Previous minutes in this series have described and illustrated the use of the simple PAINT or PAINTBRUSH program to teach basic computing techniques to pre-readers.
For emergent readers, while still using the familiar PAINT program, the emphasis is switched from drawing to reading and writing, and techniques are adapted to the wonderfully expanding reading and writing abilities.
Computerized versions of simple worksheets can be prepared and saved. As students complete the worksheets on a computer they use, in an incidental way, newly learned techniques, moving towards the target of having a computer be just another way to process words and other data. The machine and the pencil or paintbrush are not in competition, they are simply different methods of reaching our goal.
At this age keying is so tedious that I usually prepare ahead the files containing most of the words and leave the children free to read, recognize and manipulate. Choose the amount of prior preparation most comfortable for yourself.
Try to use the Comic Sans MS font for this work, it presents the letters (notice the a) in the familiar way children use them when printing.
Notice too that using previously prepared data introduces children to the idea of opening a saved file - a big step in computing knowledge.
A variation on the old "I Spy" game. Prepare and save (or have the students type) a screen full of vocabulary words and ask for circles or boxes to be added around the words which complete sentences you dictate. For example, my shoes are ___, here are ___ pencils, not 'down' but __, go out the ____, etc.
Another option is to ask for a line to be drawn under the words which match each question.
Try to sprinkle in some glaringly wrong facts (four pencils??), it helps the fun to find the teacher making mistakes too.
Complete The Sentence
Prepare and save a file with a screen full of incomplete sentences and the missing words at the bottom of the screen. Other recognition aids, such as the boxes in this case, can be added.
Set the children to complete each sentence by dragging the correct word into place.
Further embellishments are fun. In kindergarten you can never, ever have too much of a good thing! So try -
coloring the word to match its meaning,
coloring and dragging the box to enhance the meaning,
make your own "coloring" sentence.
Match words with colors by drawing lines and coloring circles. Dictate to type words, dictate to draw and color circles. Draw lines to tie together. green blue, etc. - a simpler exercise would be to.
Complete the sentence "The sky is BLUE (color the word to match).
Make the letters black or build in hints by altering the type color.
My Teachers and Me
I find it remarkable that children new to simple reading can recognize the long names of their teachers, I guess it comes from seeing the words repeatedly.
Capitalize on this by preparing another 'reading with drag & drop' exercise where the children drag each teacher name to the corresponding activity.
The teachers' names in my example are mixed up, I'll leave you to figure out the correct teacher answers to this one for yourselves.
In Your Own Words...
The aim here is to have children use their own vocabulary to make sentences, with a little teaching help. First discuss with the children the words they can spell. Now ask them to type the words they know. Wander around the lab making judicious suggestions to improve sentence possibilities. It seems that nouns (cat, dog, mouse, Dad) come to mind immediately but verbs, with the exception of 'love' require instigation. The simple words like a, me, the, my, I are overlooked too. Be sure and suggest these useful little items.
Next the children begin to drag and drop the words around and arrange them to make their own sentences.
This activity works well with small groups who share the assignments of making the sentences and dragging the words. As a computer activity in rotation with reading or writing or drawing centers, this activity works well. Each group of children can be left to pass on their learning to the next group to rotate through. Admittedly in this scenario the sentences become increasingly silly but so what - a SENTENCE IS A SENTENCE! We'll also wait a while to insist on capitalization and periods!