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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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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50 Things To Do This Summer: Number 49 “Make a PicCollage”

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I am an advocate for using Spread The Happiness resources for more effective partnerships with parents.

 

Last year Shonette Bason-Wood introduced 50 Things To Do This Summer; a checklist of activities to get families having fun together. It's full of real simple ideas that sometimes get forgotten in busy life, but when we look over it as adults, we remember those things from our childhood – well most of them!

Number 49: "Make a PicCollage"

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Technology is part of children's lives now and 'screen time' gets a lot of bad press. Not all screen time is the same though. No doubt many of us are in settings where children's communication, language, social and physical development are behind age-typical development so we are quick to assume this is because of their use of technology.

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One Best Photo with Chloe Webster

In the summer of 2016, I worked with the education rangers at Sherwood Pines to developScreen Shot 2016-05-22 at 09.05.04
a free resource for use at Forestry Commission sites. One Best
Photo is one outcome from this partnership and is a resource that can be used with early years and primary aged children. In the planning pack, teachers learn how to teach photography
skills to young learners whilst children capture the relationship between people, wildlife and timber. This resource is available for free on iTunes and the education rangers at Sherwood Pines are welcoming groups to their forest to use this pack for free. All you need to do it pack up your iPad devices and get your group to the forest!
Since publishing, One Best Photo has made its away to classes around the UK and across the world. At the Nursery World Show in January, I met Chloe Webster from Pebbles Childcare. Chloe took on some of the principles and practices of One Best Photo at her setting and kindly shares her experiences using this resource.

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One Best Photo with Tanya Leadbeater

In June 2016, I published a community engagement project, One Best Photo, with the Forestry Commission in England. In the first 3 months this free outdoor learning and technology resource has been downloaded across the UK, America, Canada and Australia. At the launch event held in Nottingham with Sherwood Pines, Early Years teacher Tanya Leadbeater downloaded the pack and took it back to her nursery. Church Vale Primary School say in their vision statement that they want their children to be life-long learners. Tanya helps to achieve this in her role as the Computing Co-ordinator by introducing new ways of teaching and learning across her school which motivates and engages their children. I am amazed by the quality of work the 3 year olds have produced from using One Best Photo and it is a pleasure to showcase their work here today. Thank you for sharing this Tanya! 

Tanya Leadbeater. Church Vale Primary School, Nottinghamshire.

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I have been teaching for 14 years and during this time have worked in two Nottinghamshire Primary schools and have taught classes in each Key Stage. In 2014, I began teaching in the Foundation Stage and have been teaching Foundation 1 children since. I work part-time and have two children of my own. As well as being class teacher, I am the Computing Coordinator which I have been for almost 10 years now. 

Visit Church Vale Primary School website here.

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Apps For The Woodland Workshop.

This year we have been running Woodland Workshops for our Foundation children. They visit the nearby woodland for a morning session every fortnight. It’s a great opportunity to get outdoors, no matter the weather, to investigate seasonal changes and take a closer look at this environment.

There have been stacks of learning outside and I wanted to share one way in which technology enhanced outdoor learning. Yes, iPads, outside, away from school.

I’ve talked with teachers for many years about the advantages of mobile technology in the hands of our youngest learners. But taking devices outdoors  still seems like a big deal, yet it is very possible and brings great benefits. We use other tools outdoors so technology, when planned for carefully, also enhances play. Furthermore, there are many jobs out there which rely on the use of mobile technology and the outdoors. Take Network Rail for example, who maintain the railway with a workflow supported by a suite of custom made apps. See the story here.

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A Local Area Study with iPads in Early Years

Last half term our investigations were all around our local area. The outcomes of this project would focus on children talking about their home, community, school and their place in the world. As well as the regular practise involved in this kind of learning in the early years, technology enabled us to share this learning in a purposeful way.

First up in the project came International Dot Day which put a spot light on children from other parts of the world who shared the same interests as us. You can read more about International Dot Day here. It’s a great festival that shows children how they are connected to the rest of the world. This initiated conversations about our place in the world, where we live and what it is like here.

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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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A theory about outdoor education from The Simpsons #ukedchat

I have watched this episode of The Simpsons many times and always wanted to do something with it.

It gives me a lot to think about, and I know that I have a lot of work to do to improve my outdoor opportunities. Sometimes I don’t always feel confident with the open ended nature of learning outside, I don’t always know how to plan it and how to explain it to others. Sometimes we are not prepared for weather with the right clothes and I know that is always the best times to be outside (puddles, mud, snow). Sometimes I’m not always prepared to take the risks involved in climbing, building etc.

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