The power of the iPad in Kindergarten

**The Edvocate is pleased to publish guest posts as way to fuel important conversations surrounding P-20 education in America. The opinions contained within guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of The Edvocate or Dr. Matthew Lynch.**

By Kristi Meeuwse, ADE

Technology won’t replace teachers, but teachers who don’t teach with technology will be replaced. -unknown

Last week, our school iPads were replaced.  We were very excited to exchange our iPad 2’s for the new iPad Air.  Our old iPads served us well but were suffering from frequent app crashes. The replacement took about a week…no small feat when you are talking about over 800 iPads. The excitement over the idea of new iPads was suddenly replaced with the knowledge that we would be without iPads for a few days. My kids quickly realized this and asked, “Um, how will we do our work with no iPads?”  I responded, “I’m not sure…maybe we will do some worksheets.” Puzzled, the kids responded with, “What are worksheets?” You see, they had never completed one before.

It was definitely like going back in time and I’m certain I don’t ever want to teach again without having those devices. My students were used to having choices about their day and about demonstrating their learning. I was used to personalizing their learning and serving as a facilitator while they directed themselves. Student-centered and student-directed learning is one of the keys to educational change.

So, now we have our beautiful new devices and the kids immediately went to work. Their work. We have been working on number stories in their math journals. Even though I’m providing the number stories, there is still choice. For example, Sam had 7 buttons.  Some were blue and some were yellow.  How many of each were there?

Here are a couple of samples from my kids:


IMG_0004One was being a wise-guy, but still got the right number of buttons. By making these number stories open-ended, students have the ability to use multiple pathways to get to the answer. Another student and a partner, worked together to create what we call an “incredible equation”. One of the students was stronger in math (clearly, as he is able to multiply and divide at age 5) and the other was working on grade level. Together they made this:



By letting my students work where they are, and not where a worksheet forces them to be, the sky is the limit. The iPads give my students the freedom to move on, to move up, and to be in charge of their learning.

So, yes, I am thrilled to have our iPads back. We saw first hand the power of the iPad in our classroom. Even though we have only 22 school days remaining, we are going strong to the end!

Today we will do exciting new things. Let’s get to it!

Read all of our posts about EdTech and Innovation by clicking here. 

Kristi Meeuwse teaches kindergarten in Charleston, South Carolina. In January, 2011, her kindergarten class started a 1:1 iPad pilot for the school district and the results so far have been very successful. You can read more about it on her blog

3 Replies to “The power of the iPad in Kindergarten”

  1. As a former kindergarten teacher and a parent of a rising kindergarten, I without a doubt say iPads have a place in the classroom. It is our job as teachers (classroom teachers and parents) to get children excited about learning. I have seen many children who may have struggled succeed faster when technology such as this was used. The examples shown in this post were wonderful! The math drawings were likely completed in conjunction with hands on learning (counting out buttons then drawing on the iPad). Children can use iPads for responses instead of paper. This is also a great way to teach children to conserve resources since traditionally we have used so much paper unnecessarily. (This is not to say we should never use paper.) Furthermore, with some children entering kindergarten at age 4, it’s not a surprise that developmentally it may not be appropriate for all children to hold and use a pencil all day long. Writing on an iPad using a finger or typing allows a child to show what they know without struggling through fine motor difficulty. Yes, all things in moderation! We should still be counting real buttons and rolling out play dough balls to represent those buttons. But the iPad has an exciting place in the kindergarten classroom. Children can read on the iPad AND in printed books. They can express thoughts through writing on the iPad AND on paper. They can tell stories verbally AND they can record those using the IPad.

  2. There are definitely benefits to being able to have students work from their starting point. Honestly, that was still possible without an IPad, as children have always started work from their starting point. It is one of the main problems with standards, ad this article could be used as an supporting argument against standards in education.

    But, this teacher seems to be overlooking the loss of play time that is critical at this age for over all physical development. Swiping on a iPad, and not using pencils and worksheets, or buttons and pennies, is causing an increased need in Occupational Therapy or classes in Graphio-Motor skills. There was an article about this in the New York Times, March of 2015. Talk to third grade teachers, particularly art and music, or occupational therapists. This rush to put technology in the classroom is causing other, unintended, problems.

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