Inventors Day: the importance of tinkering and play.

Working with Shonette Bason-Wood, and being a Spread The Happiness Teacher, has taught me one thing… stop waiting to be happy!

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The Spread The Happiness diary and calendars make everyday an exciting day for you and your class. What’s best about the diary is that you are never quite sure if the days in the diary are real or not! But that’s the point, don’t wait for a day to do something new, exciting, daring or different. The diary gives you permission to be the teacher you want to be, and the teach in ways you’ve always wanted to. Which brings me to Inventors Day.

Thursday 17th January was marked as Inventors Day on the Spread The Happiness calendar. I hadn’t seen any of the usual posts on social media about an international day for inventors but it motivated me to observe play in the Maker Space that I set up and developed since 2016. So I spent the afternoon tinkering with the robot kits we have and it made me remember all of the fun we’ve had working with different robotic toys over the years …. and I’ve never shared them!

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Remembrance Day Exhibition

This year for Remembrance Day our school planned an exhibition of work. As with any time of remembrance and reflection, the community comes together to support each other. Differences are put aside and similarities are found between us.

I wanted the Foundation Stage exhibition of poppies to show this so I took inspiration from the new Everyone Can Create Photography guide.

Physical Art

First of all, children drew their own simple representation of the iconic poppy symbol of The Royal British Legion.

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50 Things To Do This Summer: Number 49 “Make a PicCollage”

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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"

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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.

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One Best Photo Gallery

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  Saturday 17th June

Here is a day that has been marked on my calendar for several months, but also a day that 2 years ago, I never have thought would have been marked on my calendar!

One Best Photo launched at Sherwood Pines.

What is One Best Photo?

This project came about through a partnership with myself and the Learning Rangers at Sherwood Pines. In 2015, I met the Rangers to talk about ways in which I am using technology outdoors on field trips to their forest. For several years I had been taking classes of Foundation Stage children (aged 4 – 5) and leading photography walks with them.

Why?

Children have access to cameras in devices and photography is huge part of their every day lives. We now have a responsibility to teach them camera skills and what it means to be a photographer. If we don’t, then this will continue to happen on our devices when our young learners use them…

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Stories of a Lifetime: How to join this global story project!

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“How might we keep local legends, myths and fables alive whilst also sharing our place in the world?”

Stories of a Lifetime came together after a project between my foundation class and Jason Milner’s year 4 class in Sydney. For World Book Day 2016, my class studied stories from Australia as part of a whole school worldwide story project. To bring story telling to life, Jason’s class wrote and retold the story of Tiddalic the Frog. They illustrated the story and pieced it together using iMovie. The impact this form story telling and knowledge exchange had on my early years class was huge! Hearing the story retold by children who care about the story was much more meaningful, giving them greater context and a purpose to retell and write this story themselves. Here you can see children in my class writing the story of Tiddalic the Frog…

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“This is a boxed-up, ready to go, 1 week project I can use with my class. It’s a cross-curricular, local study my class work on and technology brings it together.”

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To Infinity, and Beyond! Meeting Major Tim Peake.

We are more connected than ever and the children we teach are more connected than ever. So how are we making the most of social media in our classrooms? It’s a part of children’s life that schools are increasingly aware of or frightened by. Some schools might be tackling issues head on, others might be running from it. But what happens when you use in for the good of learning?

Twitter connected my class to British Astronaut Tim Peake whilst he was on board the International Space Station. We had wrote a song for him, performed it in guided reading and recorded it as a podcast in GarageBand. We uploaded our recording to Audiboom and the European Space Agency shared it with Tim Peake. A few weeks later, Tim Peake listened to our song and tweeted back his own verse. You can read more about this experience here.

The journey didn’t end there though.

Today was a date in my calendar that I never dreamed of saving when we first recorded this podcast.

It wasn’t even a date I dreamed of saving when I watched Tim Peake return to earth and wrote this blog entry.

It wasn’t even a date I dreamed of saving when Tim Peake wrote about that entry on his social media sites!

But the dream did come true…

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Oh, Brazil, about what good things will you make me tell?

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fullsizerender-6Our time in Brazil wrapped up with a visit at the Mayor’s Office and a meeting with University of Pernambuco at the British Consulate. At both of these meetings planning for the future took place. Great progress has been made with local schools and partners here over the last 13 days and moving forwards with the onebillion maths intervention seems likely. On my final visit to ABA Global school I was presented with a gift from peace linguist, and President of the Board at ABA Global Education, Francisco Gomes de Matos:

“Oh, Brazil, about you what can I foresee well? You will be internationally admired. You will be educationally developed. You will be scientifically and technologically advanced. You will be interculturally comprehended.”

This resonates with me and our trip here. This articulates the aims we have for working with Brazil and assures me that Brazil makes a perfect partner in our projects and research.

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Learning Gains in Brazil

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It was a successful first week in Recife and the agenda took new directions each day. As so much time was dedicated to observation and knowledge exchange, our time was flexible. Because of this we were able to follow the lead of our local partners which maximised the opportunities for this scoping visit.

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Face to Face with the Experts

Introducing video conferencing software as a way of connecting my class and extending our reach is my one best thing. FaceTime calls are the back bone to the Connecting Classes Across Continents project that I collaborate on with a group of early learning Apple Distinguished Educators. We use the software to share learning and exchange knowledge between our classes.

I’ve been using FaceTime beyond this project though. Video conferencing can bring many more experts in to our classrooms. Those days when the fire engine visits schools and the police officers join us for question and answer are so valuable. There are many more experts that we can learn from who aren’t in our local area though. That’s where softwares like FaceTime extend our reach for knowledge exchange.

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Making Our Mark on the World

International Dot Day falls perfectly at the beginning of the school year. September 15th. We have been in school for just over a week and we are getting to know each other and our school routines. Dot Day is a festival which extends the message of the brilliant book, The Dot. In this story, Vashti doesn’t like art class. She has an encouraging teacher who tells her to sign her name and she frames Vashti’s art work. This gives Vashti a beginners mindset and she starts to explore other ways of making her mark in art class. The story ends with a showcase of Vashti’s dots and a chat with another unconfident young learner. She helps him make his mark and tells him to sign it. And the story begins again!

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International Dot Day takes the idea of dot art work and how through art work you can show how unique you are. Children make their own art work to represent themselves. In group and class discussions we unpick what it means to be you. What are you proud of? What makes your unique? How will you make your mark?

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