from Technology & Learning

Company: PreschoolFirst;
System Requirements: Internet Explorer 6, Firefox, or Netscape 7 or above
Price/Grade: Contact PreschoolFirst for pricing; pre-kindergarten
Pros: Accessible from any Internet- connected computer; catches children who need intervention early; 2,500 age-appropriate activities; identifies 500 kindergarten readiness behaviors
Cons: Training incurs additional costs

Kids need time to explore their world, but academic stakes are getting higher with constantly changing standards and mounting pressure to excel. How do we feed the brain and still let their imaginations run wild?

One way for the kindergarten set is with PreschoolFirst, an online play-based assessment and curriculum resource. Students learn and have fun with 2,500 age-appropriate, hands-on activities (music-, story-, and move ment-based), incorporating 500 kindergarten readiness behaviors from the cognitive, communication, social and emotional, and fine and gross motor skills domains.

Each page has three main sections: Your Class, for selecting activities for targeted behaviors; Your Children, for viewing and adding notes, checking progress, and creating reports; and Your Resources, where teachers access their planning book and schedule new activities.

The curricular activities' database is searchable by theme or standard and indexed by developmental age, making it easy for districts to identify and provide intervention for at-risk children and comply with NCLB reporting.

Teachers involve parents using PreschoolFirst's two-way communi cation tool and can provide at-home activities to compliment classroom experiences. PreschoolFirst's district version aligns with early childhood standards of several states, with additional states available soon.

Jamie Keller is an educational therapist and literacy consultant in Berkeley, California.