Early Years and Online Safety: my top resources!

Digital Citizenship and online safety is such an important part of the National Curriculum and confidence to teach this subject is growing amongst teachers in upper primary years. But what is happening lower down school?

In the early years we have always been good at providing children with opportunities to develop relationship skills and problem solve in their peer groups. We have access to many age appropriate resources to discuss stranger danger and bullying. Over the last year I’ve started to see good materials published to bring online safety in to our curriculum. I want to share some of these today.

Photography: start with your class and devices.

A great place to start with early years children is with the Daisy Chain story. This video story which is available free online brings hardware in to a story of friendship and bullying. In this story the bullies use a camera to take a photograph of Buttercup and they pin the pictures to the trees in the park.

It’s a great place to start because it brings the digital world in to the real world. Early years children enjoy taking photographs so the idea of taking photographs in an unkind way is easy to understand. Listen to the story and talk about using cameras appropriately. What makes a good photo? What makes a good selfie? Have a selfie project in your class and even get your parents involved. Click here to visit the Daisy Chain website.

Use photography in your woodland workshops and teach your children to use photo apps like Pic Collage or Photo Booth.

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 09.05.04

There is a great free photography planning resource available for your outdoor area or local Forestry Commission site here: “One Best Photo” is available on iTunes for free right now!

Maily: e-mail that’s possible for early years.

Next up you can introduce a great, free, e-mail app to your children. Maily lets you children send drawings, photographs and messages to each other in their class. It’s a network just for your lass practise e-mail skills and it’s all symbol/picture based so all of your young learners can access the simple interface. This is a great chance to practise very early social media skills and what kind of messages are good to send.

Read more about setting ups and using Maily here.

FaceTime calls: extend your network.

You should also make use of video conferencing software like FaceTime or Skype. Connect your class with another early years class somewhere else in the world. They might just be your friend’s school in the same city, but the experience is valuable because you giving children a positive experience of networking online.

Once your children have had many opportunities to share online with Maily and FaceTime there are a few stories you can try reading. In both of these texts the message is children should not believe what they might see online. They are both great fiction texts that discuss stranger danger, parent partnerships and making careful choices.

Books to Read.

Little Red Riding Hood and The Wooly Sheep is a wonderful take on a traditional tale that we all know and love. It’s easy for children to make sense of the message because they know that The Wolf will always try and trick Red and her granny. Little Red finds a website advertising the best sheep she has ever seen and arranges to meet the sheep without her father knowing. Of course, it’s ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’ and this twisted tale ends with a lucky escape for Little Red.

Buy Little Red Riding Hood and The Wooly Sheep here.

Another story I recommend is Penguinpig. This has a very similar plot but with an advert for a make believe animal online. There is a simple rhyme throughout making it an enjoyable read for your young listeners and it is as obvious as Little Red Riding Hood and The Wooly Sheep because they are not familiar with these characters. I read Penguinpig to my class first because I wanted to see if they were excited about going to get a Penguinpig. They thought the girl was making a good choice because it sounded so exciting. When we read Little Red Riding Hood and The Wooly Sheep they could take what they knew about the characters and from what they had learned in Penguinpig to predict what would happen.

Buy Penguinpig here.


Both of these books are available to buy from Spread the Happiness and come with a planning pack to help you wrap your curriculum around these stories. This will help you to embed the messages of e-safety in all areas of the Foundation Stage.

Don’t be afraid to build these messages in to your PSED and CL activities. This is about friendships, relationships and staying safe. There’s very little to go off in the Technology strand of Understanding the World because that strand is about how things work. It prepares children for coding. Instead you should extend your anti-bullying planning to cover e-Safety.

Talking about safety online seems like a topic too large for our little ones to understand but we need to look past the e- and cyber- prefixes to see that problems online are about all round safety and anti-bullying. These are themes we already teach so well in early years so don’t be afraid to expand your resources with these age appropriate e-safety materials too.

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