Kindergarten classes are supplementing crayons, finger paints and flashcards with iPads, a development that excites supporters but that detractors worry is wasted on pupils too young to appreciate the expense.
Next fall, nearly 300 kindergartners in the central Maine city of Auburn will become the latest batch of youngsters around the country to get iPad2 touchpad tablets to learn the basics about ABCs, 1-2-3s, drawing and even music.
"It's definitely an adventure, and it'll be a journey of learning for teachers and students," said Auburn kindergarten teacher Amy Heimerl, who received an iPad on Tuesday ahead of the full deployment in the fall. "I'm looking forward to seeing where this can take us and our students."
But the $200,000 that Superintendent Tom Morrill is proposing to spend on iPads - which retail for around $500 - might be better spent on some other school program, said Sue Millard of Auburn, who has children in the fourth grade and high school. She also questions whether kindergartners are old enough to appreciate the effort.
"I understand you have to keep up with technology, but I think a 5-year old is a little too young to understand," she said.