Technology is part of a child’s life from the moment they are born; it is all around them and from a very young age they become interested in it. Babies are often fascinated with television remotes, the button on a dvd player, toddlers and children in general love exploring their parent’s mobile phones or tablets. And I have noticed, as a parent (of a 6 and 10 year old) and through school experience that children are often more advanced than me at using some technology; demonstrating an interest in learning how it functions. As technology is a major factor in the way the world operates it is important that children are provided with opportunities to use technology. Information communication technology can be in a wide range of ways within and early year’s setting, for: capturing children’s learning on devices with cameras and video recording software; role play areas are an ideal place for including technology e.g. tills for shops, digital scales in bakeries; computer software and apps can enable children to present work differently to that produced by hand; and in the reading corner there could be opportunities for children to listen to stories as well as record themselves retelling stories (ELG PSED; CLL; KuW; PD; CD).
ICT to support the Early Years Foundation Stage subjects
Here I will explore a few examples of how ICT can be used to support learning in all of the Early Year’s subjects; contributing to the children working towards their Early Learning Goals:
Children could be encouraged to take turns, talk, listen and share the computer through this activity on PurpleMash. The video to introduce this activity provides the children with kind examples of how they could describe their friend. The template also provides prompts to start the children’s sentences; this could be used to provide differentiation. There are also clip arts available which could be used to label for children who are not able to produce sentences.
- Physical Development
Children’s fine motor movements are being used whilst using keyboards, a mouse, touch screens, IWB etc. which contributes to their handwriting ability. To make the activity more specific to handwriting there are lots of apps available to support handwriting development and correct letter formation: Use Your Handwriting, My First Alphabet, Letter Workbook just to name a few. Such apps support children to link letters to their sounds, practise writing uppercase and lowercase letters and will be useful in KS1 when children are introduced to joined up writing. It is important to choose an app that corresponds with your school’s handwriting scheme though otherwise the children will be practising their handwriting in a incorrect style and potentially the letter formation may differ too.
- Understanding the World, Communication, Language and Literacy and Expressive Art and Design
Recce (online and available as an app) combined with Rollworld and iMovie have been used here to create a short film clip to show a virtual tour of London. The Recce app provides an interactive and fun way for children to explore London, San Francisco or New York. There is built in GPS and compass functions so the child can quickly locate themselves to continue exploring the environment; they are in control of navigating around the city. Adults could support children to take screen shots of the virtual tour and these could be used to create news reports, comic strips or stories. In this case, I have imported the screen shots into iMovie to enable a short movie to be created; it also allows you to record a commentary to accompany the video. This provides an opportunity for children to research the places they have virtually visited and present their knowledge audibly. This will consolidate their learning and provide the teacher with a piece of work that can be used for assessment purposes.
SMART Notebook is a great tool for creating activities for children. It hosts a bank of readily available pictures and a lesson activity toolkit with templates that can be adapted to suit your needs. Alternatively you can create your own activities from scratch, which I have an example of here. I had an animal theme in mind and created this resource to support children with their maths skills; division. Used on an interactive whiteboard, the objects can be dragged to help the children work out the answer; physically sharing the fruit among the animals to provide an image for the children to relate their mathematical thinking to. Maths_sharing_Animal Theme
A variety of additional topic tools can be found on Parkfield ICT, Cookit, TopicBox and Crickweb which all offer free online resources and games for Early Years, KS1 and KS2 to support learning across the curriculum.
Having explored Little Bird Tales (online) which suggests that it allows you to capture children’s voices and creativity whilst being fun and easy to share, I actually found the website difficult to navigate and also operate. The first step in the ‘creating a tale’ process allows you to enter your own title and name. Then, this is where my problems began; you have the option to draw, upload or select a picture from the gallery to create an illustration. I attempted to draw my own using the artpad, however, I was unable to save or use this. This did bring back memories as to how difficult it is to actually draw a picture using a mouse though and although it is supporting the development of fine motor skills I think children would be more satisfied with their picture if they used the app version; drawing on tablets with your finger is a lot easier than using a mouse and produces more satisfying results. Having failed to save my image I tried the gallery; no pictures available. I was quite disappointed to have come across these barriers so early into the process and think children would find this frustrating so I will not be pursuing the task of making a digital story book using this website.
However, I have been impressed with the Scribble My Story app. This provides a range of template books which provide prompts for writing although these do have limited pages and some text cannot be altered. These templates would be suitable for Early years children, those in KS1 who are able to write less or even SEN or EAL children. The blank template can be used by all abilities; for inserting pictures on to pages, adding labels or typing/writing sentences onto as many pages as required. Children are able to use their finger to produce letters/words rather than type which is good as this practices their letter formation and handwriting, however this can turn out quite large and take up a lot of space on the page.
Haiku Deck is a digital book creating app I used last year; this was also simple and effective.
I felt a little overwhelmed when we were introduced to QR codes as, although I have seen them before, I had never created my own. I was pleasantly surprised at how simple they are to create and can provide great interaction within the classroom. I chose the theme of Goldilocks and the Three Bears to create a QR resource which provides links to: a digital version of the story, a sequencing activity, Goldilocks games, a grizzly bear video and instructions for making porridge. The advantage of using QR codes is that it provides children with a direct link to websites and different sources of media without having to type the URL in which could easily prove difficult for EYFS children. My QR Resource for Goldilocks and the Three Bears is available on the ResourceBank.
ICT can be integrated into all other curriculum subjects to help deepen children’s understanding and build on their skills; accessing the learning in a different style, often making it exciting. I believe that ICT improves the quality of teaching and learning if used in an effective manner; to enhance the learning experience and not outweigh it. It is important to balance the learning objectives and ensure that the ICT does not take over, one way of ensuring that the children remain focussed on the learning objectives is to allow time for plenaries and refocus the children if necessary. It can also capture children’s learning and be used as an assessment tool.
This post demonstrates the following Teacher’s Standards:
TS1 – I have explored a range of resources that will help to set goals for children to challenge them regardless of their background, ability or disposition.
TS3 – These resources can be used in order to maintain children’s interest in a topic. I have explored how ICT can support children’s development in a variety of curriculum areas.
TS6 – Using ICT to assess learners.
TS8 – I have gained further knowledge about how to use ICT effectively in the classroom.