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Minutes from ME

Draggin' & Droppin'


Dragging and Dropping

Pre-readers have begun to learn number and letter recognition and know maybe one word with spelling certainty - their own name. Using this beginning knowledge they can learn the 'dragging & dropping' routine in the PAINT program. This basic computing skill will stay with them throughout their computing lifetimes, based on current data processing procedures.
Oops, forget I said that! Those computer processing procedures improve with such amazing speed that we can probably guarantee this skill will be meaningful through maybe fifth grade!


Just one tool is required to drag and drop chosen areas of a PAINT screen, its at the top corner of the toolbar. The pop-up label for this tool is "Select," I prefer to use the word "highlight" because that is the term I will use in teaching the drag & drop process to older children later in other graphics manipulation and word processing programs.

Drag & Drop How-To.

To move an area such a the green zero above, first click on the "highlight" button and outline a box shape around the number. Take time to notice that the cursor now has two shapes: the usual cross shape outside the highlighted area or multi-directional arrows when inside that area. Those tiny arrows are a reminder that once we press the mouse button with the cursor in this shape, the highlighted area can be moved around the screen and dropped anywhere by just letting the mouse button go. Go ahead and try it a few times.

Pitfalls demo

While dragging is so simply done, there are a few pitfalls to avoid. Outlining with the mouse is a high concentration skill requiring practice, the understanding of spatial relationships can tax younger children at first. Keep in mind that everything inside the highlighted area is moved around when dragging.

In example (1) the top part of the character will be left behind (outline TOO small). In example (2) the extra white area around the character will be moved with the character (outline TOO big). Example (3) is pretty close to perfect highlighting with only the character outlined (outline JUST RIGHT!).


(Preset the text size to around 36, the font style to ARIAL and turn on the CAPSLOCK)

This lesson introduces dragging and dropping while practicing recognition and sequencing.
Review how to type text in PAINT using the "A" button.
Prepare the text outline and dictate a series of letters and spacebar strikes for the children to key, at least three spaces between each character permits easier highlighting later.
(The letter screen could be made up ahead of time as a saved file and opened for the children, but I prefer that the children practice the steps of listening to recognize letters, find each key and then key the letters themselves.)
As can be seen I deliberately get confused while dictating and when we check our work the children are agreed I've "messed up" and IZE=4> sequence.
Gather the children around one machine and demonstrate the dragging & dropping process, with a few missteps to make sure everyone is paying attention, and put the letters back into the right alphabetical sequence.
Now watch the children scattering back to their machines to correct their own letter sets.

The letter sequence dictated is:

Mixed Up Letters

Here it is after Drag and Drop fixing.

Rearranged Letters

Repeat the same DICTATE AND FIX process with a numbers series.

Mixed Up Numbers

Rearranged Numbers


Go to a new blank screen (singing our "File, New, No" reminder and have each child type their own name, again making three spaces between each letter to allow room for the highlight box. Now have each child create their own confusion (their specialty!) by jumbling up the letters of their name.

Correct NameJumbled Name

Now it's time to change places with a friend and restore her mixed-up name to its correct sequence!

Restored Name

Of course at this stage children have problems recognizing any name other than their own, so now comes the good part...
Encourage each fixer to get help from the name's originator - collaboration! Stand back and watch groups moving from machine to machine offering their friends advice on solving the problem and rebuilding each name in the correct sequence.

Broken Up NameName Reattached

Another strategy is to capitalize on imperfect highlighting described above by having children deliberately break each letter of the name apart and this time challenge the teacher to fix it. This works well and amuses everyone so long as the letter pieces are kept to a recognizable size, not reduced to a bunch of minute chips!
Fast finishers who are lucky enough to have short names can be encouraged to embellish their names by coloring or adding shapes using other PAINT tools they have learned about so far.

Animated Katie

I'm sure you know the name of the kind illustrator who has my thanks this time!

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