When my oldest son began taking an interest in the computer, I thought it was time to begin teaching him how to use it. The toddler stage is a critical time of development. Vocabulary is strengthening, motor skills are fine tuning. It is a perfect time to introduce the computer to your little one.
While introducing computer games may not seem all that pleasant, there are a number of games available for free on the internet that are specifically designed not only to teach basic learning but also help teach your toddler how to use a computer.
Because many games are not directly geared for the toddler to push a specific key, I have sat down with my son and we made it into a game of “find the numbers” or “find the letters”. For example, for the CrayMachine, there is only an orange box that will display different shapes and play funny sounds when you push a random key. This isn’t so much as a game as it is a way to make your toddler laugh. But we’ve turned it into a game by me saying, “Okay, now find the A.” When he locates the correct key, he is allowed to push it and reap the benefits of seeing silly shapes and hearing weird sounds. Then we move on to the next letter in the alphabet. This not only teaches him letters but also teaches him that something happens on the computer screen when you press a key on the keyboard.
Count the Score is a counting game that really requires nothing other then hitting a random key after each “goal” as the characters count. Instead of just hitting “enter” after each count, have your toddler physically look for the number on the keyboard. Once the number is found, then he can push it, giving him more of the illusion that he is actually playing a game by hitting the correct number.
The same goes for this other Fisher-Price game Learn Your ABC’s. This little game only requires that you push a random key after each letter takes shape. Make it more challenging by helping your toddler locate each letter of the alphabet and let him press it on the keyboard.
Learning how to use a mouse is another story. Little fingers want to push! push! push! no matter which side of the mouse his fingers are on. When I told my son to move the cursor up, he responded by picking the mouse completely up off the mouse pad. It takes a little bit of time and coordination for a toddler to understand that moving the mouse moves the little arrow on the screen and clicking makes things happen on the screen. One simple game I found that helps clarify this concept for a toddler is The Mouse Game by Mostly Mommies. The blue background is in contrast enough to help your toddler see a standard cursor better. Teach him how to click the mouse and a ball moves toward the cursor.
Another game that can help a toddler use a mouse, as well as have fun with animal sounds is the Animal Sounds Game. On the screen will be two animals and your toddler has to click on the correct animal for the sound. We had to add nothing to this game as it teaches two lessons in one!
Not only is this pivotal teaching time, it is excellent quality time. So the next time your toddler wants to bang on the keyboard, sit him in your lap and teach him how to properly use the computer.
Fisher-Price Online Games and Activities
Mostly Mommies – Games