By Michael Hilkemeijer
Preschool Activities that boost Literacy with Technology
There are many ways that early childhood practitioners can integrate technology in preschool activities. Today, research suggests that children become highly engaged and motivated in their learning when they use multiple senses such as sight, sound and touch.
In this blog, I will outline digital literacy activities for preschoolers to improve literacy instruction and boost multisensory learning.
Use iPads for a photo scavenger hunt
With every tablet computer or smart phone there is a digital camera. Young children see their parents and other people in their lives use these cameras in society and so it makes for a good authentic learning activity. They can take photos of letters, words or phrases and store them in a pre-made album. They can then open the album and go on a scavenger hunt to find the same items. The fun continues when they take photos of these items and record them
Use music videos to learn literacy skills
Ever thought of using music videos to learn literacy skills? They are a great way to get young children moving and learn about everything from letters and their sounds to word families. Such videos can be found at Heide Songs.
Use a phonics app that comes with manipulatives
Technology can be used to build literacy skills when the best app or software is chosen. The question is, how do you know which one is the best one? A good one to try is Square Panda as it comes with a playset that includes 45 smart letters.
Learn to write letters and numbers
Learning to use the keyboard and finding letters and characters not only contributes to child ICT capabilities but also literacy in general. Allow children to use their capabilities of a computer to collect, record, embellish and play back stories, notes, instructions and poems.
Record children’s story telling
You can encourage children to make puppets of a familiar story and use the puppets to retell the story in a puppet theatre. After this, it would be important that you help them record the performance with the digital video recorder and to use the recording in circle time for further discussion.
Use Paint programs to generate discussion
Young children will spend a great deal of time working at the computer with their peers where they will learn the skills you have modelled for them. When working with a paint program, they can spend a lot of time discussing colours and shapes as they produce them. With the appropriate contexts and sufficient relevant experience, they can also use a paint program to make a record of other activities like an investigation they have completed.
Using the Internet
By using the Internet, you will be able to help children learn literacy skills in their home language. You can also look for software or programs that promote speaking, listening, reading and writing.
Make and use QR Codes
Quick Response codes are scannable images that give information. They are a fun and easy way to get your kids engaged in practicing skills and learning new information. The children will just need either an iPad or smartphone. Here is a website that will help you create one.
Design lessons with Augmented Reality
The potential of these are huge! Augmented reality gives young children easy access to direct instruction. You can use this website to get you started.
With these 9 preschool activities, you will provide young children with the opportunity to build upon their literacy in a creative manner while supporting the use of digital technology in early childhood education today.
2 Fun Digital Literacy Activities for Preschoolers to Try
Digital literacy is about acquiring specific skills to find, use and evaluate information. It is also about being to collaborate and participate in online environments while managing your online identity and security. Finally, it is to do with creating digital content and being more than just a consumer.
When teaching digital literacy in early childhood education you then to consider the use of digital technology for the early acquisition of digital skills to be part of young children’s communication development.
While some digital play and exposure may develop skills it is often limited so each activity that you design and plan for must be used in a meaningful and purposeful context. Purposeful activities is concerned, therefore, with the hard learning associated with the curriculum and specific content knowledge.
For any digital literacy activity, therefore, it is important that if you want the digital technology to be incorporated in a meaningful way then it needs to become transparent in its use. Young children need to become focused on using digital technology as a tool to achieve early learning outcomes that they hardly notice that they are using it at all.
Therefore, you need to decide:
- Which types of technology could be used to achieve these learning outcomes?
- Which technologies would support the learning of the children?
- Which technologies could be used to meet the needs of a variety of learning styles?
- How could technology be used to introduce, engage and motivate the class to the new topic?
- If technology is being used, what learning outcomes particularly associated with that technology can be listed?
- How could technology be incorporated meaningfully?
Examples of digital literacy activities
Purposeful digital literacy activities would include that literacy, language and communication development, numeracy development, activities that promote social skills and also that would just teach about the use of digital technology.
Let us examine some ideas for digital literacy activities for preschoolers now.
Using ICT to Support Literacy and Language Development
The benefits of using ICT can be realised within the literacy curriculum and in most of children learning activities. For example, ICT can help children observe, fix, memorise, describe and share their impressions with other people, and to find answers to their questions.
Activity: Visit a working farm
This idea is taken from a particular case study (Rudd & Tyldesley, 2006) where a group of children were taken to a working farm and were allowed to use a digital camera. Each of the children knew how to use the digital camera sufficiently knowing how to turn it on and off, use the viewfinder and press the button to take a picture.
For this activity, a child was given the responsibility of carrying the digital camera and ensuring that the loop of the handle stayed round her wrist. The children negotiated who would have the first ‘go’ and were able to take turns without much conflict.
You can ask the children to take photos of all the different kinds of animals that they would see during their visit.
When the children get back all the photos can be moved onto the computer screen to show everybody else using a slideshow to show photos of entire visit. This will give rise to further and richer talk, and deepen their experience by creating a fuller narrative together with:
- Significant moments from the visit captured by using ICT all of which could be discussed and named.
- Children will learn operational skills and technical language (button, switch, viewfinder, click, and so on).
- The camera will give rise to negotiating and turn-taking conversations.
- The sequence of pictures – in taking and viewing – will strengthen the children’s sense of time and order of events.
- Children will learn – at a simple level – about data transfer between ICT devices.
Language development was also promoted through the use of the digital camera and the conversations it stimulated about the animals.
Either you as the teacher or an older child could insert the photos into a word processor or DTP program to make posters to display.
Or if you want the children to do further work with you they could use Photo Story to make a presentation, and record a commentary together.
Using ICT to support mathematical thinking and problem solving skills
When using ICT in purposeful numeracy activities it can provide a much richer context for children’s problem-solving, open-ended mathematical problems, projects integrating maths skills and mathematical experiments. ICT enormously extends an opportunity for preschool children to learn contemporary mathematics by giving them a chance to act in visualised mathematical micro worlds.
Activity: Counting to 10
Children can duplicate animal pictures and place them on the spreadsheet grid in the appropriate cell as they count from 1 to 10. They can practice reading the numbers and may read aloud as a class.
You will need to set up a template to use so that the children need only to learn how to duplicate and move graphics to complete the assignment.
Additionally, you will need to demonstrate as the teacher how to select a picture by clicking on it so that the handlebars show, and how to duplicate the selected picture by holding down the Control key and pressing D. By doing this, the duplicate picture should appear on the screen.
Children need to select the duplicate picture by clicking on it and move it by holding the mouse down on the picture, dragging it, and letting go at the appropriate position.
When completed, the children can enter their name and print the document by clicking on the File menu and print.
They then look at the hard copy and answer the following questions:
- Are there more dogs or horses?
- How do you know that?
- What number is the largest?
- What number is the smallest?
With these digital literacy activities for preschoolers, you can create purposeful and meaningful learning for young children in both literacy and numeracy development. Adapt them to suit your needs and to make an impact on learning while equipping children with the skills that they need to become creators of digital content today.
How Digital Literacy can help change the World
In a digitally-dominated society, digital technology is having a profound effect on all aspects of children’s lives. Many of us, including young children, do take technology for granted.
“Digital literacy means having the skills you need to live, learn, and work in a society where communication and access to information is increasingly through digital technologies like Internet platforms, social media, and mobile devices” (Western Sydney University.
Young children need these skills and capabilities to be full and capable participants in their environment.
“Just as it is every child’s right to become literate, he or she should have the right to become a skillful user of ICT. Children should…experience ICT as a tool with vast possibilities for communication and information retrieval/sharing” (Sheridan & Pramling Samuelsson, 2003, p. 267).
Digital Literacy in Australia
Digital technology continues to permeate our society and influence our lifestyles today to such an extent that the Australian Government has set out a roadmap to building a digital economy. This trend is occurring globally and it involves building digital literacy and inclusion from the ground up. However, the latest data on digital inclusion and technology for school age children indicate:
- Overall, digital inclusion has increased year-on-year since 2014, but momentum is slowing.
- Those facing socio-economic barriers are being left behind as services and communities move online. The digital inclusion gap is widening.
- More than 2.5 million Australians remain offline, mostly in rural areas and older age groups. A quarter of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples lack internet access.
- Digital inclusion is still significantly higher in urban areas compared to rural ones, and this gap varies between different states and territories.
- Digital literacy has increased each year nationally, but there is still work to be done in empowering people to safely and confidently use information technologies.
- There is an important new report (Connecting on Country) that focuses on closing the digital divide for children in Indigenous Australian households. Progress is flatlining in connecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
- Affordability remains a key challenge and will only be worsened by the economic impact of COVID-19.
- The pandemic has been highly disruptive for students in low-income families, according to the report’s findings (as it has been for everyone).
Digital inclusion is about everyone being able to use digital technologies effectively with the Australian economy now experiencing an accelerated digital transformation in many parts of its economy and indeed in other parts of society. It means ensuring that digital literacy in education is embedded so that future workforces are prepared.
Digital literacy in Education - Why digital literacy is important in education?
Teaching digital literacy in education is important because it prepares children for their future digital workplace. It is about understanding that today’s children need different types of skills and technological knowledge in order to think critically, evaluate their work and engage in a global community.
It is important for children to engage with digital technology so that:
- Learn 21st-century skills and develop their Digital literacy and ICT literacy.
- Improves their attainment levels.
- Prepares them for an integrated society dominated by ICT developments.
- So that they learn the notion of using ICT as a tool for lifelong learning.
Digital literacy has become such an important issue that after a review of the Australian Curriculum ICT Capability Learning Continuum, it was decided to change the capability to Digital Literacy instead. It differs from ICT Capability in the following ways:
“Digital literacy encompasses the knowledge and skills students need to: create, manage, communicate and investigate data, information and ideas; solve problems; and work collaboratively at school and in their lives beyond school.
Digital literacy involves students: critically identifying and appropriately selecting and using digital devices or systems; learning to make the most of the technologies available to them; adapting to new ways of doing things as technologies evolve, and protecting the safety of themselves and others in digital environments.”
As a result, the Learning Continuum has also been impacted by this changed and has been restructured with five key elements – Practicing digital safety and wellbeing; Communicating and collaborating; Investigating; Creating; and Managing and operating.
Digital literacy in Early Childhood education
Digital literacy in early years education is about considering the use of digital technology in early childhood education for the early acquisition of digital skills to be part of young children’s communication development.
The position statement from Early Childhood Australia, the main governing organisation in Australia for young children in education, titled “Statement on Young Children and Digital Technologies” clearly outlines how digital literacy can be achieved in the early years through four aspects of digital play – Relationships; Health and Wellbeing; Citizenship; and Play and Pedagogy.
For young children, it means developing skills in the use of images and sound to convey information, ideas and feelings about themselves, their activities, and their environment through the use of electronic media. They will begin to develop skills to organise and analyse information.
Through joining our online training for early childhood educators you will learn how to support play with digital technology in early childhood education as we take you through step by step practical and immediately actionable strategies.
The course focuses on teaching digital literacy in early childhood education in the following ways:
- Understanding the importance of learning through play;
- Understanding what digital play is;
- Focusing on key aspects of digital play in early years education such as digital storytelling, creative play, promoting learning without failure (role-play), and outdoor play;
- Delivering early childhood pedagogy in play that integrates digital technologies.
This course covers up to 10 hours of CPD as part of your online PD for early childhood educators.
Download digital literacy activities for preschoolers like these today when you become a member of our ICT in Education Teacher Academy for just $5.99 per month (cancel anytime).