The Carnival of the Animals

My placement 1b school, followed the IPC rather than teach subjects through topic work, they were taught in isolation, with it varying from week to week what subjects were taught, Maths, Literacy and P.E being the only exceptions. The four year two teachers always planned together and one week they planned that in P.E the children would create animal movements and that they would also do music. In music they chose for the children to listen to, and discuss, Camille Saint-Saens’ ‘The Carnival of the Animals’.

‘The Carnival of the Animals’ is a collection of songs, using orchestral instruments, to convey the actions and characteristics of particular animals. There are many songs in the collection, these being

1.       Introduction and Royal March of the Lion

2.       Hens and Roosters

3.       Wild Asses

4.       Tortoises

5.       The Elephant

6.       Kangaroos

7.       Aquarium

8.       Characters with Long Ears

9.       The Cuckoo in the Depths of the Woods

10.   Aviary

11.   Pianists

12.   Fossils

13.   The Swan

14.   Finale

When I found this out I immediately saw a MSMLT opportunity and when I sat down with my mentor to plan our week I told her my idea. The idea of integrated learning and cross curricula learning is widely promoted as good educational practice, however, often ideas for it forget music and P.E (Humphries et al 2011: 74).

Music and P.E  both have a big impact on a child’s development, we all know the health benefits of exercise however with music, recent research by Hanser (2000) has shown that it supports developing cognitive abilities and Palac and Grimshaw (2006) found it helps avoid neurological language disorder, not only this though Turner (1998) found that music and P.E support the development of motor, visual and cognitive skills and Nelson (2009) extended this to explain that dance and music together help to develop physical endurance and coordination whilst helping them to understand music from a different perspective.(Betancourt and Hernandez 2012: 1).

The combination of both music and P.E. also helps cognitive development; as Begley (1996) music trains the brain in thinking whilst P.E is good for the heart which in turn increases nerve connections (Betancourt and Hernandez 2012: 2).

The idea was that, during the music lesson, I would play the children the tracks from the CD and we would discuss them, after which they would work in groups to decide which track they would like to act out in P.E, and then use musical instruments to accompany this so that they would have created a performance piece to show to the rest of the class. My mentor was more than happy for me to do this so I set about preparing for the following week.

The next week in music I introduced the children to the idea, of which they took to immediately and were very excited about. There are several tracks and so, with time restrictions and children’s attention spans, I decided to only play a select few that I thought would most interest the children, these being

   March of the Lions

Hens and Roosters

3.  Tortoises

4The Elephant

Kangaroos

6.    Aquarium

7.       The Swan

I wanted to play the track to the children and them to think what animal it represented however,  when I played the tracks beforehand I realized that there was a piece of narration about the song so I had to sit with headphones in and listen until the music began. One song I didn’t get the headphones in in time and the children heard the title so I did skip to the next song so when I asked the children the all raised their hand to say ‘Wild Asses’ when it was actually ‘The Elephant’! The children did sit and listen really well and nearly all of them tried to guess, but even I admittedly found some of the tracks tricky! The children correctly guessed the ‘March of the Lions’ because it was ‘loud’ and ‘made a roaring sound’ like a lion. The children did struggle with the ‘Hens and the Roosters’ but one child impressively guessed it ‘because it sounded like the cock-a-doodle-doo noise that a chicken makes in a morning’, none of the children guessed the ‘Tortoises’, ‘Kangaroos’ or ‘The Swan’ but when we discussed the children could, with the exception of ‘The Swan’, find characteristics ‘slow because tortoises move slowly’ and ‘a bit bouncy because kangaroos bounce and hop’. It took a couple of guesses but the children guessed ‘The Elephant’ because it makes ‘stamping noises and an elephant stamps’ and one child guessed ‘fish because it sounds like water’ for ‘Aquarium’, which I allowed as none of the children had even heard of the ‘aquarium ‘.

I then showed the children the wide variety of instruments, similar to the range of manufactured ones Sue Nicholls had, and then put the children into groups of five, based on who would work better together, and asked them to decide on their track, storyline and instruments. The children found it easy choosing the track, the ones that the groups chose were

·         March of the Lions

·         The Elephant

·         The Aquarium

·         Kangaroos

However, the story proved slightly trickier, and as time was moving on I decided to get the children to select the instruments (a very easy task – drums were very popular!) and that they would probably find it easier to come up with a story whilst moving around with the instruments in P.E.

Once it came to P.E the children loved using the instruments, nobody was silly and all of the children worked really hard and well together; you can see that from this picture

Here you can see work in progress!

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Elephants in a herd!

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 Kangaroos hopping around!

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 Lions marching through the jungle!

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Not only was this an opportunity for exercise, a chance to expressive themselves through music and movement or to explore musical instruments, it was a chance for discussion and a speaking and listening opportunity as the children had to work together to decide what they were going to do

DSCF1981              DSCF1983

These combined activities provided so many cross curricular links, the children were listening to their peers, maintaining attention and actively participating in collaborative conversations, staying on the same topic (DfE 2013: 17).

In regards to music, children listened to recorded music and then experimented with sounds of unturned instruments (DfE 2013: 218) that comprised of simple movements that ultimately made a final performance dance piece (DfE 2013:

Although I did this with a year 2 class, it could be simplified for children in the EYFS by asking the children to work in small groups and giving them an animal at a time, asking them to think of the movements before introducing the instruments with the aim of potentially producing a final piece. The children really enjoyed this activity and were really proud of what they had produced.

References

Betancourt and Hernandez (2012) The Effect of Physical and Musix Education in the Development of Motor Skills in Children between Six and Eight Year-Olds in an Inclusive Environment. National Association of Laboratory Schools Journals. 4 (1) 1-12

Department for Education (2013) The National Curriculum in England Framework. London: Department for Education

Humphries, C., Bidner S. and Edwards, C. (2011) Integrated Learning with Physical Education and Music. The Clearing House. 84 (5) 174-179

The Very ‘Hairy’ Caterpillar

My most favourite book is by the children’s author Eric Carle and is ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, both for the story and its illustrations and when my placement 1b school chose to do a Response to Literature lesson on it, I begged to be the one to teach it! Response to Literature is where the teacher reads the story, then as a class the children discuss the book and this is followed up with an activity related to the book.

Whilst looking for ideas Helen pointed me in the direction of Eric Carle’s website full of information about his stories, resources and ideas for work.

Click to visit Eric Carle’s website

It was a really interesting website, particularly how he creates his illustrations; I had, wrongly, thought that they were free hand, however I learnt that he creates them by drawing, painting, printing and gluing (with wallpaper paste) on to tissue paper, which he then cuts out and sticks onto a white background.

I began by reading the book to the children and then I gave them out a bag of resources I had made with a piece of ribbon with a smiley faced button as a caterpillar and copies of all of the food eaten by the Hungry Caterpillar, as I read through the story the children had to ‘feed’ their ‘caterpillar’.

The children enjoyed the activity but it took quite a long time, and in hindsight may have been better as an accompanying activity, having said this I have done a similar activity to this with a group of a similar size and age and it worked much better, it obviously all depends on the children you have.

Anyway, as a follow on activity the children made ‘Hairy Caterpillars’, from a (dyed) green pop sock, compost, grass seed, and a stapled on card face with googly eyes and pipe cleaner antenna.

The children (and I) loved these and followed on with an ongoing discussion we had been having about roots and plant growth, as the grass grew through the pop socks. Whilst several of the children informed me that since being taken home they have died, whilst in class they grew very well and the children loved talking about them.

I have seen the creation of these caterpillars done with Rainbows (five to seven year olds) so it most certainly can be done in the early years as well as key stage 1 and not only is it a really fun activity, it links with both the EYFS outcomes and National Curriculum.

The EYFS learning goal for Self Confidence and Self Awareness states that ‘children are confident to try new activities’ and ‘choose the resources for their chosen activity’ and ‘say when they do or don’t need help’ (DfE 2012:12). They would have to choose the colour of card, googly eyes and pipe cleaners and some of the year two children had to ask for help with curling the pipe cleaners.

Making the caterpillars would also assist with the Communication and Language Learning outcomes, Listening and Attention and Understanding. These require that children ‘listen attentively’ (DfE 2012: 16) and are able to ‘follow instructions involving several ideas or actions’ (DfE 2012:18), there are a few different things to do in order to make the caterpillars and children will need to listen carefully in order to know what they are doing.

The caterpillars also provide a useful link to the Understanding the World Learning Goal; The World. The learning goal states that children should be able to ‘make observations of animals and plants’ ‘and talk about changes’ (DfE 2012: 40). The children can see and discuss how the grass has grown and changed from a seed to what is fully grown grass, as well as being able to see the roots underneath it.

Finally, the caterpillars provide the opportunity for children to work within the learning outcomes for both of the Expressive Arts and Design learning goals as they are constructing with a purpose in mind, choosing particular colours and manipulating ‘materials to achieve this planned effect, using a variety of resources (DfE 2012:44-45).

These are just for the EYFS, for the new National Curriculum, the creation of the caterpillars alone, lends itself to many areas of learning. In the instance of science, the children observe how the caterpillars are changing and discussing things such as the growth and purpose of the roots (DfE 2013:139-140) and, of course, they link into Art and Design. The children are using a range of everyday materials to make something, being as creative as they like when they are designing and drawing the faces (DfE 2013:183). Within Key Stage One they also provided an opportunity for children to develop their language skills as they were so enthusiastic and keen to discuss the creation process and end products.

I love these caterpillars and it is amazing that some grass seed, compost, green pop socks, a circle of card and a couple of pipe cleaners resulted in so many cross curricular links.

References

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

Department for Education (2013) The National Curriculum for England Framework. London: Department for Education

 

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt- Art Directed Task

As part of our Art session we were given the directed task of choosing an artist whose work we could use as a creative stimuli to combine expressive art with digital technology and, initially, I was unsure who to choose, but whilst in Dance, back in December, we were given the task of acting out a book, this being ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ by Michael Rosen. Authors are artists, it is not easy to write a children’s book,  and particularly one that is still incredibly well known and loved after 25 years (as ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, by Michael Rosen, is) so I decided to combine the dance, art and digital technology to create an e-book.

Dance is many things; it is a way of expressing feelings, telling stories, showing strength and power, creates rituals and celebrations and, most importantly, it communicates experiences in a way that words not always can (O’Connor and Daly 2013: 19)

With dance being linked to early physical development, this is a good way of encouraging children to explore and experiment with movement and actions, responding to the world around them (O’Connor and Daly 2013: 19); such as a story being read to them and they can then use the pictures to give them inspiration. Therefore, if some children are less confident to create something independently they still have something to imitate which will still be unique as it is the child’s own interpretation. However, exposing children to a wide range of dance experiences helps them to realise there is no one right way to dance, dance can be anything from a child skipping along the street to conventional ballroom dancing, so no one is necessarily better than anyone else, as such it shows children dance is something anyone can do (O’Connor and Daly 2013: 21)

Once the lesson had finished, Sam and I decided to use my tablet to take photos of us acting each part out to create a video, this is mine

littlebirdtales.com cover image

 

 And Sam’s can be viewed if you visit her blog

Sam’s blog

This is a demonstration that even when seeing the pictures, we still came up with something unique as our sequences are both different, granted, with Sam being a dancer hers was far more imaginative and elegant than mine but they both demonstrate how people can still make a seemingly simple piece unique.

To create a video such as this in Windows Live Movie Maker took time, changing time of slides depending on things such as the length of voice recordings and in classroom setting with time restrictions it is not the easiest of programmes for six and seven year olds to get their heads round. With this problem I went back to my notes to look for a programme that had be recommended to us and found ‘little bird tales’. This is an amazingly simple online programme that allows pictures to be uploaded and turned into an e-book with the option of adding voices to narrate the story.

This programme provides many links to both the EYFS and National Curriculum; in regards to EYFS Understanding the world Area of Learning, children are completing a simple program using age appropriate software (DfE 2012: 43) and in Computing of the new Key Stage One National Curriculum they have the chance to expand their knowledge of computer programmes to create digital content for a purpose (to be read) but that can also be shared with others (DfE 2013: 188)

They are also developing their literacy skills (both in regards to the EYFS and the new National Curriculum); younger children will look at the way the story is structured, with a beginning, a middle and an end and providing opportunities for role play and creative dialogue (swishy swashy). With older children you have the potential for a discussion about repetition, the use of capital letters (IT’S A BEAR), punctuation, adjectives and creative language for use in their own writing.

I really liked this programme, particularly because you could add you own images and voice recordings, and is a programme I will look to use in future.

References

Department for Education (2012) Development in the Early Years Foundation Stage. London: Department for Education

Department for Education (2012) The national curriculum in England framework. London: Department for Education

O’Connor, A. and Daly, A. (2013) All about… dance in the early years. Nursery World. 112 (4315) 19-22

Music Apps

Technology has shaped music since, at least, the first time it began to be recorded; every day, dozens of new technologies are released to the public and more and more they are being used as a creative tool in classroom settings, in particular in music lessons (Criswell, 2011)

Our second music session was very different from our first, whereas in our first we experimented with homemade and manufactured conventional instruments, this session was all about using apps to explore the sounds and pitches made by different instruments.

One of our activities was to explore an app called ‘Garage Band’. This is a really diverse app as it allows you to experiment with a huge range of instruments and the different styles of instruments, for example acoustic and hard rock guitars, electric keyboards and grand pianos, as well as allowing children to record sounds, music and their voices.

As you can see here I went home and downloaded the app onto my ipod touch to explore it further and began by recording me making a clicking noise using my tongue and cheeks;


After this I decided to experiment changing the pitch and with the result being this;


As you can see in the first video I used the ‘dry’ option, recording my voice normally but then changed it using the chipmunk option to alter the pitch, consequently you can hear the difference in sound.

I then chose to experiment with different instruments, showing the different variations of each one available;

 
Our directed task for this lesson was to as a group, use our voices and objects to make the noises associated with a train journey and, in a group of four, we decided to use our voices and the heels of Sam’s boots! We began by using our voices to be the steam of the engine, we then set off (using the heels of Sam’s boots to be the clattering of the wheels on the track) before making the whistle of a train. As the journey moves continues you can hear, from the speed of our noises, that the train is gathering speed before gently slowing down as we reach the platform and let off steam!

Here is the journey…

The last exercise we did in the session involved us creating a sequence of pictures for us to then follow on the iPad;
The last activity was to create a drum sequence using pictures, as you can see below, again I decided to explore this further with the Garage Band app, here is the end result;

DRUM SEQUENCE
Obviously these activities can be differentiated; children can be asked to focus on just one instrument or given a smaller selection of drums and there are so many links to areas of the curriculum with these, both EYFS and National Curriculum, there is Communication and Language and Literacy, Mathematical Development and Mathematics, P.E and Physical Development (fine motor skills), Music and Expressive Arts and Design and Computing and Understanding the World, as well as skills such as sharing and co-operation, so apps such as Garage Band can be so beneficial.

As Haugland (2011) states, apps such as Garage Band can never replace physical instruments, however they are compact and versatile providing the opportunity for many to be creative and perform in a small amount of space. They can, as Bauer (2011) believes, provide all students, regardless of having any traditional music background, with the opportunity to be expressive and creative without the requirement to understand any musical formalities (Criswell, 2011).

References

Criswell, C. (2011) Technology on the Horizon. Teaching Music.[online] 18 (5) 10697446. Available from: http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=5&sid=9b40c054-1467-4652-95ef-3ec1dfe4bdc5%40sessionmgr4001&hid=4109&bdata=JkF1dGhUeXBlPWNvb2tpZSxpcCxzaGliJnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=ehh&AN=76580809 [Accessed 22nd April 2014]

ICT session 2 – Bee-bots

In our second ICT session we looked at a variety of technological toys, games and apps and thought of how we could use them as a teaching resource.

The use of modern robotic toys can be linked to the work of Logo, popular in the 1980s and 1990s,

We were asked to work in groups of two or three to explore one toy, and Sam and I chose bee-bots. There were a limited number of bee-bots and, as Sam and I have both had experience of bee-bots in settings we have previously been in, we chose to let those less familiar with them use them and discuss what we would do, however, neither of us had an apple device, if we had though, we could have downloaded the bee-bot app and used this instead. Bee-bots are not such a new concept though, whilst Bee-bots themselves are modern they can be linked back to Logo, used in the 1980s and 1990s (Highfield 2010: 23)

Bee-bot app

Sam and I looked at the ‘accessories’ and ‘resources that accompanied the bee-bot and decided on a pirates treasure map. This map was designed especially for bee-bots as it is made up of squares, each square being one move. Within some squares are pictures of volcanoes, caves and a river, these we decided would be obstacles which the bee-bots could not enter.

Bee-bots are cross curricular in that, as Lowrie and Logan (2006) explain, they help children to explore multiple mathematical elements and possess unplugged ICT elements.

 They support the development of Spatial awareness; such as capacity(ensuring their is enough room for their bee-bot to move), angles, rotation, directions and positional language, Measurement; including informal measurements, Number; how many moves in a particular direction and Problem Solving; such as estimating the number of moves required, reflecting and evaluating, trial and error and multiple solutions (Highfield 2010: 26). These are all requirements in some form, in both the maths and ICT requirements in the current and new national curriculum.

Bee-bot with treasure map

When it comes to using them in an ICT capacity, they provide children with the opportunity to experiment with programming plugged technology (plugged being technology with things such as ipads) which can be a foundation for more complex programming software. Kiss and Pasztor (2006) and Pasztor (2008) did research into programming and found that those who had experience at secondary school did better with it when they reached college. Whilst this study is done with an older group of children, it could be assumed that if children begin with programming at primary school they will be better equipped for secondary school which they can take forward to college (PÁSZTOR et al 2010: 133).

Both children in the EYFS and Key Stage one can use bee-bots, beginning simply at first, just a few directions anywhere on the map, ignoring the ‘danger zones’ to begin with, both of them creating their own and programming it to given instructions. Children can then be introduced to the obstacles and have to plan and follow routes so that they avoid these things, getting more and more complex.

Bee-bot with the treasure map

I have seen bee-bots used in isolated situations; something out during free flow play in the EYFS, and as part of a maths topic about direction in key stage one so there are several follow on activity options; children can direct one another, they can draw directions on grids and write instructions. I mentioned before how there is a bee-bot app; children could also use this and compare and contrast it to using the battery operated toy in regards to things such as how easy it is to use

References

Highfield, K. (2010) Robotic Toys as a Catalyst for Mathematical Problem Solving. Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom. 15 (2) 22-27

Pasztor, R., Pap-Szigeti, E. and Lakatos Torok, E. (2010) Effects of Using Model Robots in the Education of Programming. Informatics in Education. 9 (1) 133-140

Elf Falls

Our second art session was spent focusing on how images can communicate a story, and what part technology can also play in this creation process.

Our task for the session was to, as a group, create a setting and characters that could be made into an e-book to tell a story. The characters were to be made of clay and the setting, which was to be the same throughout, was created through the use of different printing methods.

With it being December, and Christmas fast approaching, we decided to go for a Christmassy scene.

The story goes that a Christmas elf is skating on the ice and starts to show off to a penguin sat on the icy snow covered ground, however the elf becomes over confident and ends up falling over. Whilst the elf has been showing off though, a wise old owl is sitting in his tree, looking very disapproving of the elf’s antics and, as a result, has turned his back on him.

Click here to see ‘Elf Falls’

Our group of four split into two, Sam and Helen making clay figures and Anna and I creating the background. For the background, Anna and I split an A3 piece of paper horizontally in half with the plan being for Anna to work on the sky (which was to be the Northern Lights) and I was to work on the landscape.

With the theme being winter we chose ‘cold’ colours, mixing the blue printing ink with white to create varying shades and differentiate between the ice and the bottom of the sky, before you see the Northern Lights.

To create the background I drew a tree shape onto a piece of paper and placed it on my paper. I then rolled the top half of my paper with dark blue printing ink (for the base of the sky) and then mixed white printing ink with the blue and rolled this out over the other half to be the ice. When I removed the cut out tree I was left with a white (snow covered) tree for the disapproving wise old owl to sit in.  

To then demonstrate that the elf had been skating on the ice I used a technique, shown to us, which was to glue string to a piece of cardboard which could then be used as a printing block. I painted the string white so that it would look like the top layer of ice had been carved out from the elf’s skates.

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Here are the tools and techniques I used to create my half of the background

I then added my half to Anna’s and we were ready to insert our three actors; elf, owl and penguin, below is our finished piece

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I have shown you the video of our story, and much credit should go to Helen in her creating of this. It is made by first, taking photos of the characters and then uploading them to an app called ‘puppet pals’. You then cut around the characters and can add them to your background, simply moving them to the next position to tell the story.

This app was then layered with Windows Movie Maker so as to add music; one of Bach’s flute compositions, if you look and listen you can see the elf slipping and flying in the sky in time with the flurries in the music.

The creation of the story provides so many discussions (moods, feelings, senses, events, why and how) and things to get children thinking and talking. It uses a really nice, simple app that children can use, and lends itself to the National Curriculum, both old and new. Children in the EYFS may need more help, but the fact that they can move their character around is something that many children would enjoy.

Art Session 1

Our first art session focused on the simple concept of a line, to say you are going to spend four hours on a line initially sounds like a very dull four hours, however if you think about it, it is not such a simple concept. A line can be thick or thin, long or short, straight or wavy and made from endless materials and contexts so it was not difficult to fill four hours looking at a ‘line’.

One of the tasks we were asked to do was to work in a group to create a piece that demonstrated one sort of line and our group chose wavy lines and spirals and here is our end result

 As you can see here we had access to pant, pipe cleaners, glitter, ribbon and buttons and were allowed to be as imaginative and creative as possible.

In my experience, children, generally, do not have such free rein over such a variety of creative materials as we did, which is a shame as this is a real opportunity for children to be imaginative and really express themselves whilst exploring how to manipulate different materials; outcomes specified in both the EYFS and new national curriculum.

Things such as budgets and cost of resources, the idea that children will waste the resources (i.e. using ‘too much’ glitter) and creating ‘mess’ tend to be things that I have found restrict children’s access to these materials. If you demonstrate to children how to use the resources sensibly (i.e. how to tip glitter out) and encourage them to think about their designs so that they can make informed decisions of what and how much they need (which are criteria in both the National Curriculum and EYFS) then there is no reason children shouldn’t have a similar amount of access we did. I run a Brownie unit and I have found that because we run quite frequently have crafts which involve things such as paint and glitter, they no longer feel the need to use as much as they can in one go.

Whilst I have said that children do not often get such free access to these resources, I have an exception to the rule, but that is for another post!

Purple Mash and Obb Blob

As I talked about in my very first post, the possibilities of the internet and technology are more imaginative and never ending than ever before; this assignment for example would never have been thought up a couple of years ago, and is playing a big part in the EYFS and National Curriculum.

My placement 1b was in a year 2 classroom of a four form entry academy with two ICT suites, one for KS1 and one for KS2 and each week each of the 28 classes would have an allocated session in the ICT suite. The year two children, whilst I was there, were working with a programme called Purple Mash, an online programme that allows you to read e-books and, what the children were doing, play and make a platform game. This website is an example of game-based learning which, as Tang et al 2009 describe it, is a innovative approach to learning derived from computer games possessing educational value and other software using games for learning and educational purposes (Tang et al 2013: 61)

There are several types of game, maths, literacy and topic, that the children can design (chasing, catching etc.), they can design the background, create their own character and set a time limit and target score. Due to it needing a log in it can’t be directly hyperlinked but if you go to Purple Mash and enter the username and password:

Username fiona.swann@hotmail.com
Password: apple70

and go to ‘Online Docs’ and click on ‘Obb Blob to see if you can feed Obb Blob his dinner!

The children loved how creative they were able to be with the game and how they could really make it their own, creating something entirely from scratch, however they did struggle with doing so. There are several steps required to create the game, including making sure that the items you catch, chase or do whatever with, are in the correct order to make sure that the correct answers give you point, not take them away and the children struggled to follow the steps needed to do this.

For so long people have been very anti interactive games, and I agree that extended time on things such as World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto, particularly in the early years and Key Stage one, (and yes there were six year olds on my placement who were so fixated and competent at the game that they would quite happily sit on the carpet in lessons shooting into the air) is more detrimental than beneficial. However, we cannot deny technology as part of our lives and by providing children with age appropriate, educational games such as those on Purple Mash, give them an assorted range of experiences that engage, inspire and motivate them to learn and, as Jenkins et al (2003) have suggested, are demonstrating very good educational promise (Tang et al 2003: 61).

Gershenfeld (2011) talks about in order to design a game children would need to think analytically and holistically about games being systems; experiment and try out theories; problem solve; think critically and to work with peers and adults, all things that are required in today’s society (Gershenfeld 2011: 55). Obviously in the early years these are complex skills which are likely far beyond children’s capabilities but using a platform game such as this foundations can begin to be laid.

The new National Curriculum talks about how, by the end of Key Stage One, children should be able to understand that ‘programs execute by following precise and unambiguous instructions’, (creating the game requires several steps before it can be played) ‘create and debug simple programs’ and ‘use technology purposefully to create, organise, store, manipulate and retrieve digital content’ (the children are using the computers for a purpose-to create a game) (DfE 2013:189)

It is not just ICT that this game applies too though, there is maths with things such as calculations, time and points, there is literacy with the creating and reading of instructions and listening to the instructions of how to create the game, there is science where children can think about materials, there is art in regards to designing the background and character and Design Technology as children have to think about designing ‘purposeful, functional, appealing products for themselves and other users based on design criteria’, ‘generate, develop, model and communicate their ideas through talking, drawing, templates, mock ups and, where appropriate, information and communication technology’ selecting from a range of materials (children can use shape tools, draw free hand or use clipart) (DfE 2013: 193).

There are certainly elements of the process that would support several of the EYFS Learning Outcomes, however, I do believe that constructing a game would be beyond their capabilities as the children I did it with were in year 2, with many of them being very capable on a computer and they still struggled. However the games already on the site would prove beneficial to them and be within their capabilities.

I was really impressed with this programme and, if the children were given more than half an hour a week on it then they could really create something special, it is certainly a programme I would look into when I qualify and get a job

References

Department for Education (2013) The National Curriculum in England. Framework Document. London: Department for Education

Gershenfeld, A. (2011) Leveling up from Player to Designer: Engaging and Empowering Youth through Making Video Games. Knowledge Quest. 40 (1) 54-59

Tang, S., Hanneghan, M. and Carter, C. (2013) A Platform Independent Game Technology Model for Model Driven Serious Games Development. Electronic Journal of e-learning. 11 (1) 61-79

Music Session 1

When I was at school music used to be a short session one afternoon a week and took the forms of things such as listening to CDs or playing keyboards (very badly) and, admittedly being one of the least talented musicians in the world, I really used to dread the lessons. However, our first music lecture back in September could not have been more different, the woman who led the session, Sue Nicholls (who incidentally has written a book with a woman who happened to be my playgroup leader 20 years ago and whose son I went to school with) was amazing. I have never met any person more enthusiastic about music, particularly in the Early Years, than she is.

Sue gave us the chance to experiment with numerous instruments, a mixture of production manufactured instruments, both traditional, such as tambourines, and more modern, such as combi hand bells as well as some ingenious homemade ones using things as simple as milk bottle tops and dairylea tubs.

She gave us examples of rhymes and songs that could be incorporated into daily setting routines using tunes from well known songs and rhymes as well as ones she has composed herself. She had created welcome songs, such as:

 Leader: I see Sally                                         Echo: I see Sally                                       

Leader: In the ring                                        Echo: In the ring

Leader: Wave to make her welcome              Echo: Wave to make her welcome     

Leader: As we sing                                       Echo: As we sing

(to the tune of ‘Frere Jacques’)

achievement songs for the end of the day, such as:

What a star! What a star! What a clever clogs you are!

 

Tell/show us something you have done today!

 

Well done Sally! Hip Hooray!

as well as songs that could be sung at anytime of the day; she has songs that support every Area of Learning and it was amazing to see the way in which she wove music into every part of her day.

Sue made this a very active lesson, asking us to partake in the songs and be creative; the first task she asked us to do was to create a rap, with actions, from a variety of rhyming words she had given us. Working as a group we came up with:

Wave your hands right up to the sky,

Wiggle and jiggle and jump up high.  

Shake your body to the groove,      

 Click and clap and start to move

For the actions we chose to begin crouched down and as we stood up weave our hands up to the sky (Wave your hands right up to the sky), we then wiggled our whole bodies and jumped on the spot (wiggle and jiggle and jump up high) after which we stepped to the side and clapped twice (shake your body to the groove) and finished by clicking our fingers on both hands, clapping once and turning around (click and clap and start to move).

The actions we included would be very useful to children’s physical development and cognitive functioning. The weaving the hands together in a crossing over the body action and clicking both fingers encourages cognitive functioning and coordination whilst the jumping involves developing control and balance.

Whilst creating a rhyming song from scratch like this would probably be beyond a child in the early years’ capabilities, as a group an adult could guide and prompt them to help them come up with the words and the children would be more than capable with thinking of accompanying actions, elements part of the EYFS Learning Outcomes.

During the session we were also asked to think about using music to tell a story and we came up with telling the story of Sleeping Beauty to the tune of ‘One finger, One thumb’ and it goes like this

A special baby Princess (x3)
Aurora was her name.

A wicked fairy cursed her (x3)
And said that she would die.

They hid her in the forest (x3
To escape the fairy’s curse.

And then she pricked her finger (x3
The Kingdom fell asleep.

A handsome Prince did kiss her (x3)
She awoke and fell in love.

And then there was a wedding (x3)
And so our story ends.

In this way you are taking a well known children’s story and presenting it to the children in a new, engaging way.

As a follow on activity from the lecture we had a directed task to do which was to come up with a song from a well known tune using percussion instruments to support it; so in a group of four, we decided to rewrite two verses, from the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast, ‘Be Our Guest’, entitling it ‘See Our Class’.  Sam, Helen and Anna all had far better rhythm than I do but I hope you enjoy listening to it!

See My Class

These here are the rewritten lyrics to the first two verses, See my class! See my class! See just how our time is passed. Pick up your books and toys and pens and smile And we’ll make this fun last. We use paint, We use sand. We even made our own class band! Try joining in; it’s exciting. Don’t believe me? Just tune in!

When it came to the musical instruments we were initially a bit stuck; in the respect we had none, so we decided to look through our pockets, bags and Anna’s flat and found these very useful objects to use as percussion instruments.

Here you will see homemade shakers using tins and a film canister containing beads and glitter, as well as a packet of tic-tacs.

Not having instruments was never a disadvantage though, Sue proved this with her inventions, it would perhaps be even more of an advantage in an early years setting. From the day they are born children listen to the world around them and it is this that helps them in their learning to read. Phase One of the Letters and Sounds phonics programme is solely about encouraging children to listen to the sounds around them in preparation for hearing, recognising and applying phonemes and graphemes for reading and actually talks about the importance of music. By getting children to use things that are in their normal environment, thinking about the sounds the world around them makes, supports this aspect of development and could prove very beneficial.

From this session I saw how easy it is to incorporate music into the daily routine of an early yearssetting or Key Stage One classroom and link it so many areas of the National Curriculum and EYFS, and I hope I have demonstrated this can be done; with Maths and Mathematical Development you can use counting songs and count beats, Literacy with the stories that songs tell, P.E and Physical Development with how the whole body can be incorporated and, particularly, Drama and Expressive Arts and Design. By the end of the EYFS children should be able to:

·         ‘Begins to build a repertoire of songs and dances’ (DfE 2012: 32)-both well known and of their own or group composing

·         ‘Explores the different sounds of instruments’ (DfE 2012:32)-both manufactured and home made

·    ‘Understands that different media can be combined to create new effects’ (DfE 2012: 32)-create instruments from a range of materials

 ‘Manipulates materials to achieve a planned effect’ (DfE 2012: 32)- creating instruments using a variety of methods and techniques

·         ‘Constructs with a purpose in mind, using a variety of resources’ (DfE 2012: 32)- the purpose being that it will make a sound

·         ‘Selects tools and techniques needed to shape, assessmble and join materials they are using’ (DfE 2012:32)

·         ‘Initiates new combinations of movement and gesture in order to express and respond to feelings, ideas and experiences’ (DfE 2012:33)-adding movement to songs and rhymes just as we did in our lesson.

I said before how I am not gifted when it comes to music and have felt unsure about delivering the subject, however, whilst I still have my insecurities and doubts I feel much happier about delivering music to the early years and primary classrooms.

References

Department for Education. (2013) Early years outcomes. London: Department for Education

Department for Education and Skills (2007) Letters and Sounds: Principles and Practice of High Quality Phonics. Primary National Strategy. London: Department for Education and Skills

Forest Schools

On the day that everyone went to the Uni’s Forest I was at home with whiplash and I was incredibly disappointed to miss it as I can see what a valuable experience it was. However, the school in which I carried out my 1b placement is a Forest School, part of the Corby Forest Schools Project, and so I was still able to learn more about them.

Forest Schools began in Scandinavia in the 1950’s to teach children about their natural environment, offering children the opportunity to develop confidence and self-esteem through positive hands on learning experiences in a local woodland environment.

The school has their own Patch that they have developed to include a seating area, a fire pit and a dry area. The school currently, on a weekly rota, takes Year 4 and FS2 children there, as well as targeted groups with additional needs, no matter what the weather is like.

The aim is that by participating in tasks, such as conservation projects, woodland identification, camp craft skills, tool safety and shelter building. It is hoped children will find these engaging, motivating and achievable so that they can develop emotional and social skills.

 
Whilst there, children have the opportunity to use full sized tools and learn about the natural environment, how to deal with risks, how to work with one another to problem solve, and about the physical and social boundaries of behaviour. They also have time to reflect and explore their thoughts, feeling and relationships. This in turn helps with an understanding of the world and everything within it through the use of emotions, imagination and senses.

Each session is led by a qualified Forest School Leader and is based upon the skills and needs of the individual group. The school received partial funding to train an individual in the school to be a Forest School Leader so that they can now develop and sustain their own forest school site.

I think that Forest Schools are an amazing resource, the children from my 1b placement in particular live in a built up town so for them to experience nature in a woodland setting such as this could provide huge benefits. There are so many cross curricula ways that a visit to a Forest School can benefit a child, both at EYFS and National Curriculum levels, a handful of examples include:

National Curriculum

  • Maths-recording in graphs and grids
  • Science-identifying wildlife around them
  • Literacy-discussions about what they have found and observed
  • P.E-children actively move around the environment
  • Design Technology-shelter building
  • PSHE-reflection time and management of feelings
  • Art-creating pictures, sculptures and patterns with the objects around them
  • Drama-acting out a story using the surrounding environment

EYFS

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development-children use the experience to understand and manage behaviour boundaries.
  • Communication and Language-encouraging children to listen to the sounds around them and discussing these.
  • Physical Development-building shelters and having to think about how they move around the environment to avoid falling or hurting themselves
  • Literacy-tasks can include giving meaning to marks they make with things such as earth, leaves and sticks
  • Mathematics-creating shapes and patterns and counting and collecting tasks
  • Understanding the World-talking about the woodland environment and comparing it to their school or home environment
  • Expressive Arts and Design-creating sculptures and art work with the natural resources around them.
   

These are just a few examples but it can be seen, just by looking at these very simple ones, that Forest Schools are a very powerful tool and I would love to work in a school that has its own Forest Patch.

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