Emily's Education Blog

A diary as I embark on my ITT journey…

Emily's Education Blog

ICT Session 3: Exploring Media!

April 24, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

This session we learnt about ways we could incorporate sound with images and we explored the use of animation and video.  With the digital world constantly developing it is important for us as practitioners to stay in the loop and demonstrate the wonderful ways that technology can be used to support learning.

We talked about many online resources and others that are apps which can be used on tablets. These include apps where children can make movies:

iMovie and Moviemaker.

Also apps where sound can be added to images such as:

Mad Lips and Morpho.










These are apps which are very engaging to use. Children can develop on their speaking and listening skills too by making up speech to record and add to these apps.

Purplemash is a great resource to use in the classroom, especially the ‘creative tools’ tab where children can create their own stories. They can select images to use, and edit these using drawing tools or add text. This builds on children’s EAD and literacy development for the EYFS, (English for the National Curriculum.)

purple mash






Some extra information on Purplemash can be found here.

The app that most appealed to me was the Pixntell app. This gives users the opportunity to add pictures, edit these and add sound. Children could take photos on tablets, add these to the app, add text and then sound to show their story. They could then share these with their peers giving them a great audience to appreciate their work. This is good for children to use their imaginations and express themselves.  Another use of this app could be for the teacher to use it. As a teacher, I could use this app myself to prepare a personal video for the class which would be particularly relevant to a topic. On the other hand parents could email photographs of children to the class teacher for children  to make a personal story from familiar family photos for example. I feel like this would be great for an ‘about me ‘story’ that the children could share with the class.


This video below is a short story I made using the app in just a few minutes. Although the content of the story is not the best, it just demonstrates how the app can be used in just a short amount of time. I used personal pictures from a zoo trip to make the ebook and then added the text. I then added a voice over to include another sense for the audience to use. This would appeal to learners of different styles (visual, auditory, reading style learners.)


Not only does it engage children but it is cross curricular and can support learning in so many ways. It can support the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage, Early years 2012) by supporting literacy through the use of digital literacy (which you can see more about in my previous ICT post) and story making/writing. It can also support children with the  Understanding The World (UTW) by learning about digital technologies and Expressive Arts and Design by encouraging children to use their creativity and imagination to create stories as well as supporting the national curriculum by programming.

Whittingham et al (2013) advocate the use of apps and technology as it helps children aid their play. An example of a type of play it could aid is role play. Children could for instance engage in role play/drama, whilst a peer records it, they can then add text to their pictures to explain their story. Alternatively children could record their progress of building a tower by photographing it and then add captions to it. This is therefore something that I will be using in my future practice as there are many areas of development that it affects and it is something I feel children would engage really well with. Simkins (2002) state that multimedia is a fantastic tool for communication. This is because it is intended for communication with an audience. However, bearing this in mind, it should be considered by the teacher what rich learning will take place for this use. Although children are communicating with an audience, will there be learning that takes place? Therefore it should be considered what methods of multimedia that the teacher would want the class to use in order to meet the learning intended.


Simkins, M. (2002) Increasing Student Learning through Multimedia Projects. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Whittingham, J., Luffman, S., Rickman, W. and Viedmaier, C. (2013) Technological Tools for the Literacy Classroom. United States: Idea group.


Music Session 2: Cross-curricular music!

April 23, 2014 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

I learnt a lot from this session on the use of music in the classroom which can be used with ICT (or understanding the world) and Personal, Social, Emotional and Development. (Early Years, 2012). The session began with some ideas on welcome songs that can be used to start the lesson.  I did some research on some other songs. They can be great for developing children’s self-esteem, children may feel shy or anxious to come to school so songs like this can really help.

Here is a song that I found which I feel would be great for children to sing to start a lesson. Different volumes can be used to engage the children further as well as actions which make it more fun. I feel this kind of song will help focus children and get them ready to concentrate and start a lesson.

Welcome song

This is the way we start the day
Start the day, start the day,
This is the way we start the day,
So early in the morning.
First we smile and shake a hand,
Shake a hand, shake a hand,
First we smile and shake a hand,
So early in the morning.
Then we sit down quietly,
Quietly, quietly,
Then we sit down quietly,
So early in the morning.
We listen very carefully,
Carefully, carefully,
We listen very carefully,
So early in the morning.

This is something which I would love to use in my teaching practice in the future as I think it would set a lovely atmosphere in the classroom before the school day.


Music apps

The next part of the session looked at different available music apps which could be used on iPads in the class.

Drum kit: This is an app which shows a drum kit on the iPad and it can make the noises of a drum which can be controlled by the user’s fingers. This kind of app is great for introducing instruments which children may not have the opportunity to play. Most schools do not have every instrument to use as a resource in music and instruments like a drum kit are not always a priority as a resource in schools. This app therefore gives children a good insight into what playing the drums may be like, it’s also good fun.

drum kit

drum ki 2












Children could use the app to play along to music, they could each make their own piece of music, record it and play it back to the class, giving them an audience to appreciate their piece of work.

Here is a clip demonstrating the drum kitt app, which shows an adult using the app.


There are many benefits of using ICT in the Early Years. Becta (2009:2) state that ‘ICT helps pupils learn in music by supporting the development of musical skills, knowledge and understanding. ICT also acts as a tool and a distinctive medium for musical expression.’ Finney and Bernard (2009 ) express that ICT allows children to generate, explore and refine music relatively quickly that are beyond conventional methods. Using ICT in the classroom engages children and there are so many resources available online and on the app store for ios users.


Here is an activity from the BBC which could be used in class. This could be played on an interactive whiteboard with the class. Children hover the mouse over a sound and have to match the sound to the word in the jig-saw. Here is a print-screen showing what it looks like.

This can be found on the following link:










An idea to extend this activity would be to give children instruments to replicate the sounds they heard. Children could be put in groups and each group could have a type of sound to make. So for example a group are to make the sounds of the sea, another to make the sound of the bat and ball and another group to make the sound of  an aeroplane using instruments. Children could guess which sounds they are trying to copy.Alternatively children could use a voice recorder to record noises around the school and then share these with children in the class. Once they have shown their recordings children could try and replicate these noises using musical instruments.

 Train song

A great idea which was put forward in this session, began with being asked to watch the video shown below . During this we were asked to think about how the music made us feel, how it changed, what we thought the music might have represented.

We found that the music is very powerful in this piece and it makes you really question the happenings of the journey .We were then asked in groups to perform a piece of music to reflect a train journey, thinking about the beginning, middle and end of a journey. This got the group thinking and talking to each other. We had to consider each other’s ideas as well as put forward our own, and it involved turn taking, skills which would children would benefit from practicing if doing this activity. It gets children to think about, pitch, pace and volume as well as the affect of the instruments and how they can adjust what they do to make differences in the outcome of the sounds. Here is our version of a train journey using music to reflect this. This is something I would definitely consider to use in the classroom as there are plenty of other powerful music pieces widely available which could be used instead too.




Becta (2009) Primary Music with ICT : A pupil’s entitlementto ICT in Primary Music. [online]. Available at: http://bee-it.co.uk/Guidance%20Docs/Becta%20Files/Schools/Curriculum/Music/02%20ICT%20in%20primary%20music%20A%20pupil’s%20entitlement.pdf. [Accessed: 20th April 2014].


Finney, P., Bernard, J. (2009) Music Education with Digital Technology. London: Continuum International Publishing.


Art Session 3: Expressive Arts and Design

April 22, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

This was a lovely session on how digital literacy can support literacy through expressive arts and design.

A great example of literacy through expressive arts and design was shown to us and it really is just that. This was a very popular Christmas TV advert and it shows how important it is to understand literature through design as it’s all down to interpretation. There is a story within the expressive arts , a story with a specific meaning which  is intended to come across to the viewer. Using images and adding video  and music can really transform images into something special, not just for children but for adults too.


Here is another great animation video that I love. It shows how powerful expressive arts and design added to music and technology can really be to create a moving story.

We decided to make a Christmas scene out of clay, making individual ‘christmassy’ characters. These included snowmen, elves and a Santa Clause.  This was a lot harder than it looked and for me it took a bit of a trial and error. However it was very fun to mould different shapes from the clay and make marks in them. We made a background too using a purple glitter theme, this was to give a cold wintery but warm vibe which sets the atmosphere for the video. We also included monoprints for the trees in the background which were made by cutting out a tree sillohette from paper, painting it and the ink from the paper pressed against the paper and was removed. This could be adapted in the classroom. It would be great for children to come up with their own ideas for what they could use for different prints.They could use different objects found in the classroom, after all it is just a bit of paint which can be cleaned off. This would give children the freedom to explore their surroundings and to use their imaginations. This is something which I would love to use in the classroom.


Swirls were also added as well as glitter to give a ‘snowy sense’.  The purple background was paint which was applied by a roller. This gave the picture a different rough texture to represent the cold air. It was fun for the group and I to work together and explore different matierials to reach a common image we all wanted to achieve. This sort of activity is great to encourage and develop social skills as we had to express our opinions and ideas for the picture as well as listen to others. It is also great for promoting physical development by the use of fine motor skills, especially when moulding and making marks in the clay. We also had to take turns, therefore it is good for speaking and listening as well as PSED in theEarly Years Foundation Stage, Early Education (2012). The images were added to an app called ‘flipagrap’, available on the app store on ios softwares. Then music was applied to set the tone for the video.  Although this isn’t a story in this video, it demonstrates what can be made just from a few images and some music as well as the expressive arts and design with the characters and the background.  It leaves opportunities for children to add to the video to continue the production of this film. Children could add captions to the pictures to strengthen their literacy skills and to give more meaning to the story.

Here is a short video that I made showing the production of our little ‘winter wonderland’ scene.





Another idea to incorporate ICT, Literacy and Expressive Arts and Design is to allow children to take photographs of their story, this could be images of themselves acting out a story through role play for example. Children could then print the photos out, stick them in a book and add captions to their photos to explain their story. Alternatively children could produce a piece of work using something as simple as Microsoft Paint on a computer to create a back ground. Children could make their own puppets using different materials and their peers could take photos of this against their created background. Similarly, children could print off their photographs and add captions to this. Children could even read their stories and this could be read  and recorded and played over the video to make a film.
Further Reading:
Meadows and Leask (2000) explain that visual literacy is  seen everywhere in the world around us, from watching the weather forecast on the television to reading the packaging on a box of cereal.  Digital literacy plays a vital role in being able to encode and decode meanings. It also allows children to be able to express their ideas in order to communicate.  Allowing children to use ICT for  digital literacy gives children this freedom to express themselves.
Sefton-Green and Buckingham (1997) argued against those who believe ICT does not have it’s place in art, as parents may disapprove of the use of ICT as they may think that children spend enough time on computers at home. However, Sefton- Green and Buckingham state that those that are lucky enough to have these opportunities do not always have the chance to complete their work, or if there is enough hard disk space to save the work, then the printer may not work, meaning children do not always get their desired audience to acknowledge their art. Teachers have a great opportunity to give children the tools and opportunities to express themselves and allow their work to be a focus with a range of different audiences, whether it be their peers in their class,  other children in the school, teachers or online viewers over a network.
Early Education (2012) Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). London: Early Education.
Meadows, J. & Leask, M. (2000) Teaching and Learning with ICT in the Primary School. London: Routledge Falmer.
Sefton-Green, J & Buckingham, D. (1998) Digital visions: Children’s creative use of multimedia technologies. In: Sefton- Green, J. (ed) (1998) Digital Diversions. London: UCL Press.




ICT- Session 1: E-Safety!

April 21, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

This was an incredibly informative lesson on E-Safety and how it affects us all.  The session  informed my personal social network practice, as I altered my privacy settings on the social networks that I am joined to.  I feel it is important that I practice e-safety in my personal life also by not accepting ‘friends’ I do not know or accept children or families of the children from schools I may work  in in order to protect myself professionally.

It may be assumed that Early Years children do not use computers as frequently as older children, however I’m sure they will be using it more frequently as time goes on and as technology develops. If the children I’ve met in my school  placements are anything to go by, they are very enthusiastic about any computers of any sort. It it so important for children to be aware that dangers exist. It should be explained to children about the safety precautions that should take place so that this safe practice is consistent throughout their lives.

After this session I actually taught a session on internet safety on placement to a reception/year 1 class. It was very surprising to hear the amount of children that do use computers, some children of course are more confident than others however, they all love to use them. It’s a tough subject to approach as you do not want to scare the children into thinking that all computers and people are evil so it has to be approached right.

In this lesson firstly a discussion about computers was carried out,  children were asked what they use computers for and they were asked to talk with their partner about what the ‘internet’ is. The topic of e-safety was approached by asking children to think about why they need a grown up with them when they go out.  They were then asked ‘why might you need a grown up with you when you are on the internet?’ Children responded with comments such as ‘because you might get lost’, ‘because you might get stuck’,’ because you might need help’. It was then explained to the children that it is the grown ups job to make sure you are looked after and if they see something on their computer that upsets them or it makes them feel sad or unsafe then they should talk to a grown up. This was then followed by an activity whereby children were given a piece of paper which looks like the one below, and they were asked to draw in a picture resembling one that might be similar to the activity they do on the computer. For instance, children drew ‘sonic games’ and  ‘cbeebies’ games on the computer screen. This got children to think about their uses of computers and  these helped support the ‘Keeping Safe’ display in the classroom.

computer activity







Here is a great, humorous video aimed at children which really emphasises the point in finding an adult when seeing something you don’t like on your computer. The video shows a child who is excited about a monkey game on a computer. He gets lured in by a pop-up advertisement which offers a free bunny toy. Of course the child is tempted into this and clicks on the pop-up ad, which then follows numerous other pop-up ads popping up, interrupting his game. The child gets the attention of his father and all is fine in the end. The scenes in this video will be familiar to some children and will highlight how adults can help in situations such as this.





Giant (2013) states that e-safety is significantly important due to the great use of it now we are in the digital age. ICT (Information Communication Technology) is an integral part of school life and is used throughout the curriculum. The BBC (2010) indicate that 80% of 5-7 year olds use the internet and 10% of these parents worry about who their child is talking to online. Experts state that making children aware of the risks from an early age will result in safer practice for children. One of the organisations in the safety campaign – the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) – is one of the many which have supported campaigns designed to help children and teenagers to keep themselves protected from online dangers.

Here is a video promoted by the CEOP also aimed at children in order to warn children about giving out personal information to people online.

CEEOP (2010)  state that some of the victims are very young. Young children get asked questions such as ‘who are you?’ and ‘what school do you go to? and children are vulnerable to unnecessary risks when talking online. Both of these video will be considered to show to my classes  in order to prevent them sharing personal information online and promote talking to adults about computer usage.


What do you think about them? Have you got any e-safety ideas for the classroom?


BBC (2010) Online Safety Push for Five Year olds. [online] Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8499356.stm. [Accessed 21st April 2014].

CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) (2010) CEOP KS1 ‘Lee and Kim’ Cartoon Suitable 5-7 yrs. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nMUbHuffO8. [Accessed 21st April 2014].

Giant, L . (2013) E-safety for the I Generation: Combating the abuse and misuse of technology is schools. London: Jessica Kinsgley Publishers.



Fund raising for the NSPCC. Dress for December!

December 5, 2013 · No Comments · Uncategorized

After coincidentally turning up to university dressed in the same colour, a few of the girls came up with the great idea to continue the colour themed days whilst raising money for charity. Our first day of participation was a green day, and as the days went by and the awareness rose, more and more people started to get involved. It’s all for a good cause, in order to prevent and protect children from abuse. We are taking pictures of our colour co-ordination efforts and here are a few snaps from the campaign so far…






























If you want to join in on the fun and raise awareness for a great charity feel free to get in contact with me or anyone that looks silly wearing matching colours!

If you would like to, you can donate to the NSPCC here:

Thanks for looking.


ICT session 2: Plugged/unplugged lesson idea….

December 5, 2013 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Today in ICT we explored the wonders of technology and engaged with many different apps, websites and technologies we can use in the classroom.  Some of the most impressive apps for me were the Puppetpals app, the Toca Boca app, Daisy Diosaur and the Tellagami app.

Here are some helpful links I found on my favourite apps from the session:

Pupper Pals app This is good for literacy, making up stories as well as programming.

Toca Boca app This is good for programming.

Daisy Dinosaur app This is good for programming.

Tellagami app… This is good for programming and literature also, such as finishing stories and writing these up, using descriptive writing about the scenes to develop writing. The video goes into more detail if you would like to find out more.


Here is an idea of an unplugged followed by a plugged activity which could be used in an Early years classroom.

Unplugged activity….

Paper pieces of a Mr Potato Head can be laid out on the floor with attachable accessories (glasses, hat, coat, buttons etc) next to it. Children can be put into pairs and one child is asked to give directions to their partner on what they want their Mr Potato Head to wear. Lower ability groups can work with the teacher and follow the teacher’s instructions and the Higher ability groups can work with more complex items.  By the end of the activity the Mr Potato head should look like the desired one intended by the partner! This relates to following instructions and programming.

Plugged activity…

Mr Potato Head app- Children follow instructions from their partner on what accessory to pin to the Mr Potato Head. By the end of the activity children should have a the final Mr Potato Head which looks like a Mr Potato Head. L.A follow the teacher’s instructions. Children here, are following directions from the teacher/partner to create a final product.

Real world application …
Children are asked to dress their partner in the appropriate clothing for winter. Different accessories and clothes are available in the role play area such as sunglasses, sun hat, winter hat, coat, t-shirt, Wellington boots and sandals. One child tells their partner to put on an appropriate item of clothing  and the other follows the direction. Hopefully by the end, the child is wearing the appropriate clothing for winter.







Further Reading:

Becta (2003) found that schools with good ICT resources achieved better results  than schools with poor ICT  resources and the difference of achievement between the both schools increased the year after.  The schools with good resources improved and the schools with poor resources got worse in time. Schools were compared in similar socio-economic circumstances and still found these results. This shows the impact of ICT on attainment for the rest of the curriculum and it’s uses throughout the whole school. This is something that I will acknowledge within my teaching pedagogy.

Ofsted  (2005) found that using ICT as a learning tool in schools has increased, however it is still underdeveloped in the sense that it is not being used on an everyday basis to fulfill areas throughout the curriculum. I believe that ICT has great opportunities for learning in a broad range of areas, from maths to literacy and I will always encourage the use of ICT in my lessons. There are so many free resources online which can be found from a simple search on the internet. This can sometimes be time-consuming however I think it can be  worth it when you see the engagement from children when using ICT.

I recently carried out my own small scale study at a school regarding children’s and teacher’s  perceptions of ICT in the classroom. It was conducted in a small village school and I gathered opinions from two teachers and 22 children. The children’s opinions were easy to generalise. All of them responded positively to ICT, saying that it made things fun and interesting. They also said that they would like to use ICT more in lessons and found


BECTA (2003) Primary Schools- ICT and Standards. Coventry: BECTA

Oftsted (2005)  Embedding ICT in schools: a dual evaluation exercise. [online] Availble at: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/embedding-ict-schools-dual-evaluation-exercise.  [Accessed: 5th December 2013].


Art Session 2: Art attack!

September 27, 2013 · No Comments · Uncategorized

We had a great art session with Rebecca Heaton, where we were inspired to get creative. We explored ideas on integrating art into lessons with the all of the important art vocabulary to remember. This being ‘line, tone texture, composition, height, shape, observation’ and many more.

We looked at multi-sensory and art in the early years. Using a piece of art in the classroom can make use of many other  senses other than that of the visual sense. Children can look at an image and reflect on it through music, thinking about the atmosphere, the image may create, or things that the image represents to the children and use instruments to represent this.

The aid of using provocations and putting art at eye level is something I will do in my teaching practice. This enables children to engage with it and discuss it with their peers, making art a sociable topic to discuss. This allows children to reflect on art in their surroundings in their own time and make their own judgments on it over a period of time.

The use of digital technology is great for the early years. It enables children to get to grips with technology if they do not have much experience with it, but also it is good practice for those who regularly use technology at home. Allowing children to use digital cameras  can be great for children to document their own work. It gives them a sense of accomplishment of what they have produced.

Cameras can also be great for giving children the freedom to capture what interests them. For example, asking children to take pictures of objects that are their favourite colour, printing this off and allowing children to make a collage of all the photographed objects. Another example is asking children to take photos of objects to represent letters, to make a word. I’m very excited to make use of technology in art classes as I think it enables so many learning opportunities and it’s something I feel children would love in class.

Here is something that a peer and I did in our art session. We found objects in the room to represent letter in order to make the word ‘line’, a word which is very relevant to art as a whole. Here is the final result of the images put together to make ‘LInE’. A combination of capital letters and lower case letters but still, it’s art! This links to the Development Matters, (Early Education, 2012)  Early Learning Goals to  ‘Extend vocabulary, especially by grouping and naming, exploring the meaning and sounds of new words.’ This is because it encourages children to sound out words and to read their work and also in Expressive arts and Design by ‘understanding that different media can be combined to create new effects.’.


Art using only line. 

Also in art we explored the use of line, a lovely idea to use in class. We were given the task to just use one type of line. Our group chose to keep it simple and use ‘straight’ line. We used many materials, including  paint, ribbon, straw and glitter. This kind of activity gets children to think about the use of line, the different types of line and how they can have different effects. Of course it also helps children think about composition, length and height. Doing this as a group activity means children talk about their choice of materials, incorporating speaking and listening and turn taking . The use of the materials practices fine and possible gross motor skills too.

Here is the final product of our group work, exploring the use of line.

IMG_3356-1ul3y6t IMG_3363-29l905m-150x150IMG_3376-28obpef







It was interesting to see how the PGCE Early Years group had an array of  results from the activity. All of the art pieces looked so different and creative, each reflecting different colours, a different kind of mood or vibe. This activity would be great for allowing children to be creative. It allows children to think of how they can do different things, giving them freedom to explore and allowing them to be adventurous with materials.

Artists in Art

In this session we also looked at different artists. This led me to think about how different artists’ styles could be considered for Art lessons. One idea for a lesson incorporating digital technology is one taking inspiration from Andy Warhol. Children could create their own version of Warhol’s pop art called Marilyn Diptych. Digital cameras could be used by the children so they could take photographs of themselves or each other.  These could then be digitally enhanced so that the images are black and white and just show the main facial features of the children. Once these are printed children could then colour in their images, using colouring pens.

Alternatively, the children could digitally enhance their photographs themselves on an app called ‘Andy Warhol FX picture’ which is available off of the app store on apple iPads which could then be screen shot and printed. I feel this would work great for an introductory display board with self portraits of every child adapted to suit this Warhol style.

This activity allows children to practice the use of digital cameras and tablets so it has good links to ICT as well as art. It allows children to look at an artist’s work and it allows discussion opportunities on it. Giving children to the opportunity to take photographs and colour in their photos practices fine motor skills. I also think this involves PSED as it reinforces the notion that everybody is unique and has their own identity.


andy warhol















Another concept is it use the collage idea, similarly to Warhol’s image and allow children to experiment with apps such as the ‘instasize’ app. This gives children the opportunity to take a self portrait (or a picture of their partner) and edit it, giving a similar effect to that of Andy Warhol’s image.










Further reading:

Gombrich (1978) states that art is great for expressing individuality and identity. Art allows an individual to become an artist. It allows children to be themselves, to express themselves whilst learning about others and their environment. It is important for children to have the freedom to express otherwise it may not be art, it is not unique. This gives art the chance to be cross curricula. It is often used in subjects such as Science or History to show observations or a story.

Herne et al.  (2009) support this and say that art is important for children as it allows children to ‘investigate the visual world and record and express their findings in visual terms.’ It allows children to express their vision, which is why Herne et al (2009) believe that drawing is so important. Just giving children some pencils and some paper gives children great opportunity to explore their inner artist and make art how they want to make art. Giving children a structured activity all of the time, such as making Christmas cards,  where every Christmas card in the class looks the same, lacks creativeness and uniqueness. This can in fact limit children’s creativity and imagination. This will be something which I will regard for my teaching pedagogy, to try and ensure that every child in my class has the opportunity to be creative and imaginative.


Early Education (2012) Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). London: Early Education.

Gombrich, E. (1978) The Story of Art. London: Phaidon.

Herne, S., Cox. S., Vatts. R. (2009) Readings in Primary Art Education. Bristol: Intellect Books.


Music session 1: Music to my ears!

September 26, 2013 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Our first music session was extremely interesting. Sue Nicholls introduced us to an array of musical instruments to use in school and gave us many ideas on how to make our own sound makers. It has really opened my eyes to see what weird and wonderful musical instruments you can make out of every day objects. It will definitely make me look at things around the house to see what could potentially make a great musical instrument.

Buckets and wooden spoons

Buckets and wooden spoons

Musical instruments

Cup shakers

Cup shakers










Sue Nicholls gives some great suggestions here on how to make musical instruments at home.

We learnt the ‘verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives and adverbs’ to music, being ‘pitch, duration, texture, timbre, dynamics, tempo and structure.’ Vocabulary which will most definitely come in useful to explain music. We also learnt welcome songs to sing in class and ideas on how to use music across the curriculum, including PSED, Communication and language and Mathematics. A great idea I love, is to encourage children to form lines to make a train carriage, whilst singing…

  A song for maths

I’m a train: I’m a train, going down the line,

When I stop, when I stop, please join on behind.

This is great for mathematics, counting, matching one-to-one and asking ‘Which train is longer?’, ‘Which train is shorter?’, ‘How many more people do we need on our train to make them the same length?’ Using music to reflect on storytelling is also definitely something I will take from the session. It’s great for encouraging children to think about the mood and atmosphere and getting them to think how they can creatively express this through music. We can do this by asking children to use their instruments to express the mood of the story. Sad, happy, anxious feelings can all be expressed through music. Also storytelling can be done through the medium of music.

Here is an example of a song myself and Sonia Camp made to tell the story of  Goldilocks and the Three Bears, (<—-click here). Overall, a lot to take from the session, many ideas which will come with me into practice!



Sue also gave some valuable advice in order to protect our voices as teachers. Something which has already started to become a problem for myself as well as most teachers at some point in their careers I imagine. We use our voices so much and I never really thought about the need to protect our voices up until now.
Here are Sue’s top tips on keeping that voice of yours protected:

Keep hydrated – drink plenty of water, little and often;

Rest your voice;

If you are anxious or feeling uptight, relax your throat;

Stand tall;

Breathe deeply when you talk, this gives you better volume when you talk from beneath and not the throat;

avoid yelling;

and surprisingly, avoid throat lozenges (these work temporarily and dry the throat).


Applying Music to the Early Years Foundation Stage

The session has opened my eyes and made me more aware of the benefits of music for children.  Music can extend children’s learning in various ways. Here are just some examples showing what adults can do by using music to aid learning, for children aged 40-60 months, in accordance to the Development Matters document, Early Education (2012).

Epressive Arts and Design

-Provide a stimulus for imagination by introducing atmospheric features in the role play area, such as the sounds of rain beating on a roof …provide curtains and place dressing-up materials and instruments close by.
-Make materials accessible so that children are able to imagine and develop their projects and ideas while they are still fresh in their minds and important to them.’

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

-Provide activities that involve turn-taking and sharing in small groups

Communication and Language: Listening and attention

-Choose stories with repeated refrains, dances and action songs involving looking and pointing, and songs that require replies and turn-taking such as ‘Tommy Thumb’.

Communication and Language- Speaking

-Encourage language play, e.g. through stories  such as ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ and action songs that require intonation.

Further Reading:

Children’s Music Workshop (2013) state that music should be included in lessons frequently due to the numerous benefits it has. They expressed ‘music participation provides a unique opportunity for literacy preparation. Whether the children are singing, playing, or listening, teachers direct them to listen and hear in new ways which exercises their aural discrimination. Playing instruments and adding movement to the lessons teaches children about sequential learning which is essential in reading comprehension.’ This shows the advantages music can hold in other subjects outside of music, making it a cross curricula.





Children’s Music Workshop (2013) Why is Music Education important? [online] Available at: http://www.childrensmusicworkshop.com/advocacy/youngmind.html. [Accessed: September 26th 2013.]

Early Education (2012) Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). London: Early Education.


ICT Session 4: Presentation Software

September 23, 2013 · No Comments · Uncategorized

So today was another great session which just made me feel even more passionate about using ICT in the classroom. The uses in the classroom seem to be never-endless as we learnt more about presentation software to engage and fuel children’s learning. Many great resources were suggested. Here are some suggested apps and their uses for you to take a look at.


Haiku Deck & Snapguide


ScribblePress & ScribbleMyStory


 Collins Big Cat books, VoiceThread, PlayArt, PixnTell (as mentioned in my last ICT post), Sonic Pics & Snapguide

Here is a link to a great site aimed at teachers. You can create slideshows which are interactive. Watching this demo really opened my eyes to the fantastic uses these resources can give which I’m sure will create fascination and wonder in the classroom.  Take a look here. This is something I would love to use in the classroom, even if it is to just introduce an idea or topic, just like this example.



Another great website which gives children opportunities to be creative and imaginative is the http://www.nightzookeeper.com/ website. This also gives children the chance to practice their fine motor skills and computer skills by drawing using the computer. On this website, children can create their own animal by drawing it any way that they want to, using different colours. Children are then asked to ‘cut’ around it, select an interesting landscape for their animal to live and then write a story. From a Foundation Stage focus this links to children’s Literacy (story telling) , Expressive Arts and Design (using imagination to create and ‘draw’ an animal)’, and Understanding the World development, (understanding of technology & computers). Of course, if used in this way in the foundation Stage it would be expected that support for the child may be needed to scribe the story for the child for the story telling part of the process . Otherwise for older children, they could do this independently with support if needed.



zoo keepr3



In this session I also made up my first children’s story, called ‘Why I like winter’. You can take a look by clicking the image below….

This is a great tool for teachers to use. Teachers can use thisto make up their own stories relating to the topic they are currently teaching about. Even better, it could be used for children to create their own stories with. A teacher or support staff could scribe a story for children who are not able or children could type in using their own personal story and choose their pictures for the story they have made. A great find for teachers. It’s fantastic for ICT skills for children as well as literacy. Also, it could be adapted for stories or educational books for any area of the curriculum. This is one I will definitely be using going forward in my teaching!


Art Session 1: Hello and hello to….Forest school!

September 19, 2013 · No Comments · Uncategorized


Art in the Early Years and being creative

Safety first

Forest School I hear you say….Forest School? Well these are two words which were never heard together when I was at school, but imagine being a child and hearing these words now. ‘Exciting’ springs to mind!   Today at University we got a bit of inspiration on how to create learning opportunities. This time outside of the classroom and into the forest! But of course before any fun started, “safety comes first”. Therefore the risk assessment had to be done.

It is important to make sure risk assessments are carried out before all out of school trips and espeicially for a forest school trip. It is unknown what mysterious objects you may come across when lurking around a forest so it’s important to do a check around the environment to prevent any contact with potentially dangerous findings.

Before the creative fun began we did a safety check of the forest area. A few things were spotted which had to be acknowledged, just to ensure we were good to go! Spotted: Fungi (could be poisonous), logs ( big ones and little ones to trip over or slip off) and trees (exciting and possibly dangerous to climb!) Here are a few pictures of our findings which could potentially be dangerous.

Pontentially dangerous rubbish or glass?

Pontentially dangerous rubbish or glass?

Broken bricks?

Logs/ twigs

Slippery logs?







Splinters and wood?












2013-09-19 11.33.52

High/Slippery Trees- Set boundaries.























Some things would have to be removed from the area such as glass, however potential hazards such as logs, fungi and high trees are best to be mentioned to the children. Children are likely to come across these things in their daily lives and will not always have the safety net of an adult nearby, so it’s good that these issues are raised with the children so that they know the dangers as well as ensuring rules and boundaries  set. Commonly a barrier is set by using some ribbon or tape around a large area of space in the forest. Telling the children that they cannot go outside of these areas will hopefully avoid any wondering children.

Why forest school?

Forest school is becoming more common in education as the benefits are becoming more well known. White (2011) states that the outdoor environments can bring opportunities for children to be their natural, physical, noisy selves,  with fresh air and the opportunity to sense different weathers. It gives them contact with natural and living things to maintain their curiosity and fascination with the natural world. It gives them freedom to be inquisitive, adventurous and messy. Outdoor provision helps children play and develop their speaking and social skills as well as help develop their confidence.


Knight (2011) advocates that forest school can aid development of children’s fine and motor skills as well as improve their health and well-being. Knight (2011)  continues to promote forest school indicating that it helps children’s problem-solving skills, it develops pupils’ awareness of environmental issues and the need to care for the environment.

There are a number of forest school activities that can promote learning and curiosity all of which should be child-led. Some include:

building dens; searching for minibeasts; making mud pies; climbing trees; hide and seek; making journey sticks; making art out of objects found; role play and looking for animal trails.

The joy of forest school is that it can be used as a cross-curricula lesson. One particular activity I like the idea of is looking for ‘bog babies’, taken from the book ‘The Bog Baby’ by Jeanne Willis and Gewn Millward.  The story is about children who find a bog baby deep in a forest, they take the bog baby home and find that it becomes poorly as it is not where it belongs, it needs to be at home, back in the forest. It’s a lovely lesson to show children that things are sometimes belong where they are found. After the story has been read to children they can go on a hunt looking for bog babies which will let their imaginations flow. Questions to the children can be asked such as ‘Where did the bog baby in the forest live?’, ‘What do you think he might look like?’, ‘Do you think he’ll be near water?’ and ‘Will he like this weather?’ Perhaps children could take photographs on iPads of their findings (potential bog babies, bog baby homes or clues) and write up about these back in the classroom.










Here is an introduction to forest school in the Early Years.


It is vital to ensure that while children play in this environment, children’s basic needs are met in order for learning to take place.  (Maslow’s Pyramid of Hierarchical Needs), Maslow (1943).

Warmth – Appropriate clothing is provided- waterproof if needed.
Food- Health- Snacks/ Meals are provided.
Drink – Hydrated- Water /Hot drinks are provided.
Safe – Children feel safe physically and emotionally.

 Storytelling through props

Following on from this I’d like to share an idea of an activity that can be used in the great outdoors or commonly known ‘forest school’.

My peer Becca and I had a bit of fun playing the role of children and came across some props in the forest. Props which in a forest school context would have been set up by the teacher, (shh, we won’t tell if you won’t!) We used our imaginations in similar ways that children would to make our own story up. We found props in the forest such as a cowboy hat, a black wig and a black faux fur hut and let our imaginations do the rest.

Here is a story that was created by Becca and I using props found in the forest. A great idea to use for a forest school lesson.

This idea could be used in the classroom by allowing children to role-play a story using their found props. Perhaps they could take pictures using a tablet and sequence the pictures back in the classroom to tell their story.


Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge.











This idea could be used in the classroom by allowing children to role-play a story using their found props. Perhaps they could take pictures using a tablet and sequence the pictures back in the classroom to tell their story.


What do you think? Do you have any forest school activity ideas?


Knight, S. (2011) Forest School for All. London: Sage Publications.

White, (2011) Outdoor Provision in the Early Years. London: Sage Publications.

Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of Human Motivation. Psychological Review, 50 (4), p.370-96.