"Technology for children should be a Playground and not a Playpen." - Dr. Marina Bers, author of Coding as a Playground; Programming and Computational Thinking in the Early Childhood Classroom
In Young Fives, we understand that "screen time" is an issue. Children spend a great deal of their time in front of big screens and small screens. We also understand technology isn't going away and we can't just ignore it. However, it shouldn't be used as a passive babysitter (playpen) either. It needs to be a playground to grow children's imaginations, problem-solving skills, and exercise their brains.
In Young Fives, we are committed to using technology for enhancing creativity. Even though each child has their own iPad at school, we are very picky aboout what our students can access. An app has to be very, very good for our students to spend their valuable time with it.
One app we teach our children to use is Scratchjr. Scratchjr. was developed by the MIT media lab for 5-7 year olds to learn to code and write their own computer programs. It gives children the autonomy to pick their own characters, program their own videos or computer games, add their own sound effects, and so much more. We teach this throughout the year and give the children time to explore it on their own and make their own projects.
We also like the apps Sock Puppets, Puppet Pals, Number Pieces, Stop Motion, and Geoboard. All these programs are open ended and require children to think, plan, problem solve and get creative. However, they do require explicit teaching, which we do. We are trying to curb video watching and more passive activities with our school iPads.