Maily! e-mail that’s possible in early years.

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.

Maily.

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.

FullSizeRender 17It’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.

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A Local Area Study with iPads in Early Years

Last half term our investigations were all around our local area. The outcomes of this project would focus on children talking about their home, community, school and their place in the world. As well as the regular practise involved in this kind of learning in the early years, technology enabled us to share this learning in a purposeful way.

First up in the project came International Dot Day which put a spot light on children from other parts of the world who shared the same interests as us. You can read more about International Dot Day here. It’s a great festival that shows children how they are connected to the rest of the world. This initiated conversations about our place in the world, where we live and what it is like here.

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Introducing Foundation 2 to their iPads

September and the start of school came and we all survived again. Settling in to routines, finding our feet in a new classroom and figuring out where to start building those blocks for this year’s learning. It’s an exciting time as the weeks unfold and we get to know our new class, finding out what they already know and what they need next.

Every year it amazes me the skills the children have when using iPads, and other technology in their classroom. This year’s highlight for me was during the introduction of the class iPads and basic skills of navigating the home screen, dock and the camera. One of the children had this to say:

“I know another skill. You have to close the apps too so that it doesn’t waste the battery charge”. Yes that’s right! And this skill was even demonstrated correctly. I hadn’t come across this skill at the beginning of the year before!

However, there is one skill that I am yet to be met with in September, and that is using the camera efficiently. How often do you see this on your camera rolls and you don’t find out about it until your iPad memory is full:

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We always start the year with photography skills. It takes a long time, it’s a whole half term (and for some the whole year) but it is a skill which underpins the very basics of using an iPad to create authentic content. It’s a skill you return to every time you use an iPad to make a movie, book or presentation.

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Independent Early Maths with Padlet for iPad.

I first wrote about Padlet in the spring term when I used it in an adult directed, 3D shape hunt around school. It enhanced our shape hunt because children could work more independently, whilst reviewing their peers work and then photographing other 3D shapes their peers hadn’t spotted. You can read about this activity here because you will probably need to teach the skills before the children will do them independently.

This post is all about independent maths.

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When I wrote this post it was late in the summer term and like all teachers around the world, I was busy gathering evidence for end of year assessments. This outdoor activity gave evidence for so many areas of learning. First up, I left just 1 iPad outdoors and the brief to photograph the shapes around the outdoor area (three skills observed right there, maths, technology and sharing!).

The 1 iPad was dominated by 1 child though and the activity needed more collaboration. So I intervened and introduced Padlet.

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An Outdoors Photography Project for Early Years: Taking Your “One Best Image”.

In the summer term we take our Foundation Unit to Sherwood Pines, a Forestry Commission park here in Nottinghamshire. As the name suggests, it’s a large woodland with tall pine trees and a great outdoor education team and facilities for all ages. During the day we did all of the outdoor education activities you could think of in a forest: mini beast hunts, woodland art (Andy Goldsworthy), story trails (The Gruffalo) and for the purpose of this blog post, photography.

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Changing Spaces: Focus and simplify learning in continuous provision areas

I have decided to write another post about the wider curriculum and classroom organisation. Over the years I have posted a few times about my classroom spaces and provision as it adds a bit of flavour to the technology focus of my blog. It shows another side to my work.  

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I always look to Alistair Bryce-Clegg for inspiration, he is a one-stop-shop for all things early years. Not only does Alistair share great ways of working, his recommendations are well within the reach of all early years settings. They are cheap, sometimes free, and every time his ideas are effective! Alistair’s post Creating an Environment to Provoke Learning gave me the confidence and vision to go ahead and put all my energy in to redesigning our areas.

“As a class teacher, when it came to my environment less was definitely not more! In fact more was more with a bit more chucked in for good measure!” writes Alistair.

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Start Unplugged! Coding in Early Years.

This Spring Term I was invited to work with staff at Heymann School, Nottinghamshire, who were preparing for Science Technology project. My role was to share and support in ways their early years pupils could engage with coding and control skills.

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I champion a place for unplugged computing in the curriculum as it secures language, vocabulary, children’s internal decision making, recording and visualising their own inner-computing.

To read more about computational thinking, coding and how it supports you to plan for The Characteristics of Effective Learning and thinking skills, you can also read this more recent post of mine. 

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Enhancing Practical Maths with Math Journals and MyStory app.

I have been reading Kristi Meeuwse’s blog, iTeachWithiPads, for a while now and a recent post of hers on Maths Journals stood out for me. I am always asked about maths apps for iPads, but I have never considered myself a maths expert. What I usually see are maths games being played on the iPad, which can engage certain leaners but the level of enhancement is not as great as what I have seen with literacy and authoring apps. The work Kristi’s kindergartener’s engage with on iPad is the best example of maths enhancement with technology that I have seen.

What are Maths Journals?

We use MyStory book creating app to photograph practical maths activities and record our maths understanding with marks or voice on the pages of the book. This means that the practical activity is captured, making the experience more meaningful rather than disposable play that is packed away at tidy up time. The child can reflect further on their learning by recording their mathematical understanding using the built-in microphone or with physical marks on the page.

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Introducing MakeyMakey to Early Years Children.

This week saw the arrival our MakeyMakey and the first time I got hands-on with the kit. Having followed the work of ADE Mark Shillitoe for 2 years, I thought it was about time I tried it out for myself. I ordered the MakeyMakey from Amazon, just over £40, and the kit comes complete with enough crocodile clips for simple projects. The instructions are clear, set up took about 5 minutes and we were up and running with a Banana Piano in a matter of minutes.

Wait a minute though, what is MakeyMakey?

MakeyMakey is an invention kit for everybody. It is a USB device that replaces keys on your keyboard. IMG_7551IMG_7549 IMG_2708 Continue reading