Session 1: Presentation Tools and Digital Storytelling

After having Ellie as our lecturer last year, Helen is back and will be taking us for our ICT sessions this year…

Session 1 was focused on Presentation Tools and Digital Storytelling.

Aims of the session:

  • To look at the role of presentation software and digital storytelling within the Early Years
  • To explore different techniques relating to these 2 elements
  • To create our own resources and share them with our peers

Overview of the session:

Helen began by introducing us to our final ICT module and what we would be covering.

We began by sharing our thoughts of the importance of storytelling within the Early Years. Helen posed the question, ‘What do you think are benefits of using storytelling within the classroom?

My own thoughts:

Sessions within University, across several different areas have highlighted to us the importance of the role of storyelling. It provides children with a valuable way to develop creativity and imagination and acts as a form of expression.

It is also important to provide children with opportunities to be told, and for them to tell stories, rather than purely listening to stories being read to them. Narratives of this form can help develop children’s communication and language skills, as well the ability to develop and share their own ideas and thoughts.

Points from the group discussion:

  • Storytelling helps children to be imaginative, as they are able to explore and create their own narratives
  • Storytelling can be implemented across the curriculum, linking to many subject areas
  • Storytelling can be differentiated easily – it can be pitched at different levels and different learning opportunities can be planned for, depending on the child’s needs
  • Storytelling can act as a form of escapism for children – they can find their voice through narratives
  • Storytelling is an accessible form of literacy for all children, which promotes inclusive practice

Helen then went on to show us a range of software and apps on the iPads that can be used for digital Storytelling. These included software that we had previously seen, such as Purple Mash, and new sites such as The Night Zoo Keeper.

After the initial discussion, we went away to explore the new resources…

One of the first things that I decided to look at was a site called Communication 4 All which has templates for making stories, using Microsoft PowerPoint.

I downloaded the ‘On the Farm’ template and made my own story for young children. I decided to stick to a simple theme of basic counting, colours and names.

To the left is a snapshot taken from the Communication 4 All site. It is an example of one of the templates given. Children are provided with a range of characters, objects and details for the scenary. The background image is supplied, which remains constant throughout the story. Children are free to add their own text in the box at the top.

I think that after modelling and demonstration from a teacher, this site would be effective for use within the early years. To add a character or object and resize it, the child would make a simple click and drag movement. To add text, the child would click in the text box and type. I feel that a basic lesson in using Microsoft PowerPoint would be beneficial, as this would help children to understand how to move from slide to slide and to view their story as a presentation.

Whilst I feel that this software could be effective for storytelling in a basic form, I also found that there is a limited number of templates. This could lead to a restriction of children’s ideas and creativity. One way of overcoming this would be to teach children to use Microsoft PowerPoint, allowing them to insert pictures and create their own backgrounds – I feel that this would be something aimed at children of an older age, as it would require them to follow a longer, more complex set of instructions and would need more intense modelling.

(Image courtesy of Communication 4 All)

Rebecca and I then moved onto a paired task which was to create a simple story for young children. We had both taken an interest in The Night Zoo Keeper app and website, that Helen showed us. The software is accessible in 2 forms – one as a website and the other in app form.

I began looking at the website, creating my own story for young children. Rebecca followed the same route, basing her story on a lost animal. In order to keep to our task, we decided to create 2 stories that would interlink for children – I also followed Rebecca’s theme, creating a character that would need help finding a solution to the problem. I left my story open-ended, giving children an opportunity to finish the story with their own solutions.

I found the site easy to use and enjoyed being able to create my own character. This option allows children to be creative and think of their own character. It would also be a good tool to use in the classroom when children have written their own stories, allowing them to present them in a digital format. A downside to the website, in my opinion, was how once the story text is displayed, it covers the background story image. This does not allow the viewer to see both simultaneously, detracting from the story setting.

Rebecca decided to explore the software in app form. She said that she found the experience to be much more enjoyable and interactive, instantly making the experience more enagaging and stimulating for the child. Rebecca stated that there were instructions to follow for creating a story; this would be beneficial for children who are being introduced to storytelling, providing them with a simple introduction. This would also allow children to become familiar with the software and control of the touch screen element. To the right is a snapshot of the app.

(Image courtesy of Apple)

After spending the session researching different presentation tools and software for digital storytelling, I feel that I have gained a more secure understanding of what software is available and how some of these approaches can be used within an early years environment. I think that with young children in particular, especially within a Reception class, there would need to be some time spent modelling and demonstrating how to use such software. At a young age, children are often learning how to navigate technical equipment and would need time to be able to understand and follow more complex instructions. Despite this, apps such as The Night Zoo Keeper (referred to an iPad as Drawing Torch) provide children with simple instructions to follow, helping to develop their confidence in navigating the software.

Some of the software and apps that I looked at within the session, I feel, would be a fantastic addition to a storytelling project within a classroom. Not only can children begin to develop their competence in manipulating and using software, such software enables children to use their imagination and be creative. The use of this form of technology would provide all children with some form of engagement in the topic, ranging from individual, group and whole class work. As I have seen before on practice, when children are given the opportunity to use ICT and share it with their peers, a sense of wellbeing and pride is developing, therefore helping children to feel motivated and enthused in their learning.

After the session, Chloe and I went away and developed a resource together, related to digital story telling, designed for the early years.

We decided to work with a Seaside theme, providing children with prompts for storytelling. Our resource was designed on Microsoft PowerPoint and was simple to create. This is something that could be done both by the teacher, or child. See our resource here.

Links to my work:

My Farm Story

Below is the PowerPoint that Helen provided:

ICT Session One PowerPoint Presentation

2 thoughts on “Session 1: Presentation Tools and Digital Storytelling

  1. Pingback: Session 1: Further Reading and Browsing… | ICT in the Early Years: Year 3

  2. Pingback: Session 4: Digital Technology across the Curriculum | ICT in the Early Years: Year 3

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