I am a techie-girl. Just like doctors, I too believe in an Apple a day (Apple iPhone, Apple iPad, Apple iMac – you name it!) When the iPad was released, I stood in line at 6:00 am to pick mine up. (I may have also taken the day off of work. And I may have been there at 5:00 am.) Once I realized the iPads potential for instruction, I wanted them for my students. I wrote countless grants to get a set of iPad minis in my room. I really love technology.
With that said, I am not a big fan of using technology with little ones. My kindergarten and first grade students get little time with the devices. I feel strongly that students see themselves as an instrument first. I want them to develop their singing voices and discover how to coordinate their bodies, movement and beat before we use instruments or iPads.
My little ones get very little time on the iPads. Today was perhaps the second time my kindergarten students used the iPads all year during an “extra” music class. Students were paired with a partner and given time to explore a few apps in the K-2 folder. One of those apps is Monkey Drum. I like Monkey Drum because students can perform rhythms that the “monkey” plays back to them. They can also create loops using one of the many melodic instruments available.
Most of what occurs when the little ones get their hands on the iPads is a lot of exploration. Totally fine and developmentally appropriate. I didn’t expect what happened today.
The little girl you’re hearing in the video is my most quiet, reserved and shy girl in Kindergarten. I didn’t know that voice existed. I knew she could match pitch. I knew she could keep a steady beat. I knew she could do all the things my Kindergarten curriculum calls for, but I didn’t know she could improvise a melody in that sweet little singing voice! Wow! I listened as she sang, completely engaged in her song world. As I approached her, she stopped. I asked her if she would sing again so I could record her. The video above is a 30 second excerpt of a 2 minute clip.
Those two minutes have me rethinking my stance on iPads for my little ones. Not every child is going to start improvising songs, but I wonder how many more students would lose themselves in their song-imagination, if given the opportunity?