Thursday, December 31, 2009

Introducing Computers to Upper Elementary Montessori Students: Resources and Tips

NAMC montessori introducing students computers resources tips
In this day and age, odds are that many of your Montessori upper elementary students are extremely familiar and comfortable with computers. They may even know the computer better than you! If you have computers in your Montessori classroom or school that your students will be using, I find it is helpful to do an introductory lesson to the computer with your Montessori students regardless of their preexisting knowledge and savvy. I have discovered that upper elementary students are often overly confident about their computer skills and/or too embarrassed to admit they don’t know as much as they claim. Often a simple difference in brand (Dell vs. Toshiba) or operating platform (Mac OS vs. Windows Vista) can make a difference in their comfort level and knowledge.

If the interest is there, begin your introduction to computers with a discussion and book about the history of computers. In small or large groups, show your students all the important parts of the computers you will be using (power button, mouse, screen, hard drive, etc.) Have your students draw and label a diagram of the computer. If necessary, you can write the names of the parts on slips of paper, place them in a hat or bowl, draw a name and have students “race” each other to locate the part. There are many opportunities for later extensions to this introductory activity, such as defining the functions of various parts of the computer, even taking it further to identify, define and explore concepts such as memory and other inner workings of the computer.

Introducing Computers to Upper Elementary Montessori Students: Resources and Tips

Next, I move on to the software programs we will be using. My students mainly use a word processing program (for typing completed research essays and other writing) and an internet browser (for research). Occasionally we have used a typing program, such as Kidspiration and Inspiration. Similar to introducing the parts of a computer, I show my Montessori students five to ten basic functions of the program they will be using (opening the program, minimizing and maximizing, typing a document, entering a web address, etc.). I keep simple “cheat sheets” posted beside the computers that include reminders on using the computer and its programs.
NAMC montessori introducing students computers resources tips
As an activity for the word processing program, I give a card to each student with a set of directions that walks them through creating a simple document that they print and give to me. I have a series of these activities that increase in difficulty that students can complete at their own pace. For an internet browser program, I give each student a card with an information scavenger hunt that includes a series of questions that they answer and then submit to me. I have also created folders with these cards that include a control/self-checking sheet so students may work independently. There is a plethora of activities available online that have been developed by teachers.
Make sure you have researched the safety measures that your IT administrator, media specialist, or school district have put into place on your computer system. If none are in place, use a kid-safe internet browser or safety program for all activities and research being done by students.

Computer Related Books for the Montessori Teacher and Classroom
  • The History of the Computer, by Elizabeth Raum
  • Oxford Illustrated Computer Dictionary 2009, by Ian Dicks
  • Arthur's Computer Disaster, by Marc Brown
  • Computer Activities Through the Year, by Susan L. Gimotty
  • Online Activities for Kids: Projects for School, Extra Credit, or Just Plain Fun! by Preston Gralla
  • Hello World!: Computer Programming for Kids and Other Beginners, by Warren Sande and Carter Sande
  • Windows Vista and Internet for Children: The Best Book About Computers for Kids Grade 3 and Up, by Studio Visual Steps
  • Exploring the United States on the Net: Grades 4-6, by Cynthia G. Adams
  • Exploring the World on the Net: Grades 4-6, by Cynthia G. Adams
  • Faux Paw's Adventures in the Internet: Keeping Children Safe Online, by Jacalyn Leavitt, Sally Linford, J. Chad Erekson, and First Lady Laura Bush
Safe Surfing Resources
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Thursday, December 31, 2009.


  1. I googled and found that you had my son Carter's book listed on your site. It may interest you to know that Carter attended Casa in a Montessori school for 3 years. He turned 11 just this summer. Thanks for listing his book

  2. Carter's Mom, how exciting for him to be a published author at this young age. He must feel quite proud of his accomplishments.


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