Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Get clicking with KidsMouse 3

Kindergarteners -- or as I call them, my "Littles" -- come to the Computer Lab with big, open eyes and excited smiles ready to see what we are going to do each day.  I love hearing the sounds of excitement escape from them as they listen to directions and watch me demonstrate what the new activities look like.  I chuckle to myself as I watch them practically knock each other over as they bolt to their computers, ready to try out the program or website for themselves --- and then sigh in exasperation as many of them start poking at the computer screens with their fingers.   Many of the kids don't think about using the mouse or track pad since they are so used to using an iPad or other touch screen device.

The Curse of the Tablet has struck again.  Dun dun dunnnnn........

Because of this, I'm always on the lookout for fun and exciting activities to teach mousing skills to the Littles.  I've found some great ones over the years, but one of my favorite finds is the KidsMouse application.  This easy-to-use program reinforces the click and drag concept with fun activities that also strengthen language arts, math, and other skills.  You can download and sample the program using their Free Trial.  You can only play about 8 of the 22 activities in the free trial -- but you will at least get a taste of how easy and fun it will be for your students.  If you like what you see, you can buy it for individual computers at $15.00 per device.  I chose to use part of my yearly budget and paid for school-wide license for $150.00!  That is an amazing deal for the number of activities you get in this one program.

Page one of three Kidsmouse activity pages
One of the best things about this is the positive reward of a happy dog wagging its tail when the Little solves a puzzle or completes a task.  They learn that if they don't see this, they have something to fix.

Activities like the ABC Puzzle help with alphabet recognition and order.  The activity focuses on both upper case and lower case letters.  I love that there is an easy level (figure 1) and a challenge level (figure 2).   The Littles always tell me that the easy level is super easy -- but they have a "woah" moment when they try the challenge level.  When they get to this level, I start hearing the ABC song start to be sung by 23 different kids -- each one starting at a different time.

figure 1 - ABC Puzzle (easy)
figure 2 - ABC Puzzle (challenge)

As the school year progresses and more and more Sight Words are learned, I like to introduce the Missing Word (figure 3) activity.  This puzzle provides each Little with a picture of an easily recognized animal or non-living item.  They then have to drag missing letters to spell out the word.

figure 3 (Missing Word)

Other favorites are the math activities that strengthen counting and sorting.  In Color Ball (figure 4), the Littles drag colored balls into the appropriate area focusing on the number of balls required to move on to the next level.

figure 4 - Color Ball

In Number Puzzle, there is an easy level and challenge levels.  In the easy level students click and drag numbers to their matching shadow -- much like the ABC puzzle.  The challenge activity (figure 5) requires the Little to count items and find the number that matches.  

figure 5 - Number Puzzle

In version 3.2 of KidsMouse there are 22 activities that help strengthen mousing skills while focusing on core learning abilities.  Geography, Geometry, Patterns, and Drawing --- all of them fun and engaging.  

Check them out for yourself!!

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