I am an advocate for using Spread The Happiness resources for more effective partnerships with parents.
Last year Shonette Bason-Wood introduced 50 Things To Do This Summer; a checklist of activities to get families having fun together. It's full of real simple ideas that sometimes get forgotten in busy life, but when we look over it as adults, we remember those things from our childhood – well most of them!
Number 49: "Make a PicCollage"
Technology is part of children's lives now and 'screen time' gets a lot of bad press. Not all screen time is the same though. No doubt many of us are in settings where children's communication, language, social and physical development are behind age-typical development so we are quick to assume this is because of their use of technology.
What are children using technology for at home?
It's possible that in these cases, children's development in these areas is behind because they are consuming more information from technology than they are creating. In these cases, children may be sat watching YouTube, Netflix, iPlayer and so on. They are watching it and not doing anything. It's not that this is a bad thing, we all need some down time. But it is about balance. What children aren't doing that much of, in these cases, is creating. That's because they haven't been taught to create on their home devices, yet. How can a child ask to use Pic Collage if they don't know it exists?
We often tell children 'You know more than I do about these things!'
If we want to see a change in children's development in communication, language, social and physical skills, then we need to start changing what we use technology for in our classrooms. If our children are starting school as consumers of information then we need to teach them about creating content on their devices right away. Otherwise, this change at home won't ever happen! The cycle will continue.
When children learn how to create on a device, just like when they learn to paint and write, they might ask for this at home. With that, the cycle will break.
Technology skills at home don't match their skills at school.
When our youngest children start school, or nursery, the expectations of their skills at home and at school are similar. What they can do in art at home, they should be able to do the same at school. Same for reading, writing, maths. When we assess technology, the things they can do at home are different to what we want them to do at school.
What they have access to at home is different to what we give them access to at school.
There's a lot of work to be done to bring home and school skills together.
That's why I'm pleased to see 'Make a Pic Collage' on the challenge list!
First we meet our new families at school where they meet the teachers and see the classroom. At the event, we introduce the parents to the 50 Things This Summer Challenge. On the transition visits, when our new children spend time at school over 3 days, we plan for some of these challenges. Then the children take the full list home for summer.
We ask parents e-mail or print photographs of their challenges and these are displayed at school ready for that first day of school in September. Everybody feels like they have a place in our class community and we all have a common ground for talking.
Pic Collage is making all the difference here!
The Pic Collage challenge puts children in to the creator position when using their device at home, and their parents start to see this. They learn how to hold a device properly, some photography skills and they are also documenting their experiences.
These are fundamental technology skills I want to see in children starting my class in September.
Parents then have the Pic Collage app installed on their devices for children to use. Perfect.
If they choose to take photographs and make a Pic Collage instead of watching another episode on iPlayer, then we have made a change for the better!
Pic Collage in the classroom is a powerful tool too.
If this challenge has been successful, you will have children who are familiar with Pic Collage. Here are some examples of lessons using Pic Collage:
These nursery children used Pic Collage to take their One Best Photo of people, wildlife and timber around their outdoor area.
These Reception children used Pic Collage to take their One Best Photo of people, wildlife and timber at Sherwood Pines.
These Reception children got to know their new classroom in September by taking photographs of the setting. They listened to a clue and had to photograph that place as their response.
These Reception children used Pic Collage on a shape hunt. They took photographs of shapes around the school and documented their experience with photos in Pic Collage.