Children can benefit most from technology when it is used to develop higher order thinking skills, promote creativity, and aid academic learning.

Your second-grader may use word-processing, draw and paint software, and presentation software (such as PowerPoint) to complete activities in a range of subject areas, including language arts, science, social studies, math, and art. These activities, which integrate computers into the classroom, are the first steps to technological literacy: Using tools to solve problems.

Computer use varies from school to school

Many states base their technology standards on the National Educational Technology Standards for Students. But because children aren’t tested on their use of technology, teachers are typically not held accountable to teach them. That means computer use varies widely from classroom to classroom. Your second-grader may have one or more computer workstations in the classroom, may go to a computer lab once a week, or may not use technology regularly at all.

What you might see in a well-equipped classroom

  • Educational software that reinforces reading and math skills
  • Multimedia encyclopedias and dictionaries
  • A digital camera — digital photos can then be displayed in a slide show
  • Interactive story books on a computer
  • One computer or more in the classroom with access to the Internet and a printer
  • Large-screen display connected to a computer used by the teacher to demonstrate a technology lesson to the whole class.  If there is not one available, the teacher may have smaller groups come around the computer to introduce a lesson or technology skill.
  • Use of email with support from the teacher or classroom helper
  • An interactive whiteboard — an electronic writing surface which can capture writing electronically

Technology terminology

Second-graders learn the proper terminology to communicate about technology such as the parts of a computer system. Your second-grader should be familiar with the different parts of the computer, such as the monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer, and speakers, and software terms such as menu, file, save, and quit.

Keyboard and mouse

Second-graders continue learning about using the keyboard and mouse. Your second-grader will use a mouse to click, drag, and drop. He should know the keys on the left and right side of the keyboard. He will practice typing the home keys and using the space bar. He will use the correct body position, hand-wrist position, and proper techniques for striking the keys. Some schools may use a typing program that teaches your second-grader how to type.

Word processing and email

Your second-grader will type and add clip art in word-processing programs. She will learn to change the font, size, and color of the text. She will use email with the support of the teacher to email an expert, peer, or another class. Your second-grader may write a poem and add an image, write the class rules, or email the author of a book the class has read.

“Second-graders love to write stories,” explains our teacher consultant Gayle Berthiaume. “Look for fun software you can use at home, and encourage their creativity.”

Draw and paint software

Draw and paint software programs such as Kid Pix and AppleWorks are common in many second-grade classrooms. Second-graders use the tools in the programs to type and create pictures. Your second-grader may make a poster about a recent field trip or make an invitation for a class play.

Presentation software

Your second-grader may use software such as PowerPoint and AppleWorks to add to a class book or slide show, making a slide with pictures and text. She may contribute to a slide show about jobs or one about neighborhoods.

A few words about PowerPoint

Some critics argue that teaching young children to use PowerPoint puts too much emphasis on fonts and formatting and not enough on thinking, writing, and organizing ideas. Others argue that teaching the effective use of multimedia tools is essential, as long as they are used as visual aids to highlight and clarify a student’s ideas.


Your second-grader may use spreadsheet programs like Excel and AppleWorks to organize data and make graphs. He may work from a template in which the spreadsheet is already created and he enters the information needed. Your second-grader may contribute to a class spreadsheet about temperatures taken over a period of time, or one about his classmates’ favorite sports.

Internet research

In second grade your child may visit websites the teacher has bookmarked. If students are learning about the solar system, they may visit websites about the planets and use the information they find in a report.

Berthiaume notes that some projects integrate more than one technology and subject: “Students may write poems and stories, illustrate them with Kid Pix or digital photos, and use GarageBand to record their poems, add music or a beat, and publish it as a podcast to allow parents and others to listen to it.”