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Minutes from ME

Font Examples


As children progress through the elementary grades they build on previous computing experiences. As they encounter familiar situations surely "Oh, I remember this!" are the dearest words we hear.
As reading and writing skills improve the children move into word processing, where many basic computing techniques are transferable from earlier experiences with the PAINT program.
The aim is to continue and expand familiar processes with maximum enjoyment included.

A series of activities:



Describe and demonstrate the basic changeable effects possible in word processing - font size, bold, underline, italic, font style, color.
Apply the effects in some writing by dictating a sentence for keying then encouraging embellishments which will add interest to the text.
For example, the sentence "I lost my big red ball under the green fence" becomes -
WP Color & Size Added

With slight encouragement the children will create their own sentences complicated enough to match this new discovery. (My friend Isaac swam in the "aqua, blue and green" ocean.) This may be a good time to mention that there is a group description for all the descriptive words they have been changing - ADJECTIVES!
Varied font styles in word processing can add interest to a piece of writing too.
Have each child type her name, highlight it and then change the font style any number of times to experiment with all the choices available. Discuss the choices and suggest a two minute "Art Stroll" around the lab to compliment classmates on their style choices. Suggest and dictate a few phrases to be keyed in a plain font style. Have the children choose and change the font to match the mood of the sentence. Some examples: WP Font Moods
Continue with other phrases suggested by the children, starting from either a phrase or a certain font style, this gets them thinking about mood in descriptive writing.
Some further questions about writing and word processing, and our solutions:
How to show shouting? Use bold, caps, punctuation or all three.
Whispering? Use small italics. Emphasis? Use underline.

Sentence effects

There are also graphic font styles which deserve investigation. They can be turned to advantage in later grades where students create pictorial stories.

I recommend always keying first in a simple font style (Arial, Times Roman) to avoid experimentation delays,then highlighting and altering the text. After all, a benefit of using a computer is the ability to easily change and change back whenever you change your mind!


Describe how dragging and dropping is done in word processing. Dictate the following sentences for keying.

I brush my teeth.
I go outside.
I get out of bed.
I eat breakfast.
I get dressed.
I wake up.

What's wrong here? Does the order of doing things make sense? You eat before you get out of bed? You go outside before you get dressed? Sure enough some children will insist that they do just that, but after the braggadocio is over go ahead and explain how to drag these sentences to the correct sequence.
Have the children make their own list for other situations, jumble the sequence, then switch places with classmates to make the sequence sensible.
Some suggestions:
A Day At School ("You mean you eat lunch before you turn in your homework?"),
A Baseball Game ("How can you hit the ball before the pitcher throws it?"),
A Trip To The Beach ("How can you reach the water before crossing the sand?").


It's never too soon or often to learn the saved time and effort involved in copying and pasting. There is delight in creating "instant" (well, pretty rapid!) versions of some favorite, repetitive children's songs.
Explain how
copying and pasting is done in word processing in a very similar way to that used in the PAINT program.
Choose a well-known song with repeats, the choice here is "Bingo". The first verse is:

There was a farmer had a dog,
And Bingo was his name-O,
B - I - N - G - O, B - I - N - G - O, B - I - N - G - O,
And Bingo was his name-O.

The second verse repeats the first except that a single handclap replaces each B in line 3. The handclap is shown by an asterisk *, so the second verse is:

There was a farmer had a dog,
And Bingo was his name-O,
* - I - N - G - O, * - I - N - G - O, * - I - N - G - O,
And Bingo was his name-O.

The song progresses through four more verses as each letter in line 3 is replaced with a handclap.
Notice the underlined sections of verse 1 and realize that the children need only key these sections then copy and paste them to make the whole verse. With verse 2 it is even better, this is a complete copy of verse 1 except for three asterisks. By copying and substituting asterisks in the next three verses the children have keyed the entire song! Such excitement as the song gets so long the top part disappears from the monitor screen and much scrolling is needed to see it all!
For extra enjoyment take advantage of the computer's multi-tasking and, before keying begins, open the KIDZSING GARDEN OF SONGS website, select and play "Bingo". Now the children can hum along to the tune while they key the words.
Other song candidates for "instant" keying are "If You're Happy And You Know It", "The Wheels On The Bus" and the biggest hit of all (after the first verse typing) is the almost endless "Twelve Days of Christmas".


I share the excitement each year as children reach the ability to read Arnold Lobel's wonderful stories about the friendship and adventures of Frog and Toad.
Since the World Wide Web contains the superb
Froggy Page here are some ways to extend the reading accomplishment and use these favorite stories as an introduction to surfing the World Wide Web. The Froggy Page is an ideal site for beginning users of the web; its content is attractive and understandable and there are selected areas of the web site which require minimal reading ability and therefore leave children to focus independently.


First build a simple 5-line document as shown below. Save it as a file titled FROGS.htm.
FROGS HTML document

(It is impossible to expect young children to key in URL addresses with their strict rules of no spaces, remember the period, what's a slash, etc. Instead add new addresses to the simple HTML document shown, numbering each new addition and make the text easy to read. Designate this file as the home page of your browser software and it is immediately available to the children.)


Have each child open the FROGS.htm file in the Web browser while connected on-line, then click on the Froggy name and it will open to the wonderful Froggy Page.
One more step - have each student scroll down to the frog with paintbrush at the bottom of this page, click on this link and find herself at the Froggy Pictures web page.
Take a few minutes to give minimum Web navigation instructions about:
(1) clicking on anything where the cursor changes from an arrow to a pointing finger (or is underlined and blue),
(2) clicking away on the BACK button to return to previous pages (like the pages of a book), and
(3) clicking on any picture where the icon changes from an arrow to a hand yields a larger version of the picture.

Those few, short pointers are sufficient to send the children surfing successfully. Watch the excitement and collaboration as children compare the great pictures found and exchange instructions on how to find them.
Overheard in the computer lab - "No! Go back to page 3, click and go down. There it is! The strawberry poison one! Now click on the picture!" Et voila!
"Fred, what page is that red-eyed tree frog on?" (it's page 2) and so on.
Now try to tear those kids away from the Froggy Page!

Clip art from the World Wide Web
Venture onto the Web for an expanded lesson:
1. Go search the Web and download some free frog clip art.
2. Use a simple graphics conversion program (I use LView) to convert the clip from .gif to the .bmp format necessary for PAINT program use.

Frog Alone Toad Alone
3. Choose and name each .bmp file either FROG or TOAD. (What else! Thank you, Arnold Lobel).
4. Open the frog graphic in PAINT and encourage the children to add their own embellishments.
Frog and Toad

When you leave frogs and toads and maybe read "Mr. Popper's Penguins" be absolutely sure to go to Pete & Barb's Penguin Pages for a mine of interesting information on another of my favorite animals.
There is very nice penguin clipart available on the Web too.

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