The concept of “play” in education has unfortunately been undermined and slowly removed from everyday learning. Jones (2012) in his article ‘iPads and Kindergarten’, passionately argues that ‘child initiated play’ needs to be restored in classrooms, particularly in the early years such as Kindergarten because it successfully assists in the development of language; oral language being the key to opening the door for reading, writing and comprehension (Jones, 2012).
The concept of ‘play’ however is in some respects has been replaced with time spent on computers and other technologically devices. Young people and children are often very familiar with devices such as iPads, touch screens and mobile phones as a part of their play. Jones (2012) in his research outlines that it would be beneficial to make use of these skills and prior knowledge held by children to increase learning, specifically literacy. His research demonstrates evidence that this new technology can be used to enhance meaning-making and successfully develop comprehension and reading skills.
Apps like Playschool Art Maker are just one technological tool that can be used to develop student’s oral language and reading comprehension, giving students the opportunity to create and retell their own stories. By eliminating the need to have writing skills this app allows students who may struggle with reading and writing to have more opportunities to produce fun and entertaining works. Visualising — which is large part of multi-modal texts and technology — is especially important as it allows less confident students to demonstrate their comprehension without requiring higher-level, literacy skills . These apps such as Playschool Art Maker also has the power to introduce multi-modal texts into the classroom.
Another similar app the Playschool Art Maker is Toontastic. This app also allows students to create their own narrative. The app allows the narrating of a story to occur through stages, dividing the narrative into sections; introduction, complication and resolution. This may be a little more complex and complicated for students who are unfamiliar with narrative structure and may not be able to confidently read the sections or even understand structure. However, the positive of this is that it leads to discussion of narrative structure, and scaffolds the oral story telling. Other fun aspects of the app is that it’s colourful, creative and engaging.
It is apparent that technology is an extremely powerful tool for driving learning, particularly literacy through oral story telling and speaking. Teachers and educators would be wise to implement this type of learning and technological ‘play’, by taking advantage of apps such as Playschool Art Maker and Toontastic to empower their students.