Hang on a second, just let me blow the cobwebs off my keyboard. It’s been almost 3 months since I last found a little bit of time to write a post on here and I’ve been letting it slip! 7 weeks ago my wife gave birth to our beautiful first baby, Abigail Elizabeth, so I think I’ve got a pretty good excuse!

To get me back into the swing of thing I wanted to share with you some of the activities and websites I love to use when I teach the little darlings (said through gritted teeth) down in Reception.

Poisson Rouge

I’ll kick off with a superb website for early years learners. Poisson Rouge is filled with a VAST variety of games and challenges for your children to get stuck in to. A lot of them teach mouse control in a subconscious way, while other help to improve their thinking and problem solving skills. The graphics are clean and clear, and the music and sounds are really engaging for younger learners. I particularly love the fair ground and underwater areas of the website, as they allow you to pick a focus for lesson and keep all children engaged. Winner!

 

2Publish

Simple version of 2Publish+ that is REALLY easy for the pupils to get involved with. It works really well with touch screen machines, and the pupils tend to pull the screens right up to their noses in my room, trying to draw the perfect flower or house! Love choice of colours and pen widths, and I like to give the pupils a theme or drawing challenge when I get the chance. It also gives the pupils space to do some typing, which at this age is usually their names, but towards the end of the year I get some great descriptions from them. For those that use it, the mirror page is great and the kids get so excited when we use it. I really recommend it, as well as all other 2Simple programs.

Ipad Apps

At the start of the year some of the pupils still look like Deer in the headlights when I come down to meet them. I don’t even think about bringing them out of their little reception safe haven and up to my dark and scary ICT suite. So I bring down the iPads for them to use and explore with. Working in small groups I work through a variety of apps. ABCJoinedUp is fantastic for learning the basics of letter formation, before moving on to writing full words in cursive. Garage Band (with headphones!!) is a great creative hour and the kids LOVE IT!! PaintPad is great for the kids to make a mess without the mess and has a great feature that allows teachers to email the work to themselves, rather than it just sat on the iPad doing nothing. I love using the iPads with pupils at this age, give it a go!

Boobah zone

Fun, Simple and easy. A website choc full of games and activities for pupils to work their way through. Very similar to Poisson Rouge. The styling of the site is good, but a lot more simplistic that Poisson. The sounds are great and really funny at times. This is definitley one for the kids to explore on their own rather than directing them. Great to explore and work out the challenge of the game.

BeeBots

What is there to say? Grab the beebots and some maps and get the kids exploring and playing! I try not to get involved very much, and see the pupils learn from their mistakes and come up with their own solution.

 

Touch Tables

I’m lucky enough to work at a school that spends a lot on it’s IT budget every year. In reception we have touch tables for the pupils to leanr and explore on. These are brilliant tools and it’s great getting a group round them. They help to generate lots of discussion in the kids that really warrants their place in the school. I would really push all schools to take the plunge and go for them.

Digital Cameras/iPods

With the weather (hopefully) changing for the better it’s great to get the kids out on the field or playground using some hand held tech. At this young age you want to keep it simple and digital cameras, or in my case, a set of iPods are great for this. Give your children a challenge or a focus rather than just aimless selfies. Last time i had them out pupils were pretending to be Wild Things, or looking for mini beasts!. You would be amazed at what they come back with!

 

Any other great activities or websites your use in reception! Feel free to add them below! 

 

apps2013

Over the year I have used a variety of apps in my teaching of primary school children. They might not be the newest, or the most fancy all singing ones. This list is my must have apps, the ones I wouldn’t be without. For me it is about how they work in the classroom, not just how good they look. So these are the ones that are tried and tested, and I would recommend to any teacher.

2DIY

Create your own interactive resources, activities, games, puzzles, quizzes. With this software teachers and primary school children can create cross-curricular, personalised resources and use them on whiteboards, websites and even on Learning Platforms. There are plenty of opportunities for meaningful learning as children plan, design, create, publish and play. Loads of fun, and easy to use with all ages. I highly recommend this one!

 

abcABCJoinedUp

abc Joined Up makes learning cursive writing an enjoyable and fun experience. It helps children write cursive letters and words correctly and provides positive and supportive feedback by celebrating success. Beginner Level teaches children to recognise letters by their sounds and to write individual cursive letters correctly on the screen with their fingers. Intermediate Level shows children how to recognise letters and blends by their sounds and to join letters together correctly on the screen with their fingers. Expert Level teaches children to sequence the sounds they can hear in a word and then join the letter together and write the word correctly on the screen using a finger or a stylus.

Epic Citadel

Enter Epic Citadel, the dynamic fantasy setting of the award-winning Infinity Blade. From the circus bazaar to the sweeping cathedral in the center of town, Epic Citadel dazzles with a visual parade of special effects, as only imagined by Epic Games and powered by the critically acclaimed Unreal Engine 3. Are you ready to explore the realm of the Epic Citadel and all the beautiful secrets it holds? Really great for creative writing and imaginative thinking. The amount of discussion and imaginative thinking from one app is amazing!

Twinkl Phonics Suite

Whether you are a teacher who wants to use this App to enhance children’s learning alongside your letters and sounds sessions, or a parent who wants to support your child’s learning of phonics at home, this App has something for everyone!
– The sounds and names of each letter of the alphabet
– Letter formation
– Blending sounds in CVC words
– The graphemes taught in phases 2-3 (including digraphs and trigraphs)
– Initial and final blends
– Alternative spellings for phonemes
– High frequency and tricky words for each phase.

Read my full review of the app here. 

Penulitumate

The most natural digital handwriting experience on iPad, Penultimate gives you the convenience and feel of writing on paper with the added power and availability of Evernote. Take notes in class or a meeting, journal your thoughts, or outline your next big idea — in the office, on the go, or at home on the sofa. This is the app I constantly use to scribble down the ramblings inside my head! Easy to jot down ideas, but the kids can also use it as well! I have used it with my digital leaders when doing brain storming sessions.

 

Daisy the Dino

Learn the basics of computer programming with Daisy the Dinosaur! This free, fun app has an easy drag and drop interface that kids of all ages can use to animate Daisy to dance across the screen. Kids will intuitively grasp the basics of objects, sequencing, loops and events by solving this app’s challenges. After playing Daisy, kids can choose to download a kit to program their own computer game.

 

Meteor Maths

Math meets an arcade game in Meteor Math, and you’ll want to play all day! “Crash” meteors together to solve addition, subtraction, multiplication and division equations. Improve your math skills as you progress through increasingly harder problems. Suitable for kids of all ages… and even adults who want a fun challenge! I often use this as a quick starter activity and works really well.

 

Barefoot Atlas 

Barefoot World Atlas is a magical interactive 3D globe that invites children to explore the regions and countries of the world, discovering hundreds of fascinating features and immersing themselves in the rich wonders of our planet. This is a multi-language, universal app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. The rich and beautifully detailed graphics take full advantage of the amazing new high-definition retina screen. 
Geographer and BBC TV presenter Nick Crane is your guide, as you fly at will around a beautiful 3D globe created by artist David Dean. Explore the world’s continents, great oceans and changing environments. Meet different people around the planet and find out about their way of life. Encounter amazing wildlife, discover landmarks, natural features and famous buildings. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! So immersive for the pupils and endless lessons from one little app!

 

So that’s my list, make of it what you will! Please leave some comments below of apps you have used with success in the classroom. 

Last week I posted about my plans for the curriculum in Key Stage 1, and how I was going to meet the criteria with lesson ideas. It seemed like a popular post, and as I have done the same for Key Stage 2 I would be a shame not to pop it on the site.

As with the format before I have included it in a mind map for you to explore and search through. The map is split up into the 4 main sections of Digital Media, Programming, Data Handling and Technology in our lives. Having this variety of learning areas means pupils take part in a wide range of activities, making the learning fun and accessible. I have tried to include a number of different equipment types, not just the computers. This included things like digital cameras, ipod/ipads, and Lego robots. While your school might not have these available yet, there are other cheaper options to give the pupils similar experiences.

Hope you find this useful, and please share it around.

 

 

 

Capture

 

Exciting times ahead in the world of ICT! With the new curriculum changes starting soon I’m sure we are all looking at how be can develop our subject, and what changes to teaching need to take place. Over the past few weeks I have starting thinking about how I am going to structure ICT, and what activities or programs I could use to deliver the new standards. Below is a mind map I created showing a few program ideas and possible teaching activities in Key stage 1. I am structuring ICT in 4 key sections; Digital Media, Programming, Data Handling and ICT Beyond the Classroom. By doing this my pupils are able to take part in a wide variety of activities, not just the coding that Mr Gove seems to want! Have a look and see what you think.

iPad Screenshot 5This week I have been given the task of making the teaching of ICT more mobile and physical in Reception. Sounds fun at 1st but then the reality sets in and I have to find enough work to do on fairly short notice. One of the things I have planned to do is using the iPads a lot with them, looking at some different apps, and different uses in the classroom.

Daisy the Dino is a control based app that works much in the same way as Scratch. Pupils create lists of where and what they want Daisy to do on the screen, it gives the pupils the chance to learn the basics of programming with a fun cartoon! the app is free and easy to use with drag and drop features. Kids of all ages can animate Daisy, making her move, dance or grow as she moves across the screen. The children should grasp the basics of objects, sequencing, loops and events by solving the challenges set by the app. using the app can be developed further by pupils downloading a program on their computers with more functionality, but personally I would use this as an intro to Scratch.

Give it a go and see what you think, overall I think this a great introduction to the world of programming for younger pupils.

iPad Screenshot 4iPad Screenshot 3

 

 

360 Panoramas

July 2nd, 2013 | Posted by AlwaysComputing in Fun Stuff | ICT Resources - (0 Comments)

panoramaI just wanted to share a quick post on here as I didn’t think I’d have enough characters on twitter….in fact I’ve probably used all 140 explaining this….

 

Anyway, I recently shared a 360 panorama on Twitter and it got a good response so I thought I’d chat about it. The link to the panorama in question is here, have a look! I love using this app to capture scenes and memories, but I have also started to use them in the classroom. Sharing places and experiences with pupils in an immersively stunning way. The panorama I took was from our sports day this year, but I have also taken a few while on school trips. These provide a great visual stimulus for discussion when back in the classroom, and the interactive nature of the image means you can focus and inspect an area when back at school. What makes the app brilliant is viewing it back on your phone or iPad. It has a button for using the gyroscope so the image moves as you move the device, it really gives the feeling of being there.

The app I use is 360 Panorama and it’s just 69p on itunes, though it does seem to be free every now and again. Another one that you could use in the classroom is Photosynth. This is free from Microsoft, though it does take a lot longer to stitch together.

outside

This week I got to go on a fantastic trip with my school. We took 9 pupils on a sailing ship for 3 days.

We went out on the Humber Estuary, and into the north sea. The children loved it. They spent their days as crew of the boat leaving myself and another teacher to supervise. Due to the small space on the boat the sleeping arrangements felt more like camping than being at sea, so on an evening we had great fun playing games and having family style meals.

But then my ICT teacher brain kicked in. Before we set of I grabbed the case of iPods and iPads and stashed them away on the back of the coach. I could resist the chance of some 1st class outdoor technology learning. So I though I would share how we used them on our trip to give you some ideas for yours.

  1. Google Maps – We followed our route from the school to the Dock, then when out at sea we were able to see where were in relation to the coast. 
  2. Geotagging – On one of the evenings we took the dingy to shore and tagged our location in an email back to the school.
  3. Journals – On an evening pupils wrote a quick paragraph of their day and then sent it back to their school email. This was then picked up on our return and used in their English lessons
  4. Video Diary – Pupils spent some time telling anecdotes of their day using the front facing cameras on the iPods. rather than a full diary entry we were sharing what interesting things happened to them.
  5. Evening Games – We spent the evening playing games with the pupils. Some classics like ‘Pass the Squeeze’ and ‘I’m having a Party’, but then we moved on and started using the iPads. We used Brushes to play Pictionary, as well as asking them to draw a scene from the day.
  6. Sailing lesson – As part of the trip pupils we asked to learn about the boat and how it worked. They aided their lessons by using the internet to research and share what they were looking at.

All of this was brilliant for me to see as their ICT teacher but it took some setting up. Obviously we made sure we had enough chargers and docking stations with us, and checked with the captain that we were able to use his electricity storage for this. We also brought with us some of the Mi-Fi boxes to provide the pupils with internet access. Remember – fail to prepare, and prepare to fail!

Have you used technology outside of school? Could you think of another way my group could have used them on the boat?

 

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I recently had the pleasure of taking 2 groups of year 1 children out to do some individual handwriting practice, one LA and one HA group. To do this I used a couple of apps I have been meaning to try out for a while, I used ‘abcjoinedup’ and ‘Letter Practice’. Both of them are wonderful to use with pupils, but with different abilities and for different purposes.

letter_practice_large

Letter Practice

With the lower ability group I used Letter Practice. this worked well with this age and ability. When I explained the task pupils were really excited about using the iPads (usual reaction!), and appear confident in using them. The class I worked with use them on a regular basis so they were happy to use them again. The app worked particularly well with 2 new to English EAL pupils. After a discussion with their teacher I was told they have little confidence when writing the letters in the classroom, and it was good for him to see their progress on this platform. After the session the pupils were very happy with their progress, and couldn’t wait to show their teacher! I would really recommend this app.

 

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abcjoinedup

With the higher ability group the pupils used abcjoined up. This app is much more detailed, and allowed for further development with the pupils. Rather than just writing the letters this app makes the user thing about writing words and combinations of letters in cursive handwriting. Pupils loved being able to follow the text with helpful arrows and said it made the process much easier for them. One pupils stated that he ‘finds it difficult coz he doesn’t understand what the teacher means by up and round’. While using the app pupils really developed the motions required to draw the shapes, but after a discussion with their teacher we worked next steps. We decided that using a stylus with the ipad would help them understand holding a pen and drawing the letters.

Overall I really enjoyed the session with the group and they seemed to enjoy it. The overriding theme from the session was that the children enjoyed the freedom of using both apps. They liked having the freedom to make mistakes that would disappear and allow them to start again.

 

Have you used any Ipad handwriting apps? How have you found them? Any you can recommend? 

I recently came across Aurasma on the front cover of Good Food magazine and was captivated. Turning the average image into a link, video or message brings your pages (or classroom walls) to life, and instantly made me think of the pictures in the Harry Potter stories. The ability to create your own augmented reality images led me to see very little of my wife that weekend, I just spent my time shout ‘WOW, look at this’ to her! Then with my teacher head on I started to think of ways you could use it in the classroom. How could pupils use it, or how could the school use it as a tool? Here is what I came up with:

  1. Create an inspiration board on your table. Fill it with images, videos, sound clips of your learning topic and allow the children to investigate. 
  2. Create Language tags for Key words. Allow pupils to either learn a foreign language, or develop their English skills by image swapping words. 
  3. Create a Video treasure hunt around the school. 
  4. Have pupils create a video evaluating a piece of work, lay the video over the work and display on the wall. When parents come on open days give them the opportunity to learn about the pupils work and how it was created (plus the use of technology will AMAZE them!)
  5. Use them as instruction manuals. Create a video showing how to use a piece of technology and lay it over the top of it. When a user points their device at the object they get a how to guide. 
  6. Create Harry Potter style wanted posters or newspaper articles. Get the children to show off their acting skills by screaming in their wanted shots, or posing for a paparazzi shot! 
  7. Digital Leader instructions. Most schools now have digital leaders to promote the use of ICT across the school. Get them to create simple instructional videos or how2 guides for your school’s programs. 

Hopefully this should give you some ideas or starting points for using the app in your classrooms. I think I’m going to the using it more and more over the next few months, so please share or discuss any other ideas for the app you have.

To get the free Aurasma App click here.

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