Young Children Can Create

In England we teach young children (Birth to 5 years old) from a non-statutory curriculum now known as Early Years Outcomes (formally Development Matters). The curriculum is structured around 7 areas of learning but themed on A Unique Child, Parent Partnerships, Enabling Environments and Learning & Development. Learning across these themes, principles and areas of learning are woven together through The Characteristics of Effective Learning.

Development Matters, and Early Years Outcomes, explain that theEE theme Enabling Environments theme should ‘value all people’ and all learning. Yet there is a division in the early years community about the role of technology in learning. Our young children have access to technology in the home and there are an abundance of reports and opinions claiming screen time is a contributing factor towards low attainment in physical, social and language development. For this reason, there are settings who switch off to technology provision.

Technology is the one strand in our early years curriculum, and throughout the National Curriculum, where the application in the learning environment is different to the application at home:

  • talking at home is similar to talking at school,
  • sharing at home is similar to sharing at school,
  • reading at home is similar to reading at school,
  • numbers at home is similar to numbers at school,
  • whereas technology at home is different to technology at school.

At home, children (and adults!) watch TV and video rather than film movies ourselves. We use the internet at home to browse and shop. We more often choose to listen to music rather than make it. We look at photographs at home rather than take them. We regularly relax in front of screens. 

At school and nursery, the Early Learning Goal for Technology states that children should ‘select and use technology for particular purposes’. In the National Curriculum for Key Stage 1 this extends to digital skills such as using images, video and sound for creative projects.

We should be teaching children how to create with technology, in meaningful ways that are cross-curricular where ‘experiences respond individual needs’ and interests.

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One Best Photo: a Forestry Commission Project.

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 09.05.04This month I am proud to announce the publication of free lessons that I have created in partnership with The Forestry Commission Learning Rangers.

In July 2015 I met with the education team from Sherwood Pines to talk about this potential project and how we can work together to bring technology and outdoor learning together.

 

 

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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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Introducing Foundation 2 to their iPads

September and the start of school came and we all survived again. Settling in to routines, finding our feet in a new classroom and figuring out where to start building those blocks for this year’s learning. It’s an exciting time as the weeks unfold and we get to know our new class, finding out what they already know and what they need next.

Every year it amazes me the skills the children have when using iPads, and other technology in their classroom. This year’s highlight for me was during the introduction of the class iPads and basic skills of navigating the home screen, dock and the camera. One of the children had this to say:

“I know another skill. You have to close the apps too so that it doesn’t waste the battery charge”. Yes that’s right! And this skill was even demonstrated correctly. I hadn’t come across this skill at the beginning of the year before!

However, there is one skill that I am yet to be met with in September, and that is using the camera efficiently. How often do you see this on your camera rolls and you don’t find out about it until your iPad memory is full:

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We always start the year with photography skills. It takes a long time, it’s a whole half term (and for some the whole year) but it is a skill which underpins the very basics of using an iPad to create authentic content. It’s a skill you return to every time you use an iPad to make a movie, book or presentation.

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Independent Early Maths with Padlet for iPad.

I first wrote about Padlet in the spring term when I used it in an adult directed, 3D shape hunt around school. It enhanced our shape hunt because children could work more independently, whilst reviewing their peers work and then photographing other 3D shapes their peers hadn’t spotted. You can read about this activity here because you will probably need to teach the skills before the children will do them independently.

This post is all about independent maths.

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When I wrote this post it was late in the summer term and like all teachers around the world, I was busy gathering evidence for end of year assessments. This outdoor activity gave evidence for so many areas of learning. First up, I left just 1 iPad outdoors and the brief to photograph the shapes around the outdoor area (three skills observed right there, maths, technology and sharing!).

The 1 iPad was dominated by 1 child though and the activity needed more collaboration. So I intervened and introduced Padlet.

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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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Teaching about Life on Earth in Early Years

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This summer at the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute in San Diego our theme for the week was ‘Life On Earth’. To kick start the week we had a fantastic keynote from famed biologist E.O. Wilson, author of the new Life on Earth multi-touch textbooks available for free from the iBook Store.

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PhotoBooth and Inclusion in Art.

When working with the staff at Tiny Tots Day Nursery over the Easter Holiday, one of the themes we investigated was how staff working with under 2s could use iPad with their children. We started by talking about what under 2s enjoy and what the staff already provide that is good quality first experiences. This lead the discussion to think about how iPad can be integrated in to a multi-sensory activity with elements of investigation.

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