Preliminary experiments were conducted a nursery school that has an enrollment of about 200 children ranging in age from one to five years of age. The school has about thirty teachers and helpers. Thirty-eight five-year-olds were chosen for the preliminary experiments as well as two teachers and two support staff. The support staff designed the curriculum. We used two PCs and a SOFTBOARD. The results from experiments can be summarized into three points as follows. The first is that children are good at cooperative work (pairs or groups of three) because groups allow one child to work as a producer and the others to work as operators. The second is that cooperation between the children and the support staff is an important factor in maintaining the children's concentration. The third point concerns time. We found that the best format was morning class.
Based on the results of the preliminary experiments, we started new experiments with five-member groups. The experimental procedure is as follows: First, the children draw contours of their characters or objects on the SOFTBOARD. They then produce a line drawing that is colored using the computer. After all children have finished, they record the sound and describe the type of action desired. The support staff then construct a simple movie based on the children's instructions. In the second step, each group makes a picture-story show with four sheets of colored paper as a story-board. After finishing one sheet, the children have to explain their drawings to the teachers or support staff, who write down the content. Children are encouraged to keep drawing until the end of their story. In the third and final step, each group makes an electronic picture-story show based on their story-board. The children draw characters and objects using the SOFTBOARD and computers. The staff digitize the shows as simple static images on the computers, and then show the movie to the children. The children's verbal story lines are recorded as sound data. Next, the story is animated based on each group's story-board by the support staff.
We have been conducting experiments with 40 five-year olds one day a week since May 1998. First, we had the children make picture stories so we could examine how they drew pictures with a computer and created stories. Next step was to introduce a new instrument called "SOFTBOARD", to input line data and trace line data. It is easier for children to draw with SOFTBOARD than