Designing and Controlling Bumper Cars with Dash Robots.

At the end of September a huge travelling fair arrives in our city, a 700 year old event which expands year on year. It’s the Goose Fair. There isn’t a school in our region that would ignore it and in true Early Years style, it’s a great opportunity to cash in on some great learning and play opportunities!

This year we are using Dash and Dot robots from MakeWonder as part of our coding curriculum. They fit perfectly in to a classroom with just a few iPads and bring coding to life as children control Dash and Dot from a suite of apps produced by MakeWonder.

The apps for Dash and Dot follow a clear progression in skills and with as this was our first experience coding and controlling, we started with the first app in the collection: “Go”.

Think remote controlled car… The app connects to Dash over Bluetooth and the user steers Dash from the iPad screen. There’s options to send sounds to Dash from the app and even record your own sounds to play over Dash’s speakers. The colours on Dash’s body can also be changed and flashed from the app. It’s that perfect app to teach children early control skills and introduce direction language.

What’s more, Dash and Dot come with ‘building brick connectors’ that can be attached to the sides and head of the robot allowing Lego to be built on to them.

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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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Connecting Classes across Continents: a collaborative book by two schools.

For the past 7 years our Executive Head Teacher has been the lead link between our schools here in Nottingham (Burton Joyce and Cropwell Bishop) and St. Francis Xavier school in Goa, India. For 2 weeks each year, Phil spends time at the school working with the staff and students of the schools. The project is funding by The British Council and supported by Nottingham Forest Football Club also.

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Last year, Phil’s visit supported the launch of our school blogs and kick started Skype Classroom projects. This year, he set out to make a multi-touch book on a single iPad and create a collaborative text about the two localities. My first attempt at creating  a teacher authored textbook using iBooksAuthor came about at the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) institute in San Diego (2014), and with a group of Early Years ADEs we authored a book about Rancho Cuyamaca. I shared this project with Phil and it shaped our vision for this project.

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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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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