Over the summer it’s time for us teachers to prepare for our new class and the year ahead. Over the next few weeks I’m going to put spotlights on particular topics or themes, highlighting some apps which can support learning.
I’ve made a few searches on the AppStore and picked out a few apps which look like good fun for early years and ones which can develop knowledge and understanding in this topic.
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. Continue reading
As I prepare to return to school for the new academic year and welcome my new Foundation class to our school, I can’t help but feel excited. Usually September focuses on establishing routines, settling in to school life and base-line assessments, but this year will be slightly different for us.
My Early Years group of Apple Distinguished Educators in America are already a few weeks in to their school year and we are about to embark on a year of collaboration and projects between our classes. The first of these projects, which is a great ‘getting to know you’ exercise for my own class but also for all of our classes, is called ‘International Dot Day’.
I have been working with a local nursery who use iPads with their SEN children.
The nursery manager had a vision to use apps to help children make choices. There are apps designed to do this, but most are expensive or present many small symbols for the child to choose from.
My suggestion was Puppet Pals. Even though this app is designed for story telling, it is so versatile and can be used beyond story telling.
I began my journey in to games based learning about a year ago, and I often get asked “how does it work?”. I still don’t have a clear answer, but I do have interesting stories to tell about children’s interactions with games in the classroom.
I have recently partnered with European Electronique (@euroele) who are an ICT solutions company with an interest in promoting games based learning. This partnership has helped to define my ideas about games based learning, so this blog post offers another perspective on what games based learning could be.
In my previous post on games learning with the Kinect in a Foundation Stage setting I spoke about organising game play in smaller group situations and engaging children in activities related to game play. This idea remains the most effect use of gaming with children.
Since starting my NQT year in September I have been passionate about discussing and debating ‘big ideas’ with young children, and exploring effective ways to give the youngest of minds a voice. One of my successful examples is the learning I have facilitated through Education for Sustainability. I put my ideas together alongside Debbie Bradley (Senior Lecturer and Primary Geography Leader at Nottingham Trent University) and Peter Bevington (Year 4 teacher, Nottingham). As a team we presented our teaching ideas at the Geography Association Conference in April 2011. I then presented my work at TeachMeet Midlands in May 2011. Thank you for everyone’s support and interest in my work, I feel it’s time to share this work on my blog.
My first experience of teaching sustainability came about in the first week of the Autumn Term 2. I had planned and resourced a week of work on Autumn Poetry, where children would extend their vocabularly to describe Autumn changes. To kick start this week, we wrapped up warm and went for a muddy walk along ‘Our Special Lane’.
Whilst walking the lane, the children noticed the litter and began to talk about how messy it was. The further we walked, the worse the problem became and the more emotionally charged the children were! By the time we got back to the classroom, they only wanted to talk about litter and blame the big children for it!
Over the Spring Term I began researching classroom organisation and looking for other ways to use the areas in my classroom. I had observed children’s activities during their choosing time and found that the library was one of the places few children visited during a session. I also noticed that the children would role play whatever their imagination wanted, rather than stick to the theme we had set in there that week or term; post office, kitchen, DIY store, construction site…
What could I do to enhance play? What could I do make sure children access the spaces with more energy?
My reflections on using Kinectimals and the X Box Kinect in Foundation 2 was originally published on Tom Barrett’s blog, but I thought I would publish it to my own blog now that it’s up and running. Be sure to check out the discussions about this post of Tom Barrett’s blog though. I have added a few extra points in this post though and included some extra footage. Enjoy.
If you haven’t come across Kinectimals or the X Box Kinect before, then have a look at the official trailer for the game here. Gameplay works without a controller, there is a camera attached to the X Box which detects your movements and the animals in the game respond to them.
My blog follows on neatly from the themes discussed by Tom Barrett in his work with Nintendo Wii’s Endless Ocean. I took on the challenge of introducing Games Based Learning to my Reception class, and to myself! I used an X Box Kinect because game play without a controller seemed ideal for Foundation Stage children. After a 2 – 3 week project on animal homes using Kinectimals as a stimulus, I have reflected on the impact that Games Based Learning had on children’s enquiry. My reflection is structured around four themes; organisation, planning, supported play and Kinect sensitivity. I hope that the successes, difficulties and solutions I found help with any Games Based Learning planning in your classroom.