Children’s Week 2023

On Thursday 26 October, the UNE Discovery Voyager team and our colleagues from UNE’s School of Education collaborated and hosted a “Digital Play Day” for our local pre-schoolers and Kindergarteners.  This was a Children’s Week event and one that was hugely successful with over 100 children participating with their carers, educators and teachers.

​Children’s Week is celebrated annually during the last week in October with a theme based on an Article from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Every two years a new theme is chosen. The Children’s Week National Theme for 2023 was:

“All children have the right to relax, play, and take part in activities they enjoy”.

The UNE Digital Play Day was held on the main floor area of Lazenby Hall with some fantastic robotics and digital technologies such as BeeBots, BlueBots, Cubetto, mTiny, Sphero Indi and Osmo all available for the children to play and experience different types of learning technology.

UNE’s Dr Jo Bird, Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education, was the organiser of the event and commented “This was the first time I had organised something like this and I wasn’t sure how many children would come. It was wonderful to see children and their teachers working together to code robots and creating their own storylines. Surprisingly, the most popular table was the imaginative technologies! These were old, non-working laptops, phones, mobiles and cameras and children were excited to play with these.”

Jo’s research explores children’s use of digital technologies through play. Her PhD looked at working and imaginative technologies and how children use the imaginative technologies to act out scenarios from their everyday life (Bird, 2018, 2019). With technologies ubiquitous in today’s society, children have a lot of experiences to draw on.

There is a focus of 21st century skills and computational thinking in primary and secondary schools, and often prior to school settings are forgotten. Preschoolers can code and enjoy the trial and error of making a robot move from one spot to another.

It was exciting to watch children’s learning using their explorative skills, as evident from their responses, “I am figuring out how to make Beebot move”, when asked if they needed any assistance. We observed that kids tried experiencing all different activities. It was interesting to note that some students were motivated to engage in activities when adults were around, motivating and encouraging them. Also, it was satisfying to witness children enjoying playing BeeBots, BlueBots, Cubetto, mTiny, Sphero Indi, and Osmo. Among all the activities, most children seemed to have enjoyed more drawing using BeeBots.

We thoroughly enjoyed hosting the children at UNE, guiding and watching them in their play-based learning.  It was a fabulous morning and we look forward to hosting more Children’s Week events in the future.

More info:  https://childrens-week.org.au/  and https://www.nswchildrensweek.org.au/

References

Bird, J. (2018). “This is pretend. We are just playing.” Exploring young children’s imaginative play with, and educators’ provision of, digital technologies in play-based settings. University of New England]. Armidale, Australia.

Bird, J. (2019). “You need a phone and camera in your bag before you go out!”: Children’s play with imaginative technologies. British Journal of Educational Technology, 51(1), 166-176. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.12791