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Kids Love Technology—So Take Advantage!

05 Oct 2015 by Emily Doyle

I spent last weekend on a cabin trip in the mountains with a few family members, including my four-year-old nephew. We planned so many activities (kayaking! board games! frisbee!), but once he got his hands on dad’s iPad, I could barely get a word out of him (let alone entice him with a game of Go Fish). As an aunt, I understand how technology can discourage effective interactions—and sometimes I just want to throw the iPad out the window! But I also know that we have just as much chance of curbing kids’ fascinations with hand-held devices as we do of getting the average adult to turn off their cell phone. Given this reality, I think we need to work with, rather than against, technology by taking advantage of children’s natural curiosity for all things electronic.

Here’s one idea for using technology for good when working with children (and by good, of course I mean interacting. This is the Teachstone blog, after all!): 

  • Capture accomplishments using a digital camera
    • The hook: Kids love seeing photos and videos of themselves!
    • The scenario: Next time children are creating something (building a castle out of blocks, for example), pause before announcing cleanup to take a few pictures.
    • The potential for building interactions:
      • Share the photo with children, using new words to describe what you see in the photo and to provide some specific affirmation of their efforts.
      • Ask other children to describe what they see in the photo or to predict what they might add to the castle next.
      • Bring back the photo next time the children are in the block area. Talk about what they made last time and how it is going to be similar or different from what they are making today.
      • Share the photo with the child’s family and give or email them a copy to talk about at home.
      • Use details about the photo to make a connection with the child’s interests or to bridge a concept: you might read a story with a castle and compare it to what they built, or you might talk about the different parts of the castle and connect them with parts of the classrooms (doors, windows, ceilings, floors).

The example above describes how something as basic as a digital camera holds so much potential for interactions that extend “beyond the screen.”

Where do you stand on the technology in the classroom? Use the comments section to share your tips on using educational technology “for good” with kids.

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