Puppet Pals is still a staple app for Early Years!

Puppet-Pals-HD-Directors-p-Pass1Puppet Pals, a story-telling app created by two dads, has been around from the very beginning. The set of first generation iPads arrived in my classroom and it was the first app I downloaded that I thought ‘Yes, this is it!’ It was the app I used when Nottinghamshire County Council’s ICT specialist visited to see me teach with iPads and it changed her view on their potential for learning.

Download Puppet Pals from the App Store here.

That was 2010. Fast forward 6 years and Puppet Pals is probably one of the few apps that’s remained the same and remained strong.

Let’s take a look at how Puppet Pals has been used in my classes over the years.

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The Language of Maths

Last year I introduced Maths Journals in my classroom after seeing the success of them on Kristi’s blog. Maths Journals have become the most effective way of capturing the language the children use in maths and a great way for them to show what they know.

Book Creator.

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This year I have used Book Creator for our Maths Journals. Book Creator does exactly that. It creates books on iPads. When we think about book creating we always jump in to English and making multi-modal texts. So to use Book Creator to journal in Maths is a great way to use the app in a different context! Download Book Creator from the AppStore here.

Journals.

Children create their own Maths Journal book on an iPad in Book Creator. They make the front cover of their book a photograph of them and write their name with the pen tool. This means that they can easily find their book from the scrolling menu when they next open Book Creator on that iPad. The books do not sync across all of the iPads so they need to use the same iPad every time they journal.

Children journal once a week in their independent maths time when we have the iPads in the classroom. This is during our maths focus time in the week. Children have their maths input, a maths activity planned for them by an adult and adults observe them with a maths focus too.

When I introduce Maths Journals in January, it is to around 16 children who are showing good skills in using Book Creator already. Other children more time to learn the Book Creator skills necessary to independently journal so they will use Pic Collage in other adult led activities to help develop these skills. They will journal later in the year when these skills are secure.

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Shape Hunts with Pic Collage

Last year I used Padlet as a collaborative tool for shape hunts around school. It was really effective to use a collaborative tool and create a shared document that displayed all of the 3D Shapes we found around school. You can read about that here.

This year Padlet released a free app for iPad making this resource much more stable on iOS, but it requires the latest iOS and we are using iPad 2 which I don’t want to update to iOS 9. So I had to rethink how I can make use of technology to enhance the traditional shape hunt.

“This adult led activity happens in so many foundation classes, and I have led shape walks many times. During these walks, we carry a bag of plastic shapes and we match the plastic pieces to real objects. This happens for 2D and 3D shapes. The children might even mark off on a clipboard the shapes they spotted, like bingo, or draw pictures of the shapes they have seen. By the end of the walk, they have all recorded the same shapes in the same places. I wanted to enhance this experience, to make it more personalised”

So this year we used the free app PicCollage. It makes use of children’s photography skills which they are all secure with when using iPad but creates a very simple and effective poster showing the shapes they noticed around school. They also like it because they get to take a selfie instead of writing their name!

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Using Puppet Pals beyond story telling.

I have always been a fan of the Puppet Pals and it was one of the first apps I came across when my journey with iPad began. At BETT 2013 I worked with Ian Wilson ADE again and we had a lot of time to chat about new apps. During the week the Puppet Pals 2 app was released and that was one of the apps we talked about. This addition to the Puppet Pals series makes further use of animation and has some very cool characters which interact with other objects on the set… But we agreed that the simple charm of the original app was what we liked. I have always enjoyed putting in my own characters straight from books, and Ian talked about using the app beyond the obvious story telling purpose.

He explained how he has used Puppet Pals to discuss physics, moving objects (put in as characters) around a plain white background and recording the conversation in the app. Straight away I thought this was a great idea and I knew that when the opportunity came for me to adapt this to an early years context I would pull it out of my bag of tricks…

And the time came to use it…

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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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