Using ChromaKids to Support Co-Creation of Number Challenges

Guest blogger: Brian J. Puerling, M.S., N.B.C.T.

posted by Brian Puerling

In 2016, I had the honor of being an Early Career Fellow for the Fred Rogers Center.  In this role, my charge was to develop a concept for an application that brought art, communication, and language together.  This open-ended application invites children of many ages to create stories independently or collaboratively without having to have their co-creator sitting next to them.  Once a child creates an illustration, they can record a narration and send it to a buddy.  Their buddy receives the illustration, listens to the narration and then can make any changes they want to the illustration as well as their own narration and send it back (up to ten exchanges). Take a look at this video for a quick tutorial:

This application is currently available for iPad only.  There is an update in progress which includes adding the color brown to the crayon selections. Price: Free

One of most popular opponent views to technology in early childhood is that is isolates children from other children and valuable social experiences.  One of my goals with this application was to an experience where children can be creative together without having to be sitting next to each other.  Soon after this application was released I was overjoyed to see my 3-year-old daughter Lydia co-creating a scene with her cousin Jaelyn who lives in Appleton, WI. Their scene included all sorts of items, similar to an I Spy scene.  Jaelyn’s challenge to Lydia was to find 4 apples that she added to her illustration.  Lydia was then to circle those apples.  From there is turned into finding other characters that were added.

In this experience Lydia was able to meaningful engage with her cousin in a both creative and mathematical experience.  If we were to pull apart the skills exercised here, Jaelyn, who was five years old at the time had to come up with the challenge, identifying the specific number of items she chose, and then strategically place them in the illustration.  Lydia then had find those items and keep track of how many she had found as she observed the illustration.  Lydia then made an attempt to add her own items and assign Jaelyn the task of finding the items Lydia added.

In supporting children creating their own Number Challenges in ChromaKids, consider this approach to creating a plan:

  1. Who do you want to send the challenge to?
  2. What characters would you like to include?
  3. What are the items you would like to hide?
  4. How many items would you like to hide?
    1. Will there be more than one item?
    2. How many of each item?
  5. How will your buddy let you know that they have found the items?
    1. A circle around them?
    2. A square around them?
    3. An audio recording telling where they are?
  6. What will you say when you make the audio recording of your challenge?
    1. How will you make sure you include the full directions for your buddy?

You will be amazed to see what children can come up with.  Don’t forget to join in on the fun in creating these challenges!

Brian J. Puerling, M.S., N.B.C.T.

Brian J. Puerling, M.S., is currently the director of education technology at the Catherine Cook School in Chicago, where he works with teachers to connect students to new technologies that offer innovative ways to explore, play and learn. An early fellow career fellow and former guest blogger for the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media, he is the recipient of the National PBS Innovative Educator Award and the National PBS Teachers’ Choice Award. A former preschool teacher for the Chicago Public Schools, Puerling has also worked as an early childhood teacher coach, a curriculum reviewer and a professional development facilitator for the Chicago Public Schools and the Rush University Medical Center Science and Math Excellence Network. He currently serves as a member of the Nickelodeon Curriculum and Content Advisory Board and is a former member of the Sesame Workshop Teacher Council, where he shared his knowledge of trends in early childhood education and technology to help guide the planning for future Sesame Street television shows. Puerling is also the author of the Teaching in the Digital Age series, which includes Teaching in the Digital Age: Smart Tools for Age 3 to Grade 3 (Redleaf Press, 2012), Teaching in the Digital Age for Preschool and Kindergarten: Enhancing Curriculum with Technology (Redleaf Press, November 2017) and the upcoming book, Teaching in the Digital Age to Support Social-Emotional Development in Young Children (Redleaf Press, November 2018). He is currently working on the fourth book in the series, which outlines practical strategies for integrating technology into early learning and has an anticipated release date of November 2019. He holds a master of science degree in early childhood education from the Erikson Institute and a bachelor of science degree in early childhood and elementary education from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. Puerling is currently pursuing a Certificate of Advanced Education Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Read more posts by Brian J. Puerling, M.S., N.B.C.T.

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