This may all tie in with the NETS Refresh and the new standard on creativity and innovation, but the emergent theme so far seems to be kindergarten and play, patterns and blocks. Since I’m pointing out a possible pattern here, this should establish my kindergartener cred. Yo! Pass me that wooden train!

Mitchel Resnick from MIT’s Media Lab presented "Sowing the Seeds for a More Creative Society." He proposed a kindergarten model of learning as an exemplar. Blocks and fingerpaint are ideal tools for learning concepts like color, shape, and size in a playful context. He suggests that if our manipulatives were appropriately complex and flexible, we’d naturally ramp up our learning of more advanced concepts in the same playful vein—lifelong kindergarten, a place with high ceilings, low floors, and wide walls. Mitchel proposes that children’s learning cycles through five stages: imagine, create, play, share, and reflect. Children participating in the Media Lab’s Cricket project shared some frank advice, guidelines for designing a creative, playful learning experience.

Start with something simple.
It should be something you like.
If you get stuck, fiddle around.
Share with a friend.
It’s okay to copy if you need an idea.
Build things and take them apart again.
Stick with it.

In a similar vein, Dina Rosen of Kean University gave an overview of research into key characteristics of ICT in early childhood education at today’s SIGTE forum. So what’s unique about early childhood ICT? Young children’s technology use is framed in a context of play and exploration, and they self-select technologies to explore that take advantage of their developing skills. That sounds like a good prescription for professional development and changes in teacher practice.