Activities and Games, Computer Lab Activities

Teaching With Technology: Problem Solving at the Computer

No-fail mazes, word puzzles, deductive thinking, and more!

  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2

Geoffrey Goes to the Fair

Age: 3 and up Teaches: strategy, classification, problem solving, memory Geoffrey the Giraffe and his animal buddies lead children through nine innovative problem-solving puzzles that take place in a county-- fair setting. For example, children control a train ride by adjusting the track switches as the trains move - a great exercise in temporal relations and planning. Old favorites like Concentration are also included, but in this program they're spruced up with interesting challenges, such as being able to race against the clock. Apptastic Software, Inc., 613-748-3985; Windows CD-ROM; $19.99.

Putt-Putt Enters the Race

Age: 3 and up Teaches: logic, problem solving, memory, temporal and spatial relations Children explore Cartown in this nicely designed scavenger-hunt adventure. Their goal is to seek out special items Putt-Putt, a cute purple car, needs to get into a big race, the Cartown 500. As young players explore, they discover nine clever puzzles that tie in to the story line. For example, when Putt-Putt meets Mrs. Airbag (whose dog, Ralphie, has buried four hubcaps in the backyard), children must "help" them systematically search the backyard and dig up the hubcaps using "hot" and "cold" hints. Children have to map the whereabouts of each item in their heads, which is an excellent exercise in memory, logic, and spatial reasoning. Humongous Entertainment, 800-499-8386; Windows/Mac CD-ROM; $29.99.

Richard Scarry's The Best Activity Center Ever

Age 3 and up Teaches: sequencing and spatial relations If you're looking for an affordable collection of tried-- and-true activities, this collection of logic puzzles is a good choice. The program opens with a panoramic view of Busytown. Here children select which of the seven town locations they wish to visit. Each one contains short musical videos and games. At the Post Office, for example, children can sort the mail using matching skills in a game of Picture Concentration; the observatory leads to dot-to-- dot puzzles; and, at the park, children will find a maze to challenge spatial-relations skills. Simon & Schuster Interactive, 888-793-- 9972; Windows/Mac CD-ROM; $19.95.

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Choosing and Using Computers and Software

Here are some tips to help ensure computer success:

  • Keep in mind, two- or three-button mice are very confusing for preschoolers. Use stickers to provide visual and tactile clues.
  • Choose a large, smooth area on which children can move the mouse, and place it directly in front of the monitor. (If at all possible, the monitor should be at eye level and the mouse, at elbow level.)
  • Use large, stable chairs or, better yet, an old piano bench to let several children share the computer. 
  • Make sure you install the software and familiarize yourself with all the activities to avoid disappointing children in case something doesn't work.
  • Gather children around the monitor and ask a volunteer to click around the screen to see what happens. (Make sure you create a setting in which the volunteer will experience success with the program.)
  • If the activity is a structured one, such as a dot-to-dot puzzle, encourage different children to volunteer their answers (or perhaps work together as a group) to help the operator along. 
  • Don't forget to introduce children to the key navigation spots on the screen so that they know how to get into and out of activities.
  • Most important: Have fun together!   

  • Subjects:
    Math, Early Learning, Logic and Problem Solving, Mouse Skills, Technology, Communication and the Internet, Software and Apps, Computers, Educational Technology, Teaching with Technology
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