Activities and Games

Teaching With Technology: Turning Collections Into Curriculum - Technically Speaking!

Take advantage of children's collection yearnings and build a fascinating, child-prompted science curriculum

  • Grades: Early Childhood, PreK–K, 1–2

Environmental Protection Agency Kid's Site (

Is it garbage or recycling? This site offers activities and lesson plans on a variety of environmental issues.

Great Science Sites for Children (

This site offers windows to science experiences compiled by the Children and Technology Committee of the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association.

National Wildlife Federation Kidzone (

This site provides a nice collection of activities that can help you bring the outdoors inside your classroom.

U.S. Geological Survey Kid's Corner (

Print out pages of animals, learn about endangered species, and link to other cool environmental sites

The desire to collect things is a strong one in a young child. This can be just the springboard you need for a memorable classroom activity. It is easy to forget how amazing a pebble or pinecone can be to a young child. You can tap into your curriculum goals by leveraging this natural desire for collecting with the help of a little technology. Here's how:

Make a Collection

Give children shopping bags and take them on a mini field trip to a nearby playground or sidewalk. Ask them to collect anything interesting to add to their bag (keeping safety in mind of course). You'll be amazed at what your young collectors find, including flattened bottle caps, blades of grass, and even an occasional penny.

Start Sorting and Representing

Ask children to unload their collections into a plastic tray or pan. Start sorting, comparing, classifying, and ordering. Have a sheet of paper and markets on hand so that they can trace and label their collections. If you have a computer, use a program such as Kidspiration to take this representation to another level using the program's rich library of stickers to represent each item. This program makes it easy to break the collection into groups, sorting by attributes such as floats/sinks, paper/no paper, and so on.

A Closer Look

A magnifying glass is great for helping children examine their discoveries. But what if they want a closer look? A simple microscope such as the Geosafari Talking Microscope can come in handy. If you have a computer, the new MIC - D computer microscope from Olympus will let the entire group see the details of an object as fine as a hair.

Make Your Own I SPY Bulletin Board

Want a unique, interesting bulletin board? Snap a photo of each child's collection with your digital camera and print out a large, one-page photo. Below the picture, write a short I Spy poem that describes a few items in the collection.

SOFTWARE That Supports Science

Fisher-Price Outdoor Adventures Ranger Trail

 Teaches: science, animals, nature facts, music

This playful set of six outdoor-themed games includes an engaging log race in which kids must steer a log down a river to win. There's also a well-designed campfire sing-along with five enjoyable campfire songs. As each song is played, children see the words in a follow-the-bouncing-ball fashion. Not only is this a nice way to learn songs, it's a great language experience as well. Other activities include concentration, cave painting, and a dot-to-dot game based on constellations. The Learning Company, 800-543-9778;; Win/Mac; $20. Ages 4-7.


Teaches: planning, writing, language, classification, logical thinking

Kidspiration, the younger sibling to Inspiration, offers a nice introduction to story mapping and planning and thought organizing for young children. If you have a computer projector, it is the perfect way for a child to show off a personal collection in a very public way. Children start by choosing symbols that represent their collection from a library of hundreds of common items or by importing pictures from a digital camera. Though relatively free of bells and whistles, this software can help students organize their thoughts. Inspiration Software, 800-877-4292;; Win/Mac; $70. Ages 5-9.

ThemeWeavers: Animals

Teaches: literacy, math, creativity, science, social studies, art

This useful program provides dozens of premade activity templates and creativity tools for making your own activities. The idea is to use children's fascination with animals to teach skills such as rhyming words, opposites, counting, and habitats. The activity templates, which can be completed onscreen or printed, are offered in several subject areas, including math, language arts, science, and social studies. Edmark (Riverdeep), 800-- 426-0856;; Win/Mac; $40. Ages 3-7.

HARDWARE for Observing

GeoSafari Talking Microscope

Teaches: science, visual observation

This child-friendly talking microscope comes with 12 slides of bugs and magnifies them to five times the normal size. Children put a slide in place, enter its three-- letter code by pressing large ABC buttons, and then hear facts about the specimen. A quiz mode tests their knowledge. The microscope is well designed for small hands, and the audio is clear. Our testers looked at all the slides and then found other things to look at, such as leaves and hair, for further investigation. The magnification level isn't much, but it allows for a better view of bugs than does the naked eye. Educational Insights, 800-995-4436;; $30. Age 5 and up.

  • Subjects:
    Science, Early Learning, Curriculum Development, Outdoor Activities and Recreation, Early Science, Hobbies, Play, Recreation, Professional Development, Science Experiments and Projects, Scientific Method and Process, Classification, Observation, Teacher Tips and Strategies, Technology, Communication and the Internet, Software and Apps, Computers, Teaching with Technology

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