Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Project Based Technology in Second Grade
Vera McPike
Computer Technology
Time Frame:
30 minutes a day, continuous project

Grade Levels:

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

A summary of introducing second graders to computer use through a variety of activities including making slideshows, using email, and constructing Hyperstudio projects.


To introduce the Second Graders to the Macintosh computer in our classroom

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:

Missouri Standards

7. The use of tools of social science inquiry (such as surveys, statistics, maps, documents)


Kansas Standards

Benchmark 4: The student engages in historical thinking skills.

1. (A) creates and uses timelines.

2. (A) locates information using both primary and secondary sources.

5. (A) uses research skills (e.g., discusses ideas; formulates broad and specific questions; finds and selects information with help; records, organizes and shares information).

Benchmark 2: The student derives meaning from information presented creatively in a variety of formats.

Benchmark 1: The student demonstrates a sound understanding of the nature of operation of technology systems.

Technology Required:

computer with internet access

Full description of activity or assignment.

Introducing the Macintosh

1. To introduce the Second Graders to the Macintosh computer in our classroom, we used the program Kid Pix. This program has drawing/painting/writing components with the ability to add sound, animation, and graphics. It is very kid-friendly and lets children get into making a presentation quickly.

Our first project was to make an introductory slideshow.

Each student drew and colored himself on Kid Pix. Then he typed his name and added any other graphics he thought would tell us more about himself. Last he recorded his voice telling what he liked most about school. When each student had completed a screen for the slideshow, the screens were compiled into a computer slideshow, which the students watch and watch and watch!

Getting Acquainted with E-Mail

2. Next we became acquainted with e-mail. This was done first with the Journey South program in which we participated with thousands and thousands of other children in the U. S., Canada, and Mexico. It involves the migration of monarch butterflies. We sent off paper butterflies to coincide with the real migration. These butterflies eventually reached classrooms in Mexico. Through e-mail updates the class is keeping track of the monarchs. To coincide with their return trip back north, the class will receive paper butterflies from their Mexican counterparts.

Mystery President E-Mail

3. Then we began our Mystery President e-mail activity. During a week in October the children received daily clues in their e-mail about a mystery president. Each morning after the clue was read, the class could decide on a question they wanted to e-mail back to TeachRs (the clue sender). Suggestions were elicited, then discussed. The class voted on which question they thought would most help them figure out the identity of the president. That question would then be e-mailed back. Next day we would receive an answer to our question plus a new clue. Each day the new information was printed out for each student to take home to discuss with their families for additional input. At the end of the week the class voted on the identity of the president, then e-mailed the collective guess to TeachRs. How exciting to find out we had correctly solved the mystery!

Beginning the Research

4. Next came our first Research steps. After hearing a couple of beginning biographies on Harry Truman, each child was given a 5x8 card to write a question on. The question was to be something he would like to find out about Harry Truman. One at a time the students visited our Research Center which had been stocked with easy resource materials about Truman and a computer with Internet access. Upon finding the answers to their questions, they would write it on the reverse side of the 5x8 card in good sentence form. This sentence would be the text for their next computer presentation.

Tackling Hyperstudio

5. HyperStudio was the next presentation program we tackled. With the help of an eighth grade T.I.E.S. volunteer each child made a HyperStudio "card" complete with his text and a photo that was inserted. The photo could be from the Internet or from a file of scanned or pictified photos that the teacher had previously gathered. The cards were connected in a stack using the "album" template to form Our Friend Harry, a computer photo album of Truman's life. We are preparing to add sound buttons of the children telling more about their card.

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:

Making a Timeline

6. Following the research for the HyperStudio stack, the class then made a vertical timeline together. Four eras of Harry's life were listed on chart paper. The class brainstormed events from each era. Then they chose an event they wanted to illustrate for an Internet web page. After drawing and coloring their choice, they wrote a sentence or two telling about it. The pictures were scanned by the teacher and their text typed and saved on disks. The original illustrations and sentences were glued onto Kraft paper to form a model of the web page with the instructions to click on a picture to learn more. The sentences were placed under the illustrations to give the effect of "linking". We need to learn how to get a web page going and how to upload our timeline!