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How to Teach Mouse Skills to Pre-Keyboarders

Posted by on October 31, 2016

2027749 cartoon computer mouseMany students enter kindergarten with a basic knowledge of digital devices like iPads and smartphones, but this rarely includes the use of a mouse. This little piece of hardware is strictly for desktop devices and maybe add-ons for laptops. In today’s tech world, you may even consider it a niche item.

But you’d be wrong.

Rarely is there a child that can get through school without using a mouse. If s/he doesn’t know the basic skills — click, double-click, right-click, drag-drop, hover — they will be confused, even frustrated, by so much of what makes technology work. These are not intuitive, starting with how to hold the mouse.

mouse_hold

Little hands with undeveloped fine motor skills struggle to keep their pointer and middle finger spread apart while simultaneously pushing with one finger rather than the whole hand. The moment before students grab ahold of that round little device, teach them how to use it. Don’t expect them — or force them — to figure it out on their own. It’s not intuitive and — like keyboarding — will only create bad habits that must be broken later.

Here are nine websites that teach mouse basics to kindergarten and first graders in clever ways:

Bees and Honey

Students pick one of three games to practice basic mouse skills

Left-click practice while playing the piano

On this Fischer-Price site, students left-click on the highlighted letter (a-g) to play a song with those notes

Left-click with Bubble Wrap

Students practice left-clicking on virtual bubble wrap, trying to pop all the 3D plastic bubbles

MiniMouse

Students practice left-clicking to pop soapy bubbles as they float overhead

1183938_stylized_mouse

Mouse and tech basics–video

Good video from Macmillan showing how to perform mouse basics

Mouse practice—drag, click

Students drag the mouse across the screen to paint a streaming canvas with a variety of brushes

Mouse skills

Students select either to learn how to use the mouse or to practice their skills

Mouse Song

A fun and funny song video about the computer mouse

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A big collection of games to practice using the mouse

When students have the basics, it’s time to practice in granular, relevant ways that fit into class activities. Here are websites that blend mouse practice into drawing and creating puzzles that support class lessons:

Paintingabcyapaint-kindergarten-greeting

Digital art requires all the mouse skills discussed above, used authentically as students create artwork to communicate their ideas on class inquiry. Here are five web-based (mostly) free drawing programs students will enjoy. For youngers, remind them as they draw that they are using good mouse skills to create their masterpieces:

ABCYa Paint

Good basic drawing program with lots of colors and tools; great for Chromebooks

Click the Square

Left click a square and play music

Drawing Melodyabcya-math-sections-k

As students drag their mouse over the canvas, they create music and draw in vibrant colors. Fun and addicting for almost any age.

Sketchpad

Good online drawing program that requires no log-in; lots of colors, pens, stamps, and more; works well on Chromebooks

SumoPaint

Good for elementary through high school; no log-in required; works well on Chromebooks

Puzzles

There’s no better way to practice drag-and-drop or left-click mouse skills than puzzles. Here are five great sites that include themed puzzles for kids:

  1. Digipuzzles
  2. Jigsaw Planet–create your own picture jigsaw
  3. Jigsaw puzzles
  4. Jigzone–puzzles
  5. Jigsaw Puzzles

Before you leave, here’s a good poster on the five basic mouse skills — click and then download; tack it to the wall in your classroom:

mouse-skills–published first on TeachHUB


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

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