How to help the youngest students become familiar with the technology tools in your classroom.
1. go part by part. Introducing computers to young children can be a tricky business, as they have varying degrees of experience. Start off slowly, introducing a single computer to students and naming some of the parts, such as mouse, keyboard, monitor, and screen.
2. be aware of ergonomics. The computer screen should be positioned so that students can view it without craning their necks. Seating should allow their feet to touch the floor. If the chair is too tall, try providing students with a small box to rest their feet on. When using the mouse, their hands should be level with their forearms.
3. find helpers. While it may take some time, try to identify students who know how to turn the computers on and off. They can be a great resource to their peers, and, with time, can teach other students how to log in, access programs, and turn off the power.
4. have kids type their names. To help acclimate students to the keyboard, provide them with their names on a card and let them type their names repeatedly. It’s a great way to get them using the Enter key. A program like Write: OutLoud is also a nice introduction to typed words having meaning. Have students dictate before playing back their words. Hearing their words spoken after seeing them typed is a powerful experience for young children.
5. play with a cardboard computer. Setting up a play computer in the drama center can be a good way for students to role-play proper computer care. Begin with reviewing how they should avoid touching the screen and use gentle mouse clicks. Students can also practice “typing” on a pretend keyboard.
6. wash hands. Be sure to have some wet wipes on hand to wipe down keyboards after use. Keep in mind that a child could have a reaction to peanut butter residue on a dirty keyboard.
2. give students a place to sit. To avoid jostling the board or its tray, place carpet squares in front of it as a boundary reminder. A line of masking tape on the floor would work as well.
3. store markers somewhere else. It’s too easy for them to be mistaken for one of the computerized markers, and ink is not a fun substance to try to remove.
4. play it safe. In the event that substitute teachers or other adults will be using this equipment, it’s not a bad idea to permanently post a note beside it: “This is a SMART Board, not a whiteboard. Please do not use markers on it.”
2. keep it simple. Talk about how lenses make things appear bigger before introducing the microscope, then place a petal or two under its lens.
3. compare close-ups. Take screen shots of different materials and place them beside photos of the actual materials to create a class book.
With some guidance and enthusiasm, you can help students embrace ever-changing technologies!