Friday, April 24, 2015

Fun and Free Online Spring Activities for PK-2!

I love exposing my students to good online activities. There is so much to weed through online, so it's nice to find things that are of good quality and easy for young students to use. I really like Sheppard's Software site.  Here is a link to their spring activities I thought I'd share with you.

If you are looking for spring projects to use in applications such as MS Word or Excel, I have products you may be interested in!


* If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it :)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Really Easy, Really Effective Keyboard Covers!

Let's face it...keyboard covers are expensive! They certainly aren't in my classroom budget. So, what can a computer teacher with dozens of computers do? After brainstorming with different objects I already had in my classroom, I was lucky enough to connect file folders with the job. They have been working well for over a month now. I know, it's not rocket science, but I love sharing such simple, inexpensive, easy, do-it-yourself ideas with others. So, I made this really quick video:

Ps. You could take this a step further and add a keyboard layout image on the top of the folder.

 * If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

ADHD in the Computer Lab? Get rid of chairs!

Whether it is ADHD, or kids who just have high energy and trouble sitting still in computer class, there is one thing I find extremely helpful for these students. And, for me!

A solution for swiveling chairs and kicking desks? 

Yes! I get easily distracted by students moving and spinning in their chairs while trying to give instruction. This is often coupled by the sound of their feet kicking the enclosed wooden desk units in my classroom. What are little students whose feet don't quite touch the ground yet to do? 

Answer:  Simple--get rid of their chairs! Let younger kids stand in the front of their computers. If they are too tall for this, they can kneel. When given this option, high energy kids (and not-so-high-energy kids) are thankful for this option. I let all students decide if they want to try this. Many may try it at first, but the ones who truly need it stick with it! 

Everyone can benefit from this quick, free and sanity-saving preventive measure!

* If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Love this "Website Evaluation" Lesson Plans Resource!

I came across this site today and am really excited about using it with my students! This site was created by teachers specifically to help students evaluate online information. It has everything you need including various lesson plans and tool kits. Definitely worth a look...

* If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it :)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Gardening in the Computer Lab?

My love of gardening makes me want to share it with others. While researching gardening tidbits online, I often run across articles about gardening with kids. While playing online garden games isn't the ultimate gardening experience, it can get kids thinking about it! I found some ad-free online activities that I will definitely use with my students next year. Take some time to play them yourself...I'm having fun with them!


 * If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it :)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

School's out for summer...are you planning?

If you are like me, you start each summer saying "I am going to get my curriculum really organized for the next school year." I never get as much done as I start out thinking I will. Too many summertime things get in the way...which of course is better than too much planning getting in the way of summer fun. We do need the break!

I do have fun looking for new ideas. Pinterest is one of my favorite tools for this. I am very visual, so scanning what can be an endless array of information holds my interest. And, I really find a lot of cool stuff (for teaching and everything else I like in life).

I have a Pinterest account for Computer Teacher Solutions that I would like to invite you to follow if you care to. It can be found at You can also visit my website at

* If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it :)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Educational games worth investigating....

I received the following link from Teacher Vision in an email this morning and thought it was worth passing on. "Funbrain to Go" has games you can download to your computers which have features not found online...

Funbrain to Go

Download Funbrain games to your computer so your students can access them anytime, anywhere. Funbrain has earned the respect and devotion of thousands of teachers because of its engaging, educationally valid games. Check out the games below -- these Funbrain-to-Go versions have sound and animation not found in the online versions on Mac users, please note that Funbrain-to-Go versions are for "Classic" Mac OS and will not work with current Mac OS (10.5 and newer).

Try Math Baseball, a beloved Math computation game used by thousands of students daily. Or introduce your class to Planet Zug so they can expand their vocabulary. Or build eye-hand coordination and strategy skills with Power Gobbler.

Funbrain to Go: Downloadable Games for Students & Teachers -

 * If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it :)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day computer activities for the upcoming week...

Most of us enjoy having a three day weekend off from school. How many of our students recognize the meaning of Memorial Day? What can we do in the computer lab this coming week to make it more meaningful? 

Here are some online links to a few activities:

Have students type up a letter and send it to a veteran!



* If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it :)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Make money for your school EVERYDAY in your computer lab!

I recently started using "Goodsearch" as a search engine in my computer classroom. It is free to sign-up, and your school can earn a penny for every search that is made! That can amount to hundreds of dollars every year. It is used throughout the school where I work and also recommended to parents. 

We don't create random searches just to make money. They do need to be legitimate. One student, who had her own account, was trying random searches at home. She said her account was frozen and she lost the money she had earned. So, Goodsearch has, with good reason, incorporated technology to sniff out this kind of behavior.

I don't know of many schools who can't use some extra $, so check it out for your school or group!

* If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it :) 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

An idea for when you need a quick computer lesson!

An important guest came to my school today. A mix-up in the timing of his arrival caused everyone's schedule to quickly change. I found myself having to teach computer class to grades 2 and 3 when I thought I wouldn't be. In cases where I find myself having to teach when I wasn't expecting to, I know I can always create a word processing lesson for any grade. Of course, you can do this type of exercise with any grade by just adding grade appropriate skills to the lesson. Here is what I did today for grades 2 & 3:

2nd Grade students:

  • typed 3 things they learned about the visitor. We brainstormed a title for this document.
  • changed the font size.
  • learned to use the numbering command while listing their 3 facts.
3rd Grade students:

  • typed 5 things they learned about the visitor. Again, we brainstormed a title for this document.
  • changed the font size.
  • used the numbering command.
  • created a header with their name (which they right-aligned).

It was a great way to practice some skills, reflect on what they learned today, and had something interesting to take home and share with their family! .

Monday, May 5, 2014

Friendly management tools for when students are keyboarding: Music and Online Timers

There are two things my students really like and associate with keyboarding in my classroom. They are:

  1. Music - I play soft music while students are keyboarding. Sometimes I use an online program like Pandora which has a station I like called "Classical for Studying Radio." Of course, you can use any type of music source. Sometimes I will play a CD or MP3s from my computer or phone which I connect to my computer speakers.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
  2. Online Timers - I used to use a standard timer which basically made a school bell sound at the end of the typing session (my students type for 15 minutes). I kept the volume at a level where it wasn't jarring, but I still dislike the sound. Now, I use an online meditation timer which provides a much more peaceful solution. Below are some links to timers that do not include images pertaining to Buddhism or meditation practices. Don't get me wrong, I am fond of both. However, as teachers we know how things can be misconstrued.

Online Timers

Timers you can download:

Friday, May 2, 2014

Great Websites for Kids!

Do you spend a lot of time searching for good websites for your computer students? The following link is sponsored by the ASSOCIATION FOR LIBRARY SERVICE TO CHILDREN (a division of the American Library Association). They categorize sites by Animal, The Arts, History & Biography, Math & Computers, etc. 

Also, don't miss the link in the upper right of the page "Sites for Parents, Caregivers, Teachers & Others."

Thursday, May 1, 2014

How using Google Images can be a real time saver for you and your students!

Like many of you, I work with teachers to help students find information they need for classroom projects. My coworker, a 5th grade teacher, asked if students could find Coat of Arm samples for their family name. Since they only need an example of what they look like to design and color their own, and do not need to research information about it, I decided to use Google Images. You could also use another search source, like Bing, if you prefer.

Using just an image search can be a huge time saver in instances like this one. Keep it in mind for your students!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Teaching Internet Search Skills--Boolean Operators

The following charts hang in my classroom to help students with searching online. I find 5th graders to be very receptive and an ideal age to introduce such skills.

In this post, I am going to write about the Boolean Operators demonstrated on the left. These examples show what happens if you were searching online for info about Ants and/or Bees. 

Adding the words AND, OR or NOT to your search will produce different search results. The green shaded parts display the amount of page hits (often too much or too little) that might be produced by using NOT, AND or OR.

An actual example from one of my classes was a 5th grader searching for sea life. Each child has an assigned animal, and this particular student had trouble finding swordfish info after just typing swordfish in the Google search box. She kept getting many pages with swordfish food entrees instead of animal facts. I suggested she try some of the Boolean tips we learned. So, she tried:

  • "swordfish NOT food" (the idea was to bring up sites that had swordfish but not food). It lessened the amount of food results , but still not enough animal facts.

  • then, we tried "swordfish AND animal" as well as "swordfish AND facts for kids" which brought up sites that displayed results that contained both sets of words. It had fewer, but more accurate, page results. She was able to get the most information using the AND.

  • if we had put "swordfish OR sea life" it would have brought up way too much information about sea life that did not even address swordfish.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Microsoft Excel for Grades K-3

I think many of us shy away from using Excel with lower elementary grade classes. It seems like a big task but broken down into small chunks it's not so bad. I recently created "Excel for Little Ones" which is an interactive activity for this age group, and it has been very successful in my classes. 

"Excel for Little Ones" teaches about cells, cell addresses, worksheets, rows, columns and entering data. Students work through the 6 worksheets by pressing "Next" and "Back" links. This lesson is designed for students to complete in 30-40 minutes.

As far as using these with the different suggested age groups (K-3) I recommend the following:
  • For Kindergartners, I find it best to use at the end of the school year when there keyboard and letter recognition is improved.
  • For third graders, this is a good beginning Excel activity for those students who have not had any experience with Excel (particularly new students who come without Excel experience).
Once students complete this activity they will be able to create basic charts. You can provide endless data for charts for extra practice!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Spring Cleaning in the Computer Lab

We've made it through the winter--if you live in the Northeastern part of the U.S., congratulations for surviving a difficult season! Time to open those classroom windows again and do some spring cleaning. 

Cleaning a computer lab can be time consuming and monotonous with all those cables and equipment to work around! A small vacuum comes in handy to suck up the dust that gathers. But, grime and germs take a little more work. Here are some tips for friendly products you can use to clean your lab and computer equipment:

Desks and Tables:

The greener the better. No need to buy fancy expensive products. You can find green products in most grocery stores. There are also many suggestions for making your own cleaners online. I have used the following vinegar solution for years at home and now at school.  

Keyboard and Mouse:

Rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball. Be sure not to soak the cotton ball with enough alcohol to drip out of it. You don't want want it soaking into the keyboard or mouse.

Turn your keyboard upside down and shake it gently to release any crud that may be hiding inside. Use a small paintbrush to sweep between the keys.


Be careful with your monitor when it comes to cleaning products. Standard window cleaners can be quite harmful. Stick with a commercial cleaner designed for use on computer screens.


Ugh! The most dreaded of least for me. Dreaded, but important. Below is a link to a good article on how to clean the inside of computers:

How to Clean the Inside of Your Computer by Ed Rhee

Happy least it's Spring!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Wintertime Activities

Ah yes, January has made it's entrance. This is often one of the most difficult months to motivate students and teachers during the school year. The excitement of the holidays is over and spring is still months away. Find your way out of the slump with some wintertime computer activities for grades K-8!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas...oh my!

Simplify your seasonal and holiday lesson planning with these inexpensive, creative and practical technology materials. These products are part of the "Fun for Little Ones - MS Word & Internet Activities" series. To learn more about an activity, click on it's image below:

Here comes Halloween...

followed by Thanksgiving...

and then Christmas sneaks up on us!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

It's a Brain Thing!

Product Description

"Teaching kids about their brains one little lesson at a time!" This activity pack is a creative combination of computer activities for grades 3-5 sure to provide students with a great learning experience!

Included in this pack:

1. A PowerPoint presentation which provides a simple look at the 3 major parts of the brain—the cerebellum, cerebrum and brain stem. It also explains the drawing activity students will complete in either Microsoft Paint or KidPix.

2. A step-by-step Microsoft Word tutorial explaining how to create a 3-column chart to hold facts about the 3 brain parts.

3. An internet link is included directly in the MS Word file above which allows students to access a webpage designed specifically for this product. The webpage has:

• A chart with facts students can use to fill in their charts (this is good if you want students to have quick access to info).

• links to other sites with information (provides opportunities for students to practice online search skills)

• fun brain links to a fascinating video and online coloring picture.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fire Safety MS Word & Internet Activities

  It's Fire Safety Week next you need some resources for your computer students?


Young students in grades K-2 will enjoy typing, putting together a puzzle, and accessing online fire safety activities all within the same Word document!

This product contains teacher instructions along with a student file which you may download on as many computers in your classroom as you like. The student file is a protected document allowing kids an easier experience as they type the words "FIRE TRUCK" and click and drag shapes into the image of a fire truck. First and second graders can be instructed to change the font, text box, and text box border colors.

At the bottom of the document is a small fire truck image that links to a "Fire Safety" online activities page created just for this product!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Creating My Own Posters for My Classroom

I really enjoy creating my own posters! I like the creative feel it adds to such a technical space. So much of our job as computer teachers is spent using aides that often display and produce useful, but mechanical, material. I find some hand-made touches create balance. I'd like to share a few examples with you:


Friday, September 6, 2013

Hopping into Technology!

I LOVE decorating my classroom! I have had a frog theme going on for awhile now. Kids draw and bring me frog stuff. Here are a few pics of my lab...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Helpful Back-to-School Activity for Grades 6-8

Looking for a useful activity to get your middle school students off to a good start this year? Why not help them organize their school life with what tends to be a truly confusing task--remembering their new class schedules!

In this activity, students will be creating a table in Microsoft Word that displays their class schedule. This printable handout gives step-by-step instructions (with graphics). What a great way to help students--creating a visual of their schedule can help middle-schoolers' brains do a better job of processing and retaining such confusing info!

* For use with Microsoft Word 2010

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Back to School--Mouse Skills for Little Ones

I have 2 weeks before heading back to the classroom. Today I have been browsing for easy mouse skills activities for PreK and K. I find that having young students practice very simple mouse skills the first few weeks of school pays off!

Here are a few activities I will use in my computer lab the first week of classes.


As I posted last year, this is also a very helpful tip:

L is for Left
This is a fantastic way to help young students learn to hold and use a mouse! I wish I had done it a long time ago. I instruct children to grasp the sides of the mouse with their thumb on the left and their other fingers on the right...then to slip their pointing finger over onto the "L". I have noticed a huge difference in their ability to focus on clicking the left side of the mouse. I used a gold paint pen which dries within seconds.