Credit Where it's Due: Teaching Attribution in Kindergarten


We are all aware of the growing importance of teaching digital citizenship. However, when working with young children, it can be hard to know how or when to incorporate these ideas, as many are quite abstract. I personally try to focus on ideas that can be applied to both an in-person experience and a digital/online experience so that it can be explored can fluidly between the offline and online worlds. Making comparisons between the two emphasizes that there should be no difference in our values and behaviors on or offline.

Why We Put Our Names on Our Work

From the moment they start school and can write their names, we tell our students to label every single piece of work they produce. Whether we realize it or not, we’re already teaching our students to credit their own work through this process. If we simply highlight the act of crediting their work, we can begin to build awareness.

I began my lesson with my Kindergarten students by having them think about why they write their names on everything. The answer came easily: because then people will know who created it. I then challenged the students to think about what might happen if we didn’t write our names on our work. I took it a little further and described a scenario where I decided to take a piece of art and put it on display in my home, without labeling it. Whenever someone came to my home and saw the painting they thought I had made it. The students all agreed that this wasn’t respectful or fair. I then made the connection to digital work and said that anything we find and use online is the same, we need to respect the creator and give them credit.

Step 1: Creating a digital drawing

In the first stage of this lesson I had the students create a simple illustration in Seesaw. I told them it could be a picture of anything, but it needed to be one thing in the middle of the page. I also showed them that Seesaw helps us label our work because the app always makes us choose our own name. They posted the drawings and I quickly approved all the posts as they came in.

Step 2: Take someone else’s work and use it

To illustrate how easy it is to take someone’s creative work from a digital space, I had students practice taking a screenshot. Each student selected the peer that was directly under their name in the student list so that everyone’s work would be used (last student taps on the first student). They expanded that person’s drawing into full screen and then took the screenshot.

They then imported that image into the app ChatterPix Kids, and had to make that picture talk. This was also a loose link to the current Kindergarten Reading Unit on Acting Out Books. I had the students practice speaking with expression by imagining what that object might say if it could talk. These videos were then exported to the camera roll.

Step 3: Adding attribution before sharing

In the final stage of this lesson, the students uploaded the video they had made in ChatterPix Kids and had to type the attribution in the caption. The three things they had to mention were:

  1. Who: “Picture by…”

  2. When: The date the picture was created (I wrote this out for them to copy)

  3. Where: Where did you get the work from (i.e. “Mrs. Carter’s Seesaw Class”)

It was actually interesting to see how the kids were able to differentiate between typing just “Mrs. Carter’s Class” and “Mrs. Carter’s SEESAW Class”. Most were able to instantly identify that if they didn’t include the word “Seesaw” it would mean we got it from their physical classroom not the digital space of their Seesaw Class.

Here are a few examples of finished pieces. How else can you see teaching credit or attribution in the early years? Would love to hear your ideas in the comments!