Basic Tech Skills: Discovering the Shift Key as a Cross-Curricular Experience

As educators of young children, we set the foundation for many basic emergent literacy skills and strategies. Here are some questions we consider as we reimagine literacy skills and meaningful integration of technology:

  • What are the specific skills and strategies children need as part of an emergent literacy foundation?
  • How can we develop comfort within tech spaces that will be used as an ongoing part of the educational experience and continue into adulthood?
  • How can digital spaces complement and allow for further visualization to solidify skills and concepts across content areas?

Creating the Connection

As educators who collaborate from across the country, we are constantly weaving together meaningful instructional opportunities from a unique perspective. For any experience, we first consider the standards and district expectations for each of our classes. While there are sometimes variations that need to be accounted for, our collaboration allows us a space to truly see the big picture of learning. This often means that the activities that have been developed from this unique perspective hold shared expectations for children everywhere. This is part of what makes our work relevant as we share with YOU as well!


The experience we highlight in this post is focused on the use of the shift key in order to type capital letters or symbols using the keyboard. This skill is directly related to the ELA State Standards for kindergarten:

We are so excited to share the way that we have reimagined this standard through use of the keyboard and visualization in Google Sheets! In this activity, children develop dexterity with the use of shift key, while reflecting on character names in the nursery rhymes, Little Bo Peep and Little Miss Muffet, which are covered during our ELA block. As children practice using the shift key to type the capital letter onto the screen, they make meaningful connections to the use of the capital letter for character names. Along with this, they practice the cross-checking strategy with access to additional picture clues for support.

Social Studies

We extend this further as we include names and photos of important women in history who have demonstrated the character traits necessary for making important community contributions on a national and global scale.  In our classes, these women are introduced during the same week through the text, This Little Trailblazer by Joan Holub.  We use this text as a foundational piece for our weekly writing experience. You can access a copy of our writing template that supports exploration of the text here: I am a Little Trailblazer

New Jersey Learning Standards for Social Studies: By the end of 2nd grade: Certain character traits can help individuals become productive members of their community.

Expanding Understanding

When we blend technology into curricular areas, we also open up the opportunity to deepen options for students. Within this activity, children may explore Level 2, which allows them to see the ways that the shift key unlocks a variety of symbols. Rather than limiting symbolic communication to letters and numbers, we can acknowledge and expand exposure to symbols. Again, cross-checking and picture clues support deeper connections, as we broaden the definition of literacy to include a more expansive view of symbolic communication.

Keep Playing!

In order to provide context for all of our experiences, and create concise spaces for blended learning, we use our play boards to communicate with our students and families.

If you found this blog post and the provided resources helpful, you might also be interested in exploring our other related resources. Simply click on any of the category images below to discover more!

Digital Literacy for Littles - Thoughtful Approaches to Exploring Technology with Young Children
Digital Google Apps Activities for Littles Category - Developmentally Appropriate Tech Experiences
Nursery Rhyme Resources - Class Books, Google App Experiences, and a Variety of Activities
Playing with Words Boards Category - Thematic Activities to Engage Young Learners with Literacy Skills
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