It's Cute, It's Cool, It's KidzMouse!
by the Gadget Gals
Have you ever watched a preschooler the first time they encounter a mouse? Usually they are only tentative for about 30 seconds or so and then they are off and running in the wonderful world of computers. But they do get frustrated. Most mice are simply too large for miniature hands, and the buttons too small for tiny finger to press.
Enter KidzMouse, invented by a grandmother for her four-year-old granddaughter. It's about half the size of a conventional computer mouse, and its round shape fits right into children's hands. While the mouse is small, the buttons are large and take up about one-third of the top surface of the mouse. All kids have to do is squeeze and the mouse takes them where they want to go on the computer. According to KidzMouse founder Susan Giles, "Standard mice force a child to 'tap,' a very difficult motion for children with developing motor skills. Squeezing is a much more natural and comfortable gesture for children, which is why I pursued a prototype with incorporates squeezing."
The Kidz Mouse collection comes in a variety of delightful designs. I chose Sesame Street's loveable Cookie Monster © to test, but I could have also gone with Mickey Mouse ©, Winnie the Pooh©, Dora the Explorer®, (especially designed with girls in mind), BenjieBee® Bumblebee, Colby T-Rex® Dinosaur, SpongeBob SquarePants™, or other "cuddly" bugs, animals, and characters from Disney, Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, and KidzMouse.
The packaging of my delightful Cookie Monster mouse, with his wonderfully expressive eyes, says he's ready for use with ages 2-102 and I can believe it. In the rather anonymous world of computing it was nice contemplating having a mouse with a little personality snuggled into my hand. All I had to do to get him to work was to plug him into the USB port on my keyboard. I could, of course, have plugged him into the port on the computer, but this was simply easier. Cookie worked immediately with no setup issues - definitely "plug and play" for this delightful gadget. The company does provide instructions for setup and also drivers that can be obtained online from their site just in case of problems with installation.
By the way, just a little note on Cookie's insides, which with a little luck neither you or your child will ever have to inspect. They are fitted with optical technology that allows him to track more accurately for those little hands and makes him, according to the company, maintenance free. This means that there should be no worries over icky-sticky mouse balls or missing mouse insides.
After my own "scientific" testing of Cookie, I took him to school and set him up in a kindergarten classroom. Again all I did for installation was to remove an attached mouse from one of the kindergarten computers and replace it with Cookie.
Actually, that proved to be to be the easiest part as Cookie almost caused a riot for teacher Sharon Loving at the Worcester Preparatory School. All the kindergartners it turned out wanted to use the same computer, the one with Cookie attached. The problem was solved by having the children practice good manners, as we told them Cookie would want, and also by reminding them that Cookie needed them to take turns.
Cookie's impact on the classroom did not stop there though. First selected to try Cookie was Julia, a lively young lady with very small hands. She lovingly picked up Cookie to look him over, then put him down on the computer table and went to work. When asked what she liked about Cookie, Julia replied, "He's so cute I want to give him a big kiss." Mrs. Loving then explained to everyone that computer mice, including Cookie didn't like to be kissed and that he might catch a germ if children didn't wash their hands before they touched him. Julia announced that she wanted to use Cookie all the time because he felt good, but Mrs. Loving, being an experienced teacher, gave Julia a very special job erasing the chalkboard while the next child focused upon Cookie. (Ah, such are the perils of gadget testing)
All of this is only a quick glimpse of the enthusiasm for KidzMouse that ensued in the days following the introduction of the Cookie Monster mouse into the classroom. Both children and adults were drawn to the clever little mouse and wanted to try him out. Although I loved my Cookie, I have to admit that he was a bit small for my long fingers. A regular computer mouse feels more comfortable to me but his personality was certainly winning. However, adults with small hands will appreciate the KidzMouse collection, and it's obvious that mice like Cookie are perfect for preschoolers and primary students.
177 Bovet Rd., Suite 600
San Mateo, CA 94402
For Mac and PC
Price: $26.95 -$36.95
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