Review of September Software

Programs Featured

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September is a BUSY month! Everything is set ready and new.  Rooms change, schedules change and everyone is running to keep up, so to speak.  Please don’t run in the halls!  It helps to have the computer center set up with basic programs that introduce basic computer skills for students new to the computer.  Other students will be happy to see old friends and familiar games.

Reader Rabbit Baby and Toddler

Teaches basic computer skills, mouse skills, language development, auditory discrimination, coordination, kinesthetic development, cause and effect, sound patterns, visual patterns, tracking, predicting, matching, letters, numbers, counting, body parts, identifying emotions, music appreciation, and identifying animal sounds.

Key concepts are shapes, colors, and numbers and letter recognition. Also helps develop vocabulary through music, names of animals and body parts, and the wonderful fingerplays that accompany songs.

Preschool Pals

A Publix community service program to help children think about shopping for healthy foods. Basic computer skills taught through seven fun game zones which introduce preschool concepts like early counting, listening skills, the alphabet, food groups, and art to students. Children play three levels of each game and earn coins every time they complete a level.

Putt Putt Saves the Zoo

Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo is a point-and-click adventure game using critical thinking. Putt Putt helps his friends find all the baby animals just in time to open The cartoon zoo! Help Putt-Putt track down everything he needs so he can find the missing baby animals. Fun music videos and mini-games are included to keep things lively.

The player takes control of Putt-Putt with the goal of rescuing six missing baby animals and having fun along the way. The game is played by using the mouse to interact with the environment. By clicking on various areas called Click Points, the player can collect items, talk with other characters, and watch funny animations. Items are collected to help the player solve puzzles.

Computer Science Education Week

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This week is Computer Science Education Week (December 9-15, 2013). It is an annual program dedicated to inspiring K-12 students to take an interest in computer science. Students, parents and teachers can participate and promote interest in learning more about the computer world and the people who work in it.

“Learning to write programs stretches your mind, and helps you think better, creates a way of thinking about things that I think is helpful in all domains.“ – Bill Gates Chairman, Microsoft

Bats on the Computer

The theme of bats in a computer lab must include Stellaluna by Janell Cannon.

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Stellaluna is a fruitbat, better know as a flying fox, who is separated from her mother and lives with a family of birds. The main focus of the book is how bats and birds are different even though they can both fly. I have a copy of the book in the library to show children how computers and books are often integrated.

The story is rich in scientific vocabulary. We talk about animals that are nocturnal and use echolocation.

There are also new words to add:
Anxious- worried
Babble- talking quickly and in a way that is hard to understand.
Clambered- climbed
Clutched- to hold on tightly
Downy- soft
Muse- to think for a long time
Peculiar- strange
Perched- to sit at a high vantage point
Sultry- very hot and moist

The lesson will lead to how fruitbats are found mostly in the rain forest (and sometimes zoos). The bats we often see at night flying around the street lights are insectivores. Even bats can be different from one another (just like humans). They play a very important role in our environment by keeping the insect population in control.

So many differences, and yet, they all work together to make our environment better!

Computer Mice

There is a different type of mouse in my classroom. Fortunately is does not need any special care . It is a trackball or marble mouse for the computer. I discovered these critters after looking for computer mice that would be easier for children to use. After trying several brands and sizes, Logitech seems to have the most reliable mouse for the money.

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Stickers help remind my class which is the left and right click. Green is for go and orange for caution. I cannot tell them to never use the right click because some programs will tell them to right click.

My students can use right hand, left hand or both hands when maneuvering the mouse. There is no need for mouse pads or cleaning the bottom of the mouse. It is stationary. The children seem to adjust quickly to this different mouse. It is easier for small hands to handle and also takes the pressure off or the wrist and shoulder. This will help delay any carpal tunnel syndrome that is associated with the use of a traditional mouse over the years.

Some people shy away from track balls, because they say they are too hard to use or not precise enough, but after having elbow and shoulder pain at the end of a work day, I decided to give one a try at home. I didn’t find this to be the case with the marble mouse. It seemed a little awkward initially, but within a few days I was able to tasks at the same speed I could with a mouse.

Try one for a few weeks, you might be saving yourself some pain later!