Utilize the technology that is in your classroom!
To get started, find a few activities online that students can explore from the computer. I have a nice long list of educational activities for kids here.
Next, find a way for students to access these activities, either on desktop computers, laptops or the Smart Board.
One way to do this is with customized desktop icons that link to directly to online educational content. Students gain access to activities on the internet when they click each desktop shortcut. Each shortcut contains an icon image and a title, and is viewable from the main desktop screen. Kids as young as preschoolers and kindergarteners use visual cues and early reading skills to navigate between the different activities on the computer interface!
Using custom desktop icons on your classroom computers will help students easily identify the different programs and online resources that are available to them on the computer.
How to create custom desktop icons that open to any webpage,
- First, go online and find an activity you want your students to access.
- Copy the URL of the website to your clipboard.
- Right click on your desktop and select New –> Shortcut.
- When the prompt appears and asks you to enter the location of the item, paste the URL of the desired activity into the input box and click Next.
- The next window prompts you to enter a name for the icon. Enter the name of the activity and press Finish.
- An icon will now appear on the main screen or desktop, and when someone clicks on the it, the web browser will open up a new window pointing to the URL of the website you entered.
How to change the image of the icon so students can more easily identify and access the activity,
- Right click on the icon and select properties.
- Click on the button that says Change Icon.
- Select the Browse button
- Select the icon image that you want to use and press enter.
So what if you don’t have any icon images? You can either search the internet for some (icon files have a .ico extension) or you can create your own icons from images on your computer or from the internet.
How to create your own icon image with a picture of your choice you will need photo editing software such as Paint, Paint.net, or Photoshop.
I recommend using a screen shot of the resource to make finding the activity super easy for students.
- Open image of your choice with photo editing software (Photoshop, Paint, etc)
- Crop the image into a square
- Resize the image so that it measures 32 x 32 pixels
- Save the image.
- Change the file type from .jpg or .gif (or whatever the image type is) to .ico. To do this, first locate the image on your computer. Right click on the image file and select re-name, then change the existing extension to .ico but keep the name the same. For example, change picture.jpg to picture.ico
You can use now the icon image you created by following the directions above: How to change the image of the icon. Students will be able to access an unlimited number of online activities with one simple click of the mouse as they independently explore the classroom technology center!