Monday, August 22, 2011

This Week in the Preschool Computer Lab: Lab Orientation

All About Me, Rules, Parts of the Computer

Make It! Make a story about the things you like.
Share It! Bring home printed copies of your creations to share with parents.
Solve It! Decision Making: What do I prefer?
Use It! Use the mouse to make choices; use the printer icon to print

We will actually be starting specials this week, the third week of school. Since our school is a little different, we do specials differently too. We have 7 specials, but only the media specialist and I (the tech coordinator) teach specials, and both of us have other duties besides teaching. The other five specials rooms are set up as lab areas where teachers bring their classes, and they have the option of doing their own projects or using lessons that have been prepared in advance by subject-area PLC members and parapros. Since the media specialist and I have a lot of work to do to get the media center and the school’s technology (and staff) up and running the first weeks of school, we begin specials later than most schools.

I’ll begin this first week with my lab orientation for preschoolers, starting with a mini-lesson on my awesome, brand-new “seating carpet.” This great tool is unfathomably expensive, and I am very thankful to my super-supportive principal for buying it for the lab. In the mini-lesson we will talk about the rules for the lab, and also do a quick run-through of some basic parts of the computer. After that, my 3- and 4-year-old students will go to the computers and do an All About Me activity from Starfall, since All About Me is one of our school-wide curriculum themes for August.

My lab rules are:
  • Wash your hands before you come into the lab.
  • Keep food and drinks out.
  • Take care of the computers.
  • Follow the directions.
The computer parts we are studying are:
  • Monitor / Display (we use both terms)
  • System Unit (A.K.A. the CPU, but we don’t use that term)
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Printer
What are your first technology lessons of the year like? How do you get your students off on a positive note? Do you use the ISTE NETS (Educational Technology Standards) to plan? Leave a comment with your thoughts and ideas!


  1. I am in an early childhood school and I am starting on Monday with early preschool, preschool and pre-K in the computer lab.

    I have tons of sites to use, games, and weekly themes to plan from.

    BUT............... I have NO idea how to introduce technology to 3 year olds! I know computer lab rules and parts of the computer, but how do I speak to them about it??? The lab is so tiny and has no bulletin board or chalkboard. I'm not allowed to have anything on the walls or cupboards either. HOW do I work with kids ABOUT computers when they're not ready to be on computers? I feel resourceless.

    Any suggestions?

  2. Hi Kelly! I also teach 3 year olds! I suggest carving out an area, however small, where you can have a lesson on the floor. Most of what I do in my large group lesson you could do without a board. I start by introducing myself and then go over the rules. I have my rules on a Power Point with a picture to match each rule, but you could do yours on a poster or on tagboard cards. You don't have to post them up on the wall; just hold them up for reference as you talk. The pictures really help the little ones understand. Then I do parts of the computer. I actually changed my mind after writing this post and did not talk about the printer this first week. We just did mouse, keyboard, monitor/display and system unit. You don't need any visual other than an actual computer. I would suggest getting some kind of pointer if you don't already have one. I use a "hand" pointer that I got from the book fair, but I have seen them elsewhere.

    I *do* get my 3 year olds on the computers the first day! I changed my plans up a bit after I wrote the article. I'm using a program called Reader Rabbit Baby and Toddler this week. It's great because it doesn't require any clicking! It's all mouseover. Last year I used the Sesame Street website the first week. You can set up a "playlist" of activities based on your choice of theme or skill. There are several that are mouseover or "press any key" type of games. I demo the game before they go to the computers. My friends at another school don't have a projector in their lab, so they just have the kids sit on the floor in front of one of the computers.

    We are lucky to have touchscreens, which many don't have. Those can make it easier. If you don't have them, you will just need to focus on some really simple activities that don't require much clicking for the first few lessons, and start teaching mouse skills the 2nd week. Some of your 3 year olds will have used a computer at home and will know how. Others will need hand-over-hand at first.

    I'd love to hear how it goes! Email me if I can help you!


  3. Okay! So..............the 1st 2 weeks have been all right. Thank you for your support Anna. I have the little guys using mouse-over activities that I have found online. Avens Corner has some cool ones that require no clicking. I also found some toddler-friendly software in the cupboards from the old teacher.

    As for the 4-6 yr. olds - I'm currently trying to talk my director into getting 3 programs: Pre-Keys 2 (which is a big stepping keyboard mat that comes with a sing-along CD for you to teach typing skills), KidPix 4 lab pack, and SMART Notebook software so that I can create learning activities myself and personalize them.

    I am finding it SO hard to find games to go with my theme :( Next week I have an All About Me theme coming up and I am using the Starfall activity described above, and an online story about taking baths (it's kid appropriate lol) and they have to click to turn the pages. That might just have to be it. I just don't look forward to teaching it 13 times in a row :( I like to have a grab bag to lean on when I get sick of one thing.

  4. Kelly,

    Do you mind if I copy your comment and reply in a new post? Others might be looking for similar resources and I know the posts get read more than the comments do.


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