Tuesday, November 11, 2008

He's got mouse skills.

My just-turned-three-year-old has mouse skills. I've never had a three-year-old with mouse skills. I've seen them (LGG and AJM come to mind). I've just never had one.

From about age 2, Z knew that hitting any key on the keyboard (kids' computer; he's pretty well trained to leave mine and ML's alone) would take it out of sleep mode. He liked to see it light up. He also learned around that time which button turned the screen on and off, in case it was off when he was hitting said keys.

At about 2 1/2, Z figured out that pushing the space bar would stop and start whatever episode iTunes happened to be resting on. If he was lucky, someone would have left the computer on iTunes and an episode clicked. Then, he could just tap and watch. Only once did he watch a teensy weensy bit of a LOST episode.

A few weeks ago, he discovered the scroll wheel on the mouse (he'd realized a long time ago that the mouse did something; he just hadn't coordinated it all yet). If the computer was on iTunes with either "Movies" (mostly things I've ripped off of DVD's) or "TV Shows" clicked, he would use the scroll wheel to select what he wanted (from the "album cover" shots), and then press the space bar.

Last week sometime, I realized that he had discovered which button on the screen took the "album covers" to full-screen mode so that he could see them better. And that he could maneuver the mouse to that button, click on it, and then use the scroll wheel to pick the show he wanted to watch (LOST was off of their section of that computer a long time ago, don't worry).

So, I decided to give his Dr. Seuss's ABC CD-ROM that I'd bought as his "school software" for this year a trial run. Sure enough, he totally got moving the pointer around the screen to get the different items to do their thing (it's just a point-and-click software; no game to it). And he got that clicking on the arrow in the bottom right moved it on to the next screen. That is, of course, if it wasn't the "B" screen with the bubble that was blown huge and popped. That screen we do.not move on from. Unless forced. Which happens when the rest of us in the room can't take it any longer.

After reading on someone's blog that their three-and-a-half-year-old was playing on Starfall.com, I was curious. So, today with a little extra time I had (read: when I had planned to exercise), I sat Z in my lap in front of the computer, and we checked out Starfall. I really had a hard time believing it. He even gets the fact that you can't click when the cursor's not a hand. Where did he learn that?!?

I let him choose which letters he wanted to play through. One of them had a puzzle as the final section. He very deftly clicked on the pieces and put them in their places (just a simple shapes puzzle, lest anyone be too impressed). (Fortunately, the program grabs the pieces when you click on them. I think click-and-drag would be a little much even for Mouse Boy.)

I apologize to anyone who's thinking, "What's the big deal? All my kids were playing on the computer already at that age." None of our older three were, although they're all fine with it now, so it just took me by surprise.

Plus, it's really cute!

I'm sure some day some girl will be impressed with his great skills.

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