Teaching With Technology: Hi-Tech Independence

  • Grades: PreK–K

How to develop a Resident Computer Expert

What you need: One reluctant computer user and any brand-new software program

Plan of action: Before introducing the program to all of the children, take the computer-shy child aside for a sneak preview. To ensure that she develops confidence about using the computer, she must be the one who operates the mouse as you go over the program's key features. Now that child can demonstrate the program to others in the group! If anyone needs help, you can say, "Ask Jane how to find the dot-to-dot game she knows."

Well-designed software helps children develop feelings of competence.

Blue's Birthday Adventure

Ages: 3-6 Teaches: logical thinking, matching, memory Based on the Blue's Clues TV show, this easy-to-use scavengerhunt game allows children to explore Blue's world. Four adventures, each with a different set of clues and items to find, involve children in searching for "the essentials" needed for an upcoming birthday party. The program is challenging - children may need help at times - but players always feel in control. Nine directed activities, including matching objects and instrument sounds, making puzzles, and fixing party favors, can be set to varied levels of difficulty. Humongous Entertainment, 800-499-8386; Windows/Mac CD-ROM; $29.99.

Curious George Paint & Print Studio

Ages: 3-8 Teaches: drawing and printing with the computer, creativity If ever there was a hi-tech coloring book, this is it! After choosing a background (or a blank canvas) to work with, children then make use of a complete set of drawing tools and a rich set of stickers based on several themes, such as the airport and the zoo. They can color, fill, add text, and then save or print their work. (Some nice project ideas are also included.) Because it's so easy for kids to use, and because children's creations look great, this program inspires feelings of mastery. Houghton Mifflin Interactive, 800-829-7962; Windows/Mac CD-ROM; $27.25.

Tips for Choosing Confidence - Boosting Software

When designed properly, software can become an outstanding pathway to independent learning. Here are some features to look for:

  • Leveling: The challenges in the software must correspond with the child's varying levels of ability, so look for programs that offer children a range of opportunities, from simple to complicated.
  • Instant success: If a youngster feels like she's made something happen successfully in the first 60 seconds of play, she's much more likely to remain engaged.
  • A responsive interface: Make sure that programs provide many choices and put the child in control. Avoid ones with lengthy animated introductions that can't be interrupted with a click of the mouse.

  • Subjects:
    Educational Technology, Teaching with Technology
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