Low Tech Wonders

I have a class of very tech savvy kids who have the latest of everything. Kids in my class had iphones when I still had my pink razor phone. They can navigate around the computer pretty well and have just about every new game, gadget and gizmo on the market, but I have noticed an interesting trend with these little modern nuggets of mine.

It started with an old Etch-a-Sketch in my big box of games that I only pull out on Fun Friday. It's been long ignored because most of them bring in their own games or ipods or DS's. One little guy didn't bring anything one week and ventured over the the box and pulled out the Etch-a-Sketch. By the way he looked at it and held it by one wheel I knew he had no idea what to do. "What IS this thing?!" he called across the room. He honestly had never seen or played with one. Wha?? I'd say about half of the kids kind of knew what it was and the rest of them had absolutely no idea. How is this possible?

Then to add to the old-school vibe, I won a Magic 8 Ball at a party. Naturally, I brought it to school (which is what I do with most stuff I can't figure out what else to do with) and just kind of put it on the counter. The other day I saw a kid pick it up and examine it like it was something totally new and different - because it was! They don't know what a Magic 8 Ball is either! I had to come up with a system for when they could shake it and ask a question because they all wanted to get their hands on it!
I ended up putting it right next to the finished work basket and now they can pick it up and ask one silent question when they turn in a paper.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, I'm glad that they know and have access to the latest and greatest technology because that certainly is their future. I also think it's fun to introduce them to some things that I loved from the days before swipe meant more than just taking something that didn't belong to you. On the other hand, I worry that we're raising a generation of kids who will not know how to function should they be without their digital devices. I recently heard a story about a girl who was hysterical because she couldn't get into her locked car because the unlock button on her keychain wasn't working. She didn't even think to put the key in the lock! Have you seen this video with an infant (infant!) who can effortlessly work an ipad and then gets frustrated with a real magazine because it doesn't do anything when she tries to swipe and pinch it? Wow.

So what's the plan? Honestly, I have no idea. I do embrace technology in my room wholeheartedly, but I also make sure that I have a variety of hands-on low tech activities for them as well. I created this math center that I was afraid my gifted second graders would find unappealing, so I held off on putting it into the rotation.
There are task cards for using buttons, pennies, an old school cell phone and calculators and other ordinary objects like markers and paper clips.  Let me tell you - I have to give them lots of reminders to clean up when it's time. They love digging through the button box! Mine has lots of buttons from my husband's grandmother, so there are probably buttons from the 30's in there. They love to examine them and they point out the detail that exists on some of the older buttons compared to the plain plastic buttons on most things they own, especially those humongous buttons that obviously once adorned a heavy winter coat during some harsh New York winters. That gives me a little spark of hope that even though these kids are definitely digital natives, perhaps they won't completely abandon the "olden days" when you actually had to wait for a picture to be developed before you could see it. Time will tell!



  1. I don't know if it's good or bad, but working at a Title 1 school means my kids still have to use some low-tech stuff. On the other hand, when my projector was on the fritz, a darling was amazed that we could still learn without the smartboard. It will be interesting to see how much we have to adapt for the new generations.

    Emily @ Second Grade Silliness 

  2. I teach at a school where many can't afford some of the "classic" games. Zero the Hero has brought us Connect 4, Hungry hungry hippo, etc. Games that they have seen but never played. technology is great but good ol' fashioned play has it's purpose too.

  3. Too funny that your kids got so excited over games that have been around for so long. I think they need a balance of both. But I admit that I like my technology too!
    Conversations in Literacy

  4. That reminds me of what I pulled out on our "Games Day" the kids earned for the nine weeks that was SUCH a big hit - a Viewmaster!!! OMG! They were tearing through the reels, switching things up (thank goodness I had two), asking me where I had gotten it from, did I know the pictures were 3D? :) Too funny! I love how they get excited about things like that! I think I'm going to have to start scouring Goodwill again for more and maybe theme it up with the reels I have (we are about to study plants).

    Thanks for sharing! :)

    Adventures in Second Grade

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  6. How fun! I got a ton of "old school" board games on Donor's Choose a while back... my students had never played Trouble, Sorry, or Operation! I love the idea of the Magic 8 Ball... my kiddos would LOVE it!

    I have a super cool book by Mr. Etch-a-Sketch all about animals. It's full of facts and pictures of them he has made on an Etch-a-Sketch! Here's a link on Amazon if you want to check it out! http://www.amazon.com/Looking-Animals-Etch-Sketch/dp/0971269211

    Mrs. Bainbridge's Blog

    PS- sorry... I just posted but under the wrong gmail account... sorry for the deleted post!

    1. I never saw those books before!! How cool! I have some Amazon gift cards...I think I know what I'm buying!
      Thanks for sharing :)

  7. This looks like so much fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love this!!!! Thank you!!!
    A Teeny Tiny Teacher

  8. I like to kick it old school. Emily said it and it's true for me, too. My school is T1 and our resources aren't the best. What I'm learning is that the desire has to be there and when it's there the tech or lack there of can't keep a child from learning. #KeepitOldSchool

  9. One day I pulled out a filmstrip and the kids ohhhed and ahhhed for a long time. Then begged to turn to the next frame when the tape dinged. It was hilarious! Yes, certainly good and bad!

    2B Honey Bunch
    The Best Endings

  10. One of my kids brought a "Yoda" 8 ball for show and tell - it was fun to see the kids so fascinated with an "old school" toy that didn't need a battery charger or wifi!

  11. This is funny. I have the same thing in my class. We have been using iPads in class (which I love!) so now many of the children are getting them at home as well. They seem to have iPhones, laptops and iPods and all sorts of other gadgets.
    Once a week on a Friday afternoon we get our turn in the computer lab. It is interesting that so many of them struggle with how to use the mouse! They are all so used to touch screens and using laptops with no mouse that using a mouse is a "new" skill.
    How to make me feel super old!
    I agree though. It is important to have a balance between the old and the new.
    I think the important thing is that we use the technology appropriately to genuinely improve learning experiences, not just use it because it is there. If the old fashioned way works just as well, then use it, I say. If technology can help our children to learn better, then that's the go.

    The Learning Curve


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