Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Technology in Early Years Settings


Wednesday 08 January 2020

Support for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) is increasingly being discussed in ECEC settings. While most of us can see the link between our everyday practice and science (float and sink, care of living things, light and shadow); engineering (building, constructing and dismantling); and maths (pattern, shape, counting), the inclusion of technology appears a little more troublesome.

ECEC environments are committed to providing hands-on active experiences that are creative, inspiring and encourage children to explore. The use of technology on the other hand is often associated with passive, solitary activities. Whether we agree with it or not, the children we work with are ‘digital natives’. They have always been surrounded by Wi-Fi enabled technology and digital devices, which forces us to consider our role in promoting the best use of these devices at home and in ECEC.   

Recent research (Fleer, 2017; Sullivan & Bers, 2018; Marsh et al, 2018) has begun to point to the potential of technology when used in active, collaborative and playful ways. When technology is used as a tool to support rather than supplant play, it can expand children’s thinking, expression and encourage deep problem-solving and creativity. 

Digital devices such as cameras can be used in new and interesting ways, encouraging children to document their own learning, photograph the progress of their projects, and tell stories that emerge from their play. Analogue devices such as light tables can be used with all ages to explore colour, light and shade, and to examine porous substances including foods, liquids and plants. Overhead projectors provide opportunities for children to explore light and shadow, and simple maths concepts such as distance, measure and shape. Digital projectors, while a little more expensive allow for dynamic moving worlds such as a zoo or farm to be created within your classroom without ever leaving the confines of the setting and allow children to pretend they are flying plane or riding a roller-coaster.

Digital microscopes have become more robust and inexpensive in the past few years. These devices can magnify up to 52 times and are perfect for use by budding entomologists outdoors. They are also wonderful for exploring natural fibres such as clothing or even skin or hair – a perfect way to begin discussion about similarities and differences in children’s appearance.

For those who are interested but don’t know where to start here is my advice; start small. Introduce a single piece of technology to a small group of children and build from there. You never know where it will take you.    



Fleer, M. (2017). Digital role-play: Creating new conditions for children’s play. Mind, Culture and Activity. 24 (1), 3-17.

Marsh, J., Plowman, L., Yamada-Rice, D., Bishop, J., Lahmar, J. & Scott, F. (2018). Play and creativity in young children’s use of apps. British Journal of Educational Technology. 49 (5), 870-882.

Sullivan, A. & Bers, M. U. (2018). Dancing Robots: Integrating art, music, and robotics in Singapore’s early childhood centres. International Journal of Technology and Design Education. 28. 325-346.


Author Bio

Sandra O’Neill is an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education in DCU. Prior to taking on this role she worked for a number of voluntary and government organisations including the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, An Cosán, Preparing for Life and Sophia Housing Association. Research interests include the use of technology as a pedagogical tool in EC settings, Early Childhood Mathematics and Children’s Rights.

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Budget 2020(1) budget(1) Nutrition(1) Leadership(1) Obesity(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Reopening Childcare(1) Role play(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Graduate(1) Communications(1) Professionalisation(5) Line-ups(1) Snacks(1) Mathematicians(1) community(5) Educator of the Year Award(3) movement behaviours(1) Anxiety(2) Winter(1) Leaders in Practice(1) ELC(1) trust(4) Early Years(1) science week(2) Change(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) outdoor space(3) European Project(1) Pre-School Services(1) TRAP(1) Interactions(2) SPICE Framework(1) food(1) Montessori(3) Care-giving routines(1) play pod(1) bonds(1) Afghanistan(1) Irish guidelines(1) Ceremony(1) Frustrations(1) Music(3) overhear(1) Inspections(1) Storytelling(7) Design(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) ERASMUS+(3) Recycling(2) Grief(1) Easter(1) PIP(1) social media(1) Mayo(1) Environment(2) outdoor environment(1) developing motor skills(1) GDPR(1) Irish(1) Qualifications(1) Sport(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Your place(1) listening(1) Shoes(1) Party(1) learning bias(1) Penguins(1) Imagination(3) Universal Design(2) Research Conference 2019(1) Upcycling(1) primary education(1) Visual Impairment(1) Biting(1) HR(1) Counting(1) social science(1) UNICEF report(1) Breathing(2) preschool(4) conference(1) Iceland(1) Decisions(1) scéalta(47) online training(1) Early Childhood Ireland(6) linc(1) Sustainability(3) Learning journals(1) Lego(2) maternity health(1) Sculptures(1) early years research(2) Sessional service(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Childcare(3) Meal time(1) Interaction(1) Workforce(1) early childhood educator(2) curiosity(3) pablo(1) Care routines(1) Self-Esteem(1) keezy(1) preschool settings(1) bloom app(1) Graduation(1) babies(7) Event Guide(1) Scéalta Blog(100) Positivity(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) Leprechauns(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) IGL(1) Valentine's Day(3) Gratitude(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Creative(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) collaboration(1) Degree(1) gender stereotype(1) Awards 2018(3) Children's Voice(1) listen(1) iOS(1) San Miniato(4) GoToMeeting app(1) Nonverbal(1) Jenga(1) Staff Motivation(1) Vertical grouping(1) Drawing(2) Covid19 crisis(1) UNCRC(2) Flowers(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) keep in touch(1) Treasure Chest(1) memories(1) National Awards 2019(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Wonder(1) Awards(2) New Appointments(1) COVID-19 landscape(1) development(8) Blocks(1) Support(1) dogs(1) Photographs(1) Mark Twain(1) Mount Everest(1) Glitter(2) creche(1) Maths Week(1) Treasure(1) toddlers(3) Child mental health(1) College(1) Anthony Semann(1) Games(1) Diversity(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) MA(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Communicating(1) code of ethics(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) Smiles(1) Mud kitchens(1) Self-regulation(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) Síolta(128) Seas Suas(1) Seanchaí(1) Engineers Week(2) stories(3) early years learning(1) Academic Skills(1) Italy(1) Nuturing interactions(1) gender bias(1) planning(1) behavioural science(1) Children's Research Network(1) refugees(1) Confident(1) Our Little Seed(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Trauma-Sensitive(1) Study Trip(1) First 5(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Plastic(1) Craft(1) Inter-generational learning(2) educarer(1) supportive environments(2) Together Old and Young Programme(1) christmas(9) imotion(1) play therapy(1) Halloween(2) Primary School(2) children development(1) Titles(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Potential(1) education system(1) blog(43) COVID-19(11) Santa(2) Mindfulness(2) Special Needs Assistants(1) Oireachtas(1) Creativity(5) documentation(4) Magnavacchi(1) responsive relationships(1) reading(5) Identity and Belonging(4) Culture(2) Loving Relationships(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) art of the relationship(1) research(6) EECERA 2016(1) Bereavement(2) Facebook(1) educating(1) Gardening(1) Self Help Skills(1) Engineering(3) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) Limerick(1) Academics(1) NAEYC(1) research submissions(1) outdoors(4) Exploring and Thinking(1) Thank you(1) ReCreate(2) risky play(2) COVID-19 crisis(1) Small World Play(1) Covid response(1) under 3's(3) Sleep(1) Reggio Emilia(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Sociodramatic play(1) routine(2) Celebrate(1) play(35) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Iraq(1) Consent(1) Learning Stories Award(3) The Lullaby Book(1) Socioemotional development(1) Wilenski(1) life long learning(1) staying connected(1) Maynooth University(2) Pretend Play(1) Policy(2) Emergent Curriculum(1) Brain(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Funding(1) Advocacy(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Favouritism(1) respect(5) relationships(17) play pods(2) Ariana Pucci(1) EM Standing(1) Children and families(1) CPD(1) childcare services(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) Document Learning(1) Workplace well-being(1) Through the looking glass(1) Opportunities(1) CIT(1) Reggio(1) friendships(1) Celebrations(4) peer group(1) healthy eating policies(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Buddy Bench(1) Vietnam(1) AsIAm(2) Competent(1) Belonging(3) Sustainable(1) Playdough(1) Meet the Members(1) The Jelly King(1) Scents(1) Research Seminar(1) School Age Childcare(1) Story(2) story time(2) Mixed age groups(3) mushrooms(1) experience(1) Inspirational(2) Arithmetic(1) Exclusion(1) Cognitive development(1) Return to Work Training(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) value(1) eating(1) Participation(2) family time(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) show and tell(1) Body Language(1) meals(3) Shapes(2) United Nations(1) child-centred approach(1) Dance(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Technology(3) Deirdre Rogers(1) Trigonometry(1) Kids Own(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Large Doll Play(1) Book Review(1) learning(19) reopening ireland(1) man up(1) Impact(1) Wesco(1) Light table(1) conversations(1) Thinking(1) Siolta blog(8) june29(1) Digital Devices(1) Rich Documentation(1) AIM(2) Early Years Educators(3) Fantasy play(1) Snakes(1) Children(4) RTE Investigates(1) Pobal(1) Infectious diseases(1) University(1) Plants(1) Kerry(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Workplace Relations(3) Trade Unions(1) NCCA(3) Exit interview(1) World Health Organisation(1) Certificate(1) early childhood(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Budget 2018(1) Learning Stories(9) aistear blog(3) Social Skills(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Childhood(1) Maths(6) Fee Play(1) Eritrea(1) Inclusion(3) reopening(1) Albert Einstein(1) risk assessment(1) Teamwork(1) Digital(1) Decision Making(1) National Holiday(1) COVID-19 Reopening(2) Scéalta Book Review(1) Capable(1) Wrapping paper(1) Horizon 2020(1) Challenges(1) Adoption(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) children’s learning(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Fabric(1) annual conference(1) Orla Kenny(1) Inter-generational(2) ears(1) Exploring(1) Malaguzzi(1) Yoga(1) Family wall(1) Budget 2019(2) Queues(1) Time(1) Traffic Lights(1) Reflective Practice(1) Early Learning and Care(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Super Shed Stories(2) RIE philosphy(1) Pedagogy(2) Relaxation(1) phone apps(1) Rituals(1) Patterns(1) Xbox(1) Death(2) Autism(4) Engagement(1) Child Care(1) Exercise(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) awards 2020(1) Builders(1) transitions(10) CCTV(1) Awards 2019(1) Laughter(1) Wendy Lee(3) environments(1) Early Years Education(1) Intention(1) Administrative Burden(1) Art(6) Behaviour(3) Independence(1) Traditions(2) Trade union(1) early life(1) Equality(1) journey(1) DCYA(6) Identity(5) SAC(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) role playing(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) outdoor play(6) Book Club(2) Aistear(124) Thanks(1) ICBN(1) Masterclass(2) Painting(1) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) books(4) child-centric(1) Map(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Awards Night(1) Learning through Storytelling(1) Community involvement(1) Laugh(1) baby room(1) pets(1) Síolta QAP(1) coronavirus(1) Time Out(1) Confidence(1) continual professional development(1) dublin(2) Hand Hygiene(2) Stress(2) Training(2) ECCE(7) purpose(1) Feeding(1) Playschool(1) structure(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Sequins(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Kilkenny(1) Mantra(1) Visitors(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Educators(2) risk(2) Learning Story(1) Employee(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Japan(1) Prexit(1) Spiders(1) Window(1) Empathy(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) lockdown(1) Syria(1) Youtube Series(1) Mealtimes(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Snack Time(1) Trick or treat(1) ECEC(3) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Exploratory Play(1) Recycle(1) Learning Journal(2) Family(1) emotional well-being(1) INTO(1) curriculum(5) Margy Whalley(1) Covid pandemic(2) Touch(1) First 5 strategy(1) Investment(2) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Magic(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Building Resilience(1) Whole Group(1) Appreciation(1) Quality(4) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) racism(1) Routines(2) ECEC Setting(2) education(2) Valerie Gaynor(1) communication(4) Elders(1) TOY Programme(1) Pen green(1) worries(1) Maynooth(1) Names(1) Settling in(4) Performance Management(1) Sweets(1) Mental Health(4) Norway(2) emotional environment(2) grandchild(1) Affordability(1) dining(1) Weather(1) Interests(1) Performing(1) science(3) Online(1) Giraffe(2) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) DES Inspection(1) Health(2) Mo Scéal(1) interacting(2) Maria Montessori(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) animals(2) Infection Control(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Buddies(1) National Awards 2018(2) Maternity Leave(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) UD(1) dining experiences(1) Children's Rights(3) Magda Gerber(1) Home Corner(1) Well-Being(10) parents(6) Summer(1) Love(3) Reading Time(1) Running(1) Human Resources(1) learners(1) Little Buddies(1) mental health problems(1) E.coli(1) emotions(2) MECPI(1) Loss(1) feisty(1) youdoodle(1) learning hub(1) Leargas(1) Supernanny(1) Twitter(1) apps for children(1) Arts(1) STEM(3) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) play stories(2) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Arlene Forster(1) UN(1) Cork(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine