1st Grade Builds a Keyboard

our keyboard

Handmade by the 1st Grade Students

The first grade students have been working on making their very own keyboard to keep up in the Technology Lab. This project had two parts: introduced students Microsoft Word and physically constructing the keys.

Introduction to Microsoft Word

After introducing this project to the students, I told them that we were going to use a program called Microsoft Word to create their letters. The first step was for student to identify the MS Word icon (they searched for the big ¬†blue “W”). Next, we talked about how their screens looked like a blank piece of paper and some applications for Word (e.g., writing a letter or a story). I showed everyone an example of a finished keyboard key and asked them to help me identify the steps we would need to do in Word: insert a box, type a letter, and increase the letter size.

Once we knew the steps, we discussed “insert” since that was a new term for many children and then they learned how to use the toolbar to find and insert a rectangle. Since shapes are filled in by default, we discussed the fact that we would probably need to make our rectangles white inside in order to see the letter or symbol we wanted to type. This provided an opportunity to discuss the fill bucket tool and students learned how to change their shapes to “no fill.”

No Fill

“No Fill” in the Paint Bucket

After checking the keyboard, we also observed that all of the letters on the keyboard are uppercase so students practiced using the shift key to create capital letters. Finally, we talked about how tiny their letters looked and learned how to increase the font size so that they would be easy to see on the bulletin board where our keyboard would go.

Constructing the Keyboard 

After each child created a letter or symbol in Microsoft Word, we printed them all out and everyone had a chance to cut out their keys, following the lines of the rectangle we inserted. Students then taped them to the sushi containers (our stand-in keys) I have been collecting so that their keys would pop-out on the bulletin board.

Finding Keys on the Keyboard

Finding Keys on the Keyboard

Next, we added their keys one-by-one to the bulletin board where we are constructing a keyboard. We searched for each key on the keyboards in the lab to determine which letters came next since the keyboard is not in ABC order. Students observed that many vowels are neighbors on the keyboard and we talked about how some symbols share keys, with one living “upstairs” and one living “downstairs,” such as the period or the question mark. We also noticed that we needed each class to contribute letters and symbols to the keyboard in order to complete it and without their help or collaboration, we would be stuck with just parts of a keyboard!

Adding Keys

Cutting out their Keys

We ended the project by learning about the home row. We talked about the fact that just like students go home each night to rest and, their fingers should always come back to rest on those same keys. Everyone had a chance to touch the special bumps on letters “F” and “J” to see how they can know where to rest their pointer fingers on the home row without looking. We’ll keep talking about the keyboard as we introduce games like Dance Mat Typing and the idea of touch typing. Many students said they have already seen how their older siblings or parents can type without looking and they’re excited to learn how to do that too!



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