How to Create an Amazing Tech Savvy Kindergarten Today

Teaching computer to preschoolers

By Michael Hilkemeijer

Welcome to my technology in early childhood education article about how to successfully create an amazing tech-savvy kindergarten. Before I go any further, I just want to point out that regardless of whether you teach in kindergarten or preschool the expertise that you will gain here is the same.

 

You see, kindergarten is kindergarten in places like in the United Sates and in most states in Australia. However, kindergarten is recognised as being a pre-school service in Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania.

 

Here are some extracts from my online ece workshop from my ICT in Education Teacher Academy membership program.

Harness Technology in Early Childhood Education

 

If you would like access to this online workshop for kindergarten teachers or my many technology lesson plans for kindergarten you will find them as part of my technology in Early Childhood Education Resources membership site at a monthly cost.

 

There is over 80 online ECE teaching resources to choose from including members’ exclusive library, online workshops for kindergarten teachers, professional reading for teachers about technology integration, technology in early childhood education lesson plans, and of course, kindergarten technology activities.

 

Now let’s get down to it about integrating technology in the kindergarten classroom! Integrating technology in the kindergarten classroom involves the use of computers and other ICT tools and resources. Each one of these should enable children to have full control over and develop their ICT capability.

 

How to Support the Development of ICT Capability in ECE?

 

Technology in Kindergarten

Benefits of Integrating Technology in Kindergarten

What are the key benefits of using technology in the kindergarten classroom? The successful integration of digital technology in kindergarten classrooms can result in the understanding of the children about the use of digital technology as a tool to support teaching and learning and not simply as an ‘add-on’ to the curriculum.

 

When technology in kindergarten is threaded in an imaginative way to deliver the curriculum then the quality of what taught and learned is further developed and the effectiveness of the learning process is increased. In an earlier blog, I discussed other benefits of using technology in the kindergarten classroom such as motivation and engagement. You can read more about them here.

 

A good example of the types of technology used in kindergarten that has observable benefits is that of the iPad or other types of tablet computers. They are ideal for young children aged between four and six years of age as they love being able to use the touch screen. Learn more about using iPads in early childhood education here.

 

 

The Role of ICT in ECE

How you can integrate technology in kindergarten can be achieved in many ways and each helps to build responsive relationships in early childhood education. Furthermore, every time you plan for the integration of ICT in preschool you actively help to develop ICT capability provided that you employ the right teaching strategies and embed effective methods of observation and assessment appropriate for ICT capability monitoring.

 

The roles that you will see below come from a study by the New Zealand government (Bolstad, 2004) and highlight the use of ICT in preschool in a very positive manner. They suggest ideas for how you can plan to optimise ICT in preschool learning activities.

 

Roles of ICT in Early Childhood Education Examples of how to use ICT in Early Childhood Education
Children use ICT in their play or learning (alone, with peers, or with adults). Children use computers to play games, listen to stories, or draw pictures.
Children use ICT equipment in games or role-play activities.
Children and practitioners use ICT together to scaffold children’s learning. Using the Internet to locate information or resources, sparked by children’s interest in a particular topic or idea.
Children and practitioners use ICT together to document and reflect on children’s learning, or to share children’s learning with parents, or other practitioners. Taking digital photos, videos, or audio recordings of activities in the early childhood education setting and reviewing these together, or sharing them with parents.
Practitioners and children use ICT to build portfolios of children’s work, to use for evaluating progress in children’s learning and development.
Practitioners use ICT for planning, administration, and information management. Teachers developing individual learning plans for children, or use computer-based templates to plan or document children’s learning (e.g. using learning stories templates, or inserting relevant concepts from Te Whāriki into children’s learning records).
Creating databases to keep track of important information about children and their families.
Teachers or teachers-in-training learning to use ICT, or learning through ICT. Teachers-in-training learn to use ICT in their initial teacher education courses.
Distance-learning teachers-in-training using ICT to learn to become early childhood teachers.
Teachers-in-training learn to use technology with children in their practicum placements.
Teachers using ICT to document and reflect on their practice, or using ICT as part of a professional development programme.
Children and practitioners use ICT to communicate or exchange ideas or information with other practitioners, parents, or researchers. Using videoconferencing, online discussion communities, or email, to communicate with other practitioners, parents, or researchers, or to share news and information about what’s happening in the early childhood education centre.
Children and practitioners use telephones, email, or fax to keep in touch with parents who are not able to come to the early childhood education centre (e.g. parents who are at work during the day).
Using telephones, email, or fax to keep in touch with children and their families in distant or rural communities (e.g. Correspondence School early childhood education programme).

(Bolstad, 2004 for the NZ Gov't)

 

Developing ICT Capability in ECE

By using developmentally appropriate ICT tools in early childhood learning activities it is possible to develop ICT capability and technological literacy. This is a key role of using ICT tools in education not just in early childhood but in Primary education as well.

 

Developmentally appropriate ICT tools for teaching in early childhood should follow the guidelines set. Earlier, you learned of some great ICT tools in early childhood. Each of these needs to be planned for effectively and includes instructional decisions that will develop ICT capability. By doing so, you can help young children develop the notion of ICT being used as a tool for a particular purpose. Additionally, you can learn how to optimise ICT tools in early childhood education in our ICT early childhood education online PD for early childhood educators.

 

 

Technology for kindergarten

What is Technology for Kindergarten?

Besides tablet computers like iPads, what other types of technology used in kindergarten exist? All of the following can be used in the kindergarten classroom.

 

However, in my opinion, the best types of technology in the kindergarten classroom are the ones that develop and support ICT capabilities. You need to make sure that your selection of developmentally appropriate technology adheres to guiding principles that include the requirements of making sure that the children have full control over it.

 

This type of technology in kindergarten is often recognised as tool technology and it can be used in many different ways. The demands and possibilities will depend on whether your main objectives is to learn ICT techniques in the development of ICT capabilities, to develop an understanding of processes, or to apply familiar techniques/processes in learning other matters.

 

With this type of technology in kindergarten children can be challenged intellectually with content-free software and their levels of control and decision-making is quite high.

 

Computers

Through the use of computers, children not only develop important routines and ICT techniques in ICT capability such as keyboarding skills and functions, but also have access to generic applications that further promote the development of ICT capabilities such as Word Processors, databases, spreadsheets and drawing and painting programs. They also have to access to the Internet and the WWW at their fingertips where they can look for things of interest to them such as pictures of animals or people to learn and discover.

 

Interactive Whiteboards

While this is a form of kindergarten technology, IWB does not actually aid in the benefit in the development of ICT capability. They can be used in conjunction with applications that can, however, such as MS Word and drawing and painting programs. There are many different types out there that can transform your kindergarten technology lessons.

 

Programmable toys

Bee bots is just one example of technology in kindergarten that allows children to learn how to code or program. If you take them outside it would be good to take the mat with you as they don’t go too well on rough surfaces. Children can learn how to direct them where to go and they can create stories and other creations to go with the bee bot.

 

Other examples of programmable toys used in kindergarten classrooms include:

  • Root Robot – great for introducing coding in early childhood education. It is compatible with iPads and Android devices. It also uses touch interaction to help young children.
  • Cubetto robot – is also good in STEM in early childhood education and is ideal for Pre-K to kindergarten.

 

Defunct technology

Having non-working technology in kindergarten classrooms can bring many benefits to your kindergarten technology lessons. They can be taken outdoors without fears of them breaking and when they are incorporated into role play it can serve to promote the learning of ICT in their lives.

 

Child-crafted technology

If you want them to be really motivated than drop the hand-made technologies that they crafted earlier into the role-play boxes. Observe what happens as it offers them additional motivation as they play with things that they made themselves.

 

To see a complete list of the types of technology used in kindergarten click here.

 

 

how to use technology in kindergarten classroom

How to introduce technology in the classroom?

There are 9 ways that I recommend you introduce technology in early childhood education. Young children today are growing up in a digital society and most may already have different levels of capabilities in ICT. However, as technological developments continue to change at a rapid pace it is important that you introduce technology appropriately.

 

You also need to remember that every child will have had different levels of exposure to technology the most common being the computer. Low socio-economic demographic areas may feel less comfortable with technology in this regard.

 

Yet, integrating technology in the kindergarten classroom is commonly conducted using a computer, and for good reason. There are many applications that children can use and it is these applications that are mostly integrated into early learning goals.

 

Research says that you should first introduce children to computers when they are old enough to understand what a computer is and this is generally after three years of age (tekkieuni.com). At this age too, they should be old enough to start using a computer but always with your supervision.

 

In my online workshop for kindergarten teachers that have embedded technology activities for kindergarten, you will learn that the expected levels of differentiation for computers would be as such:

  • To have opportunities to access computers via touchscreen, mouse and the Interactive Whiteboard.
  • To name the peripherals – mouse, monitor, keyboard, printer, webcam, cursor etc.
  • To use touch screen to select icons etc.
  • To use mouse to move cursor – select icons (click) (click and drag) (click, drag and drop).
  • Turning the computer on, starting and stopping programs or activities.
  • Understanding the safe use of hardware: no banging, hitting, bumping, knocking; no liquids or moisture; no pulling of cords.
  • Making the connection between moving the mouse and what happens on screen
  • Understanding the cursor – what it is, its different forms and functions, and how to use it.
  • Clicking the mouse button, highlighting text, dragging items.
  • Drawing with the mouse, or by touching the screen.
  • Keyboard skills – typing letters, then using punctuation, numbers and capitalisation; using function keys such as Delete, Return or Space bar.
  • Undoing, erasing, going forward and backward from one screen to another.
  • Using appropriate touch-screen and multi-touch gestures such as swipe, touch and drag, and double tap.
  • Understanding icons, how they are used, and what they mean.
  • Understanding and using input devices.

 

Here is a list of computer skills that you can use in your integrating of technology in the kindergarten classroom. Basic computer skills for kindergarten children include:

  • The names for the parts of a computer
  • How to exit from a window
  • How to move a mouse accurately
  • How to hold the mouse still when clicking
  • How to click, double click and drag
  • How to press a key lightly so only one letter/digit is entered
  • How to log in/log off
  • How to turn on/off the computer and monitor safely
  • How to double click a shortcut icon

 

Medium computer skills for kindergarten children include:

  • How to identify that multiple internet windows are open at the same time (or tabs) and exit out of one or all.
  • How to use the backspace enter key and space bar
  • How to manipulate sound level through headphones
  • How to open/use a folder {not multiple... just one level of clicking}
  • How to use a scrolling button or the scroll bar on the screen
  • How to navigate websites using their schema of previous sites

 

More Advanced computer Skills for Kindergartners Need:

  • How to type basic things (name, login information, a phonetically spelled sentence) using a keyboard
  • How to use the task bar to switch between open windows

Other important skills include email, coding and information literacy skills (online searching).

 

 

Technology activities for kindergarten

How to Teach Technology in Kindy?

The next step in your learning journey with me that you will embark upon in my online workshops for kindergarten teachers is about teaching technology to kindergarten children.

To be able to understand and teach computer skills effectively you first need to understand what ICT capability is. The above ICT skills or techniques do represent a small part of what ICT capability is but it is in the effective teaching of them where it will be developed.

Here is a small breakdown of where ICT techniques and computer skills fit in. ICT capability is constituted of five components and it is when a child can carry out this process that makes them ICT capable.

 

  • Routines – ICT techniques that require no conscious thought to apply;
  • ICT techniques – in this case, also known as computer ICT skills, are the explicit, deliberate manifestations of ICT capability. Examples include the above-mentioned.
  • Processes – a series of ICT techniques;
  • Higher order skills – demonstrated when young children 1) decide when it is appropriate to use a particular computer skill for a specific purpose 2) plan what routines, techniques and processes are to be used.
  • Conceptual understanding – focus on the concepts behind computer skills. Whole class teaching can be used to discuss examples and non-examples, both with and without ICT, in order to highlight the important features of the concept. Challenge naïve ideas about handling ICT tools and techniques, both in whole class teaching where appropriate, and when monitoring the individual.

 

Here is how you can teach basic computer skills for kindergarten.

ICT Techniques (computer ICT skills):

When introducing new software tools to children, start by discussing what it can do and how it can be achieved, rather than merely demonstrating a fixed sequence of techniques to achieve a single outcome.

Students need to associate the actions involved in a technique with the effect it achieves. Having a name for the technique and/or effect is helpful.

The name should be seen not as something extra to learn but as a means of communicating and thinking about the action and its effect.

This is especially so if the name is used in menu options, but is also helpful where the movements, buttons or shortcuts are used.

 

Processes – more general and are made up of several techniques. An understanding of relevant concepts is needed in order to analyse a situation and identify the particular techniques required to reach the desired goal. Students need to work on a task which is NOT set out step-by-step. This allows them to try out new ideas and you can observe their approach and intervene when they fail to make the expected progress.

The minimum level of support should be given. Structure the activity by questioning, prompting and showing if necessary.

Withdraw as much support as possible to see what the learners can achieve unaided. à a student’s understanding of a process such as developing a poster using a desktop publishing program, or modeling with a spreadsheet, cannot be represented by a checklist. It requires a description of the way in which they approach a task and the support that they need.

 

Conceptual understanding – focus on the concepts behind the basic computer skills for kindergarten children. Whole class teaching can be used to discuss examples and non-examples, both with and without ICT, in order to highlight the important features of the concept. Challenge naïve ideas about handling ICT tools and techniques, both in whole class teaching where appropriate, and when monitoring the individual.

 

Other teaching strategies for kindergarten include:

Use a range of ways of supporting children.

You can choose methods carefully for supporting children’s learning in order to meet their needs. Children should be expected to think about their actions, to talk about their work and to write plans. Whole class or group work is ideal as this helps to develop metacognitive knowledge and skills.

 

Observe, assess and document

You need to use a careful range of criteria in making an assessment of attainment. A judgement of ICT capability will depend on the appropriateness of task outcome, the ICT techniques/processes, the strategies that you observed, and the time taken to complete the outcome along with the support provided.

 

Stimulate and structure learning

Having clear objectives is important but in my intentional teaching online workshop for kindergarten, I explain the strategies that can apply when teaching technology in early childhood education. For example, research has indicated that successful teachers worked with the whole class or group beforehand to clarify their expectations.

 

Consider ICT capability levels in your planning

It is important that before you begin teaching technology you consider in your planning the current level of ICT capability of the children in your care. You can plan a pre-lesson to determine what they are and then use the information that you recorded to plan the progression of these capabilities.

This will be part of a set of factors that will enable you to develop a good lesson plan and is the same way that you would plan a useful maths lesson in shape and space after taking into account their wider experiences. Otherwise, your planning would be at best, ineffective, and at worst, potentially counterproductive.

 

 

Technology in kindergarten

ICT Teaching Methods for Kindy Teachers

As a kindergarten teacher, you will play an integral in the development of ICT capability and technological literacy in early childhood development. To build these foundations, you must implement ICT teaching methods that challenge children to express themselves while learning.

 

Teaching technology in kindergarten can be made easier once you follow to make the right instructional decisions as outlined in this online workshop for kindergarten teachers. Here are some ideas on effective ICT teaching methods in kindergarten that you can use today.

 

Cooperative Learning

The use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) naturally brings young children together around a device. Cooperative learning works well in this situation as it is a teaching method in kindergarten that groups young children into pairs or small groups. In this situation, you can pair them in terms of different ways such as their ICT capability, sex and so on. We go into this more in our workshop for kindergarten teachers.

 

This ICT teaching method in kindergarten promotes peer-to-peer respect – an aspect covered by the Early Childhood Australia. It also develops understanding of other’s interests, skills and needs when using technology in the kindergarten classroom.

 

When teaching technology in kindergarten it would be important for you to monitor the group activity and intervene when necessary to clarify instructions and demonstrate good team behaviour.

 

Hands-on Approach

This is a great ICT teaching method in kindergarten that encourages young children to learn by doing by example. There are many ICT techniques and skills to learn but it is important to demonstrate these appropriately so as to allow the children to understand the concepts behind them. This is what facilitate the development of their ICT capability.

 

The Digital Play method

Young children also learn when they play with technology so when teaching technology in kindergarten becomes appropriate there are ways to ensure that young children will learn in a safe environment that provides them with ample opportunities for digital play. Digital play is encouraged in the EYLF learning outcomes and we outline what you can do in terms of ICT teaching methods in kindergarten in the workshop.

 

Role play is one of the best ways for young children to learn about technology in their environments. It is learning without failure. It is important that you give young children the time that they need to explore any new piece of technology that you introduce to the setting. If it is a digital camera is may be to allow them to use the camera for their own purpose.

 

 

 

Engaging Preschool Technology Activities for Early Learning

In today's digital age, technology has become an integral part of our lives. Children are no exception to this trend, as they are exposed to technology from a very early age. While some parents and educators are skeptical about the role of technology in kindergarten, the truth is that when used appropriately, technology can be a powerful tool to enhance learning. In fact, research suggests that technology can help children develop a range of skills, from problem-solving and critical thinking to creativity and communication. Explore engaging technology lesson plans for kindergarten that can be used to support early learning. These technology lesson plans for kindergarten are designed to be fun, interactive, and age-appropriate, and can help children develop a love for technology while also building essential skills for the future.

 

Preschool technology lesson plans

 

Promoting Progression in Elementary Education

Promoting progression in the primary classroom is vital for the development of student ICT capabilities. Key factors such as ICT teaching strategies amongst teachers play a role in ensuring that students learn to integrate ICT into a variety of contexts.

It is for this reason that I discuss in detail in my ICT in Education Teacher Academy how to integrate technology in the elementary classroom as it is just not using technology for technology-sake. It is all too easy to become complacent with it and to take it for granted while society continues to demonstrate how significant it is for children to understand that ICT can be used as a tool for lifelong learning and to thrive in a workforce that increasingly depends on it.

The first part of this article began with how you can today integrate technology in kindergarten to lay the foundations in early childhood learning environments. This next part will discuss and connect the strategies in the primary/elementary classroom.

 

What are the ICT capabilities first-year Primary students will bring?

The first four years of a child's education are recognised as early childhood education and digital fluency in this phase of learning is comprised of two specific characteristics - skills and experiences. 

Experiences are more complex than skills are but the skills are actually the concrete learnings of abilities. The experiences on the other hand, are the actual uses of different technologies. In this table by Howell (2012, p.115), a list of the skills and experiences that you would expect a child to have by the end of this phase of education is identified.

Though this list does cover a lot it is only a basic list of skills it should be expected that it would vary dramatically based on your own skills and aptitudes and enthusiasm as a primary teacher and that of the student's too.

 

Skills Experiences

Basic operations associated with PC, laptop computers.

Basic web-searching (understanding what a search engine is, keywords for searching)

Use of commonly used programs (MS Word and PowerPoint)

How to use a digital camera and associated skills (use of buttons, framing pictures, zoom, how to transfer pictures to a computer)

How digital movies are made.

How to record your voice.

How to save something on the computer.

How to use more complex technologies such as LEGO Robotics or Bee Bots.

How to use a touch pad.

How to use an interactive whiteboard.

Familiarity with terms associated with computers. For example, names of programs.

Understanding how to use key words to find information.

Knowing some terms associated with the Internet.

How to frame images - considering how to set up a shot, visual literacy.

Social experiences - working in pairs or groups.

Literacy experiences - language associated with technologies.

Fine motor skill development when manipulating devices like a mouse or using a touch pad.

Complex problem-solving

Learning via modelling - watching, practicing and then using skills and techniques.

Conversations with peers about technology - what they do, what they have seen.

 

These are the skills and experiences that you would expect when a child enters the primary classroom. Overall, a child should have an enthusiastic attitude towards technology.

It should be understood that these skills and fluency in technology listed above are all "pertaining to those encountered and situated within a formal learning context" (Howell, 2012, p. 133). 

The ultimate aim of the primary teacher is to enable the students to reach the stage where the technology that they are using becomes sufficiently transparent that they are almost unaware of its existence. 

 

 

Sharing the same Perspective about Teaching Strategies

The learning progression and continuity of student ICT capability in education is a crucial plan for teachers from early childhood education through to secondary education to consider.

When individually examined, learning progression is more concerned with an individual’s learning and refers to how a student can learn concepts and skills of an increasingly difficult nature.

Continuity focuses more on the experiences offered to students and this can be achieved by students if they are presented by the teacher with “tasks that are designed to follow on from one another with no sudden jumps and no repetition” (Kennewell, Parkinson, & Tanner, 2000, p. 166).

Both aspects of ICT capability are valuable to the management of students as work that is duplicated can lead to the stagnating of learning for them and this, in turn, can result in disruptive behaviour (Kennewell, Parkinson, & Tanner, 2000).

It is imperative, therefore, that teachers design activities that build on a student’s previous learning and provide achievable challenges (Kennewell, Parkinson, & Tanner, 2000). The sharing of views by teachers with their colleagues is also a key player in ensuring that this occurs. 

 

According to Kennewell et al. (2000), it is the increasing scope and transferability that defines learning progression in ICT capability. The term 'transferability'' has special significance, therefore, in how teachers from both sectors of education teach. ICT teaching strategies for kindergarten must be similarly taught to those in primary education and vice versa. 

By the end of primary education, it would be great to describe the level of experience and skill displayed by students as 'digitally fluent'. In the next section, I will discuss the best instructional strategies to apply in your classroom today.