Monday, December 8, 2008

Scholastic's Computer Lab Favorites

Scholastic's Computer Lab Favorites provides an engaging way for teachers to introduce new concepts or reinforce skills. Select either K-2 or 3-5 grade level groups and then either look at all the subject areas or select a specific content area to see what's available. There are many fun, learning activities for many different subject areas.

In addition to the activities for the students, Scholastic provides lesson plans and a list of resources to help teachers. It's well worth taking time to check out this site. Then when you have more time, check out all the other resources that Scholastic provides for teachers.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Storyline Online

Created by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, Storyline Online presents 19 children's books read by professional actors such as Melissa Gilbert, Sean Astin and Elijah Wood. As the books are being read, pictures from the book are interspersed with video of the actor reading the story. Each book also includes related activities that can be used by parents or teachers.

I've used Storyline Online with my 4th graders to model how they should read with expression as they create their podcasts. The books are fun and, as would be expected, the actors are wonderful.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Highlights for Kids

I remember that as I was growing up I would be excited to read Highlights whenever I would go to the dentist or doctor. I never had a subscription to the magazine, but I always enjoyed looking at the Hidden Pictures, reading The Timbertoes and the Goofus and Gallant Moments. Now children can go to the web site and enjoy some of the same things.

Listen to a story, try one of the easy science activities or create a gingerbread house. Play some of the games online or print them to try later. There are so many activities that it will take some time to explore all the possibilities. Best of all, it's still the same Highlights that I remember enjoying when I was younger.

Keyboarding Sites

Being able to find the letters on a keyboard is an important skill for students. The following free web sites give students the ability to learn about keyboarding and practice their skills at home.

The first site is Dance Mat Typing, an introduction to touch typing for students from 7 - 11 years old. This site is one of the many BBC Schools learning activities and is a fun, colorful, instructive means for students to learn about typing. Students are shown how their fingers should sit on the keyboard and which finger types each of the letters. Having used the site with many of my students I know from experience that the activities keeps them engaged.

The next site is e-Learning for Kids. Again, in addition to this keyboarding course, there are also math, language arts, and health and life skills courses. It's well worth investigating all the resources. Once again, the activity is fun, colorful and students learn the correct way to keyboard.

Regardless of the site used to develop keyboarding skills, parents should take the time and sit with their child to make sure that the correct fingers are used for each letter. Sometimes the students get so caught up in trying to get through the activity they forget the purpose and just use any finger to get the job done! To make the activities even more challenging, try covering their hands on the keyboard with a cardboard box big enough to sit over the keyboard and their hands or cover with a light cloth. This forces the children to develop finger muscle memory since they can't peek at the letters.