Teaching With Technology: Reviews of Movement-Related Software & Toys
- Grades: PreK–K
Intel Play Me2Cam With Fun Fair
First, plug the camera into the USB port (the little square one) on your computer and position it on top of your monitor. (Note that you'll need a Windows 98 or better operating system.) After you install the software, have a child sign in and pose for about five seconds while his picture is taken. Next, the video image magically appears in the game screen, and you are ready to play inside one of the five games. In Snow Surfin', your moving image is placed on top of a snowboard. Standing in front of the camera and computer, you "ski" by shifting your body side to side to avoid onscreen obstacles such as rocks, trees, and penguins. Other crazy games include Pinball (where your hands and head become the flippers) and Bubble Mania, in which you pop bubbles by moving your arms. We found that it is important to play the game in a well-lit area in order to avoid a grainy and washed out image. Intel, 888-628-8359; Windows.
Jumbo Music Block
What do you get if you combine a pillow, a busy box, and a stereo? The Jumbo Music Block, a new toy that is a case study in how technology can supplement traditional play patterns. It's an ideal item for any baby or toddler in the sensorimotor stage (1 to 3 years of age), although older children also like to play with it. Each of the six soft sides of the cube features a different door to explore, behind which children find things to interact with like a mirror, busy ball, a bean bag star. The cube reacts to motion and known which side is up, singing a shape tune, for instance, when the shape activity is on top. Under one of the doors, you will find a volume control with two settings. Note that a toy of this type will be mouthed by young children, but because of the electronics, the surface will need to be cleaned with a damp cloth. Neurosmith, 800-220-3669; http://www.neurosmith.com/.
LeapFrog Learning Drum
Designed for babies and toddlers, this battery-operated interactive drum flashes and sings letters and numbers as the baby pounds away. Children can listen to different drum sounds and play four different learning "modes" called ABC, 123, Interactive Song, and Follow the Beat. The drum is sturdy and can take a beating but requires a fairly strong tap for the sound and lights to work. LeapFrog, 800-701-5327; http://www.leapfrog.com/.