Program gives iPods to kindergartners

Published 10:15 am Monday, August 9, 2010

A 5-year-old tinkers with an iPod last week at Hawthorne Elementary School. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune Media

Program gives iPods to kindergartners to aid them in getting ready for school

Hawthorne Elementary School is using new technology to help kids transition into kindergarten classes.

Kindergarten teacher Heather Leach, with the help of teacher Maurna Rome, wrote a grant application to the Education Minnesota Foundation and received donations from area businesses to fund a new program.

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With the money from the grant and donations, Leach bought 12 iPods that all have touchscreens. The kids can have books read to them or play games that help with learning numbers and letters. Many applications can be downloaded for different kinds of learning games or activities.

“We invited 12 students and have nine enrolled,” Leach said.

After doing a survey of the students who will be in kindergarten this fall, Leach invited the students who didn’t have preschool experience. The program is two weeks long, three hours a day. It will be completed before the school year starts.

“It’s a nice opportunity to get the students in a little earlier and work with them,” Leach said.

The goal of the program is to help the students with letter names and sounds, counting and number identification. Students can get used to the school setting and classroom routines.

Another part of the program is to involve parents in their child’s learning. Children bring home bags of books and worksheets to read and complete with their parents each night.

“We’re also using Smart Boards and going to the computer lab,” Leach said.

She said the kids like to watch and dance along to videos played on the Smart Board, which are electronic white boards. Leach likes that using different technologies helps appeal to each child, because they all learn differently.

The students are enjoying the different technologies as well. Leach said the kids get excited when they’re allowed to interact with the Smart Board, and when they use the iPods they are engrossed in the activity. One student, 5-year-old Trace, said he liked playing a mouse game where he needed to figure out the answers to math questions like one plus one.

Businesses and organizations that donated were Mrs. Gerry’s, Donna Nelson Insurance, Lou-Rich, Alamco, the Loyal Order of Moose, Fraternal Order of Eagles and the Rotary and Kiwanis clubs.