From a young age, many children are using various devices to consume media. I believe there are things worth consuming online and things not worthwhile. Young children should be playing, learning, exploring, and interacting in many ways without devices. Therefore, I think their time using devices should be used well.
Some good sites for listening to books online:
Storyline Online (free)
Toon Book Reader (early graphic novels) (free)
Unite for Literacy (early readers) (free)
Tumblebooks (not free) (Library of Virginia has purchased Tumblebooks for public library use)
PebbleGo (nonfiction) (not free)
Interactive math games at Illuminations from NCTM
There are times and reasons for watching videos on YouTube, but I would suggest keeping it to a minimum.
In my classroom, and in primary and preschool classrooms all over, there are so many wonderful tools children can use for learning.
Use of technology in school must be deliberate and meaningful. I have found a variety of ways to do this.
First of all, I love to use cameras. Sometimes the camera is in my hands and sometimes it is in the hands of the children.
When it is in my hands we use Show Me. (This could be done by children, but I only have my own personal iPad to use this app so I tend to hang on to it.) I take pictures of student work and the student can record their explanation of it.
We use pictures I’ve taken and pictures the students have taken for our class blog to share our learning. We also use pictures taken by students to create videos sharing our learning.
Students have used cameras on field trips and returned to our classroom to write about the trip.
Another one of my favorite tools is the software program Pixie (there is also Wixie, which is the web-based version and is also quite good). Pixie and Wixie both require purchase. I am lucky enough to have access to Pixie in my district. These tools allow children to draw, write, and record. We create avatars for ourselves in the beginning of the year as we are learning to use Pixie. We can then use those avatars throughout the year.
Here is one of my all time favorites.
During our study of animals we used Pixie to labels parts of animals.
We’ve used Pixie at different holidays. At Thanksgiving we shared things for which we are thankful, at the new year we shared our resolutions, and at Halloween we made ourselves into book characters..
Together we have created an alphabet book.
Another piece of software I greatly enjoy using with young children (although it works great for kids of many ages) is Turtle Art. This is free if you contact the email address at the website. They like to keep track of where the program is being used, but they’ll send you a free download. Turtle Art uses Logo and a click-and-drop interface to create art. There’s a lot of math involved as well. To be honest, I can sit and play around with it for hours!
One more piece of software (this one does cost) is Animation-ish. It comes from FableVision, a company run by author Peter H. Reynolds and his twin brother, Paul. It has a simple interface that allows users to create animations. We have created animations to show the life cycle of living things as well as the changes of the four seasons. Students have used it to animate high frequency words (they are boring to write again and again to practice, but this program makes it fun). FableVision has other fabulous software, but this is my favorite.
As many young children are not yet independent readers and writers, they are unable to blog. I loved using blogs when I taught fourth and fifth graders and I wanted a way to continue that crafting of writing and asynchronous communication and collaboration between students. VoiceThread gave me a way.
We have created VoiceThreads for many different things. At the beginning, we work on them together. Gradually students are able to work on VoiceThreads on their own.
This VoiceThread was created after we made butter as a class. I took pictures throughout the process and students explained it.
This was a math VoiceThread. Students described the different shapes we studied.
We have used VoiceThread to help us listen to ourselves. For this one, students read their own writing out loud. (I have often found at writing conferences that students notice many things as they read their writing to me. This process helped them begin to do that without me.) Students have also used VoiceThread to record themselves reading to practice fluency.
If you would like to see how we used VoiceThread there are videos here of a lesson in social studies with my first graders a few years ago.