming language!  Thoughts from daughter Turtlegirl (15 Years Old, 10th Grade), “ I have really wanted to try computer programming, so I was thrilled when we got this. The Classes were easy to understand (except for some typos) and I really enjoyed doing this. I like how they encourage you to play around with the programs and experiment. I enjoyed typing the code and seeing what it would do as a program. I had a lot of fun using this program. For the most part, it’s simple and easy. They start you off with the most basic of the basics and then start introducing more difficult concepts. I highly recommend this for those who wish to begin their study of computer programming.”  Thoughts from Boobear (17 Years Old, 12th Grade):  “ I enjoy giving the computer commands and seeing them followed. It is very satisfying to see that I made that. This curriculum makes it very easy to understand how this particular computer language works. It is also interesting to know the history behind it as well. I like creating things and seeing that they are successful, and work. It is fascinating to create programs and this curriculum makes it easy to do.”  “I was afraid this program would have been too simplistic or young for my teenagers; however, it has been an excellent fit. Challenging enough because it’s new material but simple enough that they are having fun and building their confidence.  Each of them has stated that they want to learn more about computer programming and learn more computer programming languages!” - Tess

“If you have been thinking about adding programming to your lessons this year, I would highly recommend that you check out all the courses that Computer Science For Kids offers. - Eddie D.

“Captain C is 13 and this is perfect for him. I don’t have to sit with him and do it all, but he does it at the kitchen table so I can be close by to help if needed.  C is really enjoying it and I’m glad we got to review this.  I think the price is very fair considering the quality of the lessons.  Kids these days have such a bend towards video games and computers so I’m thrilled to have found this where he can still have that outlet, but be learning and building too. - Leslie E.

“My son is 10.5 and he is interested in computers and anything “techie”. He is right at the beginning target market for this tutorial, which is ages 10 and up. The tutorial is self-paced which is great for a child just entering into the programming world. Just when I would think he was going to complain or be confused, he’d amaze me with his understanding.” - Heather H.

“We recently were able to use the Beginning Microsoft Small Basic program (recommended ages 10 plus) for our 11 year old son with great success.  I really like this hands-on approach as it speaks to my learning style and I think my son was able to grasp the material without having too much further instruction.  All in all we enjoyed using Computer Science For Kids and discovering what Microsoft Small Basic could do. I would recommend using this program to get your youngster started as a computer programmer or at least give them the exposure and knowledge that there’s more to that pretty little icon that sits on your desktop.” - Michele P.

“Like many children today, Luke has a strong interest in programming. He’s had some experience with different programming languages, and seems to have a knack for it.   Luke enjoyed working through the program and I was glad to have him work through a systematic course, since much of what he has learned in the realm of computer programming is self-taught.” - Courtney L.

“”When he finished any programs he wrote, he was very quick to show me. He was super excited that he was able to do it all by himself. A few times, him and daddy had a great time playing around to see what different options she could come up with! Lessons are not super long, so he usually does a couple at a time. He is almost completed with the whole book. He just has so much fun, he sometimes plays with certain lessons more than others! This was a great program for him to do, and get to see a bit more inside look of what a computer programmer does.  Monkey Man really enjoyed the program. He had lots of fun creating things, and showing off his work. He also liked that it was not long and drawn out. I think that was one of the main things that kept his attention. I have been reading the e-book when he is not using it. I must tell you just browsing over that I have learned a lot. I actually have considered giving myself a shot at it, see how bad I do. It’s a pretty neat program!!! - Monica B.

“This curriculum has been super easy to implement and has required almost no effort from me. Yay!  I’ve been impressed with his ability to learn the concepts being taught and immediately implement them into his own programs. He hasn’t been copying the sample programs, but synthesizing the new information and creating something purely his own.  We like Beginning Microsoft Small Basic and recommend it (without reservation) for kids (and adults) ages 10 and up who want to learn about programming.” - Susan A.

“I must to confess, I was very nervous prior to this review as I have no programming experience and was unsure how well I would cope with overseeing this program. I am glad to say it was much easier than I imagined : )  Don’t let the fear of programming put you off – this is a wonderfully easy curriculum to use and it has given Lilly great confidence and encouraged her to experiment more with our computer. - Zelda A.

“For us the books were very easy to follow. Yes, I say us. I couldn’t help but do this along with my son. Learning like this is so fun that it doesn’t even feel like learning. Isn’t that how it should be?” - Alyson Brown.

“ I know, you are thinking WHAT, computer programming??? Don’t despair, this curriculum isn’t as complicated as the name lets on. In fact, you don’t even need to have any previous computer programming experience. One of the biggest things he was impressed with was the ease of use. He said everything was clearly laid out and not once did he ever become confused on what he was to do.”  - Jenn P.

“Beginning Microsoft Small Basic is a computer programming course that starts right at the very beginning. It is intended for kids aged 10 and up, but my nine-year old had no problem sitting down and working it on his own without any instruction or help or previous experience in programming.  He just opened both the lesson file and the Small Basic program and worked through the lesson. It was so simple and easy to use this program that he did it completely and totally on his own. He would spend 30 minutes to an hour (as long as I would let him, really) and would do from half a lesson to a lesson in a sitting. I am not a techie person, but Nate had many a conversation with his dad about what he was learning and my husband was quite impressed.  Nate had so much fun with this program! He loved learning what to type to make things happen: background colors changing; a turtle drawing shapes; writing words; making fractals; and then watching them happen.  Nate loved this program well enough that he asked to use it several times a day. And I always had to wrestle him back off of it. He was quick to remind me that he needed to do it, because it was, after all, school, and not just playing on the computer. He has not completely finished the program, but rest assured, he will make sure that he does complete it.   I loved that his dad and I were able to relax and let him work on Small Basic because he is not just playing around, but is learning a useful and even vital skill that he can use the rest of his life. We are pleased with the start that Small Basic gave him into the programming world. - Laura Hoggard.

“Beginning Microsoft Small Basic is a computer programming course that teaches the basics of computer programming codes and language. There is no prior computer programming experience needed to begin this course! Which I was happy to find out because I have none:)   The first lesson really got her engaged in learning about the history of computers. One of the things that she commented about was how she loved the author’s style of writing. It surprised her that it was written in a lively way. Michelle had a preconceived notion that learning the codes of programming would be boring and to the point, just letters and numbers. Which was one of the reasons that delayed her interest in the world of computer programming. When it got time to learning the codes and playing the games I haven’t seen her off of the computer since. Michelle has made it through seven chapters during the review period and if life was just about computer programming I am sure she would have completed it all the way. DJ and Ken have also had a blast and can’t wait to get their turn to participant in this independent study of computer programming since they have watched alongside Michelle coding games.  Some of the things I like about this course is that it can be done independently, each lesson builds on the previous lesson, and the program promotes self correcting. As soon as I can I will also start to do this course myself too, I’ll be sure to update you all when that time comes. - Michelle

“I was pleasantly surprised that it was simple enough for my 11 year old daughter to use AND simple enough for me to use! My daughter is a lot like me (not really interested in techie stuff) so we were both starting from the absolute beginning which is where this program starts. I believe short daily lessons of this (rather than trying to rush through) would be the best way to use this when you are starting at the beginning like my daughter and I did.   I would recommend this curriculum to others interested in learning about computer science because it really is easy to use. The suggested age is 10 and up and that would be my recommendation also. - Joy Capps

“My son had programmed in Visual Basic, which is a similar language, before. So he found parts of the program easy, especially at the beginning.  He enjoyed using the program and found it very user friendly.  I like the fact that the curriculum covers more than just simple concepts. It introduces arrays and looping, which are crucial for more complicated programs. It also covers graphics, which of course is fun for the kids.  We both thought this curriculum provides an excellent introduction to computer programming that isn’t overly difficult for a beginner, but still provides plenty of challenge.”  - Anne G.

“I often say that I have a love/hate relationship with technology. As stated above I am not a techy girl, I had no trouble understand the lessons and even found them to be engaging instead of dull. I was able to write my first  program using the lessons provided and I was so excited that I did it all by myself!  My poor husband had no idea what I was talking about, but he got that I was pretty excited!    The price of the Beginning Small Basic Tutorial is very reasonable, I feel for a course this detailed. “ - Aurie Good

“The program is written in easy to follow terms. My son that used this program is a high school Junior so he worked on his own.   He has enjoyed working through the program and getting to learn how to do some Basic programming.  It has been very well explained and he didn’t have any trouble following the directions.  He has come and told me numerous times that he thinks this program is really cool.  He is looking forward to getting through the rest of the program.  - Dana B.

“I was very impressed with the amount of information packed into each chapter.  I like that the instructions are mixed within the reading, making the reading more interesting and keep Joey’s focus. I am definitely leaving this program as part of Joey’s weekly schoolwork.  Who knows what he may start creating?  The price also makes it a very affordable option for families to use.” - Renita Kuehner

“She had a blast & every little bit she would holler at everyone to see what she had done.  Beginning Microsoft Small Basic programming tutorial teaches very basic programming and is written for children ages 10 and up or adults who have never tried their hand at computer programming.  The directions were very easy for her to understand.  Amber loves working with the small basic program and she is already asking for more. This is a great program for a beginner programmer. It was easy enough for her to use & she was very excited with the results of her work.” - Lisa McClanahaan

“Joshua worked completely independently on this program.  Joshua says he loved the program.  He can’t wait to finish up and to move on to bigger programs and projects.  I loved the idea that working with the basic program would afford him the effort to work on practical logic when he ran into a problem.  It also helps to encourage him to work carefully and how to proof-read before he runs the program to avoid errors to begin with.  Additionally, the simple and easy to use programs helped Joshua to think about how those programs could be used in everyday life.  Perhaps these simple programs may inspire him to explore money-making projects or a personal saving program.  The fact that Joshua could work through the material on his own was helpful to me because it gave me time to work one-on-one with Hannah on other school material.  Also, it help him discover the need to plan his own work time effectively.  It was really interesting to hear about how working through the program is leading to an interest in further programming instruction.” - Karen M.

“I have to say, I have been pleasantly surprised.  Microsoft Small Basic is a computer programming course; but, it is more like a guided road map through computer programming. The kids have been enjoying it because they like being able to tell the computer how to ‘do math’ for them. For my high school age kids, this course is going to be listed as Computer Programming on their transcripts.  Until now, I just had them go through basic keyboarding skills.  This takes their computer knowledge to an entirely new level.  I recommend Microsoft Small Basic for anyone, pre-teen through adult, who wants to learn about how computer programs are put together and how to create basic computer programs.  It is easy to follow, although, as with most computer things, there is a learning curve.  You will learn terminology and skills that are incredibly useful in our computerized world.” - Sarah Dugger

My daughter has been doing this program 3 days a week.  She is really enjoying herself.  I haven’t had to step in and help her at all.  The one time she asked for help I leaned over her shoulder to see what she was doing and she figured it out before I was even able to read two lines of what she typed.  she works on her lessons and then calls me over when she is finished so I can watch what she has accomplished.  I do recommend this program.  With the dependency on computers it would be beneficial for your children to have an understanding of basic computer language and programming. - Lori L.

River is enjoying working through the tutorial. The logic of computer programming – you get what you code – is such a great concept for him to learn. When creating the few programs he already has, he sees the importance of taking the time to decide exactly what he wants the program to do before coding it, because What you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG).  Although the concentration is in the Small Basic environment, the course is presented in such an easy to understand manner that removes the fear of learning some stronger and more advanced programming languages, like Visual Basic and Java, which are introduced in the last chapter. I think that this is going to be a great springboard for him as he moves into some of those other languages. Computer Science for Kids also offers tutorials in those areas.  Conrod and Tylee have created a curriculum that has opened the doors to programming for the young programmer.” - Jennifer S.

“I was very pleased with my purchase of the Beginning Microsoft Small Basic tutorial. I have been using the activities provided with my GCSE Computing students and they have served me well. The tutorials have given my students a good insight into computer programming in a very engaging manner.” -Munsoor Shahzad, Head of Computing and ICT Beckfoot School, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Many Thanks to Philip and Lou for partnering with Microsoft and publishing the Beginning Microsoft Small Basic programming tutorial.  It has really helped many beginning programmers learn Microsoft Small Basic!

Small and Basically yours,

– Ninja Ed

Comments (0)

Skip to main content