Teaching Early Elementary Tech with Games and Creativity

By Helen Xiong

In a 1:1 computing district, it’s important to make sure students begin developing solid computing skills, from the nuts and bolts of typing to the more abstract concepts of digital safety, from the time they start their educational careers. One of my favorite ways to keep my students engaged and motivated is by incorporating games and creativity into the classroom whenever and wherever I can.

When my kindergartners come to me, they’ve already had years of practice on different kinds of mobile devices but they also haven’t been introduced to the core of online safety or other concepts of digital literacy. To get them up to speed, I focus on digital citizenship in that first year. I often read them stories, show them videos, and play various hands-on games to get them up to speed.

Stories and videos are great, but they don’t really offer a lot of room for practice or engagement, so we’ll also do some role-playing. Kids love to pretend and letting them act out a response to something scary happening online gives them an opportunity to develop safe habits in a consequence-free environment.

With my 1st– through 3rd– grade students, I also have various LEGO challenges for them to complete in different facets. I often give them simple instructions, like “build your favorite fruit,” but before they begin building it, they go into their Google Classroom and watch a video or do some research that is related to their challenge to help explain and extend what the challenge is. After they put it together, they return to their Google Classroom, explain their project with how they built it, and then upload a picture of it.

In first grade, we decided to expand the curriculum a bit and added keyboarding instruction with our digital citizenship.

Typing practice can be a little dry, so when I went looking for a new software solution for my young students, it was important to me that it include games to help motivate them to practice. TypeTastic really hit the mark there. I require all my students to complete the first unit of TypeTastic before they can participate in the LEGO challenges, but I’ve found that once they are able to work with the LEGOs, they’re eager to finish those projects so that they can get back to TypeTastic to play more games.

One of my favorite TypeTastic games is one of the earliest lessons and focuses on the skill of using and manipulating the mouse because it is a fine motor skill to move and click in a rightful space on the tabletop. Our students in 4K-4th are 1:1 using iPad devices and don’t have consistent access to any kind of laptop or other device with a mouse until 5th grade, so they often don’t have any experience or practice with that type of navigation. Maybe it sounds a little silly to an adult to say that someone doesn’t know how to use a mouse, but that’s tough for little ones!

In the game, they’re tasked with moving a letter from one part of the screen to another without running into any bugs that crawl across the screen. Some of them got pretty frustrated with it at first, but after three or four times, they became pros at avoiding those creepy crawlers—and using a mouse!

Helen Xiong is the edtech coordinator at Genoa City Schools in Wisconsin.

4 Skills that K–5 Students Need for the Careers of the Future

By Kelsey Irizarry

According to a report from Institute for the Future, 85% of the jobs our current students will have in 2030 don’t exist yet. How are we, as teachers, supposed to prepare students for jobs that don’t exist yet? I address this question as a K–5 Media Specialist by focusing on four skills that prepare my students not just for middle school, but for their future careers.

Continue reading 4 Skills that K–5 Students Need for the Careers of the Future

TypeTastic School Edition Spring Update Is Packed With 280+ New Activities

The latest TypeTastic School Edition update is now out with a significant change in the study material. Based on your feedback we have made it easier to understand which units you should assign for each grade level. We added more than 280 new activities for middle & high schools and students will now be taken to a specific theme based on the grade level.

Continue reading TypeTastic School Edition Spring Update Is Packed With 280+ New Activities

Why Keyboarding Is One of 4 Skills Every Middle-Schooler Needs

By Rebecca Steck and Jennifer Vespucci

Last year, Saint Patrick’s School received a grant to revamp our computer lab. Before we spent a cent, though, we made certain to connect every purchase with two important goals of our pre-K–8 Catholic school: improving each individual child’s academic and career prospects, and improving our students’ scores on state assessments, which are critical to whether we’re succeeding or failing as a school. To that end, here are four essential skills that we strive to teach all of our students by the time they finish middle school. Continue reading Why Keyboarding Is One of 4 Skills Every Middle-Schooler Needs

For Special Education Students, TypeTastic Leads to Keyboarding Success!

By Jan Smith

As a tech integrator, I teach 320 students in grades K­­–5. In addition to pushing into each home room for Tech class, I see the special-ed population as a separate and supplemental class of nine. This class includes students with autism as well as those in Life Skills in grades 3–5.

Typing can be a challenge with these students. As a function of their disability, some of my special-ed kids have difficulty remembering where the letters are on the keyboard, even from moment to moment. Continue reading For Special Education Students, TypeTastic Leads to Keyboarding Success!

TypeTastic School Edition Brings Joy of Typing to All Grade Levels!

In June 2016, we introduced TypeTastic, a brand-new way for K–3 kids to learn keyboarding by playing games. Since then, more than 2,000,000 of you have played our games. And now, based on your fantastic feedback and requests, we’re expanding TypeTastic to include games for all grade levels! Continue reading TypeTastic School Edition Brings Joy of Typing to All Grade Levels!

Typing is the Key that Unlocks Educational Technology

By Michelle Eckstein

To help my K-5 students take advantage of the latest educational technology and to set them up for success in their lives after school, one of the fundamental skills I teach is typing. Earlier this year, I was looking for activities that would help my youngest students practice mouse skills and develop familiarity with the keyboard. That’s when I discovered TypeTastic, which has a scope and sequence that aligned well with what I wanted to teach my K–2 students. Continue reading Typing is the Key that Unlocks Educational Technology

Parents and Children Play TypeTastic Together

TypeTastic is a fun (and free!) tool that is revolutionizing the way children learn to type. Parents enjoy interacting with their child at home with TypeTastic as much as the child has fun doing it. As a matter of fact, parents may even want to play the games themselves! Want to learn more about playing while keyboarding and hear from real-live parents who use this fun tool? Well, read on. Continue reading Parents and Children Play TypeTastic Together