Archive for March, 2012

March 24th, 2012

It All Comes Down to Play

As we mentioned in the last blog, NAEYC and the Fred Rogers Center for Media recently released an updated statement on technology and young children. In it, both advocate for using media in developmentally appropriate ways. For young children this means connecting it to play.

There are basically five different types of play: motor/physical, creative or constructive, social, fantasy or free play, and games with rules. It is important to facilitate each within your child’s experience to promote overall, healthy development.

Media and Technology have long been viewed as inhibitors of play in children and thus negatively impacting development. What NAEYC and the Fred Rogers Center actually uncovered however is that it there is more to it than that. Studies now reveal that there are ways interactive experiences actually work to promote different types of play and thus work to actually support and facilitate learning and relationships as opposed to limiting them.

For example, let us consider social play. One study revealed that children working in pairs or small groups at a computer displayed the same traits as those interacting without. These children learned social “rules” like give and take, reciprocity, cooperation, and sharing. In addition, educators can now use tools like the video cameras in phones to help shy children interact more by encouraging them to seek out conversations through “interviews”.

In addition, there is evidence to support physical play. With Wii and X-box and other game consoles, the whole phenomenon of “exergames” has gained popularity. These games require players to be active and to engage/ compete with others. They quite literally get kids off the couch and give them more active ways to be part of this media based world.

Perhaps the most prevalent type of play is constructive and/or creative play. There are many examples of this on the Web, as young children are allowed to blog and create other things using images. They can color and record sounds. They can build by clicking and dragging simulated blocks on top of one another, etc.

So you see, interactive media can be useful in promoting the healthy development of children. Not to be confused with more passive media that requires viewing only, interactive media is specifically created to facilitate active and creative use and response. As an adult, taking an extra moment to think critically about the overall experience and linking it to as many particulars about impact and the individual child or children is vital when making decisions about activities. Just as you have your child drink milk to promote strong bones and teeth, strategically using media and technology to teach content, enhance behaviors and strengthen relationships is possible when cause/effect is considered.

March 12th, 2012

Lessons from the Lorax

Recently, NAEYC and the Fred Rogers Center for Media released an updated statement on technology and young children. Where they previously had advocated restriction and abstinence for young children. They now say, “We believe that when used appropriately, technology and interactive media have tremendous potential to nurture early learning and development.” “Appropriate” then translates to use within developmentally appropriate classrooms to enrich existing curriculum. How does this work exactly? Let’s take a closer look at Disney’s new movie, the Lorax and how both the movie and various on-line resources can be used to enrich a first grade curriculum- either at home OR in the classroom. With the prevalence of modern marketing techniques, children are probably talking about it, collecting movie toys from McDonalds and living out the movie’s influence in other ways. Why not maximize its impact for good?! Haven’t yet seen the movie? Rent it! Or show some of the trailers!

Writing: The State of California’s first grade standard for writing includes: ” Students begin to learn to write clear and coherent sentences and paragraphs that develop a central idea, considers audience and purpose.” And “Compositions describe and explain familiar objects, events, and experiences”

Here are some activities that address this:

A) The movie has a famous quote. “I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues” Why not have your child create a dictionary of a tree language? Together you could keep adding words as they come up over time!

B) Write a story together! “What would you do with the last Truffula seed?”

C) Or increase vocabulary and try your hand together at this word search!

Science: The obvious theme throughout this movie is being more friendly to the environment which goes hand in hand with science! The State of California’s first grade standard for science includes: “I observe the world and use words, graphs, and illustrations to describe it”

For an activity to address this, we found these great ideas on-line and already in practice!

A) On Recycling


B) The Lorax Project Web-site

Mathematics The State of California’s first grade standard for mathematics includes: “They measure with simple units and locate objects in space.” specifically, for measurement, “students describe and arrange objects in space in terms of proximity, position and direction (e.g. near, far, below, above, up, down, behind, in front of, next to, left/right)”

For an activity, why not:
A) Make a forest of different sized Truffula trees and have your child or children create maps for things within that forest.

OR same idea w/ a twist

B) Pretend an area outside with lots of trees is a Truffula forest and take turns hiding something within the trees- or use this image and a little imagination! Then, the person who hides the object has to give directions or clues to the other person or people playing to find it!


C) Do a Google or other search with your child on line for all of the various images on-line that show Truffula trees then compare and contrast them together. Which is bigger? What are they near? What is below them in the images? What is above?

And don’t forget, there is also the book by Dr. Seuss and all of the other wonderful stories within his collection for private and shared story times! Whether you are a teacher searching for lessons or a student or parent exploring sites with activities, this is really just the beginning of a lot of possibilities!