Early Learning Playground: A Passport To Learning and Worlds of Fun

Change display time — Currently: Central Daylight Time (CDT) (Event time)
Location: La Nouvelle Ballroom
Experience live: All-Access Package

Participate and share : Playground

Sean Arnold  
Archon Auzenne  
Matthew Bannon  
Caroline Breard  
Michael Fricano II  
Angie Kalthoff  
Leah LaCrosse  
Della Larsen  
Chelsey Lovely  
Gail Lovely  
Heidi MacGregor  
Joe Merrill  
Kristin Merrill  
Tara Lyn Nakamoto  
Traci Piltz  
Morgan Reech  
Debbie Tannenbaum  
Analucia Tejada  

Come in for a fun, meaningful mix of hands-on and minds-on experiences that focus on learners ages 3 to 8, and the many roles technology can take in their varied learning journeys. We'll emphasize the ISTE Standards and developmentally appropriate activities.

Audience: Professional developers, Teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Android, iOS, Windows
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Topic: Innovation in early childhood/elementary
Grade level: PK-2
Subject area: Language arts, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Set professional learning goals to explore and apply pedagogical approaches made possible by technology and reflect on their effectiveness.
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
  • Create learning opportunities that challenge students to use a design process and computational thinking to innovate and solve problems.
Additional detail: ISTE author presentation
Disclosure: The submitter of this session has been supported by a company whose product is being included in the session

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

The purpose of the Early Learning Playground is to provide a casual, active learning experience and meaningful conversations around the use of technologies with and for young learners ages 3 to 8 years. The Playground is designed to encourage playful exploration of technology's many roles in supporting and encouraging learning in young children.

A variety of tools and resources will be shared in active learning settings and presentations all with a purpose of encouraging conversations, discussions and thought about the potential use of technologies with young learners.

The Early Learning Playground will be successful if educators find themselves thinking, discussing and wondering about the possibilities that technology can bring to young learners and their adults. Furthermore, the Playground will be successful if participants are still thinking about things they did, played with, saw, spoke about with others in the following days and months.


Activities in the Playground will focus on Computational Thinking and Active Learning with Technologies.

There will be activities facilitated by educators using robots, collaborative software, and other apps and tools, always with a focus on young learners. These activities will encourage hands-on use and peer-to-peer discussion and problem solving in a supportive, fun atmosphere. Additionally, there will be interactive presentations, a collaboration station (for making a global collaborative book using a tool appropriate for young learners), and a library of paper-based books to explore as prompts/scenarios for technology-rich activities with little learners and books for educators as well to expand our thinking, ideas, and support.

Supporting research


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Sean Arnold, NYC Dept. of Education

As a special educator and STEM Coach in NYC’s District 75, citywide special education, Sean works with a broad range of students and educators. He is committed to reaching all students through innovative technology and practices. He shares his expertise at making learning personally meaningful, intrinsically motivating, and made for everyone. You can also find evidence of his work at He has received the ISTE Outstanding Teacher Award, ISTE Inclusive Learning Network Outstanding Educator Award, NYCDOE Excellence in School Technology Award, the EDxEDNYC Excellence in Technology Award, and many other accolades and certifications.

Archon Auzenne, B.S. ; M.S. Clear Creek ISD

Mrs. Auzenne has been inspiring and educating students for 20 years, with the last 10 years as a librarian. Her medical science background has proven to be a tremendous support for the new STEM program and makerspace at her school. She was chosen as the 2018 teacher of the year at Walter Hall ESTEM. She currently serves as the community liaison representing Clear Creek ISD for the City of Friendswood Library Board. When she's not enjoying a book, you'll find her enjoying time with God and her supporting husband and family, gardening, or hunting for the next best STEM activity.

Matthew Bannon

Matthew has taught at Next Generation School's STEAM Studio since 2016. STEAM Studio provides K-5 science instruction and an after-school STEAM enrichment program to the Champaign, Illinois community. Matthew has also worked as a teacher coach, consultant, and science/STEAM curriculum writer. He started his career in education in 2006 as a Teach For America Corps Member in Houston, TX.

Caroline Breard, The Dunham School

Caroline Breard is a third grade teacher at The Dunham School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She has been in education for six and half years, and she has a Master's of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Louisiana State University in Shreveport.

Michael Fricano II, 'Iolani School

Michael is a K-6 Design and Technology Teacher at ‘Iolani School in Honolulu, Hawai’i. He is also a Google Certified Trainer, a Computer Science Discoveries Facilitator, and has been presenting on EdTech topics for more than 12 years. His passions center around Computer Science, Augmented and Virtual Reality, Maker Education, and purposeful, cross-curricular technology integration.

Angie Kalthoff, Capstone

As an educator, Angie has worn many hats! Visit or Twitter @mrskalthoff to learn more!As a person involved with education, Angie has worn many hats! Learn more about her at or on Twitter @mrskalthoff .

Leah LaCrosse, Huron City Schools

Leah LaCrosse is an 8th grade science teacher in Huron, Ohio that integrates technology of all kinds throughout her Earth, Physical, and Life Science curriculum. From iPads to drones and robots, learning science through engineering challenges, play, and project based activities is how her students work all year.

Della Larsen, Boston Public Schools

Della Larsen has over 35 years experience teaching kindergarten in a public school. She has decades of experience with young learners and is passionate about bringing coding and robotics to every child. She wants every child to see themselves through a different lens, as computer scientists. She wants teachers of young children to feel the joy of watching their students program a complex algorithm and stand just a little taller as a result of their achievements.

Chelsey Lovely, Alvin ISD

Chelsey has been teaching for 8 years in classes from 2nd to 5th grade. She loves incorporating hands on technology into her lessons for students of all ages.

Gail Lovely, Suddenly It Clicks!

Gail began her career as an inner-city teacher of young learners. She is an early adopter of technology, earning her Master’s Degree in Educational Computing from Pepperdine University in the early 1980s. Gail has been an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University, University of Houston, and the University of Northern Iowa. She had long-time columns for Scholastic, Classroom Connect, ISTE and others. Gail is proud of her book “Using an iPad with Your Preschooler” (with Gayle Berthiaume.) Gail founded the ISTE Early Learning Network and was one of the first at NECC/ISTE Conferences to focus on using technology with young learners.

Heidi MacGregor, Russell Street School
ISTE Certified Educator

Heidi MacGregor is the K-5 STEM Integration Specialist for Littleton Public Schools. Prior to this position, she taught 4th grade for 10 years at Russell Street Elementary School. Heidi is a proud ISTE Certified Educator and is a MakerSpace and Global Education enthusiast. She is always looking for new and exciting ways to amplify student voices. She serves on the MassCUE Board of Directors, the MassCUE Professional Development Committee, MassCUE Influence and Advocacy Committee and is the leader of the MassCUE MakerSpace SIG. In addition, she is one of the co-founders of Middlesex Scratch Meetups.

Joe Merrill, The Merrills EDU, LLC

Kristin and Joe Merrill share a passion for infusing EdTech into their Fourth and First Grade classrooms. Together, they have a combined 20+ years of teaching experience, where they collaborate to create engaging lessons that turn into memories for their students. Even though they teach different grades, they share one common goal: learning needs to be interactive. This mindset drove them to write the books: The InterACTIVE Class and Flipgrid in the InterACTIVE Class (Elevate Books EDU), and put a new spin on traditional strategies to help implement technology that meets the needs of all students.

Kristin Merrill, The Merrills EDU, LLC

Kristin Merrill: Fourth Grade teacher; 14+ years of experience working in intermediate (3-5) grade levels, 5+ years of implementing iPads, laptops, and Chrome books in the classroom. Kristin is the co-author of the book series, "The InterACTIVE Class," on Elevate Books EDU.

Tara Lyn Nakamoto, 'Iolani School

Tara Lyn has been an educator for 15 years. She has taught grade levels ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade in the Hawaii public school system for 11 years. She is currently working at an independent private school where she started as a Design Lab teacher supporting Maker Ed projects and STEM initiatives integrated within classroom content areas. For the last two years she has been co-teaching a newly created and specialized K-6 Design and Technology class.

Traci Piltz, Billings Public Schools

Traci Piltz is an Apple Distinguished Educator, PBS Kids Early Learning Champion, Google Certified Educator, and an Ambassador for Seesaw, Book Creator and PicCollage. She taught kindergarten for over a decade, and was one of the first 1:1 iPad classrooms in her district. She is now a technology integration specialist in her district, helping kindergarten - 3rd use technology in playful ways to help students creatively share their thinking & learning. Traci has presented at ISTE, ADE Academy, NAEYC, NCCE, and numerous other virtual and in person workshops and conferences.

Morgan Reech, Dunham School

Hi, I'm Morgan Reech. I am a fourth grade teacher at The Dunham School in Baton Rouge. I received my masters in education at LSU. I am also certified to teach French and Math in grades 1-12. I am a Seesaw ambassador as well as Level 2 Google Certified. This will be my seventh year of teaching! I love to travel, and I am always looking for the next good book.

Debbie Tannenbaum, Fairfax County Public Schools

Debbie Tannenbaum works as an Elementary School Technology Specialist in Fairfax County, VA. An educator with over twenty years of experience, Debbie Tannenbaum supports both staff and students to integrate technology tools into instruction through both co teaching sessions and weekly technology classes. Debbie emphasizes working collaboratively with other educators to use technology tools that amplify student learning and empower student voice. She also blogs and shares her thoughts and reflections regularly on her website: In May 2021, her book, TRANSFORM: Techy Notes to Make Learning Sticky was published by Road to Awesome LLC.

Analucia Tejada, Independent Consultant

I am from Guatemala City, and I'm a passionate early childhood technology teacher currently taking a sabbatical, as I join my husband to pursue a professional goal in Chicago. I'm an ISTE Community Leader and an independent consultant at the moment. This will be my 8th year attending the ISTE Conference, and I have been a presenter/judge for 6 years. In 2019, I was honored to receive the ISTE Early Learning Network Award for my work in the design and implementation of makerspaces with young learners. I also hold a masters in curriculum and educational technology.

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