Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Introducing Computers in the Kindergarten Classroom

Warning! The first computer lesson in the Kindergarten classroom can be chaotic! Approach with patience and much planning! 

Here in Australia, our school year starts at the end of January. We now have about a month's worth of computer lessons under our belts, and the progress the little learners have made is remarkable! The majority of the class can now log in using a class username and password (which I.T. have not set to be particularly user friendly), navigate to the program required, complete some simple mouse applications and log off. This is quite a contrast to a month ago, when I logged each child in and out.

For that first lesson, I set realistic expectations of what I thought could be achieved, and then I cut that in half :) Here's what we did.
  • Upon entering the computer lab, the children sat down at the front near the demonstration computer and whiteboard. I introduced myself and an attention getter (of the clap, repeat variety).
  • I asked the children what type of technology they have used and they had an opportunity to share with the person next to them. 
  • We talked about how wonderful it is to use computers and how we need to take good care of them. Lab Rules naturally followed. I read them. The children repeated them. We acted out what to do. We acted out what not to do. You get the idea. Click on the image to grab your copy!
  • We looked at a computer and named the parts (monitor, keyboard, mouse, headphones and headphone plug, CPU). 
  • We talked about how some screens we use are touch screens, but the monitors in the computer labs are not touch screens! It has been close to a decade since I taught computers to Kindergartners, so this was the first time I had to give that instruction! 
  • We chatted about the CPU being the brains of the computer.
  • Demonstrated how to hold each side of the headphone plug as we plug the headphones in and out.
  • Showed how we use gentle fingers on the keyboard 
  • Investigated the mouse. As using the mouse was the main focus of the lesson, I made up a little song about using the mouse and it has stuck! The little learners want to sing it each lesson. I thought about videoing myself singing it, but I really couldn't do that to you! So here it is in word form. Think (and sing) Where is Thumbkin?

(With right hand, point index finger)
Peter Pointer, Peter Pointer.
('single click' once with index finger, then 'double click')
Click, click-click.
Click, click-click.
('click and drag' with index finger, moving hand as if to drag)
Click and drag, Click and drag.
(pretend to guide a mouse in figure of eight)
With the mouse, With the mouse.

During the investigation of the mouse, we identified the left and right mouse buttons. If you are able, it is a great idea to put a sticker on the left mouse button. Also important here is to identify any left handers in the class and arrange the equipment accordingly.

The little learners did so well listening and learning the rules. It does seem a lot to go through, but I promise it doesn't take that long! As the computers were already logged in (highly recommend for the first lesson), I then demonstrated a simple mouse activity, handed out the headphones and away they went. While our school has purchased a range of educational software, if your school hasn't there are a lot of great online resources for free. For example HERE and HERE
Next time, the fun really begins. Logging in....