Hello to all,

I was hoping to get a little bit of advice. I was wondering what you have the preschool age children doing in the computer lab? There are many special needs students who will need extra help as well. I only will see them for a 35min block in the lab. I have no smart board just an LCD projector and whiteboard.


My other question is about independent research for the students in areas of Social and Science. The only access they have currently is through Encarta Kids and a few generic websites left on the last teacher's web page that the students accessed through a shortcut.


I have to match specific standards of ss and science and integrate them in the lab with all grades. I am looking for ideas and advice. What are you doing with your students to allow them to research a topic in a fun and engaging way; and what are some of the different ways you introduce new content? Any and all responses would be appreciated.


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I too, am interested, as next year I will be having our pre-schoolers in the computer lab. I'm supposed to come up with a curriculum, so if anyone has ideas... share!
For research projects, the science teacher ( grade 3-4) prepares questions and gives the students suggested websites to go to in order to locate information.  Otheriwse they will go to Google and hand in reports that contain words they could not possibly pronounce let alone understand.  The reports were posted on a wikispace along with photos of the research subject. In Social Studies, the teacher set up the rubric and the students had to prepare a glog (glogsteredu) to fit the criteria she set up.  You can also use SweetSearch and SweetSearch4me - written for younger children.

Thank you so much Nancy and Grace.

I had the preschoolers in the lab for the first time today. They were adorable but it was very challenging. Some know how to use the mouse and seem as though they have been on the computer regularly. Some were clearly ready for more a bit more advancement and some could not understand anything on the screen. Some cannot use the mouse at all. Some liked the headphones and some were scared of them. They like to get up and go to the teacher lol almost pulling the headphones with them. You have to be very fast and get to their station quickly. As far as a curriculum to they want you to have a "technology/computer literacy curriculum" or based on content or a combination of both?? To Grace- I agree totally about Google. I do not want them searching freely on there. Thank you for those research ideas.  

Just a thought: when I have the earlier grade kids in the lab (I'm the tech teacher in a Pre-K to 8 building), I actually use a web page that I made at yola.com (free!) and have trained the kids to either click the name of their grade to go to a site that I have selected for them, or I create a page with that grade's header with pre-selected links for them to use. I, too, use SweeSearch with the younger kids and have a widget for that, as well. 

With middle grades, I build up to research, starting with evaluating sites for content and learning how to cite a source. Takes forever, too! But I give them "mini-searches" that incorporate using key words, evaluating sites, summarizing information, and citing sources. For example, "Are there any markers left from the original Oregon Trail?"  Youngest kids: check these 3 links and see if you can find out. (At least one link I provide will NOT have the answer, but will be on topic.)  Older kids: use SweetSearch and any links on my "Homework Help" web page to find the answer. Build up to "What ways do people use to mark trails and places?", etc.  Comprehension questions from the book chapters might give you some ideas.

For preschool, yikes! Our kids are like yours: Some are clueless and all have the attention span of gnats. I guess I'll need to start looking for sites to use and will probably concentrate most on computer lab behaviors at the start.

In the preschool age, I like to use things that will develop their mouse skills. There seems to be quite a good number of these types of activities online. They basically teach the kids to move the mouse and click to create some action. Might be good for a 10-15 session each class period for several sessions.  I use Jumpstart pre-school learning games and other engaging things from disney and pooh.


For research, I like to use PowerPoint and slideshows with subjects that are integrated with classroom curriculum.

 For example,  I have students research information about the food chain.

Students would create a title slide "Food Chain"

Students would add some related images and their name.


The next slide would be "Producers",

Students would explain the role of producers in the food chain and add images of producers.


The next slide would be "Consumers".

Students would provide facts about the consumers role in the food chain and add images.


Finally students would add a slide about Decomposers .

Students would discuss their role in food chain and add images.


Students research this information, collect images and create informative and interesting PowerPoints or narrated slideshows.


I use these types of research and presentation projects for things like ecosystems, habitats, energy, fossils, rocks and minerals, astronomy, cell structures and functions, etc.


have a look at the food chain lesson plan


When I teach these things I tell my students to look for kid friendly sites, for example search for "Rocks and Minerals for Kids" , Astronomy for Kids etc. If these are 2nd or third graders I collect several ( 5 or more) appropriate sites as starting points. I tell the kids to share their finds  and we add new sites to our shared bookmarks. Soon we have a dozen or more good , crowd sourced sites that are age appropriate.


I also discuss plagiarism and the subject of copy and paste. I go to one or two sites and copy and paste some rocks and minerals info into a free plagiarsim checker. I show them how the checker easily finds the plagiarized words and highlights them.




 I go to a past student's plagiarized powerpoint and copy and paste their slide  info into the checker and let the students see exactly what was plagiarized. I tell them that plagiarized presentation will recieve no credit for their work and that they will have to the whole thing over.  I share the link to the free plagiarism checker and tell them to use it whenever they do research online.


I encourage them to create original works and  cite the web address in a bibliography slide where the info was sourced. 

Generally, I get good presentations with  no plagiarism as students self check as they research.


good luck.

An update on the preschoolers. I found a really good site http://kindersay.com It has narration and the students do not need to move the mouse or use the keyboard. It will automatically go to the next clip. They really like it.( Most of them- keep reading. lol) I had to remove the keyboard for the class from one or two of them because they were banging on it too hard. Some are very independent and want to use the mouse but are unable to. They bang it and sometimes drop it!! These little ones won't let me help them at all with the mouse and grip it tightly and do not want to let it go or be guided at all. I think Steve mentioned there were good sites for mouse skills for preschoolers. Please tell me what they are if you can. I also appreciated your food chain powerpoint example. It was very helpful. I have that same topic to cover. Thank you for the advice on the webpage. I did just that. I created one with a page for each grade level Pre K- 5. The prek and k have to use desktop icons to get to the sites.  My projector bulb needs replacing so I am unable to demo any lessons right now. It is too difficult for them to navigate to their grade page. Another topic: The preschoolers used Bailey's Bookhouse and Millies Math House in every class session last year. ( I am the new tech teacher and started a little bit into the school year)  I spoke with the pre- k teachers to collaborate and thier biggest complaint was that the students needed more variety and would I please try to provide that. I have been trying but the students are so conditioned to it that they point to the screen and cry when you do not let them use these. What is your opinion of Bailey's and Millie's? Are any of you currently using it with prek and k?

Thank in advance for responses. Hope everyone has had a great start to the school year!  


I am glad you are trying to incorporate different technology into your pre-k class!  I do not teach a pre-k class, but I do teach Kindergarteners who have never touched a computer before.  I know developmentally, they are very different, but I had a few suggestions that you may be able to use or adapt.  I have also seen kids who grip the mouse too tight or keep their fingers rigid when trying to use the mouse.  In my class, the best way I have taught them to use a mouse is by pretending their own hands are the mouse.  You can have them pretend their left hand is a mouse by making a fist and then have them put their right hand over their "mouse". Even left-hand students usually use their right hand for the mouse, but you may have an unusually case where you switch them. Have them grip their "mouse" tightly showing how this is the wrong way, then have them gently place their hand on their "mouse".  You could also have them learn how to move only their index finger to click.  Show them how if they click hard it will hurt their hand and this is the wrong way to click.  Guide them to gentle click with fingers that resemble wiggly worms. 

I am not sure this is helpful, but I have found practicing how to treat the mouse before touching the mouse is beneficial with my students.  I also do a lot of placing my hand over their hand on the mouse, clicking on their hand like they should click on the mouse.

Keep problem-solving, your preschoolers with catch on!

For preschoolers you really need something that will allow them to explore and direct their own learning without constant directing from you.

For this you can use www.poissonrouge.com 

It is awesome, I use it with Pre-K and K. I just posted about it on my blog today, in fact! http://edutechniques.com/?p=331

poissonrouge.com is quite a site! I have happily added it to my newly created bookmark file of sites for preschoolers.  Thank you for the suggestion!



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