TEC Play and Lesson Plans: Introduction to Technology & Open Exploration

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Young children learn and develop through play and inquiry by following their curiosities to discover the world around them. Play and inquiry should serve as the foundation of all technology and digital media use in early childhood. Introducing technology into the classroom often looks like open exploration, in low-risk situations, with the adults and children learning together.

While it may feel uncomfortable for adults to not have all the answers or to be “the expert” it is a powerful experience for young children to problem solve and explore with media mentors as Katey Highfield, PhD explains in this video:

NOTE: When you are reading their plans scroll through the whole plan as many educators have added pictures that can be quite useful.

As you read these plans note that many of them use photography and video that include images of children.  The TEC Center promotes and believes that children have the right to know how and where their images and voices will be used and the right to refuse sharing their images, voices and work online.

Before you take pictures or video of children remember to:

    • talk to your school leadership first about your plans
    • ask parents/guardians to sign a release form provided by the school or program
    • ask each child for permission and tell children how their images will be used
    • protect a child’s privacy and digital footprint by putting a shape or positive emoji over a child’s face before sharing it on social media platforms to protect a child’s privacy
    • Before sharing images of children with parents and caregivers make sure to review guidelines for protecting their privacy with parents, including reminding parents to
      • ask for permission from your child if you can post an image, video or project online and respect your child’s wishes
      • share with care and post images of only your child online
      • be positive and a good digital citizen by posting only positive comments, photos and videos a child would be proud to show someone later in life-never shame your own child or another child online

Here are 3 technology and open exploration play and lesson plans developed by our TEC Mentors:

  • Taking Photos on the iPad, Developed by Christy Sulaiman, Pre-K educator
    • In this play plan, Ms. Sulaiman shares how she introduces her preschoolers to the camera app on their classroom iPad to document their explorations and learning. This is a critical media literacy and technology handling skill that is often overlooked. Many of us assume young children are “digital natives” and know how to use technology tools, but as the Digital Play Framework developed by Jo Bird, PhD and Suzy Edwards, PhD shows children need to develop these skills to innovate with technology.
  • Introduction to Research, Developed by Gabrielle Rounbehler, Kindergarten educator
    • Ms. Rounbehler facilitates a collaborative experience with 8th grader students serving as media mentors for the Kindergarten students in this lesson plan. Pairing older and younger students together helps reinforce media literacy skills, as well as many other skills, for both grades.
  • Introduction to Tools and Technology, Developed by Ashley Zundel, 3rd Grade educator
    • In this exploratory experience with a plethora of technology tools, Ms. Zundel recruits some third graders to be her technology buddies to provide extra hands-on and technical help so she can focus on facilitating deeper learning by asking questions and demonstrating as needed. This open-ended play and lesson plan is another example of cross-age peer teaching.

Additional related resources:

Find more Early Childhood Tech Integrated Play and Lesson Plans from TEC Mentors here.
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