Early Connections: Technology in Early Childhood Education
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Many tools of technology other than computers can be used effectively with children to suit a variety of situations. They allow the students to be active and offer great flexibility in style of learning and in budgeting.

Tape recorders are an excellent resource for literacy. Children can follow along with picture books as they listen to the story on tape. They can also listen to music or songs and act out the motions that go along with the words.

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Cameras are good tools to record projects and activities that students are working on. Pictures can be used to share the learning that is happening with other students, parents, funding agencies, and community members.

Pictures taken with a digital camera while students are working can immediately be put into the computer. When they have a chance, students can go to the computer and write captions for the work, or if students are not proficient with the keyboard an adult can type in the text.

Video cameras, or camcorders, can record learning projects, special activities and culminating celebrations. Children love to watch themselves and classmates in taped presentations, demonstrations and performances. Tapes can be sent home on loan to family members who may not be able to attend in person.

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TV/VCRs play back recordings students have made, as well as tapes made by others. Children and families have a chance to see the results of their projects and can learn from watching the performances.

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Fax machines are a way to reach out to other schools, to outside organizations, and to keep in touch with parents. Some projects can use the fax machine to gather information, invite guest speakers, or send thank-you messages. Fax machines can provide immediate feedback that will keep the children involved and interested in the projects, and feel more connected with the materials they are learning.

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Scanners convert information created in another form, such as drawings or printed pages, into a digital form the computer can accept. A scanner can combine the best of two worlds: students may create pictures using any media (crayons, paints, pen and ink), then scan them into a computer. Students can type or dictate captions or stories to accompany the scanned image.

Drawings and text can also be put into a slide show or multimedia presentation, e-mailed to family members, or included on a class or school Web site. Older children writing reports or making presentations can scan maps and photos both to add interest and to show their message visually.

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Digital microscopes display high-quality magnified images on the computer screen. The lightweight, handheld device connects to the computer with a cable, allowing children to take the microscope to nearby objects.

The microscope lets young children actively explore and encourages language opportunities that come with involvement. In addition to supporting curiosity and investigation with students of all ages, it provides an environment for the introduction and use of content-area language. Learning vocabulary in this natural manner allows children to understand and use words in context, cementing their understanding. For children with limited English proficiency, the use of tools such as the microscope provides a shared background of experience and language with classmates.

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