Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Teaching Kindergartners How to Login

So you have survived the first computer lesson with your Kindergarten class and now you want to teach them how to login for themselves. It will depend of course, on how usernames and passwords have been set at your school as to how you approach this. At the school where I teach computers, the Kinder classes have a class username and password. For simplicity, the username and password are the same.
Before the lesson, I made some color coded login cards.


While in the classroom, the little learners practiced 'typing' on their login cards. We discussed the colors and order of the letters. We talked about uppercase and lowercase letters, said the sound and the letter names. We showed our partners how we could type our username and password. The little learners even searched for the letters in their own name. Who knew there was so much learning to be had with logins?

When we arrived at the computer lab, the little learners were ready to try typing their username and password on a real keyboard. After I demonstrated typing the username and password (and made a few mistakes accidentally-on purpose to introduce backspace), the little learners took their login cards to their computer. 

I'm going to be honest here. This color coded login card is not a miracle worker. It did take three adults 30 minutes to guide the class in this process. I did learn that next time I introduce a Kinder class to computers, I will spend more time on light and quick finger touches on the keyboard! But I will say that each little learner did login that day, and a month on the login cards continue to support the little learners as they become independent loggerinerers (that's totally a word, right?). Best of all is the smile on their faces when they have done it all by themselves for the first time! Priceless!

Want to make your own color coded keyboards? Click HERE or the image above to grab your copy!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

St Paddy's Day Activities and a Freebie!

I am the daughter of one proud Irishman. My dad was a kind, generous, clever, witty (even though sometimes only to himself), sweet man, whom I adored! He was born and raised in Kilkenny. I have fond memories visiting Dad's hometown, listening to him retell stories from his childhood at each landmark. Many years later on a family holiday, I told those same stories to my own children as we walked Kilkenny's streets.

 
When St Patrick's Day rolls around, as well as talking to the class about the origins of the day, it's great to share personal experiences too. I have often had my own 'show and tell' in the classroom, sharing images like the one above that my hubby took of Kilkenny Castle. Having a life outside of school and sharing these anecdotes with our students, helps build relationship which underlies everything we do in the classroom.

St Paddy's Day lends itself to some lovely activities in the classroom. One of my favorite writing activities for this time of year is based around the idea of a Lucky Star. I encourage the students to use their imagination and dream big! 'If you could wish upon a star and make your dreams come true.....' But my absolute favorite writing activity encourages students to think about what they truly value. Using a planning sheet they draw or write things that make them feel lucky. They then write about it and create a cute pot of gold craftivity, perfect for the bulletin board.


While a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow would be lovely, I really do feel rich thanks to my family, friends, students I teach and creations I share. I'm so happy that you have stuck with me to the end of this post, so click on the image below for your treasure :) It's a few pages from my St Patrick's Day Kindergarten Math Print & Go Pack.

 

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....