Digital Native, isn’t.

“At TeachMeet Nottingham, March 2012, a statement “digital native isn’t” was shared during a ‘TeachMeet 100 ideas’ exercise. The meaning of this was slightly unpicked, and I understood it as an explanation that today’s children do not have a natural ability to use new technologies. The idea that the youngest of children can just pick up a device and use it off the shelf is being observed by Early Years professionals and parents alike. However, this may also be tied in with the assumption ‘they know how to use it because they are not afraid of it’. I think this is where ‘digital native isn’t’ comes in to play. If we take this assumption seriously, it could mean that we don’t see the need to teach children how to use new technologies, such as using iPad because they can demonstrate basic navigation which astounds us! Therefore we may just leave children to ‘get on with it’ because they are familiar with interactive with devices which are shaping the environment. If this is the case, then children might not ever be shown how to search Google (safely) for images of a character from their favourite book.”

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Bringing Stories to Life with iPad

At TeachMeet Nottingham, Friday 30th March, I spoke about my work with Apps Based Learning on iPad and how Puppet Pals and Morpho Booth has been effective in bringing story language to life in my Reception class.

Earlier in the Spring Term 2012, I wrote about the iPad Workshop which I organised at my school with the support of European Electronique (@euroele) and Neil Emery (@neilemerydotcom). Since then I have been busy planning and resourcing opportunities for my Reception class to make the best use of apps in the classroom.

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iPad Apps for Early Years: a few ideas to get you started.

 Staple Apps for your iPad

My Story

This app is a simple book creator app and is great for making multi-modal texts. Children can insert photographs, clipart, saved images. They can also record their voice and there are a range of mark making tools for them to write and record their ideas. Read more about introducing My Story on this post here.

Puppet Pals


This is a puppet show app and children can quickly create a story with characters and backgrounds in 3 simple steps. The app records their voice and playback is instant. Puppet shows export as videos to the iPad’s camera roll.

Here is a good YouTube video which demonstrates the Puppet Pals App
Here is an example of children’s work from my class:

Puppet Pals is so versatile and can be used beyond story telling. It can support non-fiction, instruction texts, science and mathematics. Find out more about using Puppet Pals beyond story telling here.

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Jan Dubiel’s Lecture "A New Landscape? Exploring the Implications of the Early Years Review


On Saturday 10th March, the same day as the NAACE TeachMeet in Leicester, Derbyshire County Council also held a big event for their Derbyshire Early Years settings at the University of Derby. I was lucky enough to be invited to attend this with Tiny Tots Day Nursery to showcase a range of ICT equipment and demonstrate the appropriateness of Games Based Learning in Early Years settings. This blog post is one of two, here I will reflect on the Keynote Lecture given by Jan Dubiel which focuses on Curriculum change in Early Years. My second blog will provide links and advice based on the discusses I had with visitors to the workshop I featured in.

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Project Based Learning using X Box Kinect.

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.

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Foundation Stage children leading learning in Education for Sustainability

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!

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Games Based Learning: Using X Box Kinect to Support Play in Foundation Stage 2 #gbl

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.

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Enhancing Foundation Stage Assessment with Technology

After Reception’s assessment was moderated in June, September gave an opportunity for the Foundation Team to give our assessment strategies a make over.

Amongst the staff we decided that photographic evidence provides excellent opportunities for assessment. The problem we found was the management and recalling of the hundreds of photographs we would be taking each week.

I began to investigate hardware and software options.

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