Using YouTube with Kids

14 Sep

I was very inspired by a recent article in Young Children, a magazine put out by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The article, which is by Heejung An and Holly Seplocha, is called Video Sharing Websites: Tools for Developing Pattern Languages in Children.  (You can download a PDF of the article on this page, which lists all the articles in the issue.)  The authors make a fascinating case for using YouTube and other video-sharing websites for kids: It can be a source for encouraging language and learning!using youtbe with mom

In this article, the authors point out that YouTube can be used as a resource for expanding upon conversations and ideas with kids. As an example, they describe how a boy was frustrated trying to put train tracks together for his train set. The mother suggested they “research” the concept on YouTube. After viewing several clips about constructing toy train tracks, he was able to accomplish the task on his own.  What a great way to share the concept of research with a young child, while getting them to use language to explain the problem and find the solutions.

But the authors go beyond the idea of simply using YouTube for research. They  explain that the website can also be used as a way to share accomplishments.   They write, “Consider a kindergarten class investigation of their town. After researching buildings that make up their neighborhood, the kindergartners build a block city, videotape it, and share it on YouTube. Another class may share puppet-making experiences, explaining the steps for creating the puppets.”

In addition, on-line video clips can prepare children for a new experience, such as visiting a pumpkin patch or frosting a cake.  In my own experience as a parent, video has been a very powerful tool for my toddlers. For example, if it weren’t for various episodes of “Little Bill” or “Sid the Science Kid”, my children would not have a sense of what going to preschool would really be like. We have various books that explore the idea of going to preschool, but seeing a video version – even a cartoon – brought to life what they could really expect and eased the transition.  Thanks to this article, I realize I can turn to YouTube and not just regular television programming to explore new concepts.  It was right there for me all along, yet it never occurred to me before!

Educators out there: Do you use YouTube in your classroom? Parents: Have you ever looked for a video with your kids? I’m curious to hear some anecdotes about this, so please comment on this if you have.

6 Responses to “Using YouTube with Kids”

  1. A Lund 09/14/2010 at 12:08 pm #

    I think You Tube can be a great tool. Recently my son (3 yrs) received a toy crocodile from a relative. We first looked up images online to determine if it was a crocodile or an alligator and then we checked out some You Tube videos of crocodiles in action in the wild. He really loved seeing the videos and it added to the learning experience!

  2. Marisa 09/14/2010 at 12:34 pm #

    My kids are big YouTube fans. When Molly is learning a new violin piece, we search for a video of a certain German teacher playing the piece so she can study his technique. Since I don’t play the violin, this is extremely helpful between lessons! We’ve looked up songs from old shows, how to do certain gymnastic moves or juggling tricks, etc. A teacher at our school even put up a video for one of her students of how to solve a Rubik’s cube.

  3. royfilmpt 09/14/2010 at 5:01 pm #

    I watch YouTube with my kids (ages 4 and 2) at least on a weekly basis. Whenever we are talking about something and it becomes obvious that they haven’t heard of it before we get on YouTube and learn about it. It’s easier with an Apple TV so we can watch it directly on the TV. And it’s fun for me too – way more fun than watching Diego.
    We watch vintage Sesame Street clips like the Ladybug Picnic (awesome). We learned about the Kookaburra bird after hearing the Kookaburra song. It’s great for learning about all kinds of animals. See what snails and hermit crabs look like when they don’t hide in their shells.
    Science experiments. Hot air balloons. Cirque Du Soleil. Magic tricks. Last weekend we watched footage from the Apollo 11 moon mission from lift off to splashdown.
    We love it and it requires some thinking on their part about what they want to see next. The four year-old is learning to read, so he helps direct me to the next letter that I’m typing on the Apple TV search screen. We could literally spend all day on YouTube so we have to put a time limit on it.

  4. Marj Kleinman 09/16/2010 at 9:48 am #

    There’s also TeacherTube and SchoolTube, which are popular with teachers.


    • Covert Coviewer 09/16/2010 at 10:02 am #

      Thanks for these links, Marj. Great resources!

  5. Eric 10/22/2010 at 3:14 pm #

    Great post! My issue using youtube with my own kids is that a lot of time is gobbled up searching for (and sometimes finding) the right content. That and the ads.

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