Sand Tables and Tablets

touchdevicesMy daughter has had access to touch devices since she was 2 years old. Young kids grasp how to use them very quickly with little or no instruction. It seemed sensible to me to expose her to the #technology early on, because I have no doubt these would be part of her life at home and at school, at least until the next big thing in technology arrives that maybe hasn’t been invented yet. She is now 4 and at nursery, where they have several iPads and a touch screen TV. I am sure this is not unique to her nursery.

The interesting observation, though, is that some children still go straight to the water table, or sand table, and not the iPads. I include my daughter in that statement even though she will often ask for an iPad when she gets to nursery. She loves Play-Doh, churns out pictures and paintings like a machine, makes castles out of old boxes and toilet rolls, and her favourites are Lego bricks, but she does love the iPad as well.

As for me, I still like to draw, but regardless of how good graphic apps for the tablet get, I will sometimes still get a pencil and some paper, go “old school” and sketch. Play-Doh, pencils, paper, sand tables, and water tables are all here for a little while yet, but kids now have an additional, and quite impressive learning option available there for the touching.

The reality is that touch screens are part of our lives now, and here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. Touch devices are simply another option for young learners, or learners of any age. Touch adds an additional richness to the learning.

About the author: Iain Home is a UK father, student of education trends, and an international marketing strategist for Promethean.

Iain Home

Iain Home is a UK father, student of education trends, and an international marketing strategist for Promethean. Iain is also a regular columnist at Connect Learning Today.
2 Comments on this post.
  • Matthew Jelley
    14 August 2013 at 4:50 am -

    I actually really like the topic and the views that expressed here. I don’t always agree that technology should replace traditional learning methods since ‘ no 2 children learn in the same manner’; and this article only serves to emphasise the point. More stuff like this is really important to remind educators to adopt all that is available. The fact that author is observing this as a ‘non-educator’ also makes it seem that does not have any preconceptions and motives to publish.

  • Iain Home
    Iain Home
    16 August 2013 at 7:45 am -

    Matthew, thanks for taking the time to reply.

    I think building on your comments, it is very important to adopt all that is available but also to think of where technology enhances and adds positively to the learning rather than simply using technology for the sake of it.

    Lego is a great example of where you could add technology but you don’t really need to and it is possibly also the reason why Lego and other construction toys (K’nex, MegaBlocks, etc) are still so popular with kids.

    I would argue that these toys teach basic construction (amongst other things) better than any tablet device can.

    In contrast, learning about the solar system could be greatly enhanced by technology with videos and interactive files with maybe content from NASA, displayed onto an interactive surface of some sort or shared on a touch pc or table in small groups or on 1:1 devices. These would all compliment a physical 3D model or drawings of the solar system very nicely, mixing old and new techniques.

    That is not to take away from your comment about adopting all that is available though…after all, they do say variety is the spice of life and that must have become a well known saying for a reason!