Last weekend I spent a considerable number of hours with the grandbrats. The kids were moving to a new house and needed some free babytending. My three-and-a-half year old grandson Preston is a lively little lad. I don’t like parking him in front of the teevee for entertainment, but Nana’s house doesn’t have a lot of activities for little kids. After building blocks and coloring and digging holes in the backyard we were running out of things to do. Suddenly inspiration hit! “Wonder what’s on the internet for little kids?” I thought.
Isn’t the ‘net cool? I sat down, typed http://www.bobthebuilder.com into the browser and lo and behold up popped the website with a games section. I’m still using my graphite iBook with no mouse, just a trackpad, so we spent the first go around with me moving the mouse and him doing the clicking. We built a house and colored it. We laid pipe. We put Bob The Builder’s tools away. The games were age appropriate and instructional and fun.
The next day Preston was eager to play on the computer again. My husband suggested Thomas the Tank Engine, http://www.thomasthetankengine.com a British incarnation that is starting to become popular in the States. Thomas the Tank Engine also has age appropriate games and Preston enjoyed gathering balloons with the helicopter game. This one only required the up and down keys and he was able, after several attempts, to coordinate his eyes and fingers to play the game without my help.
Meanwhile one-year-old Taylee was running around getting into everything her chubby little hands could grasp. She rearranged several drawers. (What is it little kids find so fascinating about emptying out drawers and cupboards?) I took Taylee on my lap as well and went to google and typed in “pictures of horses.” We found a great website with lots of horse pictures, and both kids enjoyed looking at them. Taylee started to nod off so I went off to the couch to settle her for her nap. Preston continued playing on the computer by himself. He was very pleased that he figured out how to use the trackpad to move the cursor around. He was still a little clumsy, but managed to find the back button on the browser which took him back to Thomas the Tank Engine. How did he know how to do that?
My monitor screen still has tiny little fingerprints on it from him pointing to “‘Dis one, Nana, now ‘dis one.” He didn’t think the computer was anything at all special. Many of his toys and games are interactive. I gave him LeapPad for Christmas and he knew exactly how to use it right out of the box. My old LC is still gathering dust in a closet, I’m thinking about hauling it out for him. I have some old games on disks that might be appropriate. It might also improve his eye/hand coordination and teach him how to use a mouse.
I’d love some feedback on what other websites might be interesting to little kids. I’d also like to hear about any fun software available. When my own kids were growing up we didn’t have computers (Why, back in MY day!…) and the internet didn’t arrive in our home until they were practically out the door to be on their own. So, I’m pretty out of touch with what is available, or even where to look for this type of stuff.
The day Preston and his mom came home from the hospital I visited their house with my iBook. I sat this three-day-old infant on my lap and had my son take his picture with me in front of the computer. My son laughed at me. “Mom, why are you doing this?” he said. “I want my grandson to grow up strong, and healthy, and to be a Mac user,” I replied. Looks like the imprinting worked.