Thursday, June 23, 2011

3 year-old Technology

I haven't posted in a while, and for good reason. I left my wonderful home in Phoenix to visit my family in Colorado and then go down to my older sister to watch my 3-year old niece and 1 year old nephew. I'm going to call the three-year-old Blue Eyes.

Upon arriving at my sister's house I observed an interesting phenomenon. Blue Eyes wanted technology. Before her mommy left she asked if she could play "ehpod" (Ipod). My sister handed her an Ipod touch and Blue Eyes confidently unlocked it, scrolled though 3 pages of apps and clicked on a coloring game. After delightedly coloring (switching from one color to another using a pop-up palette) she competently exited the game and went to a shapes game. She sat on my lap and listened as the game asked her to find a "Hexagon".

Did Blue Eyes mix it up? No! I saw her finger move to point at the square (without clicking) shake her head, move to the triangle, and repeated it till the only shape left was the Hexagon. Confident in her choice she clicked and moved on to the next question. It wasn't until "crescent" that the struggled to identify the correct shape.

I was amazed and told my sister so. "She plays it all the time," was her response. My thought- Blue Eyes is going to go into Kindergarten knowing so much more than her peers because her Mommy wasn't afraid to let her use technology to teach herself (though Blue Eyes only thought she was playing a game.)

Later Blue Eyes asked me if she could "play ABCs". I was intrigued and my sister explained that she'd been sharing Starfall with Blue Eyes. I said yes, because I love Starfall. My sister cut me off slightly saying, "She can't play it alone, the mouse gives her troubles." I couldn't play with Blue Eyes right then so I set the matter aside till my sister was gone later that afternoon.

When Blue Eyes asked me again "Play Abcs?" I said yes and after struggling with their slow computer managed to get the website up. I decided to test Blue Eyes on how well she did with the mouse. After showing her how to hold the mouse (thumb on one side, index finger on first button, middle finger on second, ring and piny on other side) and getting rid of the mouse pad* I let her loose saying "Click on the sparkly things!"

Here are the results:
First Time: Blue Eyes struggled a bit at first slowing her movements down enough to click on the right place. I stood and helped a few times after she said, "Aunt Jamie, doe'n't work, help!" Usually all that had happened is the mouse had disappeared into the side of the screen and just needed to be brought back out.
Second Time: Blue Eyes barely asked for help this time. The only time she did was when her movmements had caused the mouse to almost fall off of the desk. The mouse doesn't work if nothing is under it!
Third Time: Blue Eyes had it down now. Occasionally she would say, "Help!" and I'd reposition her hand correctly so she clicked on the first mouse button, not the second.
Fourth and all subsequent times: Blue Eyes Had it. She became completely self directed and even began repeating back at the computer the letters and the sounds they made. She even had the Click-and-drag games down!!

I'm amazed at the power of Technology. My sister won't have to teach her daughter the ABCs by rote, nor the sounds that each letter makes. Blue Eyes is learning them all by herself.

I'm so proud of her - I actually had to set a limit on how long Blue Eyes could be on "Abc's" because she would have stayed at it all day if I'd let her! What a gift she has been given.

*- Her fine motor skills aren't quite advanced enough to stay on the pad. Her father (My bother-in-law) tried to have her use it, but I quietly got rid of it after he left. It was just causing her frustration when the mouse went over the edge and the mouse stopped working for a moment. The top of the desk worked just fine.

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