Smarty Ants Prekindergarten Literacy Initiative

  • Smarty Ants - Prekindergarten Literacy Initiative

    The following information is provided by Idaho State Department of Education

    April 2018 - Smarty Ants is intended to make free, interactive learning available to children before they enter kindergarten. The five-year agreement between the State Department of Education and the online literacy program Achieve3000 was approved by the State Board of Education April 5 and is free for the state as well as for families.

    “In the few days between last week’s acceptance of the Smarty Ants grant and the website going live, we have already heard from numerous parents anxious to sign their 4-year-olds up for this free, fun online program,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra said Tuesday. “Our hope is that every Idaho child headed for kindergarten will use Smarty Ants to help build a strong foundation for loving reading and succeeding in school.”

    Smarty Ants is open to all Idaho 4-year-olds as well as children who have already turned 5 but are not yet in kindergarten.

    When parents sign up, they will be greeted by introductory videos and a coloring sheet to help children become familiar with the colorful animated characters that will lead them through their journey to kindergarten readiness. As children progress through lesson games, parents can monitor their child’s progress via an online dashboard and other tools.

    To find out more information or to see if Smarty Ants is right for you, go to

Supporting the Development of the Preschool Brain

  • Supporting the Development of the Preschool Brain

    1. Children are natural manipulators. They learn by manipulating objects in their environment. They need opportunities to act on things and study the outcome of their attempts to control items - dolls, toys, their own bodies. Interactive computer programs can serve this purpose.

    2. Preschoolers are engaged in significant cognitive growth and think differently than adults. Their brains are not yet fully developed.

    3. Children need a well-balanced set of experiences to support their brain development. Interactive experiences with real people is crucial. Technology is best used to enhance interactive learning experiences, not replace them. Preschoolers need exposure to and interaction with members of their social circle to develop their intellectual and social /emotional skills.

    4. Rich and complex back and forth conversation that is responsive to the child’s expressions are a critical component of brain development.

    5. Although technology can help us teach children, they learn from their interactions with us. Utilizing technology together where teachers or parents act as facilitators can be a rich interactive experience.

    6. If children use technology within a nurturing and enriching environment, their brain development will be supported. Technology that isolates or encourages them to seek an artificial world is not best for children’s brain development.

    7. Technology that is best for children is age appropriate and enhances interactions with others. 


    Do’s and Don’ts of Preschool Technology

  • The Do's

    1. Teach children to care for devices.

    2. Limit screen time.

    3. Utilize apps or games that are interactive, age appropriate and encourages participation with caregivers.

    4. Use technology strategically. Technology should support or enhance learning through interactions with others and the environment.

    5. Rich, responsive interactions with language are an important support for a preschooler's brain development.

    6. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting exposure to less than two hours per day for children older than two.
  • The Don'ts

    1. Utilize technology that encourages isolation.

    2. Replace personal interaction with technology.

    3. Utilize technology with children two or younger.

    4. Don’t use technology learning experiences as a reward.