Imaginary Play with Technology
Our latest innovation, the Fred Rogers Center Early Learning Environment™ (Ele) is designed to do just that. The web-based support system uses new media tools to provide resources for parents, teachers, and home-based care providers of children from birth through age 5. Users can browse a curated collection of materials from around the web, including videos, games, e-books, music and other interactive tools. All of it is free. Ele is also a place to connect with others who care about issues affecting young children. Visitors to the site can add activities, rate and comment on resources, and engage with other caregivers on the Ele discussion board.
Ele’s new Early Literacy Quick Clips are videos that show real-world examples of caregivers using best practices to interact with children. What does a literacy-rich play area really look like? Take a look here: there are labeled objects at children’s eye level, which supports their curiosity about letters and words.
What are concrete strategies for talking with infants? Sing songs and rhymes, repeat, and slow down. You can see it all in action here.
My favorite video shows children using cell phones and digital cameras as part of play. This video includes important tips for how to incorporate technology into classrooms in a way that goes beyond simple games:
- Take pictures of your children participating in different activities. Later that day, show children the photos and ask children to describe what’s happening in the pictures.
- Allow children to take pictures. Ask them, “Why did you take that picture?”
- Use old cell phones to spur imaginative play. Children can take and send pretend pictures and texts.
Technology is used to support play, just like crayons, blocks, and dress-up clothes. And best of all, the technology doesn’t even have to work.
But it’s fun when it does. Children who are too young to communicate with text can communicate with images and sounds by using digital cameras or sound recorders. Digital pictures, videos, and sounds can be shared between home and school environments.
All of these activities encourage children to use and listen to language, supporting early literacy skills and digital media literacy skills.