PROBLEM Integrating technology into a kindergarten classroom, where many students are in the pre-reading stage and there is a wide range of motor skills.

SOLUTION Introduce students to hand-held cameras and Apple iPads, and teach them to create their own videos and still images. Amy Lynn Thompson, OCT, has found ways to bring these technologies into many curriculum units as her four- and five-year-old students explore nature, science, language and communication.

LESSONS LEARNED One of Thompson’s favourite activities is to have the students take videos of themselves interviewing one another. Then they watch and listen closely as they play back the videos. “It really helps them do self-assessment and builds their confidence.” Her students have even taken videos of classmates throwing a ball and used them to help others who struggle with gross motor skills.

During a trip to the park last year, her kindergartners were upset to see an overturned garbage bin, so they documented it with the camera. The eco-conscious students shot photos of individual items and then sorted them into trash and recyclables. “Students care a lot more when they can connect with the subject this way,” Thompson says.

To share classroom learning with parents, Thompson’s students take photos of their work — such as their solar system models during a recent science lesson — and upload them to a blog that families can access from home.

OBSERVATIONS In a class of kids so young, there are wide differences in ability, whether it’s reading, social skills or familiarity with technology. Thompson suggests letting the students explore the devices at their own pace so they can make discoveries on their own. “Sometimes there doesn’t need to be a plan.” She’s found that students who are good at using the iPad or camera quickly become teachers themselves, and they can build their communication skills by explaining the ideas to others.

Thompson recalls one student whose school experience was completely transformed by the technology. “He was really struggling, with no friends, no motivation, no reading ability and no interest in writing with a pencil,” she says. He quickly took to tracing letters on the iPad, and soon became so proficient he was teaching other kids. “He even discovered the feature that allows you to distort faces in a photo. His mom came in to say how much he loved going to school now.”

You can do it too

Amy Lynn Thompson
Rick Hansen PS, Aurora

You’ll need


  1. allow students to explore the iPad at their own pace
  2. encourage the most savvy students to help others who are less comfortable with the technology
  3. reinforce learning at home by sharing the students’ work on the Web (Thompson uses Google’s free Blogger service

HELPFUL HINT Don’t treat the iPad like it’s a novelty item, Amy Lynn Thompson says. While it may still seem like that to adults, the technology is second nature to young kids, so forget the gadget and focus on the content it’s delivering.