If you haven't checked out the other discussion I started, I'm starting my first year as a tech coordinator at a K-6 elementary school. I've got a lot of ideas and I'm excited to get started, except all my ideas seems to me like they're appropriate only for the 3-6 students. I have no idea what I'm going to do with the younger ones in K-2!
As a kinder teacher in another life, I would suggest that you align with the educators. You will be surprised by their ability to quickly surpass your expectations. You might consider a management system for asking questions (cups on top of the computer work wonders!), going to the restroom BEFORE coming to computers, and trying to piggyback on the learning that is currently going on in the classroom....
I have had them create PPT slides, use digital cameras, movies, etc...and the kids beg for more...
I will also be starting the same position at a Pre-K - 6 school. I would like to recommend the book by Boni Hamilton called IT's Elementary. I ordered it directly through ISTE and have been reading it from cover to cover. It give a great overview as well as concrete examples of lesson plans and professional development opportunities for teachers.
I am planning on using digital storytelling as well as visual representations of ideas with the younger ones.
I agree with Joyce. You'd be surprised at how adept little ones can be. I am however surprised at how many children are fearful about the computer. Most of the students in my community use the computer to play games only. When they get to class, they think that that's all the computer is for, to play games. So when required to use technology to communicate ideas, express themselves, or find information, so children get a little freaked out.
I always use some kind of paint program first. KidPix is great, but even the paint application in Microsoft or AppleWorks is great. This gives the children a chance to use tools to do different things. The final product is an illustration that goes with their Science curriculum, like a diagram (with labels) of a bug or a plant. Also, we illustrate a sentence about a place they've learned about.
A "must have" program is Kidspirations (a little kid version of Inspiration). This program has many built in activities that go along with every content area. Many times I take an activity that they have created and adapt it to relate a little based on what the children have learned in Math or Language Arts.
After a few years, I came to the conclusion that finishing a product wasn't as important as having the students leave the computer lab more confident and competent. Every little thing that happened was a teachable moment. If a computer crashed, I made the student restart it. If a message popped up in an application, I asked the student to figure out what to do, with a big encouraging smile on my face and lots of praise for problem solving.
For many little ones, school might be the first time they've been allowed to use technology on their own, so every little message is cause for alarm. If their screen doesn't look quite like their neighbors, they think they've done something wrong. My favorite response to "Mrs. Norris! There is something wrong with my computer!" is always, "I don't see smoke. If I don't see smoke, there is nothing wrong with your computer. Just click on something until it looks right."
For kg - 2nd I agree KidPix and Kidspiration are two great tools to have - tons of ways to integrate with any topic teachers are doing in their classes.Kidspriation also has built in "lessons" that I divided among the grade levels. Work can be exported and posted on school website or printed and sent home.
Another wonderful tool is Graph Club this software integrates naturally with every subject.
Digital camera with powerpoints on many topics. With kg classes we have done ppts on emotion, playground, objects in the room, body parts, numbers, sets......First grade I take each class on a trip around the school and they take photos of signs around the school as we discuss the importance of the signs. These pics go into a ppt for each class with a group picture at the end. They love reading the finished ppts and chime in to read each photo.
Starfall.com is a great website for kg-1st graders. Rainforestmath is an excellent new math website for all elem levels. Computerlabkids has an extensive list of help, suggestions and links. Digital Blue camera for making lots of videos for k-2. Type to Learn, jr software for keyboarding or go online to Dancemat Typing
I use puppets and stuffed animal characters for kg classes, and they need a variety of alternating moving around and hands on computer times. Sharing a short book, poem or song to go with your computer activity works well for integrating. With kg-1st always keyboarding Nimblefingers exercises(warmups)
A BIG help for me is an interactive white board (I have SMARTBoard and others have Promethean) or get a LCD projector for large group. For little ones, I do large group introduction lesson, then individual computers, then back to large group share/wrap up.
Among other grade levels, I taught kg years ago and now have all grades for technology. I love my job in technology.
I am always on the look out for FREE online activities. I like some of the suggestions listed in this discussion. One of my favorites is Math Baseball found at Funbrain.com. There are some other neat games there too. Avoid popups with Firefox.
If you have a budget (lucky!), check out Sunburst for great titles, including the Tenth Planet Literacy Series and A to Zap (kindergarten),
Kids love funbrain! I'm with George...teaching in a parochial school has taught me to be really cheap! There is so much great stuff on the internet. In our community, little ones come to school with lots of experience playing games on the computer so I shy away from a lot of drill and practice games. We only use funbrain maybe a couple of times a year. Another really great site is enchantedlearning.com. They have a lot of prepared activities that require students to do what amounts to a very basic scavenger hunt. They provide the worksheet and the kids go through their site to find the answers. This site gives the kids really good experience with searching for information, but at a very low reading level. The site has a few additional features if you pay the $50 for the annual fee...well worth it!
George, You mention that you are always on the lookout for free online activities. I just wanted to let you know that I have started a new living textbook that's available at http://www.pass-ed.com/Living-Textbook.html. There are currently many questions designed to promote great conversation. But, in the coming months we will be adding many Web 2.0 activities, as well.
I put together a page on my website called Fun 4 the Brain. You might find some sites for little guys. I use these sites as an option once classroom assignments are finished (the kids marvel at Protozone)--I agree with the suggestion about group "sharing" then have kids go to the site. I also make sure that I NEVER have little guys try to type in the URLs---use a webpage, a blog, a shared server...anything that keeps them from typing in the URL. Have you ever seen 25 kids yell for help at once!!
Joyce mentioned cups on computers. Buy red, green and yellow large cups. Tell the students that the cups work like a stoplight. If they are doing fine---green cup on top. If they need help but can continue to work---yellow cup on top. If they are dead in the water---red cup on top. Might keep the noise down.
Our Speech and Language teacher used Starfall with kindergartners. She would show them a specific activity and then they would try it in pairs. At one time Starfall had free printable activities to go along with the online activities. Good Luck.
I've been teaching K-8 for the last six years. I also use Kid Pix significantly on the Mac. I loved the older Kid Pix Deluxe version, but had to start with Kid Pix 4 for Schools to keep up with my OS. I only have them 30 minutes once per week. Each week I teach a different tool with an associated project for that tool. The stamps can give you an endless variety of activities.
I made up a song to the tune of Old MacDonald. Each week we start class and add a verse (the mouse has a click click here, the keyboard has a tap tap here). It gives them security of the same start every class. I also begin and end as a group at tables in the center of the room away from the computers.
After the children complete the project of the week, they can use JumpStart Kindergarten Advanced (Knowledge Adventure), A to Zap! (Sunburst), and MathBlaster Ages 5-7 (Knowledge Adventure) or create their own picture.
Another resource you might want to look at is CyberSmart. They have activities for each grade level with printable worksheets.
Let me know if you'd like more information about anything.