I'm a pre-k teacher and am interested in writing a grant for a couple of iPads.  My goal is to use iPads in the classroom to enhance student learning.  Has anyone had any experience using iPads with young children?  I'd love to hear your thoughts or concerns.

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First I would ask what you mean by "enhance student learning." Do you have a specific application (be it generic "reading & writing" or a specific software app) in mind?

I think from a visual/tactile standpoint they might be engaging, however I'd be worried about the delicate/breakable factor with such young hands, as well as the learning as opposed to "cool" factor.

In addition to the iPads I would highly recommend sturdy cases for them, so in the event a 4 year old drops one (which is pretty likely) you aren't out a ~$400 device...

Another concern would be the coordination. Using a computer (mouse, keyboard, etc) is a great way to develop the coordination skills at that age, however I'm not sure if the iPad touch-sensitive functionality would work with pre-K. No actual keys to press might be confusing, using multiple fingers/hands could zoom in/out unintentionally, no toolbars in some apps, touching very specific/finite areas to get menu functions, etc.

If you get the grant for 2 or so it might be worth trying out. I'd love to hear how it goes. Personally I wouldn't invest in an entire class set until I saw a few in action in that setting.

For Pre-K I think I'd go with something more like this to start:
http://shop.leapfrog.com/leapfrog/
Less expensive, more durable, designed for that age group. I like my iPad, I just don't know if it would be the best use of technology funds for pre-K.

As I said, if you go ahead with it I'd love to hear how it goes.
Just one comment on your post, @Christopher -
My daughter is 26 months old and has been using iPod touch and iPad since she was about 14 months. There is no concern about coordination. Using a touch interface is infinitely more intuitive than a mouse or trackpad.
I have videos of her using the iPod last year.

http://youtu.be/Rhlqp6Cw_bc

It did not take her long to navigate the tool and get to the apps she wants.
The only problem I have with her on it now is that she prefers watching YouTube to the educational apps I have on it :)
Thanks for sharing the video Matt! What a bright little girl you have there! It really is amazing how easily kids pick up on this technology. It seems that the touch screens allow children to directly interact with the software and therefore the operation of such devices just comes naturally to our young kiddos. When learning how to operate a desktop or laptop, students must first learn the basics, mouse control and keyboard skills, prior to experiencing the software. Of course, I feel it's important to expose my students to desktop use, but I feel iPads may be an additional (and maybe more appropriate) manner in which I can introduce students to modern technology. After all, it is my job to best prepare them for learning in the "digital age".
Hello Julie!

The iPads are just tremendous fun for young children.
I have been putting together app lists for education: http://www.alline.org/euro/preschool_apps.html

Here are more resources:
iPad & iPod User Group Wiki
iPads and Mobil Media in Education— http://tiny.cc/ipadjulener
iEAR
Apple Distinguised Educators
APPtivities

You should also try getting in contact with Camilla Gagliolo (gaglioloc@me.com), she has been very successful in implementing iPads and documentation, she just did a webinar for ISTE on iPads.

Good luck!
The National Association for the Education of Young Children Technology & Young Children Interest Forum group has a listserv ECETECH-L and has just started a discussion on the topic of using iPads/mobile devices with preschool aged/young children. We hope you/others in the group will visit our website http://www.techandyoungchildren.org/ to learn how to sign up for our listserv, join our Diigo group http://groups.diigo.com/group/ecetech and jump in and play in our wiki sandbox (Have recently added a wiki page iPad Ideas Space http://ecetech.wikispaces.com/iPad+Idea+Space) as we discuss topics such as finding and selecting apps and use of these devices in ways that will be beneficial (not detrimental) for young children.
Thanks Bonnie! I joined the listserv and look forward to taking part in the discussions.
Hi Julie, Glad to hear it! Hope you look around the iPad Idea Space/wiki page as well. It is just getting started, but there are some links to a couple of app review sites, a set of criteria for evaluating e-books that might also be useful when thinking about selecting apps, and at the bottom, a link to our Diigo group where we share bookmarks, including some related to apps/ iPads. Glad you raised this question, and also appreciate everyone's replies...
Hey Alline!

Great resources! Thanks for sharing.

I love the app list - very helpful!
I teach high schoolers, but I have kids aged 3 - 7 (I won't count the 4 month old, she isn't very interested in the iPad :)

My 3 year old needs no instruction, she picks it up, finds apps and goes to town. I have several apps for pre schoolers and without me showing them to her, she found them, opened them up and figured them out. My older two kids are masters of the iPad also.

I have no concerns, it is great for kids!
The free doodle buddy app is great for kids to draw and be kinesthetic. It also allows stamps. There are lots of apps that are specifically aimed at pre-schoolers. You can use it to teach numbers, colors, anything you want. It is awesome and fun!
Thank you all for your comments! You've given me some great ideas and helpful information about iPad use with young children. I greatly appreciate your feedback and will let you know what happens with the iPad grant.

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