grab an iPad, hit Pause, then Draw: a 4-year-old IN ACTION

I am always in search for the Next Story for my blog. As in, the Next Story that tweaks my interest when I see or hear something about young children's innovative methods for learning.

I had the good fortune last week to be speaking with a parent in the 3-5s class in which I teach. The dad, Vlada, and I were talking about his 4-year-old daughter Zoe and  - voila! - my Next Story. How amazing that this creative technology story came right to my lap when Vlada told me about how Zoe had been exploring with her iPad at home.

Zoe working at home with her iPad - pausing a scene so she can use her sketch paper to draw a favorite character.

Vlada shared with me how Zoe uses her iPad to watch short children's shows and also do other games on the iPad. A couple weeks ago, Vlada said Zoe started using her iPad - along with paper & pencils - in an unique way:
Zoe would be watching a favorite show on her iPad, then Pause it at a certain point, then turn to use blank paper and pencils to draw details of her favorite characters from the show. Zoe would view her iPad, hit Pause, draw, hit Rewind for a different detailed freeze frame, Pause, and draw further. Zoe would engage this way for long periods of time and has returned to this invented activity many times since Vlada first witnessed Zoe's iPad + Paper art experience. [genius!]
As an educator, I was particularly struck by Zoe's seamless integration of technology, small motor, choice-making, representational efforts with drawing tools, self-direction, and being an agent of one's own learning.

Of course, it is no surprise that children are the best teachers to show us HOW things can be used, turned, pushed, pulled in ways that we as adults would never dream up.
Of course this tech idea came from the best source - a 4-year-old in action.

* Technology use by early learners has been a hot topic for a number of years. Earlier this year, NAEYC put out its statement on Tech + Media. Here is a link to a previously written blog about technology and young children which includes links to the NAEYC Statement: Authentic Ways to Use Technology.

Special thanks to Vlada and Zoe for allowing me
to share their story and photo. 
What do YOU think of Zoe's inventive way
to incorporate technology with her interest in art?
Do you have other children's examples of playing with
or incorporating technology?


  1. Jeannne,

    I appreciate this example of innovate play, but I don't believe this happens unless young children have FIRST had a lot of time to play, experiment, and experience the world on their own, WITHOUT the use of TV or technology, and even then, sometimes technology is so mesmerizing or overwhelming that young children don't improvise in the way you have documented here; without the intervention and support of adults.

    I recognize that our children are growing up in a different world than we did, and I'm no luddite. I have certainly experienced the benefits of, and made use of the recent advances in technology to enhance my own learning, and to advocate on the behalf of children and families.

    That being said, I have some concerns about the recent NAEYC position statement on technology.

    I hope you won't mind if I share a recent post I wrote musing on the topic:

    1. Lisa
      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. I agree with you! Children absolutely need and deserve PLAY as their primary way to engage with the world.

      For me, happening upon this true story of a rich example of a Young Child Using Technology was important to highlight as a blog post. There ARE parents that support their children in intentional ways to balance their child's exposure and use of technology. Vlada and Zoe demonstrate that when children have already had huge exposure to drawing, that in turn that experience is something Zoe seamlessly integrated with her iPad experience.

      By the way, I included the NAEYC Statement as a starting point for anyone who was unfamiliar with the examination of tech by the national organization. I used the Statement last term in the college course I teach for new teachers and we debated over what made real sense and where the holes were in the statement. Everyone should make their own educated opinion about children and tech as they see it in real life in their own families or classrooms.

      Thank you so much also for including your post on technology! Another wonderful resource for readers.
      Best to you Lisa and thanks again for your comments :)


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