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!
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.