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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Your First Class Book Project

Creating class books is something I remember doing as a child in school. We would all contribute a page by drawing and writing. Every member of the class had something to put in and our book would be displayed proudly in the classroom library. Do you remember those kinds of activities too?

They were very manual tasks, with a lot of potential for practising literacy skills but gave so much pride in our work too! The sense of a real audience for our class book was so motivating.

The problem was, we only ever made 1 book and if you wanted to show it anyone, they had to come in to the library. What if your class book could be shared in an unlimited capacity, to anyone, anywhere?

It’s now possible with Pages book templates and creation tools.

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Pages is a free app from Apple for your iPad and to make a class book, you only need 1 iPad! This is great first activity for book making in an early years classroom, where each child can add their own page to the class book.

 

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Our first week with iPad – Mastering the Basics!

I came away from the Apple Distinguished Educators Institute brimming with ideas about photography and why we need to enhance learning by giving children a camera.

FullSizeRender-2-300x300.jpgCathy Hunt, of the iPad Art Room, shared the idea that “it all starts with the camera, because from this launching point we can support students to develop their ability to communicate”. In her classroom she sees how cameras help children ‘see their world differently’ and that their ‘connected cameras are always collecting’.

 

dave-profile.jpgDave Caleb, a digital literacy coach in South East Asia, explains “images are an incredible medium. They transcend language barriers. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, you can read a photograph”. He reflects that ‘your camera roll is your story’ and now that students have access to devices, they have a powerful story telling device at their finger tips. He concluded that ‘We need to teach our students to capture powerful images. It is a literacy we need to teach. It is tied to what it means to be human’.

Both of these presentations at the ADE Institute support the reasons why I start and end with photography each year my Foundation Stage classes. At the end of last year I published the ‘One Best Photo’ resources with The Forestry Commission but each September I wonder how I will progress my new class of 4 year olds to this level of creativity on their iPads. And each September, the 4 year olds amaze me!

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Making Our Mark on the World

International Dot Day falls perfectly at the beginning of the school year. September 15th. We have been in school for just over a week and we are getting to know each other and our school routines. Dot Day is a festival which extends the message of the brilliant book, The Dot. In this story, Vashti doesn’t like art class. She has an encouraging teacher who tells her to sign her name and she frames Vashti’s art work. This gives Vashti a beginners mindset and she starts to explore other ways of making her mark in art class. The story ends with a showcase of Vashti’s dots and a chat with another unconfident young learner. She helps him make his mark and tells him to sign it. And the story begins again!

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International Dot Day takes the idea of dot art work and how through art work you can show how unique you are. Children make their own art work to represent themselves. In group and class discussions we unpick what it means to be you. What are you proud of? What makes your unique? How will you make your mark?

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One page at a time: Introducing Book Creator.

September comes around again and our rooms are full of energy. A ‘beginners mindset’ can be seen everywhere around school. It’s a positive place to be as we all look towards a new year ahead. In Foundation, we are busy establishing routines and learning what skills our youngest learners in school have. Each year I see a step forward in the confidence, and maturity, that children have when using technology. Skip back a couple of years and the excitement to be on an iPad meant snatching it from someone’s hands and running it to the corner of the room. With teachers in professional learning discussions, I had conversations about turn-taking and rule setting when introducing iPad to young learners. But this week, with my new cohort of 4 year olds, I am seeing a much more mature approach to technology and how they know it is readily available in their world. It is embedded in their life and expected to be a part of their learning environment. This doesn’t mean they know how to use apps like Book Creator, but they are a little more skilled in navigating and handling these devices.

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Kinectimals Inspiring Writing

This year was the forth time I have used Kinectimals with a class to inspire their writing. And this year staff in our unit said this was the best writing we have seen all year! So I thought I would share a few ways in which game play has inspired writing in my classroom.

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This an X Box game and it is also an app game available for iPad. You adopt a tiger or a bear on an island called ‘Lumeria’ and meet a character called Bumble who has been looking after the animals since the explorers left many years ago. It is an adventure game where you lead your animals through different tasks and challenges, find treasures and discover new parts of the island. It’s also a virtual pet style game so it is self paced and children can navigate the island themselves, moving around the place instead of moving forward in game play. Graphically it’s stunning, very beautiful and the story is captivating.

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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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