by Andrea Weckerle
When children come to school in kindergarten you will find they have a large range of computer skills. Some will have trouble just finding an available computer to work at, some will never have used a computer and some will be able to launch the internet and look for their favorite “dot com” web site!
Kindergarten is the perfect age for teaching children how to manipulate a mouse and enhance eye/hand coordination through drawing skills. In many instances students benefit from hearing a story and then extending the story by a response on the computer through drawing and typing a few words.
Beginning typing skills at this age simply include finding the letters, learning how to capitalize, and adding ending punctuation.
When thinking about having young children draw with the computer it is vitally important to keep developmentally appropriate practices in mind. For instance, if you want a child to draw a “hand turkey” on the screen then be sure that he has made one before by tracing around his hand and coloring it in. Gage their experiences with initial discussion. If there are children who appear to not have experienced this, then back up and make the concrete model. When asking a child to do this electronically, I find that the best way is to have him hold his non-dominant hand on the computer screen while using his other for drawing with the mouse.
Another developmentally appropriate practice includes practice. During the first interaction, give support and help the child and then when she returns for the next computer class or independent work time, then she can create the project without assistance. An example of this is in trying to draw overlapping circles to form a snowman. Show them how, hold their hands on the mouse while they try, and then let them try alone. By scaffolding the computer instruction in this manner children will find success. I often find that when giving free choice time when they’ve competed an assignment, the children will choose to retry a project we’ve done previously.
Some of my favorite projects with kindergarten include drawing characters from literature, their families, snowmen, penguins, and constellations. I often print the projects in color and staple to construction paper to make every piece seem special.