Life Below Water

At the start of the new decade a time of reflection swept the world and global goals shaped many of these moments, particularly with the devastating fires sweeping Australia. 10 years ago though, the United Nations replaced the “Millennium Goals” with the Sustainable Development Goals, a set of universal goals that meet the urgent environmental, political and economic challenges facing our world.

“The SDGs are unique in that they cover issues that affect us all. They reaffirm our international commitment to end poverty, permanently, everywhere. They are ambitious in making sure no one is left behind. More importantly, they involve us all to build a more sustainable, safer, more prosperous planet for all humanity.”

United Nations Development Programme

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All 193 member countries of the United Nations signed and agreed to take action towards these goals, including Canada, USA, UK and Australia. Therefore, we have permission from the leaders of our countries to take action towards these goals in our classrooms. It is our duty to educate our students on these global issues.

But how might we tackle such huge topics with the youngest children in our schools?

Kristi Meeuwse and I designed a series of a lessons around plants, animals and people which might help teach towards some of these global goals. Let’s start this blog series by exploring lesson ideas which can support Goal 14: Life Below Water.

Goal 14 sets targets to reduce marine pollution, sustainably manage coastal areas, regulate overfishing and increase scientific knowledge of marine biodiversity.

There are 3 books in the ‘Young Children Can Create… a better planet’ series and each book contains activities to use drawing, photography, video and music. These creative mediums help young children to capture their world and make decisions about their environment or learn about other habitats.

Here are some examples of activities to help young children engage with Goal 14: Life Below Water.

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Measuring Material Footprints

We have 10 years until the deadline for meeting targets of the Sustainable Development Goals, a set of universal goals that address the urgent environmental, political and economic challenges facing our world. The debate is already out as to whether we have achieved any of these targets or not.

“The SDGs are unique in that they cover issues that affect us all. They reaffirm our international commitment to end poverty, permanently, everywhere. They are ambitious in making sure no one is left behind. More importantly, they involve us all to build a more sustainable, safer, more prosperous planet for all humanity.”

United Nations Development Programme

Screenshot 2020-01-18 at 10.29.23

All 193 member countries of the United Nations signed and agreed to take action towards these goals, including Canada, USA, UK and Australia. Therefore, we have permission from the leaders of our countries to take action towards these goals in our classrooms. It is our duty to educate our students on these global issues.

But how might we tackle such huge topics with the youngest children in our schools?

Kristi Meeuwse and I designed a series of a lessons around plants, animals and people which might help teach towards some of these global goals. This is the second blog post of this series which will explore lesson ideas which can support the teaching of Goal 12: Sustainable Consumption and Production.

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It is predicted that by 2050 we will be need the equivalent of three planets to sustain our current lifestyles. Therefore Goal 12 sets targets to sustainably manage our natural resources and use them efficiently. Air, soil, food and water conditions are all monitored in this goal. Recycling paper, plastic and aluminium is fundamental to improving consumption and production targets.

There are 3 books in the ‘Young Children Can Create… a better planet’ series and each book contains activities to use drawing, photography, video and music. These creative mediums help young children to capture their world and make decisions about their environment or learn about other habitats.

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Here are some examples of activities to help young children engage with Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.

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Life on Land

At the start of the new decade a time of reflection swept the world and global goals shaped many of these moments, particularly with the devastating fires sweeping Australia. 10 years ago though, the United Nations replaced the “Millennium Goals” with the Sustainable Development Goals, a set of universal goals that meet the urgent environmental, political and economic challenges facing our world.

“The SDGs are unique in that they cover issues that affect us all. They reaffirm our international commitment to end poverty, permanently, everywhere. They are ambitious in making sure no one is left behind. More importantly, they involve us all to build a more sustainable, safer, more prosperous planet for all humanity.”

United Nations Development Programme

Screenshot 2020-01-18 at 10.29.23

All 193 member countries of the United Nations signed and agreed to take action towards these goals, including Canada, USA, UK and Australia. Therefore, we have permission from the leaders of our countries to take action towards these goals in our classrooms. It is our duty to educate our students on these global issues.

But how might we tackle such huge topics with the youngest children in our schools?

Kristi Meeuwse and I designed a series of a lessons around plants, animals and people which might help teach towards some of these global goals. Let’s start this blog series by exploring lesson ideas which can support Goal 15: Life on Land.

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Goal 15 sets targets to sustainably manage forests in order to protect wildlife, combat climate change, preserve indigenous communities and maintain natural resources.

There are 3 books in the ‘Young Children Can Create… a better planet’ series and each book contains activities to use drawing, photography, video and music. These creative mediums help young children to capture their world and make decisions about their environment or learn about other habitats.

Here are some examples of activities to help young children engage with Goal 15: Life on Land.

Continue reading

The Rich Potential of Young Children’s Photography

I’m always excited to hear from followers of my blog and connecting with readers through Twitter or by e-mail. Recently, teachers from Mere Green Primary have shared ways they have been using the Young Children Can Create books, which I published with Kristi Meeuwse and Jason Milner in August 2018. This is the second blog post which has been written by Terri Coombs and Rebecca Murray from Mere Green Primary School. In this post, they share the impact that The Rich Potential of Young Children’s Photography guide has had on their early years practice.

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Terri Coombs is the IT Lead for Mere Green and SLE in Computing and IT across the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership. She has 20 years teaching experience which includes 10 years of leading IT and is passionate about using technologies to inspire creative teaching & learning and enable all children to engage.
Rebecca Murray is the IT Lead for Early Years at Mere Green, she has 5 years of teaching experience in Early Years and promotes the use of iPads to encourage levels of independence.
Mere Green Primary School is an outstanding two form entry, family orientated school. We are driven to ‘make a difference’ for all our children, through support, nurture and trust. In addition to our mainstream children, we also have 20 places for children with statements for speech, language and communication from North Birmingham, who have enhanced speech provision across the school day. We are a fully inclusive primary school, which reflects the society in which we live.  We have a whole school vision for embedded use of IT to enhance authentic learning opportunities.

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Celebrating Earth Day with Oliver Jeffers

Screenshot 2019-04-28 at 13.26.35Next year, Earth Day will celebrate it’s 50th anniversary. Back in 1970, millions of people took to the streets to protest the impact of 150 years of industrial development. 49 years later, the campaign continues in 192 countries with over a billion people participating.

This year, children’s author and artist Oliver Jeffers and Apple Education designed an education project for Earth Day to inspire young children to think about the future of their local area.

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Oliver’s message was simple. Snap a photo of your environment, draw how you’d like to see it in the future and share your idea with the world. He describes himself as an optimist in a short trailer about the project, explaining that the world becomes a better place because people it imagine it that way. You can watch the trailer here.

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My class watched the trailer and we paused the clip in a few places to talk about the message or discuss the whimsical sketches Oliver makes. I then modelled to the children how to take a photograph of our outdoor area then use the mark-up tools in ‘Edit’ to create our own images to share.

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A Spring Time Photo Walk

Back in January I took my young learners on a winter photo walk to appreciate the beauty of frosty scenes and notice the patterns in the natural world. You can read about this activity here. Wednesday 20th March was marked as the first day of Spring, and we were learning about the Hindu festival of Holi, so we took our cameras out on photo walk to capture the colours and signs of spring time.

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Before the walk we looked at the photographs from our winter walk. This was an effective way to link learning and notice the changes that have happened in the seasons but also to review the teaching point of good photography. Using photography in the early years is important because young children have access to cameras in almost all devices they touch. We must teach children to use cameras effectively and for a particular purpose so that they don’t fill devices with endless, repetitive images and learn that photographs tell us visual stories.

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Adapting Stories With Photography and Drawing

Having cameras in our mobile devices has changed the way we capture, edit and share photographs. Shooting an image outdoors now means we can crop it, adjust it and share it immediately afterwards. Whilst we are amazed at this as adults, the young children in our classrooms see this as normal and it’s a regular life for them. Children are exposed to cameras in almost every device they can put their hands on so we have a responsibility to teach children how to take and use photography for a particular purpose, otherwise their devices, and yours, become full of repeated, useless images like these:

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In a week themed around adapting the story of The Gingerbread Man, Reception children took their iPads to Woodland Workshop to capture and edit story scenes for their own runaway food stories. Previous learning has focused on taking close-up photographs outdoors or using the camera to capture story scenes of a naughty bus puppet misbehaving in the woodlands.

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The Rich Potential of Young Children’s Drawing

I’m always excited to hear from followers of my blog and connecting with readers through Twitter or by e-mail. Recently, teachers from Mere Green Primary have shared ways they have been using the Young Children Can Create books that I published with Kristi Meeuwse and Jason Milner in August 2018. This blog post has been written by Terri Coombs and Rebecca Murray from Mere Green Primary School and shares the impact that The Rich Potential of Young Children’s Drawing book has had on their early years practice.

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Terri Coombs is the IT Lead for Mere Green and SLE in Computing and IT across the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership. She has 20 years teaching experience which includes 10 years of leading IT and is passionate about using technologies to inspire creative teaching & learning and enable all children to engage.
Rebecca Murray is the IT Lead for EY at Mere Green, she has 5 years of teaching experience in Early Years and promotes the use of iPads to encourage levels of independence.
Mere Green Primary School is an outstanding two form, family orientated school. We are driven to ‘make a difference’ for all our children, through support, nurture and trust. In addition to our mainstream children, we also have 20 places for children with statements for speech, language and communication from North Birmingham, who have enhanced speech provision across the school day. We are a fully inclusive primary school, which reflects the society in which we live.  We have a whole school vision for embedded use of IT to enhance authentic learning opportunities.

Continue reading

A Frosty Photo Walk and the Impact on Writing.

Teaching young children to take photographs is one of my favourite uses of technology in the early years. The potential of children’s photography is rich in learning opportunities for many areas of learning and a purpose which supports all aspects of the Enabling Environment principle.

Supporting Exploration

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The cold weeks of January and the frosty mornings gave perfect scenes for outdoor photography at our Woodland Workshop so our iPads came with us. Children were challenged to take close up photographs of the frost. They needed to get closer, and even closer, then wait for the camera to focus before pressing the shutter button. It needed a steady hand and firm grip but the children needed an artistic eye too. Children had to look closely at the frosty environment and notice patterns. A good photograph works with the rule of thirds and the more photography children admire the more their eyes are trained to capture good images. Photography is an opportunity for children to explore the beauty around them.

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Photography and Story Writing

The Naughty Bus is one of my favourite stories to read to children. The text is presented in a fun way, with words that help convey meaning. It’s the illustrations that bring the story to life for me though, real photographs in a fiction book. I love the way a real London Bus toy comes to life on the pages in the way that children imagine when they are playing with their own toys.

These illustrations made me think about the ways that photography can inspire children to write. What if children used their own photography as a stimulus for writing?

Each day this week, children have come to school to find our own Naughty Bus in various scenes of chaos.

These scenes created lots of conversation and excitement each morning, and I modelled how to capture these moments with our camera. In a few taps of the iPad, I could snap a few photographs, swipe through them with the children on the spot, select the ‘one best’ photo and print it wirelessly to display on in our classroom. The children then set to work cleaning up after their Naughty Bus but the moment was captured forever (and shared with parents via the class blog).

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