Kazan Federal University (RUSSIAN FEDERATION)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2020 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 5237-5242
ISBN: 978-84-09-24232-0
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2020.1135
Conference name: 13th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 9-10 November, 2020
Location: Online Conference
With many 3-7 year-old children having easy access to computer and mobile technologies, early childhood educators also look for electronic tools that would attract and motivate their young learners. However, developmental environment of young children should enable them to play and interact with peers and physical environment and have hands-on activities and creative tasks. Digital activities often provide very limited opportunities for such a developmentally appropriate for young children learning space. Thus educators should look for instructional approaches that enable them to use affordances of digital learning resources while not overlooking children’s’ needs for real-life interaction with physical objects, peers and educators.

In the last few years, many educators turn to the so-called philosophy of educational makerspaces, which are purposefully designed spaces for interaction, play and participating in creative activities. Built on the foundation of constructionism, this philosophy promotes hands-on learning environment and is believed to “have the potential to revolutionize the way we approach teaching and learning” (Kurti, Kurti, & Fleming, 2014, p. 8). While there seems to be nothing innovative in this educational principle by itself, educators, as well as designers and vendors of educational material, work hard on developing and introducing devices and tools for stimulating hands-on activities in a range of disciplines, including math, language arts and social sciences.

Many early childhood educators also see the strong need in adapting such an instructional approach. To document how educational makerspaces could be implemented for speech development of bilingual children attending formal preschool education classes, the research team attended three state kindergarten located in a multi-ethnic area of the Russian Federation. The study was carried out as a part of a larger research project aimed at examining how educators who work with 3-7 year-old children integrate digital technologies into their Russian language classrooms. Class observations and interviews with educators and administrators showed that experienced teachers find ways to effectively blend digital activities with hands-on creative tasks, thus reaching educational goals by designing educational makerspaces. They use digital tools as content delivers, motivators and inspirations for further hands-on activities done with real physical objects. The researchers witnessed how digital characters and digital activities stepped out of the digital screen and were recreated by children and educators in physical environment.

Results indicate significant educational value in augmenting digital technologies with educational makerspaces when developing speech of bilingual children. Our study demonstrated that when the philosophy of maker education is merged with well-designed and implemented digital learning objects, early childhood educators may receive a truly productive, enjoyable and motivating for young children instructional approach that appeals to kids of digital era and enables the educators to introduce digital technologies into classrooms without sacrificing children’s’ health, but rather stimulating their physical and speech activities and fostering their imagination and creativity.

[1] Kurti, R.L, Kurti, D.L., & Fleming, L. R. (2014). The Philosophy of Educational Makerspaces. Part 1 of Making an Educational Makerspace. Teacher Librarian, 41(4), 8-11.
Digital technology, makerspace, bilingual education, Russian language and culture.