EC-TIIS Home. Glossary of Early Childhood Education Terms.

Glossary of Terms

Online Glossary of Early Childhood Education Key Terms

Select the first letter of the term you are seeking.

: A : B : C : D : E : F : G : H : I : J : K : L : M : N : O : P :

: Q : R : S : T : U : V : W : X : Y : Z :

| A |

adaptations: accommodations, modifications, or supports to assist children to compensate for functional limitations and challenges.

adapted handles: used for individuals who have grasping difficulties. May be made from a universal cuff, Velcro mitt, or other material for handles on musical instruments, gardening tools, writing tools, art materials, or eating utensils.

adapted paper: modified paper (color, lines, sizes, narrow or wide lines). Adapted paper is used to support individuals with visual perceptual difficulties and those with fine motor problems.

adapted scissors: modified scissors for easier grasp, one-handed use, or minimal strength requirements.

adapted writing implements: modified writing tools (e.g. universal cuff).

adaptive keyboard: commercial keyboards that have been modified to allow a user with special needs accessibility to their computer system. Modifications could include: bright colored keyboard, easy-to-read labels, QWERTY or ABC layouts, and customized overlays.

alias: a shortcut icon that opens other files and applications.

alphabetic knowledge: the abilities to recognize, name, and write letters.

alphabetic principle: the understanding that letters found in print systematically represent the sounds in spoken words.

AlphaSmart:a portable keyboard that can be used for recording observations in the classroom.

alternative writing implements: modified writing tools (e.g. fat crayons/markers/pens with textured barrels). See adapted writing implements.

alternative input device:computer peripherals such as switches, touch screens, joysticks, paddles, and adaptive keyboards which can be used in place of the regular keyboard, mouse, or joystick.

American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII): a standardization system that converts letters, numbers, punctuation marks, another characters to unique electronic code that allows information to be transferred from one computer to another or to a peripheral.

anecdotal notes: short account of an interesting or humorous incident.

art center:a learning center in the classroom or home that encourages a child's creativity through a variety of media including: paint, paper, markers, modeling compounds, and adhesives.

assistive technology: any item, piece of equipment, or product, whether acquired commercially, off-the-shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.

authentic assessment:the process of observing, recording, and otherwise documenting the work children do and how they do it as a basis for educational decisions that affect individual children.

Source: National Association for the Education of Young Children & National Assoication of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education. (1991). Guidelines for appropriate curriculum content and assessment in programs serving children ages three through eight. Young Children, 46(3), 21-38

Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. (1991). Alternative program evaluation ideas for early childhood education program. Portland, OR: Author.

authoring software: software that allows the user to create their own mini-programs which include personalized elements, such as digital pictures, art, writing, or recorded sound. the top

| B |

backup: a copy made of the file. Backups are made to avoid the loss of or damage to crucial data. It is highly recommended that backups be made for heavily used information. Servers, CDs, DVDs, and zip disks are a few examples of where backup information can be stored.

big books: over-sized picture books with enlarged pictures and text. Ideal for using with small or large groups.

book holders: any type of device used to support a book in an upright position. Children with weak muscles may use book holders so they do not have to physically hold the book.

book language: elements of book language include story conventions, such as "Once upon a time," "the end," rhymes, alliteration, repetition, and patterns. Book language has a distinct rhythm, vocabulary, and flow.

Braille:a system of raised dots that translates English to a tactile code and vice versa.

byte:series of eight bits that represents a character, instruction, letter, or number to the computer as a unit of measure for computer memory. the top

| C |

cards:card pages are created from the software program HyperStudio and can contain photos, drawings, written text, animation, sounds, movies, and recorded voices.

CD-ROM (Compact Disc Read Only Memory):storage memory for the computer.

character:refers to any letter, punctuation mark, space, or digit used to represent information.

checklist:commercially or teacher-produced list of behaviors that make up a certain type of performance. If a particular behavior is present when an individual is observed, a check is placed next to that behavior.

click:to position the pointer on an object or icon on the screen, then press and quickly release the mouse button will allow the user to selection and action.

communication device: an aid, such as a touch screen, to enhance a person's ability to communicate wants and needs.

computer input device:a device to enhance a person's ability to communicate wants and needs.

critical thinking:purposeful thought process that includes analyzing, comparing, classifying, evaluating, decision making, and forming and answering questions.

curriculum integration:a plan to incorporate various disciplines, such as math, science, art, literature, and history when learning about a particular theme or topic. the top

| D |

decision making:steps in this process include identifying a problem, identifying alternatives, evaluating each alternative, and making a choice based on the evaluation.

desktop management program:software program that allows one to limit access to specific programs.

developmentally appropriate:curriculum, activities, and decisions made based on knowledge about how children develop and learn; individual children's interests, strengths, learning styles, and needs; and social and culture frameworks.

Source: National Association for the Education of Young Children's Position Statement, Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs -serving children from birth through age 8.
Adopted July 1996.

digital camera:a camera that takes pictures without film, storing the pictures as digital files (in .jpg, .tiff, or .png) that can be easily downloaded to a computer or television.

documentation:the instructions or manual which accompanies commercial software programs.

dramatic play:involves role-playing, fantasy play, and puppetry. It may be done alone or with others. Children may one object to represent another item (e.g. a plate to represent a steering wheel).

Drawmation:allows the user to replay each brush stroke made on a page using the program BuildAbility.

DVD (Digital Video Disc):an optical disk using such a format and containing especially a video recording (as a movie) or computer data. the top

| E |

early intervention:refers to services and supports for children under the age of 3 years.

early writing:experiences with writing materials that occur prior to formal writing instruction.

education standards:see “standards”

electronic mail (e-mail):digitally created communication sent from computer to computer. Must be read using a third party interpretation program (e-mail client), such as Outlook Express, Eudora, Netscape Mail, America Online, Thunderbird, or Pegasus.

emergent literacy:is based on social interactions with parents, teachers, and literacy products long before children read from print. According to Sulzby (1989), it is "the reading and writing behaviors that precede and develop into conventional literacy." Elements of emergent literacy include oral language, phonological awareness, and print awareness.

Sulzby, E. (1989). Assessment of writing and children's language while writing. In L. Morrow & J. Smith (Eds.), The role of assessment and measurement in early literacy instruction (pp. 83-109). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

e-mail:electronic mail that is used to send and receive messages through the computer.

environment print:print material from products and landmarks around the community (e.g. restaurants, cereal boxes, bathroom signs). the top

| F |

firewire port:computer port which connects external high-speed devices (e.g. DV camera, printers, scanners, and hard disks) without restarting the computer. the top

| G |

gigabyte (g):a unit of measure for computer memory or storage.

grab:applications that allow the user to take a picture of the computer screen; a.k.a., screenshot. the top

| H |

hard copy:a printed copy of the computer program or text.

hardware:refers to the electronic and mechanical components, which make up the computer system. These usually include the computer, monitor, and printer.

home literacy environment:pertains to how reading and writing are used in the home. Are there books, magazines, paper, and writing equipment in the home for children to use? Do children have opportunities for literacy activities? the top

| I |

icon:graphic symbol, or pictograph, on the computer or its connecting cables, which shows where to connect a device; OR on the computer screen, a graphic symbol on that represents an interactive object which can be clicked to trigger an action, such as opening a document, accessing hard drive, or pushing a 'button' to navigate within a program.

Individualized Education Program (IEP):a written plan for services for children ages 3-21 with disabilities under IDEA. If allowed under state and local policy, children 3-5 may have an IFSP instead of an IEP with informed parental consent. This plan includes the child's current performance level, needs, educational goals, and measurable objectives.

Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP):a written plan for services for birth through 2-year olds with disabilities under IDEA. If allowed under state and local policy, children 3-5 may have an IFSP instead of an IEP with informed parental consent.

iMovie:computer application, or program, to create movies. Allows the user to download video from a digital video camera and create personalized movies. Allows editing of footage, addition of titles, transitions, and special effects, and voiceovers and musical sound tracks.

inclusion:the practice of educating children with disabilities in general education settings.

Individual Literacy Assessment:a 33-item observation tool for assessing children's literacy behaviors, available from the Center for Best Practices in Early Childhood Education at Western Illinois University. URL

input device:a piece of equipment used to access and send information into a computer, such as a keyboard, mouse, or touch screen.

IntelliKeys: an enlarged keyboard that can be customized for users with varying cognitive, physical and visual abilities.

interactive technology: devices and software that responds to user actions, which in turns causes the user to respond further.

interfaced: using a device (e.g. Switch Interface Pro) that allows the user to connect a switch or adaptive keyboard to the computer for accessibility.

International Reading Association (ILA): a professional organization that focuses literacy education, including curriculum reform, advocacy, and outreach services.

invented spelling: clusters of letters written to form "words." These "words" do not look or sound like real words. the top

| J |

joystick: commonly used for games, this input device has a control stick and two buttons. Rotating the stick moves the cursor (or action figure) in a 360-degree circle. The buttons can be used to control other features of the program.

Joint Photographic Experts Group (jpeg): The committee which set standards for a file format for graphics. The JPEG file format is a compressed format, with some loss of quality during compression. A popular web format do to the generally small size of pictures (digital photographs). File formats are .jpg, .jpeg, and .jpe. Once an image is saved as a jpeg, it loses data and should not be re-edited again. the top

| K |

k:in reference to computers, “k" stands for kilobyte or 1000 (actually 1024) units of memory/storage. These units are counted in bytes; therefore, a computer of 64K has the storage area for 64 kilobytes of data. the top

| L |

learning centers: interest areas devoted to a specific activity. Common early childhood learning centers include sensory, blocks, manipulatives, discovery, dramatic play, art, music, reading, writing, and technology

learning styles:characteristics that influence learning. These may be preferences. Auditory, visual, and kinesthetic preferences are often mentioned. Other factors include environmental and social, such as lighting, temperature, working individually or in groups.

Source: Dunn, R., & Dunn, K. (1992). Teaching elementary students through their individual learning styles: Practical approaches for grades 3-6. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Shaw, C. C. (1996). Instructional pluralism: A means to realizing the dream of multicultural, social reconstructionist education. In C. A. Grant & M. L. Gomez (Eds.), Making schooling multicultural: Campus and classroom (pp. 55-76). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Merrill.

listening comprehension:the ability to understand what has been spoken.

literacy links:items in the classroom or home that provide children with opportunities to see and use print. Some examples include environmental print, order pads for restaurant dramatic play, name tags, a science journal, and charts and graphs. the top

| M |

Mac OS:computer operating system, or OS.

megabyte (MB):a unit of measure for computer memory or storage. One megabyte equals 1,048,576 bytes or characters.

mouse:an input device that is used to input information to the computer; moving the mouse to position a pointer on the computer screen.

multiple intelligences:identified by Howard Gardner, the numerous ways people go about solving problems. Gardner has identified nine types of intelligence: visual/spatial, verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, bodily/kinesthetic, musical/rhythmic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, and spiritualistic. the top

| N |

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC): according to their website, "NAEYC is the world's largest organization working on behalf of young children with more than 100,000 members, a national network of nearly 450 local, state, and regional Affiliates, and a growing global alliance of like-minded organizations."

National Early Literacy Panel (NELP): a part of the National Center for Family Literacy, the panel is analyzed research evidence regarding the development of early literacy in children ages brith through 5. The report was published in 2004.

National Research Council: a branch of the National Academies, private nonprofit institutions which has as a goal to further knowledge and advise the federal government. The National Research Council was authored Preventing reading difficuluties in young children.

North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL): a member of the Regional Educational Laboratory Network which provides support for research-based school reform. NCREL serves Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. NCREL also provides literacy resources. the top

| O |

oral language:the reception and expression of the pragmatic, semantic, syntactical, morphological, and phonological aspects of language; involves listening and speaking.

output device:a device such as a monitor, used by the computer to communicate information to the operator in a usable form.

overlay:made from paper or other material placed over a membrane keyboard; usually customized for an individual needs. the top

| P |

page fluffer: foam or other material that adds space between pages of a book to make pages easier to turn for some children.

page turners: a low-tech adaptation or a piece of equipment or device used to help turn pages of books, magazines, or newspapers.

peripheral: a hardware device, which is outside of, but connected to, the computer. These include input and output devices, such as joysticks, paddles, graphics or touch screens, adaptive keyboards, printers, switch input box, and robots.

Personal Digital Assistant (PDA): portable device that allows user to store information such as addresses, data, and notes. Once information is stored on the PDA, it can be downloaded to the computer.

phonemic awareness: the ability to focus on and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes, the smallest unit of speech) in spoken words.

Armbruster, B. B., Lehr, F., Osborn, J., & Adler, C. R. (Ed.). (2003). Put reading first: Building blocks of reading instruction. Kindergarten through grade 3 (2nd ed.). Ann Arbor, MI: Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement.

phonological short-term memory:one's ability to retain verbal (or speech-based) information for a short period of time. Common tests for this include nonword repetition and memory span for words and numerals. (For example, repeat these words: ball, hat, car, finger...OR repeat these words: het, shim, frat, kib.)

PIC or PICT: a file format for pictures or photos.

picture books: books which have pictures that are essential to understanding and enjoying the story. Clues to the characters, settings, emotions, and plot are contained in the illustrations.

portfolio: a purposeful collection of a child's work, documenting the child's effort, products, and growth over time. It may include writing samples, artwork, computer products, digital pictures, and a list of books read.

Source: Hutinger, P. L., Betz, A., Bosworth, J., Potter, J., & Schneider, C. (2001). ArtExpress (2nd ed.). Macomb, IL: Center for Best Practices in Early Childhood, Western Illinois University.

predictable books: children's books which contain repetitive phrases or verses, cumulative patterns, a familiar story line, or language with rhythm and rhyme.

Barlcay, K., Benelli, C., Bond, J., Foltz, K., Hamlin, S., & Schoon, S. (1996). Module 4: Making quality children's literature available to every child: Choosing and using Literature: Choosing & using predictable books. Macomb, IL: Project ELIPSS. Macomb Projects, Western Illinois University.

printer:a peripheral that produces printed text or graphics in black text or color.

print knowledge:the understanding that words are represented by print, that letters of the alphabet are represented in different ways, and that letters can represent multiple sounds or the same sound represented by different letters.

Wolfe, P., & Nevills, P. (2004). Building the reading brain, PreK-3, p. 158. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

problem solving:engagement in a task for which the solution is not know. Children use prior knowledge and experience and apply it to a new situation, often finding a solution through trial and error. Problem solving involves analyzing, generalizing, synthesizing, and evaluating.

Project ELIPSS: federally-funded collaborative project between the Center for Best Practices in Early Childhood and the Head Start Bureau. This project developed Emergent Literacy Instructional Program and Support Services, a comprehensive emergent literacy training program for Head Start grantees and families, as well as other early childhood professionals. Training modules included video and written materials.

prop boxes:containers that store materials related to a theme or project.

| Q |

QWERTY keyboard: the most common layout of a keyboard in the United States where Q, W, E, R, T, and Y appear in the top row of letter keys.

| R |

Random Access Memory (RAM):temporary storage memory for programs and data.

rapid naming:the ability to quickly label or identify letters, numbers, or words.

reading center:a learning area with soft furniture, books, and book storage that encourages children to spend time looking at books.

Read Only Memory (ROM):memory can be read but not changed in any way. The information is not lost when the computer is turned off. the top

| S |

scaffolding:the process of creating challenging situations for children and encouraging them to work towards their developmental limit.

Source: Bredekamp, S., & Rosegrant, T. (1992). Reaching potentials through appropriate curriculum: Conceptual frameworks for applying the guidelines. In S. Bredekamp & T. Rosegrant (Eds.). Reaching potentials: Appropriate curriculum and assessment for young children (Vol. 1), pp 28-42.

scanning:an indirect method of computer access using software that automatically moves along available responses that the operator selects by activating a switch.

science/discovery center:a learning area equipped with magnets, scales, magnifying devices, and natural objects. Books related to science and materials for recording observations can also be part of the center.

screen capture:series of simultaneous keystrokes which, when pressed, allow a user to take a 'picture' of the computer screen. The picture is loaded into the RAM, or short term memory of the computer. see also "grab".

how to execute a screen capture, or 'grab':

1. Press the keys (according to the directions below).

2. Open up the application (program) you wish to paste the image into.

3. Paste the picture into the program. (command+v on mac; control+v on windows)

Macintosh Computer Screen Captures

Make sure you hold down all keys at once.

  • Shift-Command+3: the shortcut for taking a screen capture of your entire screen
  • Shift-Command+4: produces a crosshair cursor to click on just the area you wish to capture
  • Shift+Control+Command+3 (or 4): instead of creating a file on your desktop, copies the capture into your Clipboard memory, so you can paste it where you want, into whichever program you wish to use.

Windows Computer Screen Captures

The PRINT SCREEN key allows you to capture the Desktop or individual windows. You'll have to look for this key on your keyboard, it's placement varies with the type of keyboard.

To capture the entire screen:

  • Press the PRINT SCREEN key. The image will be placed on the clipboard.
  • Open an application such as Microsoft Word, pull down the Edit menu and choose Paste. Or, press Ctrl-V to paste.

To capture the current window on your screen:

  • Alt + PRINT SCREEN key. A screen shot your the currently selected window will be placed on the keyboard.

screen reader:a software program that converts the text on a computer monitor (screen) to speech.

sign-up sheets:a paper located at a learning center for children to write their names to reserve a block of time using equipment.

stacks: a series of HyperStudio cards are combined and referred to as a stack.

standards:also called education standards or learning standards, principles which guide curriculum, assessment, and achievement. Many national organizations and states have established learning standards. Some standards relate to content that should be learned, while others examine student performance. Source: U.S. Education Standards:

switch:an input device that allows a user to operate a computer or other electrical device.

switch accessibility: an interface to the computer that allows switch accessibility for the user.

switch interface:allows the user to connect switches to a computers to run switch-enabled software. the top

| T |

technology portfolio:a collection of observational notes, results from assessment instruments, and copies of children's creations in an authoring software program, such as HyperStudio.

Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD):This device allows individuals who are deaf to transmit typed-in messages via telephone lines.

touch screen:an input device that transfers an image created on a touch sensitive workspace to the computer's monitor. A software program and stylus accompany this flat, tracing-pad type peripheral. the top

| U |

universal design:the development of products and environments which are able to be used by a variety of people regardless of age or ability.

Universal Serial Bus (USB) port:allows the user to connect additional equipment to your computer (e.g. printers, external storage devices, digital cameras, modems, keyboards, switches, and joysticks) without the need to restart or reconfigure the computer. the top

| V |

visual memory: the ability to remember what is seen.

visual perceptual skills: abilities to distinguish between or among objects and space. the top

| W |

word predication software:a program designed to minimize the number of keystrokes needed to type a word.

write-enable: when the notch of the storage devices is uncovered (pin drive), it will allow the device to change information.

write-protect: to prevent changes to the contents of a disk (pin drive) by covering the notch on the device.

writing center:a learning area that has furniture and materials to encourage writing. the top

| X |

| Y |

| Z |

zone of proximal development (ZPD): identified by Vygotsky, this zone indicates what the child can currently do independently and what the child can do with supportive equipment, materials, and people.

Source: Bredekamp, S., & Rosegrant, T. (1992). Reaching potentials through appropriate curriculum: Conceptual frameworks for applying the guidelines. In S. Bredekamp & T. Rosegrant (Eds.). Reaching potentials: Appropriate curriculum and assessment for young children (Vol. 1), pp 28-42. the top


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