ICT Session Three

ICT Session Three

During our final ICT session, we focused on Presentation Software. This linked with the work we were doing in Art where we were tasked with creating resources to tell a story with. (More details of the creation process can be found here).

During the ICT session we looked at the different webtools, apps and software that we could use to bring our story to life. Helen took us through the different Presentation Software available and gave us a quick demonstration on how some of them worked. These webtools, apps and software aim to encourage students to explore story making and help them turn their ideas into visual creations.

I have included a list of various webtools, apps and pieces of software that you may find useful in your own classrooms. This list was given to me by the University of Northampton and is not my own.

Webtools

*Purple Mash                                    

*StoryBird

*StoryJumper

*Little Bird Tales

*Popplet

*Little Bird Tales

iPad apps

*Snapguide                       

*Collins Big Cat Books   

*Spellosaur

*Me Books                        

*StoryPatch                      

*Play Art

*StoryBuddy                     

*Book Creator  

*Feltboard                         

*PixnTell

*Puppet Pals                                    

*Sock Puppets 

*Strip Design

*Scribble my Story         

*Comic Life

*iCard Sort                         

*Toca Boca                                                        

*PocketPhonic

*DoodleBuddy 

*Pic Collage

*Make An Animal

Software

*2Create

*2Create a story

*PowerPoint

*SmartNotebook

In my group, we chose to use the DoodleCast Pro app for the iPad. More details of how the app works and how we used it can be found here.

Directed Task

Whilst I found this app very simple and enjoyable to use, I must consider how effective it would be in an early years setting. Firstly, there is the question of how accessible this app is. Having recently completed my second placement in a Key Stage One classroom, I can see the difficulties with using this form of software in the classroom. Pupils would require adult assistance in order to turn their ideas into an e-book. Therefore, when planning this activity, classroom management must be carefully considered to ensure that every student gets the opportunity to use the software. Though a good way of gaining a few extra pairs of hands is to enlist the help of the year sixes one afternoon!

However, it is important to not be deterred from using Presentation Software in an early years setting just because of this small issue. The opportunities that digital storytelling offers young children should not be underestimated. By turning pupils’ creations into a story using their own ideas, their passion for storytelling will be heightened. At such a young stage in their development, having something visual which pupils can take pride in will boost their self-esteem and confidence. Pupils can use digital storytelling to show what they are interested in or tell stories about their experiences. They encourage pupils to express themselves and their likes.  Especially the DoodleCast Pro as it does not require any written skills; pupils that may normally be reluctant to engage in literacy activity’s can enjoy this activity. They can express their ideas verbally and create something special to be shared.

One of the benefits of using digital software is that small mistakes can also easily be erased. It has been noted by practitioners that many children struggle with the notion of improving their work when it is on paper because of the effort that it involves (Medwell et al., 2012). However, digital software, such as DoodleCast Pro, allows pupils to make changes to their work easily, with just a few clicks of a button. There is no risk of smudging or work looking messy. Pupils will be encouraged to go back and improve their work because of the simplicity of doing so.

References

·         Medwell, J., Wray, D., Minns, H., Coates, E. & Griffiths V. (2012) Primary English: Teaching Theory and Practice, Sixth Edition. London: SAGE Publications Inc.

Art Session Two

During our final art session we explored the ways in which the creative expressive arts could support pupils’ literacy development. In order to do this effectively, we were set a task in groups of four to create our own digital resource which could be used in an Early Years classroom to promote learning.

Creating a Digital Resource

As a group, we decided to create a story about two elephants in the jungle. Two of my group members, Molly and Jess, began making clay models of a mother and baby elephant, whilst myself and Gillian, created the background for our story. To create the background we used techniques involved in printing, such as creating stencils and transferring images onto the paper. Below is a picture of our final creation, along with examples of the different resources that we used to make the background.

Creating our background
Our Background

Molly and Jess also experimented with different artistic techniques needed to create models out of clay. Below is a picture of the elephants that they made.

Afterwards, we took our newly created resources and turned them into a story using the Doodlecast Pro app for the iPad, which you can purchase for £2.99. This app allows you to create presentations quickly. It allows you to capture pictures using your iPad and then insert them in to a slide show. You can also record your voice over the slides and edit over pictures, adapting them to your specific need.

This app was perfect for creating our story. We took photographs of the elephants against the background, positioning them strategically to help convey the story. We then edited in a monkey using the apps software and finally recorded our voices over the pictures to tell the story.

Creating our e-Book

Here is the link to the final version of our jungle story.

Directed Task

Finally, we were asked to consider how we could use this story to support learning in the classroom. In Expressive Arts and Design in the Early Years Foundation Stage (40-60 months), pupils must show an understanding of how different media’s can be combined together to create new effects. Dependent on the weekly theme of the classroom, pupils could create their own story to complement that theme and in doing so explore the different areas of creating an e-Book using the Doodelcast Pro. This will also allow them to create simple representations of events, people and objects, another area of Expressive Arts and Design. Working with the theme of the jungle, pupils could create their own story for the elephants or select a different animal from the jungle and create their own sequence of events. This will also develop their learning in literacy as they will be encouraged to use vocabulary and forms of speech that is influenced by their experiences of books, along with exploring the structure of books and creating their own characters and plot. By creating the resources needed for the book, pupils’ will also develop their understanding of colour, texture and materials and how they can be manipulated to create the desired effect, extending their learning in the creative expressive arts.

 

Final thoughts

Creating this digital resource has been one of my favourite tasks for this module. I really enjoyed brushing off my artistic skills (what little I have) and creating the background, a picture I have now displayed proudly on my fridge at home! Equally, I enjoyed bringing together the storyline for our props and background and admiring the finishing product when it was all brought together. The Doodlecast Pro app was fairly straightforward to use and I could see how effective it would be in the classroom. Harnessing imagination and creativity is an important objective for any teacher, with any age group. By encouraging pupils to create their own stories, they are able to explore their ideas and take pride in their work. I will definitely be looking for opportunities to use this activity in my next placement!

Art Directive Task

After our first art session, we were asked to select an artist and, using their work, demonstrate a range of ways in which learning through the creative expressive arts and digital technologies can be united.

For this task I have chosen to focus on the work of British sculptor, Antony Gormley, who is most famously known for creating the ‘Angel of the North’. I have selected his piece ‘Field for the British Isles, 1993’ (pictured below) to show how art and digital technologies can be brought together.

With this piece, Antony Gormley stated that he was inspired to ‘make something as direct as possible with clay; the earth’. Gormley noted that he:

‘wanted to work with people and to make a work about our collective future and our responsibility for it. I wanted the art to look back at us, its makers (and later viewers), as if we were responsible – responsible for the world that it [FIELD] and we were in.’

This piece has been recreated in different forms five times throughout the world.

Amazon Field, 1992
European Field, 1993
Asian Field, 2003

I have selected this piece because I believe that it represents community, a very important subject in any school. This work can be recreated in the classroom in a number of different ways. Pupils can explore the concepts of community, the various communities that they are part of and what it means to be a member of a community. This could form part of a cross-curricular project over a half term at school or it could also be made into a whole school project. The idea of the individual can also be explored. Antony Gormley’s piece is complied of two hundred thousand ‘body-surrogates’, many of them made by individuals to represent themselves. Pupils can explore the role that they play within the classroom, their strengths and what they bring to the overall dynamics. The body and its proportions could also be studied in detail.

In regards to how Antony Gormley’s piece could be used to merge learning in the creative expressive arts and digital technologies, pupils could explore the ways that art can be accessed by the ‘viewer’. The ‘Field for the British Isles, 1993’ can only be viewed through one threshold, thus affecting the relationship between the viewer and the artwork. It is important to teach pupils about how others access our artwork and how the way we view things affects our opinion on it. This concept can be explored in the classroom. The first way this can be done is through creating ‘porthole pictures’.

This is based on the idea of being on a ship and having only a porthole to see out of. Pupils’ have to capture what they can see out of the porthole. They could be given a porthole template to go around the classroom with and then draw or paint what they see. Equally they could repeat this idea with a famous painting or picture, placing the porthole randomly on it and then capturing what appears within it. Furthermore, they could be given a scenario (for example space) and use their imaginations to create a picture that they would see if they were looking out of that porthole. In doing this, pupils can explore the role of the ‘viewer’, the effect that not having a full view can have and why Anthony Gormley arranged his art this way. A digital element can be added by using the porthole app for the iPad to capture view points. Pupils can take pictures of what they see and then use this to create their work.

My view: I selected this idea because it allows pupils to explore viewpoints in an accessible way. Pupils should be encouraged to think about the way that their work is viewed. By using the porthole app on the iPad, capturing a view point can be made simpler.

In addition to this, instead of making clay models to represent each individual student in the class or school, pupils could capture pictures of themselves on digital cameras, iPads or webcams. These pictures could then be made into a collage displayed on a board as a representation of Antony Gormley’s work. The pictures could also be adapted or manipulated using software on a computer to add an extra dimension or another level of techniques when working with the creative expressive arts and digital technologies.

My view: This idea allows for learning as pupils can explore their creative side with the use of digital technologies. Also, pupils can explore the concept of the individual and their role in the community, an idea that I discussed above.

Also, pupils could turn the recreation of the ‘Field of the British Isles’ into a video to document their work. There is a large amount of resources available on the internet and on the iPad that can facilitate movie making, for example iMovie is available on the iPad for £2.99. Using this app, the process of creating art can be captured from the beginning stages to the point that it is ready for exhibition. Pupils can record themselves learning about Anthony Gormley’s work and then making their own clay models to go on display. In doing this, they will also be encouraged to talk about the technical processes involved in creating the clay models, ensuring that they are learning about the creative expressive arts as well.

My view: With the iMovie app pupils learning is cemented as they are encouraged to think about the processes involved in making art. In making their video they will be able to use technical language involved when working with clay and they will also have a form of documentation for their hard work over a number of lessons.

Finally, the creative expressive arts and digital technologies can be united through this piece by recreating a similar task that we given during our art session. As I had previously noted in the blog post about our first art session, (found here), we took a famous painting and created the sounds that we thought represented that picture and recorded the sounds using our smart phones and iPads. A similar lesson could be undertaken with the ‘Field of the British Isles, 1993’. Pupils can discuss what sounds they think represent the picture and, as a class, a recording can be taken of their ideas. Personally, I believe that you would hear a large amount of talk in various accents and dialects across the country. This could also be broken into a smaller project by creating an area within the classroom and placing multiples pieces of Anthony Gormley’s work in it, along with a recording machine or iPad. This will allow pupils to create the sounds of the pictures independently. The recordings could then be brought together to create a collage of clips and other pupils could guess which picture the recording represented.

My view: I really enjoyed this task when given it during our art session. I thought that it was interesting and new way of exploring an artist, bringing their work to life. It is for this reasons that I have selected this idea for ‘Field of the British Isles, 1993’ as it will allow pupils to use their imagination to create what it might be saying. Pupils will also enjoy recording their work and listening back to it. It allows for learning as an artist’s work can be explored on another dimension and digital technology can be used to capture it.

Final thoughts

There are many ways that an artist’s work can provide inspiration for lessons. These lessons can involve the merging of the creative expressive arts with digital technologies that make learning imaginative and accessible. This is a concept that I would like to explore in further detail on my next placement. I hope to have the opportunity to teach an art lesson where I can also use digital technology to enhance pupil’s learning, perhaps even putting the ideas above into action.

References

Anthony Gormley Field, 1989-2003. Available from: http://www.antonygormley.com/sculpture/item-view/id/245 [Accessed 3rd January, 2014]

 

ICT Session Two

During our second ICT session we explored the ways that ICT could be taught creatively. The National Curriculum (2014) for computing in Key Stage One states that pupils should be taught to:

·       *  understand what algorithms are; how they are implemented as programs on digital devices; and that programs execute by following precise and unambiguous instructions

·       *  create and debug simple programs

·        * use logical reasoning to predict the behaviour of simple programs

·        * use technology purposefully to create, organise, store, manipulate and retrieve digital content

·        * use technology safely and respectfully, keeping personal information private; know where to go for help and support when they have concerns about material on the internet

·       *  recognise common uses of information technology beyond school

There is a wide range of resources available to teachers that can assist them in teaching programming in the classroom. One of the resources that we looked at during our ICT session was a programming site called ‘Purple Mash’. This site has a large range of simple games that pupil’s can programme. They can begin by changing simple elements of the game and then, as they become more skilled at programming, move on to more complex tasks. My fellow group members, Molly and Isabel, and I, looked at the traditional ‘snake game’, where a snake is manoeuvred around an obstacle course eating up food and avoiding dangers.

Individually, we all adapted the game to our own vision. I created a game involving a worm on the hunt for strawberries, who had to avoid the trees and baskets as he went. A video of me playing my game can be found here.

One of my group members had created a game based on healthy eating. For their game, a caterpillar had to move around the obstacle course eating the right or ‘healthy food’ and avoiding the wrong or ‘unhealthy food’. A video of their game can also be found here. We discussed how we could use this programme in the classroom when having a ‘healthy eating’ themed week. Children can be taught to recognise healthy and unhealthy foods through interacting with this game.  

After be given time to explore the site, were asked to consider how we would teach computing in Key Stage One. In the classroom, ICT is taught in three different ways. The first is through unplugged activities which involves learning about computational thinking away from the computer (Caldwell, 2013). Through conducting sorting activities and thinking about the processes involved in completing an action, pupils are introduced to systematic thinking. Further examples of unplugged activities include exploring technology and the ways that certain objects can control others such as remote controls. Pupils can also control their friends and give them instructions to do certain things. This all develops pupils’ awareness of computers and instructional programming.

The next way of teaching ICT is through plugged activities, which involves teaching using a computer. By completing simple programmes or games, pupils develop their ICT skills. From this they can move on to programming simple games themselves. Purple Mash is a useful website for this as it has large amount of programmes that pupil’s can change small details off to create their own games.

Finally, pupils learn about ICT through real world activities. Many researches across a wide range of curriculum areas have acknowledged the importance of setting pupils tasks that are relevant to the wider world (Cotton, 2013). This helps to cement pupils learning and gives it a purpose. In giving pupils real world problems to solve using ICT their learning in the subject will be extended.

When creating our activity we explored how we could incorporate this into a serious of ICT lessons using various unplugged, plugged and real world activities. For the unplugged activities we discussed how pupils’ could begin with simple tasks such as making mazes, using blocks or Lego. In doing this, pupils’ will be encouraged to think about mazes, how they need to be set and the processes involved in working their way through them. This can then be extended in PE lessons or during outdoor play, where pupils can create a maze or obstacle course, and using positional language they can guide their friend around the maze. Pupil’s will be able to think about the processes involved in this task and can then take this thinking to the computer. During the plugged activity, pupils’ will create their own maze for the snake to move around. They will consider certain aspects in the set up of game as discussed above. Finally, for the real world activity, pupils’ could be asked to create a game for pupils’ in another class to complete. This will give their work a clear purpose and help to encourage and cement learning.

This ICT session was highly informative. I came away from it with a better understanding of what teaching computing in Key Stage One involves, along with gaining some useful ideas about how to teach it using a creative and engaging approach. Before this session, I must admit that I rather small-mindedly thought that ICT in the primary school involved making pictures using ‘paint’ and learning to operate Google. How wrong I was! I also learnt that computing involved more than just learning to use a computer. It is about thinking systematically and encouraging pupil’s to solve problems. I will now look at computing with new eyes and a heightened excitement to teach it.

 References

·        *  Cotton, T. (2013) Understanding and Teaching Primary Mathematics, Second Edition. United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited 2013.

 

Music Session Two

During our second music session we explored the various ways that technology could be used for teaching. In particular, we looked at useful apps on the iPad that would excite pupils learning, taking the basic principles of music and reformulating them into entertaining and interesting lessons. One of the apps that we looked at was ‘Drum Kit’. For this we investigated the ways that we could teach children to read music using picture cards and that app. We were given a strip of Velcro and various cards with pictures of the different drums from the app on, and then working in a group, we created a drumming sequence and performed it to the class. Below is the link to a video of the sequence that we created.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxqnYHsXLO8

The Drum Kit App is an inventive way of teaching children to read music. Many practitioners believe that pupils need to be able to read music the traditional way (a score of notes), in order to be able to play music but this is not the case. By repeating what they see on the Velcro strip, pupils are developing their musical skills and are beginning to decode music.

In addition to this, we also looked at how we could create a piece of music based on an object or an event from the wider world. We were given the task of creating the sounds of a train in a group. Using an app which recreated the noises of a steam train, we noted key features such as the slow start of the wheels and the tooting of the horn, and from this we composed of our own assemble of a steam train. Along with performing this in front of the class, we also recorded this on the iPad, and I have included the link to the recording here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvNarofL5HQ

This task was very similar to one that we were set in our art session, where we were given a famous painting and had to recreate the sounds that we thought represented the picture. More details of this task can be found here. This way of teaching allows pupils to explore an object that may, or may not be familiar with. They can let their imagination run wild in the role play and using the iPad they can record their creation. This documentation of their work can then be shared with the parents, other teachers or kept for the pupils to look over and take pride in.

I have to admit, that before taking this module in multi-sensory learning, I was sceptical when it comes to the use of iPads in the classroom. Whilst I could see the usefulness and potential that they have for learning, I also believed that they could reduce pupils’ ability to undertake in imaginative play. You will always have that one child that is drawn to the iPad and is reluctant to take part in any other play, equally they can be a source of argument as to whose turn it is and becoming too reliant on them as a teacher can leave you in a difficult position should they break or not be left on charged one day. Though I would still argue that these are critical points to remember, having explored that various ways that the iPads can be used during this session and in others, I have seen their effectiveness in exciting and aiding learning. They are also useful ways of documenting pupils learning, particularly in an early years setting in which observations are key in assessing pupils learning.

In today’s classrooms, iPads are becoming an increasingly more central feature. Schools are acknowledging the technological world that we now live and ensuring that pupils are given early access to computers and interactive technology to ensure that they are educated in how to use them effectively. Apps on the iPad can facilitate learning, adding an extra element to teaching, particularly in the early years when children are choosing what they would like to do. With the wide range of apps out their today, almost every topic is covered. There is also a large range of free resources, meaning that acquiring apps need not be an expensive process. Take the ‘soundOscope’ App for example, this is a free app which allows you to record and manipulate your voice, such as changing its speed, volume and adding echo. It is possible to pay for additional features; however, I would deem this an unnecessary cost. The app is sufficient as it is and pupils will have hours of enjoyment recording and manipulating their voice and the voices of others in their classroom and possibly around the school.

I have included a list of apps that you may find useful in your own classrooms. This list was given to me by the University of Northampton and is not my own. It includes a mixture of free apps and apps that you will need to pay for.

List of useful Apps:

·         Garage Band

          Toca Band

·         Chromatone

·         Classical Music 1

·         Drum Kit

·         Finger Drums

·         Music Cubes

·         Music Keys

·         Playpad

·         Simply Kids Instrument

·         Sound Touch Lite

·         Tabletop

·         VidRhythm

·         Virtuoso – Piano

·         Simon Says

·         Kids Song

·         Music Sparkles

·         Jelly Band

·         Smule – Magic Piano

·         Therimax

·         Draw a Tune

·         Carnival of the Animals

·         Sound Prism

·         Baby Instruments

·         Kids Keys

Music or other subjects need no longer be taught in traditional mundane ways. By bringing them up to date using various apps, learning can become multisensory and interactive.

Music Directive Task

After our music session, we were set a directive task of composing our own Early Years song to a familiar tune. As a group, we decided to compose a song to the tune of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’. The idea behind the song was to create a tune that could be sung at the end of each lesson before the pupils were dismissed, signalling the end of the day.  We wanted the children to participate by suggesting a way that they could get home. We all contributed lyrics and reworked the song until we came up with an appropriate composition.

Listed below are the lyrics to our tune:

Going Home Song (Tune: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)

We’ve had such a wonderful day,

Learning lots, while we play.

Grab your coats, grab your bags.

It’s time for home, don’t be sad.

How are we getting home today?

Tell us [insert name here],

[Pause for pupil to decide which form of transport they will use to get home]

Let’s be on our way.

To accompany the song, we used a mixture of percussion instruments including shakers, bells, rattles and other instruments, though it could be sung acapella. Below is a video of our composition, which includes examples of substituted versus, and actions which the children can join in with.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rBpFBS6Uog&feature=youtu.be

As seen in the recording of our song, there are numerous ways that it can be extended. We created two variations for the line ‘It’s time for home, don’t be sad’, which were ‘It’s time for home, aren’t we glad?’ and ‘It’s time for home, it’s been fab!’ We also allowed children to insert their own form of transport into the song; this could be the way that they usually get home (e.g. bus or car) or a more inventive method (e.g. boat or elephant).

In addition to this, we created actions that could be used during the song. These can be taught to the children and used to accompany it instead of percussion instruments, or it could involve mixture of instruments and actions. This would be particularly effective in schools were there wasn’t enough instruments for every child to have their own. By using actions alongside the composition, children still have something to do with their hands and won’t be distracted.  Were possible we tried to incorporate actions that involved cross body movements. As I discussed in my previous post on the music session, it is important to involve brain gym activities were possible. By encouraging cross body movements, we are waking the brain up and developing its capabilities.

Below are the lyrics to our songs with a description of the actions involved:

We’ve had such a wonderful day,

Cross arms over body and round in a welcoming action, cross arms over body and round to represent the sunshine

Learning lots, while we play.

Point to head in a thinking action, bang fists on top of each to represent building something

Grab your coats, grab your bags.

Pretend to put on a coat, pretend to throw your bag over your shoulder

It’s time for home, don’t be sad.

Point to watch then make a house sign with hands, point both fingers to the beat, then point to eyes

How are we getting home today?

Place arms in either side of you in a questioning position

Tell us [insert name here],

Point to person

[Pause for pupil to decide which form of transport they will use to get home]

Let’s be on our way.

Swish arms across body to emphasis movement

Then imitate that form of transport e.g. if car, pretend to be car

Links to Early Years Curriculum

The song makes links across the Early Years curriculum as it can be used to encourage development in the Expressive Arts. When using the percussion instruments, pupils can explore different sounds that they make. Also by asking the pupils to imitate a form of transport, pupils are creating movement in response to music. Furthermore, using actions encourages physical development by working on pupils gross motor skills. Pupils are also encouraged to listen to each other developing their communication skills. Finally, it encourages personal, social and emotional development by getting children to talk in front of one another, and by using a mixture of instruments and actions in the same group, children are encouraged to share and take turns.

It was a lot of fun creating our own song, and I look forward to using it in my own classroom in the future.

Ellen

Art Session

During our first art session we focused on the different stimulus that you can give children to create art. Our first task was to pick any object in the room and think about why it is art. We then came together as a class and created a sculpture using the various pieces that everyone had picked. We discussed how children would enjoy sharing and talking about their object and using their imagination to create new pieces. Art is far more than just a drawing or a painting and it is our responsibility, as teachers, to show children this.

Our next activity was to create our own drawing based on a story given to us by the teacher. Anna asked us to draw certain things, using as many different types of drawing materials as we could. At the end we had to create a story based around the picture we had drawn under her guidance.

Afterwards we looked at ways to create lines that involved more creative methods. Our group choose to focus on a spiral and we created one large spiral using different types of material. We started off with paper and then moved on to string; fabric; post it notes; stamps; pipe cleaners; paint and finger prints, using anything and everything we could find. I found this particular part of the session very inspiring, as before this activity, I would most likely have given children a sheet with different types of lines that they could have copied on, but now I will most definitely be trying to find a way to incorporate this more inspiring method into a future lessons.

Creating our spiral
Our Spiral

After exploring lines, we looked at creating a picture with paint using stimulus other than our hands or paint brushes. We were given a set of different sized balls that we could cover in paint and then roll around the page. Again, this is a very insightful way of creating art with children that didn’t involve conventional methods. It can help children explore their creativity without boundaries and realise that art can come from all sorts of apparatus not just a pencil or paint brush. It also encouraged us to let our messy side out. Giving a child paint and letting them do what they want with it can be a daunting task for any practitioner, but there are times when children should have the freedom to explore different materials and create what they want to create.

 After a short break, we came back to explore the use of I.C.T in art. We were given iPads and we had to think of a word related to art and then go around the classroom and take pictures of different objects that represented a particular letter from that word. We discussed all the various uses of technology in art and how we could use them in our own lessons. Our final task of the day was to recreate a famous picture using sound. We were given Damien Hirst’s ‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living’. We used objects on our table to recreate the sounds that we thought this picture would make.

Overall, this was a highly insightful art lesson. For me personally, art is a subject that I shy away from, as I don’t consider myself to be naturally artistic. The lesson with Anna encouraged me to think outside the box of what I consider to be art and come up with interesting ways for the children to access the subject. One of the things that Anna discussed was how certain artists are overused in primary schools when there isn’t a curriculum which says what types of artists we need to use. We can subject children to as many appropriate artists as we would like and enable them to create more than the standard imitation of sunflowers that every class does. We can also install a pride in our work by inviting parents to expeditions of the pictures we have created. This will develop children’s confidence in art and make it accessible to all not just those that enjoy drawing. As a direct result of this session, I have set myself a target to plan and initiate at least one art session in either my first or second placement. Let’s hope I can achieve it!

Ellen.

 

Music Session

Singing

In the first half of the music session, we explored different songs that could be used when introducing topics. We began with a welcome and warm-up song, and then looked out various ones that we could use in communication, language and literacy. We discussed how we should incorporate actions into our songs, particularly ones that encourage children to cross over their body, so we were incorporating ‘brain gym’ into our singing. (More information on ‘brain gym’can be found by clicking on the link.) We were set group tasks of creating our own songs of well known stories and used puppets to introduce important characters.

Also, using the story of Cinderella, we were split into groups and recreated the sounds that we expected to hear for a particular scene using musical instruments, such as, the chiming of the clock at midnight or the cheering of the crowd and bells when they finally married. The sessions opened our eyes to the various ways that music could be used to make learning more exciting across the curriculum. We sang songs that praised the children; that helped their learning in maths; that were in different languages, developing their understanding of the wider world, and songs which encouraged children to think about how they were moving. It provided food for thought about the effectiveness of music in the Early Years.

Example of the different songs being used.

Musical Instruments

In the second half, we looked at using musical instruments. We discussed how some education settings might not have the funding to buy in musical instruments and so looked at the various ways that we could create ones ourselves, using everyday items. Sue Nicholls, our music course leader, is well acclaimed in her field for creating musical instruments from recycled objects and has put together tutorials on how to make a whole range of resources. You can access these tutorials by clicking on this link. Once again, we were split into groups to explore these instruments and created songs using them. I have included some pictures of the various instruments that Sue has made.

Drums
Various Instruments
Shakers

All of the materials used were easily accessible and cost effective. I found this particular part of the session very inspiring and hope to set my hand at making a few as the course progresses.

After this, we turned to using more traditional forms of musical instruments. We listened to a piece of baroque music and then split into groups to recreate our own versions. Below is the link to the recording of our group’s ensemble.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9ogHx_kHAE

For me personally, the music session has been the most enjoyable and inspiring lesson that we have had so far. I really enjoyed making the cross curricular links, seeing what could be achieved using only a bottle top and some string, and creating our own songs. From my own experience in the classroom, I have seen the powerful effect that music has over children in Early Years settings, and how inclusive it is of EAL and SEN children as well. I hope that when I eventually have my own classroom, that it will be full of music, life and enjoyment, just like this session was.

If you would like more information on how to use music in the classroom, I recommend using the Sound Connections website, as it’s very informative, with great resources and ideas available on it.

Selection of music books that you can use in the classroom.

Ellen.

Outdoor Activity Session Continued

In the post below, you can find details about the story that we created during our first outdoor session using objects that had been set out for us.

During this session, we also undertook a lesson in risk assessment and art.

Risk Assessment

In order to understand the importance of completing risk assessments before taking children outside, we were set the task of exploring the area we were going to work in and looked for potential hazards. I captured some of these risks in the pictures below:

Mushrooms
Fallen tree
Brick
Litter
Discarded Metal
Stick coming out the ground

In doing this, I was able to fully examine the risk involved in using that particular area, but I was also able to see, that with clear boundaries and guidelines, this could be an enjoyable space to learn in. Teachers shouldn’t be put off using an outdoor space just because it has potential hazards. A change in scenery can be one of the most effective ways of getting children to learn. It also helps them to explore their environment; which is an important part of the Early Years Foundation Curriculum.

Art

After we had finished making up our story, we looked at the way that art could be used in outdoor settings. As a class we created a story about an evil King, who needed offerings from his subjects to keep him happy. Our teacher asked us to find an object from the woods and bring into the middle for the imaginary king; I picked a pinecone. We collected the objects together and saw the wide range of resources and materials that we could get from the woods.

Our Offering to The Evil King

We were then asked to create clothing items using only natural materials. We created a coat using a fern tree and a crown using leaves woven together. This showed me that we didn’t necessarily have to bring large amount of equipment or resources with us, instead we could use a wide range of objects from the setting itself.  This activity could be extended by taking the objects back to the classroom and working with them there to create pictures, paintings and perhaps even collages of natural materials. It could also open discussion on materials that we would expect to find in other natural settings, such as the beach.

Overall, this session helped to broaden my mind on the usefulness of outdoor spaces and the potential that it has for cross-curricular learning.

Ellen.

Outdoor Activity Session

During our first outdoor session in the woods, we were set the challenge of creating our own story using the various objects that had been scattered around and our imaginations. Working with my partner, we came up with a story of ‘Timmy’s Teatime Adventure’. Our tale was based around a little boy named ‘Timmy’, who was on his way to grandma’s house for tea one day when something magical happened.  We took pictures as we moved around the setting. Here is the story that we created:

Timmy’s Teatime Adventure

 

Grandma’s House

 

Our story begins on one fine day, with a little boy named Timmy, who was on his way to have tea at his grandma’s house. Grandma lived in a little cottage, deep in the woods. It was quite a long walk to get there. As he walked Timmy, liked to climb through the all the trees. Whilst Timmy was climbing through one tree he noticed something strange up ahead.

 

The Gateway

Timmy looked very closely. In the distance he could see another little boy, with brown hair just like Timmy’s, wearing a blue stripped top just like Timmy’s. Timmy tried to walk closer to the little boy but as he did he notice that the boy seemed to disappear behind the tree. Timmy ran towards the tree. When he got there he looked through and he could see the little boy up ahead again, also looking through a tree. Timmy climbed through, ready to run towards him, but as he did, the boy disappeared behind the tree again. Timmy just couldn’t seem to get any closer to the little boy.

Timmy decided to carry on walking towards grandma’s house. As he walked through the woods, he noticed that every time he got past a certain point, he was back at same tree again. No matter how long he walked for, he always ended up by the same tree.

The Mirror Man

 

‘What’s going on?’ said Timmy.

 

Eventually, Timmy came across another man. He was wearing different clothes, like he was from somewhere abroad and had a funny hat on.

 

‘Excuse me sir!’ said Timmy. ‘I’m trying to find my grandma’s house but I think I’m lost, can you help me?’

 

‘eert eht ghuorht kcab og’ replied the man.

 

‘I’m sorry’ said Timmy. ‘I don’t understand’.

 

‘eert eht ghuorht kcab og’ repeated the man.

 

Timmy was very confused but what he didn’t know was that he was in Mirror Land, and this was a mirror man and he was speaking in opposite language, like you do in Mirror Land.

 

Trying trees.

Timmy was starting to feel very sad now so he decided to try some different. He tried climbing through all the trees to see if he could get back on the path to Grandma’s. Timmy tried one tree, and then another, and then another. Timmy felt like it had tried all the trees in the woods! And then, quite by accident, Timmy was back on the path to Grandma’s again. Timmy ran up the path, ran to Grandma’s door and gave it a big knock.

 

Grandma

‘Where have you been Timmy?’ asked Grandma answering the door. ‘You’ve not been climbing through all the trees again have you?’

 

‘Grandma! Grandma! You will never believe the adventure I’ve just had’ said Timmy really fast.

 

‘Come on in and have some tea and you can tell me all about it’ said Grandma, closing the door to her cottage behind her.

 

The End.

My thoughts

This was a really enjoyable activity, it was exciting moving through the woods, seeking out the next object that would form part of our story, and letting our imaginations run away with us. I can see how this would be a very enjoyable lesson for young children. It is well known that changes in scenery and routine can help children to focus their attention. By doing an outdoor lesson with them multiple times a term, learning will become more engaging and fun for all.

It is necessary to complete a risk check first though and this should be done a few days before the children are due to go out and on the day itself before they arrive. It is also important to set clear boundaries so the activity can be enjoyed by all.  Furthermore, you must ensure that you have prepared properly, this includes having all your required resources with you so as to not to cause a disruption to learning and making sure that children (and adults) are dressed appropriately for the weather. Practitioners can take children out no matter what the weather conditions, as long as the children are dressed sufficiently it won’t dampen their experience. I learnt this lesson the hard way as I was not wearing suitable clothing for a rainy day in the woods. Nevertheless, it was still enjoyable and I realised that had I have worn the correct shoes and a waterproof jacket, I would have been less conscious of the rain and thrown myself into the experience more.

Outdoor spaces provide an opportunity for children to explore and discover more about the world they live in. They can also be used to encourage learning in other areas rather than just nature. I would never have thought of using an outdoor space for children to create stories and yet it was more inspiring then any classroom would have been. The morning’s session really opened my eyes to the importance and the value that outside activities can have on children’s learning.

Ellen.