A few years ago I only taught online safety lessons to my fifth graders. I was shocked to hear how many of them had Facebook accounts and used YouTube without supervision. Then it was Snapchat and my third graders getting into trouble for posting inappropriate photos on Instagram. Now I have kindergarten students with smartphones and text during recess.
This made me realize just how important it is to teach all students not only how to stay safe online but how to be responsible digital citizens. I also wanted to teach these skills in a meaningful way. After doing some searching I found some online games and some picture books that I could use, but I was having trouble finding any other type of lesson plans or activities. I liked Common Sense Media’s lesson plans but I was looking for something just a little bit different. So I ended up creating my own activity pack. Below you can read about how I have incorporated teaching digital safety to my primary students.
What to focus on?
In kindergarten and first grade, I focus on a few very specific online safety rules and procedures. These include:
- What is private information? What information is safe to share online and what is not?
- What does it mean to be respectful online? How should you treat others when you are interacting with them online?
- What should you do if you see something online that upsets you?
- What should you do if you are being treated unkindly online?
- What is a password? What does a safe and secure password look like?
Picture Books to Teach Internet Safety
I always incorporate a read aloud in every lesson that I can, especially for my younger students. These are a few of my favorite technology themed picture books. They discuss not only staying safe online but cyberbullying and your digital footprint.
Chicken Clicking by Jeanne Willis
Chick discovers the Internet and enjoys online shopping and social networking, but when she arranges to meet a friend she made online, she discovers all is not as it seems.
Goodnight iPad: a parody for the next generation by Ann Droyd
In the bright buzzing room . . . it is time to power down. For parents and children alike, here is a modern bedtime story about bidding our gadgets goodnight. Don’t worry, though. They’ll be waiting for us, fully charged, in the morning.
How We Got Cyber Smart: A book about how to stay safe online by Lisa Rothfield-Kirschner
This book follows the adventures of two kids Olivia and Jack, as they navigate the online world and tells the story of how they became cyber smart and dealt with their online bully. It provides practical advice to parents and children in how to protect themselves online and look after their safety.
If you give a mouse an iPhone by Ann Droyd
If you give in to temptation and give a bored little mouse your iPhone, even for ten minutes, he’s probably going to beam to some faraway place beyond time, space, and the sound of your pleading voice. And if he’s that far gone, he won’t have any idea what’s going on around him, and he might end up missing out on all the real fun.
Nerdy Birdy Tweets Aaron Reynolds
Nerdy Birdy and his best friend, Vulture, are very different. Nerdy Birdy loves video games, but Vulture finds them BORING. Vulture loves snacking on dead things, but Nerdy Birdy finds that GROSS. Luckily, you don’t have to agree on everything to still be friends. One day, Nerdy Birdy joins Tweetster, and the friend requests start flying in. Vulture watches as Nerdy Birdy gets swept up in his new friendships, but when she finally gets angry, Nerdy Birdy knows just what to do to make things right.
Once upon a time online by David Bedford
Once upon a time, a laptop arrived in Fairy-tale land… A happily ever after is only a click away! Find out what happens when our favorite fairy-tale characters receive a laptop and learn a lesson in online safety.
The Technology Tail: A Digital Footprint Story by Julia Cook
Don t be mean and irresponsible! That’s the straight-to-the-point advice Screen has for young readers who are active on social media. Whether tapping out messages on their computers, tablets or phones, Screen wants kids to know their words will follow them for life, creating a digital trail that can’t be erased.
Troll Stinks by Jeanne Willis
Billy Goat and his best friend Cyril are messing about with the farmer’s mobile phone, taking selfies and playing games . . . until they find the number for a troll. Their Grandpa Gruff says trolls are bad, so Billy and Cyril decide to get their own back by sending mean messages. After all, trolls really do stink! Don’t they?
Unplugged Steve Antony
Meet Blip. Blip loves being plugged into her computer. When a blackout occurs, Blip trips over her wire and tumbles outside. Suddenly, Blip’s gray world is filled with color and excitement. She plays with her new friends and has adventures all day long. When Blip finally returns home, she realizes that the world can be even brighter once you unplug.
When Charlie McButton lost power Suzanne Collins
A boy who likes nothing but playing computer games is in trouble when the power goes out and his little sister has all of the batteries in the house.
- ABCYa has a short animation video called Cyber-Five. It is about a hedgehog and a hippo learning online safety rules.
- BrainPop Jr. has a free internet safety video and an online quiz.
- I found this free online game from the Carnegie Mellon Library – Stuart and Scout.
Lessons and Activities
I have created an internet safety activity pack to use specifically for lower elementary students. It includes 6 different posters about how to stay safe online as well as cyberbullying. The posters are perfect for a bulletin board display. I have used them in a display case by the main office before too. You can also project them for a lesson or during a PTO meeting.
There are four different worksheets for students to complete.
- Private Information
- Perfect Passwords
- Stay Safe Online
- Be Respectful Online
There is also a five-page mini book for students to read and color.
Do you want to teach your students to be internet safety superheroes? Purchase the activity pack below. You can also find it in my TpT store.