We started the term off with a bang: a Microsoft Excel kind of bang! None of my Junior Primary students have used Excel before, so we've been experimenting.
The Grade 1s built up brightly-coloured columns of stairs, carefully tracking the number of cells they were shading. We learned about cell names, rows and columns - as well as the idea of scrolling the sheet to see more cells. I used the example that Excel was sort of like a treasure map, you needed to know the exact cell names of where you were working. We produced beautiful, interestingly-shaded stairs and will most likely finish this activity and print them next week.
For the Grade 2s and 3s, I wanted an activity with a little bit more thinking involved. After much searching I hit upon this great activity on Maureen Schoenberger's website. You create an Excel template with the cells shaped into squares, give the students lists of cell names and instructions to shade them with specific colours. The results were great and I even allowed them to print their finished gingerbread houses. I was impressed by how focused and interested my students were. One boy pointed out that the Excel cell-art looked similar to the Minecraft pixel style, and who am I to judge? This activity was a big hit and it's inspired me to try my hand at creating another Excel art template in the future.