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:

Giraffe(2) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) HR(1) Ceremony(1) continual professional development(1) transitions(10) Iraq(1) Book Club(2) First 5 strategy(1) Interactions(2) Jenga(1) outdoor play(6) emotional environment(2) Maria Montessori(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) interacting(2) listen(1) Upcycling(1) Gardening(1) family time(1) Consent(1) overhear(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) trust(5) Sessional service(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) community(5) Easter(1) Liz Kerrins(1) First 5(1) gender stereotype(1) Confident(1) Fee Play(1) blog(29) Cork(1) bonds(1) Traditions(2) life long learning(1) opportunity(1) EM Standing(1) Playdough(1) role playing(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) early years research(2) Frosty the Snowman(1) Arithmetic(1) Snack Time(1) Line-ups(1) European Project(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Music(3) Fabric(1) Childhood(1) Blocks(1) Wesco(1) pets(1) Motor neuron disease(1) ears(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Weather(1) Learning journals(1) food(1) dublin(2) Supernanny(1) scéalta(32) science week(2) educating(1) Facebook(1) gender bias(1) AsIAm(2) Routines(2) Halloween(2) Trade union(1) SPICE Framework(1) Map(1) Flowers(1) The Jelly King(1) Communicating(1) Margy Whalley(1) Magda Gerber(1) COVID-19(4) Craft(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) ECEC Setting(2) supportive environments(2) early life(1) Environment(2) respect(5) School Age Childcare(1) childcare services(1) Book Review(1) Staff Motivation(1) Recycle(1) Orla Kenny(1) developing motor skills(1) journey(1) feisty(1) Smiles(1) parents(6) Buddy Bench(1) phone apps(1) Care routines(1) Sequins(1) Home Corner(1) Rituals(1) Traffic Lights(1) Event Guide(1) Sweets(1) conversations(1) Valentine's Day(3) Masterclass(2) Little Buddies(1) ReCreate(2) Scéalta Blog(99) Horizon 2020(1) Painting(1) Eritrea(1) Competent(1) dogs(1) Frustrations(1) code of ethics(1) Mud kitchens(1) Maths(5) Growing up in Ireland(3) Pobal(1) dining experiences(1) Childcare(3) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) outdoors(3) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Inclusion(3) Care-giving routines(1) New Appointments(1) Confidence(1) Self-regulation(1) Autism(4) Children(4) risk(2) Plastic(1) Visitors(1) Wonder(1) Imagination(3) Sport(1) art of the relationship(1) Whole Group(1) Magnavacchi(1) baby room(1) Favouritism(1) Maths Week(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) United Nations(1) stories(3) Awards(2) Prexit(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) maternity health(1) toddlers(3) Syria(1) Twitter(1) Document Learning(1) Cognitive development(1) Sculptures(1) pablo(1) Positivity(1) DES Inspection(1) Kerry(1) Maynooth University(2) Belonging(3) Administrative Burden(1) Party(1) curriculum(5) Dr. Emer Ring(1) MA(1) show and tell(1) Infectious diseases(1) Research Seminar(1) emotions(2) aistear blog(3) Rising to the Challenge(2) San Miniato(4) apps for children(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Feeding(1) Children and families(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) educarer(1) Story(1) Budget 2019(2) Learning Story(1) Awards 2018(3) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Engineers Week(2) preschool(4) Change(1) Snacks(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Valerie Gaynor(1) staying connected(1) social science(1) value(1) Impact(1) PIP(1) Identity and Belonging(4) Family(1) Engagement(1) Gratitude(1) UD(1) Thinking(1) curiosity(3) Professionalisation(5) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Settling in(4) Performing(1) Light table(1) Creativity(4) Touch(1) play stories(2) Inspections(1) communication(4) Culture(2) Exercise(1) Children's Research Network(1) movement behaviours(1) Digital Devices(1) Art(6) Kilkenny(1) christmas(9) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Potential(1) preschool settings(1) Games(1) Spiders(1) Opportunities(1) Rich Documentation(1) UNCRC(2) Síolta(112) Tuscan Approach(2) Online(1) Workplace Relations(3) Mental Health(3) Degree(1) Obesity(1) meals(3) Training(2) dining(1) imotion(1) Family wall(1) Affordability(1) Exit interview(1) early learning(1) Teamwork(1) Early Childhood Ireland(1) eating(1) grandchild(1) Interests(1) Seas Suas(1) mushrooms(1) documentation(4) Department of Education and Skills(1) Reggio Emilia(1) early childhood educator(2) UN(1) Mealtimes(1) Sustainable(1) National Awards 2018(2) Lego(2) Self Help Skills(1) Certificate(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) Albert Einstein(1) Anxiety(2) Japan(1) Appreciation(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Trick or treat(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Window(1) Exploring(1) Self-Esteem(1) Learning Stories Award(3) National Pyjama Day(1) Empathy(1) Budget 2020(1) Covid pandemic(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Winter(1) Wendy Lee(3) Meal time(1) under 3's(3) Vietnam(1) Mo Scéal(1) Time Out(1) Interaction(1) Creative(1) Covid19 crisis(1) Learning Journal(2) National Awards 2019(1) Design(1) science(3) environments(1) ECEC(2) Kids Own(1) Vertical grouping(1) Infection Control(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Brain(1) Mixed age groups(2) youdoodle(1) learning bias(1) Challenges(1) Children's Voice(1) Maynooth(1) Study Trip(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Bereavement(2) animals(2) Through the looking glass(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Mark Twain(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) Xbox(1) Child Care(1) Body Language(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Biting(1) Arts(1) Qualifications(1) IGL(1) Wilenski(1) Mount Everest(1) bloom app(1) awards 2020(1) Budget 2018(1) Fantasy play(1) E.coli(1) Death(2) ECCE(7) The Lullaby Book(1) Engineering Ireland(1) refugees(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Support(1) Names(1) Identity(5) Builders(1) Reading Time(1) Sleep(1) Graduate(1) friendships(1) Reggio(1) Leprechauns(1) Love(2) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Maternity Leave(1) RIE philosphy(1) social media(1) Workplace well-being(1) Technology(3) Exclusion(1) CPD(1) Penguins(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Employee(1) AIM(2) Early Learning and Care(1) Montessori(3) keezy(1) Participation(2) Academic Skills(1) Laugh(1) reading(5) Decisions(1) Communications(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) RTE Investigates(1) Human Resources(1) behavioural science(1) Shapes(1) collaboration(1) Treasure Chest(1) Learning Stories(9) Norway(2) Visual Impairment(1) NAEYC(1) Oireachtas(1) GDPR(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) Celebrate(1) Stress(2) risk assessment(1) linc(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Nutrition(1) Italy(1) development(8) books(4) conference(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Primary School(2) National Holiday(1) Mayo(1) experience(1) Trade Unions(1) Loss(1) Treasure(1) Academics(1) Santa(2) Wrapping paper(1) Titles(1) INTO(1) University(1) Drawing(2) outdoor space(3) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Mathematicians(1) keep in touch(1) babies(7) Scents(1) Patterns(1) DCYA(4) Photographs(1) Síolta QAP(1) Awards Night(1) Child mental health(1) Performance Management(1) annual conference(1) Pen green(1) research(6) Educators(2) learning(19) purpose(1) Nonverbal(1) budget(1) Inspirational(2) Social Skills(1) risky play(2) Children's Rights(3) memories(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) NCCA(3) Leadership(1) Thank you(1) Community involvement(1) Mantra(1) Investment(2) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Yoga(1) Mindfulness(2) Learning Story Awards(2) MECPI(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Leargas(1) play therapy(1) listening(1) Role play(1) TRAP(1) Diversity(1) Intention(1) Digital(1) Inter-generational learning(2) Trigonometry(1) Elders(1) learners(1) children development(1) Glitter(2) Youtube Series(1) Dance(1) healthy eating policies(1) Playschool(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) TOY Programme(1) man up(1) Time(2) Funding(1) play(34) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Aistear(118) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Our Little Seed(1) structure(1) Well-Being(9) Graduation(1) Snakes(1) College(1) Irish(1) Socioemotional development(1) Breathing(2) Building Resilience(1) ICBN(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Siolta blog(8) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) EECERA 2016(1) relationships(17) Pre-School Services(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Recycling(2) Laughter(1) primary education(1) Christmas Creativity(2) CIT(1) Health(2) Independence(1) Early Years(1) Queues(1) Shoes(1) Summer(1) Limerick(1) Meet the Members(1) Hand Hygiene(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) early years learning(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Inter-generational(2) Reflective Practice(1) GoToMeeting app(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) education(2) Relaxation(1) Sustainability(3) Leaders in Practice(1) Iceland(1) routine(2) STEM(3) Afghanistan(1) Grief(1) Arlene Forster(1) Super Shed Stories(2) Advocacy(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Adoption(1) CCTV(1) planning(1) Plants(1) Malaguzzi(1) story time(2) Decision Making(1) Quality(4) Capable(1) Awards 2019(1) Buddies(1) Thanks(1) iOS(1) Universal Design(2) Storytelling(6) Research and Professional Learning(1) worries(1) Workforce(1) child-centred approach(1) research submissions(1) Behaviour(3) Policy(2) Magic(1) Engineering(3) Early Years Educators(3) ERASMUS+(3) Celebrations(4) Running(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine