We have some ideas we want to run by you today about supporting children’s literacy learning and creativity using digital tools. We’re all aware, of course, that we have to be careful not to overdo it by exposing young children to too much screen time. We also need to try to make the time children do spend exploring digital games and apps as interactive as possible—with us sharing children’s delight in e-books, art tools, and more. (For more on the subject of children and screen time see the resources at the end of this post.)
But first, what criteria can we use to select interactive tools for learning? Here are three questions to consider about each tool.
• Does the activity encourage rich exploration?
• Does the activity stimulate language development?
• Does the activity offer children a new way of experiencing the world?
Bearing these criteria in mind, here are several ideas for you to try.
1. INTERACTIVE STORIES
“The Monster at the End of this Book,” by Jon Stone
Preview “The Monster at the End of this Book” eBook on YouTube.
“Kinect Sesame Street TV”
With this interactive TV (Xbox Kinect system) players can interact and appear on-screen with favorite characters such as Cookie Monster, Bert, and Ernie. For a preview, check out these two YouTube links:
2. PHONEMIC AWARENESS AND DECODING
PBS Kids Games: PBSkids.org/games/reading
Preview PBS Kids Games on YouTube.
For more ideas, check out the Reading Rockets review of Literacy Apps.
For an introduction see this link.
Preview Starfall games and activities on YouTube.
3. CHILDREN AS AUTHORS
Develop young writers’ creativity with “Book Writer” app (US $4.99) www.itunes.apple.com
This is a fantastic art set for children, which parents and teachers may enjoy as well. For a preview on YouTube see this link.
With “Book Writer,” children can create stories and embellish them with pictures, text, audio recordings, and music, to share with others—then add them to their ePortfolios.
4. CHILDREN AS ARTISTS
Bug Art(US $1.99) www.itunes.apple.com
The “Bug Art” app encourages children to explore beautiful bugs then design their own. Their creations then come to life in various games.
Art Set (US $.99) www.itunes.apple.com
The “Art Set” app offers a fantastic art set for children, with pretty much everything you need.
5. CHILDREN AS MUSICIANS
Jazzy ABC Music (U.S.$1.99, www.itunes.apple.com)
Preview here. “Jazzy ABC Music” is an innovative app that teaches the alphabet and musical instruments. ABC Music also offers links to “safe” YouTube videos.
POSITION STATEMENTS ABOUT CHILDREN AND SCREEN TIME
If you are interested in what is currently being suggested in regards to screen time, we have found the most current research for you. (You're welcome).
• National Association for Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
• Sesame Workshop
• Joan Ganz Cooney Center
• Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media
What cool tools have you discovered that we should add to the list? Any thoughts about screen time? Let us know!
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This is where Jules and Nic will post articles, links to interesting sites and things that we think our TechnoTeachers will like.