The iPad at Preschool

I purchased an iPad for the preschool class a few weeks ago, and we’re just beginning to explore how we will use it with our kids.  About 10 or 12 years ago we did have a computer in the preschool class, but at that time it was not as successful a tool as I had hoped it would be.  In the past few years we have again used computers in the preschool, but they’re always used with teacher supervision, so the children don’t really get a hands on experience with them.  I think the iPad will prove to be a more versatile tool for preschoolers than a computer is.

The greatest advantage of the iPad is the tactile experience it provides children who do most of their learning through sensory means.  The frustration with using a keyboard or mouse no longer exists permitting children to engage in meaningful learning.

Since we’ve only had the iPad for a few weeks we only have a small number of applications.  I’m am looking for good quality applications for the kids that teach preschool concepts, support our curriculum goals and teach Chinese.   A few of the applications we are using include Montessori CrosswordsTracing ABC, and Lingu Pingu which teaches Mandarin Chinese.  I did another search today and found some others that I’m going to let the kids try next week including some interactive books and a drawing pad.

Children learn to write letters with Tracing ABC.

Tracing ABC allows the teachers to set the pages to either lower or upper case letters. Our children are learning lower case letters which compliments the Zoo Phonics program.

It is also interesting to see how the children are using the iPad in the classroom.  One of my major concerns was that the kids would choose only to use the iPad and not choose to work at other learning centers.  When the iPad was originally introduced all the children wanted to gather around it.  Each morning after music circle time a teacher shows the children all of the centers and any new activities that have been set up.  The children are then given the opportunity to choose which center they want to work at.  This week I noticed that the iPad was not the first choice of most of the kids.  Other learning experiences were still appealing to them.

This is the opening screen of Lingu Pingu.

This is the opening screen of Lingu Pingu. From here children choose which page they want to play at.

Lingu Pingu's kitchen vocabulary page.

Since we only have one iPad in the classroom I was interested in how children would take turns.  A kitchen timer was introduced in the iPad center to help regulate turn taking.  As children want a turn with the iPad their names are written on the blackboard.  At this point each child gets 10 minutes and when the timer rings the next child gets his turn.  This has worked beautifully.  The children are free to engage in other learning centers knowing they will get their turn.  All of the children have been successful at leaving the iPad when their turn is complete.

I spent several months thinking about how the iPad would be used in our classroom including how preschoolers could safely handle it.  My first inclination was to find a way to lock the iPad down at a table specifically for its use.  However doing that would take away part of the experience the iPad can provide due to its mobility.  I found a Big Grips case that is designed for preschoolers.  It has worked really well and enables the children to use the iPad anywhere in our classroom.  The iPad can be placed vertically or horizontally in its stand or used without the stand.  

The Big Grips case and stand.

Overall I’m pleased with our iPad experience so far.  It is only used during morning center time, so children are still engaged in other activities throughout the day.  Teachers have the freedom to use it at anytime with the group as it supports other learning experiences.

During my research over the past few months I came across this link and Youtube video.      Weblogg-ed » Kids and the iPad      I have several ideas I want to try with the kids and I’m sure over time we will think of more creative uses for our iPad.

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