Help me help a bunch of kids become nerds like me!
October 12, 2010 6:51 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have recommendations for great OS X applications for computers that are stationed in a daycare's preschool classrooms? I'm taking on the task of reinstalling four Mac Minis in my daughter's daycare, and am looking for ideas about the best software (freeware or inexpensive shareware/payware) for kids between the ages of 2 1/2 and 5 years old.

After noticing that the two oldest classrooms in my daughter's daycare haven't been using their computers, I asked why and was told that nobody had been maintaining the machines, which led to all sorts of issues with them. The long and short is that I'm now going to wipe them all clean and start over, and I'm looking for great apps that might serve as a nice starting point for the classrooms. The details are:
  • two classrooms of children, one that ranges from 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years old and the other that ranges from 3 1/2 to 5 years old;
  • two Mac Mini machines per room, all of which are Intel Core Duos (circa 2006 machines) capable of running OS X 10.5 (but not 10.6 without memory upgrades);
  • unclear whether I'll be able to hook them up to the in-building network/internet, since the facility is in a federal building with all the network security restrictions that come along with that;
  • for the most part, the kids don't use the computers unattended, but rather would be able to use them in concert with the classroom teachers as part of planned sessions during the day.
I'm about to start reinstalling the first of the four machines today, and would love to hear what recommendations folks might have!
posted by delfuego to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Check out tuxpaint. It is a drawing program oriented toward the young and it is really well done and free.
posted by dgran at 6:53 AM on October 12, 2010

When I was that age my nursery school had TI 99/4A computers with a Logo interpreter. Here is a Logo distribution for Mac OS X. I have a list of kid stuff for computers that will most likely grow after this questions gets some more answers.
posted by mkb at 7:14 AM on October 12, 2010

I don't have any specific suggestions, but I will tell you to tune in to who are the latest hot stars on Disney or PBS or whatever is hot this year - Dora, Spongebob, the Wiggles, whoever. Those stars will have computer games and the kids will want to play them, regardless of the actual quality of the game. They will likely be educational in nature - matching shapes, learning letters/colors/numbers, etc.
posted by CathyG at 8:03 AM on October 12, 2010

My kids have always loved Poisson Rouge. It's a flash-based website, but if you can't connect these machines to the internet, they also sell CD-ROMs
posted by nightwood at 9:59 AM on October 12, 2010

posted by 8dot3 at 12:34 PM on October 12, 2010

When you do finish this and get everything updated, it might be a good idea to make a restore image with Apple Software Restore just in case you need to fix one of them. It will save a lot of time and energy.
posted by drstein at 1:14 PM on October 13, 2010

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