This year the national Anti-Bullying Week in the UK challenged teachers to bring an e-safety focus to their classroom. As an early years teacher, talking about safety online is quite tricky and modelling good practise online has always been my focus. My class regular experience positive uses of the internet and our Connected Classes are an important part of our classroom life. As a class we make FaceTime calls to other early years children around the world, we share books that we have written on the iPads with them and we often help each other out with answering questions about our localities.
For Anti-Bullying Week though, I wanted to make these experiences more personal for the children. This is how I found Maily on the App Store.
This is a free app and it is free to set up an account and to use the service. There are no adverts or in app purchases either. Maily is designed for the travelling or far reaching family though. It’s there for the kids to be able to send a special message to mum when she’s working away, or the grandparents that live in Spain.
It’s perfect for early years though. Maily has very little reading involved, it’s all pictorial and within a couple of taps your children have opened their inbox, scrolled their contact lists to find a friend, wrote an e-mail and sent it. All within the app, inside one secure account.
Setting up your class account.
I registered as a Supervisor with my school e-mail and password. Within my account I added all of my class names. This is tricky because a family wouldn’t usually have 25, 30, 45 children to add! Persevere though, it’s worth it! And also, add your children’s photographs so they can navigate their contact lists easily. I added each child with their first name only and set their date of birth to 01.01.14 (the app gives older children a more sophisticated interface, but our little ones, a generic birthdate like mine will give you the interface they need!)
Introducing e-mail and e-safety.
Being kind online is what we talked about and it was a very easy topic to discuss with the help of Daisy Chain. Daisy Chain is an animated story that is free to watch online. In the story, narrated by Kate Winslet, Buttercup Bree meets some bullies who have made the nearby park a very upsetting place to play. She is a strong enough character to change this, but in her efforts, the bullies take a photograph of her and pin it to all of the trees in the woods. It takes Buttercup and her loyal friend Benjamin a while to take down as many of them as they can.
It’s perfectly told and very sensitive. You can talk about taking kind photographs, about the purpose of taking photographs and sharing them but also how the bullies hurt Buttercup without using their hands, feet or their words. There is an interactive story app for Daisy Chain available on the App Store also.
Maily and Daisy Chain
Having read and watched the Daisy Chain it was time to practise. Using Maily we sent simple sketches to our friends in the app. Children sent smiling photographs of themselves to each other and we talked about what it would be like receive e-mails that weren’t as kind as ours. The children enjoyed sitting side by side sending and receiving messages from one another, and also sending them to me!
As a teacher, in the Parent View, I get to see all of the messages that everyone has been sending. It was great to glance through them and see children who had written and even typed to one another!
A nice little feature in Maily is the animation when the e-mail is being sent. The little envelope jumps from the senders profile picture and skips over to the profile picture of the receiver. The children get a little red circle on their profile picture to show they have 1 new notification. It’s very authentic!
It’s great to see the children picking up the iPad, opening Maily and finding their face with a notification on it. They quickly scroll through the faces of their contacts to find out who has e-mailed them and they are eager to reply.
I am busy trying to figure out a way for one of our Connected Classes to join our Maily account so that our e-mails can be sent overseas. Our initial idea is to hold a FaceTime call together so that we can Maily one another and see our friends either side of the Atlantic open our messages and reply. It’s proving tricky to decide whether we should work on one account or have two separate accounts. We are also unsure what it will look like with another 30 children’s faces displayed on the contacts screen. It could be endless scrolling and too many options for sending and receiving.
Thank you to the developers of Maily and the work achieved by Protein One with the Daisy Chain story. Together you have found a way for me to teach e-safety to 4 and 5 year olds.