These penpal "how-to" pages are a long-term homeschool project for me (Thomas).   I am being evaluated both on writing skills and HTML web publishing abilities.   Any comments or suggestions as to my technique - aimed at literate kids under age 16 - would be appreciated.

Three guys and a computer

This starts a collection of penpal hints and tips to help you enjoy the thrill of friends outside your usual circle. From around the world, or living lives different from your own. Check the menu above for the pages you want. Having penpals means exchanging email "letters" to each other when it is convenient. You learn a lot more than by "chatting" or "messaging" online, since it is more detailed. I don't think you lose anything by not having instant responses. In fact, such friendships are usually more fulfilling and last much longer. And your time zones don't matter. You penpal whenever it is convenient for you. To understand how and why the three of us do it the way we do, you need to know a little about us. More detailed profiles are yours for the asking.

Actually we are really three guys and five computers. We love computers, the internet, and writing to penpals, e-friends. Thomas is 14. Trevor is now 12. We are brothers and moved out here to the Pacific coast of the USA two years ago from the mid-south. We homeschool (the only reason is just being sick of classrooms, and Mom has the time to oversee what we do) and we are online all the time. Timmy is our nextdoor neighbor and is just like another brother. Timmy is 9. We have all been writing to penpals and doing stuff online for a long time.

xxx We each have our own e-mail penpals, but all of us follow the same rules about writing and treating our penpals well -- if they write back to us also. If they try to share with us and be interesting. It's surprising how many kids who advertise for penpals don't like to read and write. Having penpals is a great experience, but it is a two-way thing. Unfortunately, most new penpals stop writing in the first few weeks. So it's a game of finding several penpals, knowing that most of them will quit on you right away. Sometimes one of us will place a penpal ad on one of the penpal sites, but mostly we like to read ads and respond to ones that sound promising. So if you didn't say very much interesting in your penpal ad, you shouldn't expect people to respond to it.

If you made it down this far in reading this webpage, then you have what it takes to have e-friends online. If you are tired of reading already, maybe you are one of the 3-out-of-4 kids that is unable to express themself with written words. Too bad. Penpals is a hobby for those who like to read and write. Sorry. Just texting and tweeting isn't good enough.

xxx This part of the website might be able to help you improve your penpal skills and find or keep more penpals and enjoy having real friends online. The entire website, with articles and explanations about computers and the internet written just for kids 9-15, is a project for Thomas's schoolwork, but it is under construction and may not have much content for a while yet. The Treehouse forum for kids will be online very soon - ask us about it. This part, at, is a way to publish helpful tips, provide profile information on the three of us, and maybe help our e-friends, old and new.

Here are profiles on the three of us, written mostly by the other two:

Timmy (9) Timmy is our next-door neighbor. He is in the 4th grade and he stays over here before and after school. It's just him and his mom and she works during the day. He has been like another brother to both of us for more than a year now, as long as we have been at this house. He helped build his own computer from old parts and he hits the wireless router from his bedroom. But most of the time he gets on from our house. We always have a free computer here. He is good with words and he imitates what we do online. Our computer teacher sets the rules for all three of us.

He has had no experience with team sports, he may this fall. Depends on whether we can get him into Trevor's league on mostly the same days. He reads, he looks around YouTube, and he has a lot of chores at home. He has a rock garden in his bedroom that he built, with colored lights and a waterfall. He also made some of his own furniture this year, like we do over here. He learns about the internet, we make him do that. He has had penpals for this whole year but most of them don't stick with him. He won't write to girls. His favorite books are the Wimpy Kid series.

Trevor (12) Trevor is the younger brother here. He isn't a geek. He plays baseball and soccer every year, sings in the best boys choir in the whole area, he plays acoustic guitar and sings folk songs along with his mom, and is the best cook in the family. He has homeschooled for the 2 years since we moved out here to the west coast, and is excellent at reading and writing. He reads adventure/action. He does not listen to pop music. He never does anything without Googling it first.

As a penpal, Trevor is open, accepting, and not judging. He likes performing and is comfortable around people. He sees friends, not cultures or political boundaries. He likes camping, building things, and travel. Looking for penpals who have similar interests and experiences, up to age 13.

Thomas (14) Thomas is the older brother here. He loves technology, science, math, and all things computer. He is anti-social when it comes to sports, music, and entertainment. He gets to a few pro basketball games each year, but doesn't play. He likes to hike, fish, and sleep in his own bed at night. He is good with organization and design. He reads real science-fiction (not fantasy) and intrigue (spy novels). He is a good listener, an experienced penpal, and can share ideas and feelings easily.

Thomas observes the world around him, and insists on thinking for himself. He hates public school classrooms, a self-starter with his homeschooling. He uses past experience as a foundation for what he does. He is the owner of the website, and sees helping and teaching others as a calling. Looking for others who share his dream of helping kids to understand the internet.

If any of our good e-friends want to join in with us working on the website, we will include their profile here also. The website also has blogs for anyone who wants one, and a fun forum (bulletin board) coming up. Write to us

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