Thursday, August 9, 2012

Using technology with young children- resources and ideas

A reader posted this the other day: "Hi! I found your site- thank you! I just received a job to teach computers (imac lab) to 3 and 4 year olds. I am quite nervous! Do you have any suggestions for books that might give me some lesson ideas and a starting point? Thanks!" by Anonymous

Unfortunately there are not a lot of practical books about tech and ECE out there.  Even if there were- they would be out dated almost by the time they were printed!  Technology is rapidly changing.  I am in process of developing an e-book about using tech with young children but it won't be ready until late fall.  Even then, my hope would be to be able to update it as tech changes.  

Here is a book recommended by another reader and published by NAEYC:

There are however, a lot of resources on the web regarding using technology with young children.  Here are some to peruse:

NAEYC is of course the first place I go for ECE advice and this position statement should be thouroughly read by anyone using technology with the 0-8 age group.

An accompanying document to the NAEYC position statement this doc gives practical ideas for use of tech with children at each age level. 

More from NAEYC, suggested by another reader, Dr. Dale McManis:  She also recommended "Twitter Chat #ECETECHCHAT each Weds. at 9 pm EST; you can learn about the group and see archives of past Twitter chats here:" And you know I love Twitter for timely and practical advice. This page has links related to tech and ECE

This site ECE Tech, is new to me... explore it and let me know what you think.

This article by NAEYC speaks to tech in primary classrooms but still has gems for the preschool teacher as well as ideas for activities.

These are more theory than practical, but still good reading:

My biggest recommendation to you is to carefully consider WHAT you want your little people to take away from their computer time.  Is the goal to increase literacy and vocabulary? To familiarize with a mouse?  You should start planning your program around the end goal and work backwards.  You will have to teach some basic mouse/computer skills but the goal SHOULD be to use the technology to explore the world, develop vocabulary, enjoy good literature, connect with other children...

After you have your how to thoughtfully teach technology in ECE down, AND your goals for learning (social, literacy, mathematical, vocabulary, creative...) then figure out how the iMacs, or iPads, or digital cameras, etc. will support those lessons.  The lesson should NOT be how to use the iMac or other technology (other than basic ones- such as we teach how to hold a pencil before teaching what to write- you do need to demonstrate proper use of the device) but rather using the iMac to learn about the wonderful world and share what they already know.  

Ideas for using the iMac specifically:

Have the kids work with partners the majority of the time.  My rule is the kid on the right (in front of the mouse) makes the decisions- which links to click and what to type.  Set a timer and switch every 5-10 minutes.  This helps with social skills, reduces frustrations and gives them someone immediately there when they need help.  In the beginning partner a tech savvy kid with a new to tech kid.  

Get them started with PhotoBooth!  They will love taking pictures of themselves and classmates.  Have them take a picture of their favorite toy or book or a picture they created.  (For the books be sure to turn off the mirroring otherwise the print will be backwards!)

They can record themselves singing, telling stories, acting out familiar books using iMovie.

Set their homepage on Safari to a Symbaloo (look up kinderchat symbaloo mixes and search for preschool mixes) or Tizmo's page (my page is for quick and visual access to books and games online.

Let them type like crazy in Word, especially after you add pictures they have taken.  Write in the dictation they share with you.  Email it to their parents or add to a blog.

Be sure to teach an appropriate lesson about safety online and make sure your filters are strong.

Good luck in your new job teaching those precious children utilizing technology!


  1. Sue, I’m glad you brought to light your reader’s comment about ECE & tech resources. The technology and availability of content is changing, but as you point out it’s all about what is done with the technology that is so critical for early learners. I would suggest exploring the NAEYC publication "Spotlight on Technology and Young Children" along with some other resources (some of which you mention and some others) you and your readers can learn about here . We would also love to have folks join the Twitter Chat #ECETECHCHAT each Weds. at 9 pm EST; you can learn about the group and see archives of past Twitter chats here:

    Dr. Dale McManis
    Research Director
    Hatch Early Learning

    1. Thank you Dr. McManis! I will need to get my hands on that book. And join the next chat. I've added your suggestions to the blog.


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