At this point in time, digital tools are well on the way to becoming a natural part of kindergarten. As a result, in day-care facilities, debate has been stirred as the growing use of digital tools is considered to cause children to grow passive and their fitness to deteriorate.
Using ActiveFloor as a pedagogical tool, how do you challenge this way of thinking and ensure that the use of digital tools will instead enable a rise in activity and enhance children’s motor skills, well-being and learning? This is the issue answered in the paper “Implementation of ActiveFloor to strengthen children’s development, wellbeing and learning in daycare” by Mia Hedegaard Ørtenblad & Hannah Thybring Hansen.
Digital technologies play an important role in children’s development. Children are developed through meeting themselves and meeting the world, and, at this point in time, technology plays a big part in their meeting and communicating with the world.
Mia Hedegaard Ørtenblad
Hannah Thybring Hansen
– Mari-Ann Letnes, researcher in children’s digital expressions and development at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim
So how do you combine motor activity and movement with digital tools?
“If children are to develop optimally – intellectually, physically and socially – adults have to allow them to learn in the way that is the most natural for them – by using their whole body.” According to brain researcher, Kjeld Fredens, movement and activity is so fundamental for children that you could say that children think with their bodies.
As Kjeld Fredens says, using your body is fundamental! Because when children are learning and developing, physical activity contributes to the development of new brain cells: a premise for learning and remembering. This is where ActiveFloor, as a tool where children can play educational and fun games, gives rise to exercising indoors. In addition, it provides the possibility for incorporating working with digital tools in a new way. This is also what Mia and Hannah’s studies confirm, as they record that the kids have made great strides in their social, cognitive, emotional and sensory-motor development.
“The floor motivates the children to initiate physical activity and learning themselves, and they are really good at navigating in the various games. And it really is a fantastic way to combine movement, play and learning with the digital.”
– Mette Jakobsen, manager of child day-care facility, Syvhøjvænge
In the common room of various kindergartens, ActiveFloor acts as a framework for movement which challenges the kids at various activity levels. Even for groups of children put together from different classes, there is great potential for the development of new relationships between the kids.
The children show that they take great pleasure in ActiveFloor by smiling, laughing and playing again and again,. Unprompted, the kids will say things like: “I think it’s a fun game – I can’t wait to try it”, “I want to try too”, “when is it my turn again?”, “are we going to play again today?”.
The children are challenged by having to think about alternative solutions. Among other things, the children’s memory, attention span, language, way of thinking and perception are challenged in games like Memory and Spin the Bottle. The kids also learn to recognise numbers, letters, figures, colours, and match the correct animal to its shadow or outline.
Additionally, there are many games that set the stage for learning about relevant topics about the world and the kids’ own world, such as: where the animals live, which words rhyme, which food is un/healthy, what kinds of clothes match the weather and much more.
The children have to work together, make joint decisions, make room for one another, wait their turn, observe and understand others’ needs, form relationships with other kids, perform in front of the others and act accordingly to the norms and rules that develops naturally when playing. Last but not least, the kids also learn how to show empathy and care for one another.
This is where the children, through games and exercises, will be challenged beyond their immediate zone of development in their individual learning and development.
Additionally, the children will be challenged in their physical awareness of the certainty of their actions in the games and their body awareness, which helps the children put their experiences and sensory experiences into words.
The children use their bodies in different ways, among other things, their coordination in form of e.g. eye-foot coordination. The children will use: their feet to navigate in the games on the floor; their senses in the form of their tactile sense; their kinaesthetic sense; their sight and hearing; and their movements, such as running, turning quickly, and physically placing themselves strategically on the floor and in relation to other kids on the floor.
“It’s a supplement to everything else that we do, and we have been so happy with ‘ActiveFloor’. One moment, we’re playing an activity game where the kids get moving, the next, we are practising language with a smaller group of kids.”
– Lærke Lundø, manager of child day-care facility, The Milky Way
All in all, digital and interactive medias like ActiveFloor does make it possible for day-care facilities to boost the level of indoor activity in everyday life. In our experience, movement is something that catches the children’s interest, and spark great joy and interaction between them.
And in addition to the joy of moving, there is the possibility to work on and develop social communities, as the kids experience these communities as both meaningful and contributing to their identity formation.