Holly's Blog

Early Years Education

Creating a story using art and ICT


These sessions occurred in the same day and they nicely linked together. Starting with the art session, this session had the objective of how art can be used with ICT and literacy. This idea centralised around the idea of allowing children to be illustrators. This may involve children copying or adapting a page of a relevant book or creating their own page or story, this will depend on age or ability. We had the opportunity to do this in small groups. We had access to printing materials and clay materials. The idea was that the printing techniques would be used to create the scene of the story and then clay models will be made to make the characters of the story. We all really enjoyed this and worked together to deliberate roles, this organisation meant that we were able to complete this task to a high standard. We decided that we would have a Christmas theme, with a Santa Claus, penguins and elf characters. My role for this task was to make the background scene.


To make the scene, I used blue and white ink paint to make the sky and blocked the colour by using a cut out template of hills (snow), this was a very easy but effective method in creating this effect. Sammi  made snowflake prints out of polystyrene. This method of making prints is really accessible for children in the early years. It was a process of drawing a picture on tracing paper and then using the tracing paper as a guide, along with a pencil, to make a print. Ink was then rolled on to the print. This is an idea that I look forward to using in the future, however I am unsure whether all schools will have access to this ink paint. We used different shades of purple for the snowflake prints, which was really effective and stood out from the rest of the background. It helped set the scene of a snowy landscape. In order for children to complete a similar activity, children will need a clear demonstration on how they can achieve a similar effect. Teachers providing demonstrations is really important for children’s learning, however it is also important to rely on demonstration as the main way of teaching young children as this can inhibit the chance of children finding things out for themselves. A demonstration would be important for this activity because it is teaching children a skill. Maria Montessori believed that demonstration was a particularly useful technique for helping children to learn basic daily skills.

To read more on the importance of demonstration read pages 46-57 of Mac Naughton, G. and Williams, G. (2009)Teaching young children. 2nd ed. Berkshire: Open University Press.

I think this activity could be easily adapted to suit all age groups, for the early years I think the printing exercise would work really well in this age group. The children would have probably used some sort of printing tool before. Therefore, the polystyrene stamp would be enjoyed by the early years as it is so simple to make. In order for children to effectively improve skills, it would probably be best to make this activity as an adult directed task. However, it could be used again as an independent activity. Children in the early years will have had opportunities to work with materials such as play dough or salt dough. This could be used however, clay would be better so that the characters could be decorated and painted. Within the early years and with older children, I think this activity could fit very nicely into a topic. Using print to make a picture could be a great activity for the whole class to worth together to make one scene, a scene from a book that the class have been reading and which is relevant to their topic. The children could then individually make a character. This could then be used for a classroom display.

The ICT part of this lesson involved us using I Pads to create a story. This was a straight forward activity and was enjoyable to bring the story alive. The only issue I have with this, is that not every school has access to I pads. So how would children complete this activity? Many schools will have digital cameras with most having a videoing option, however the chances of each group of children having a digital camera each is unlikely. This will contribute to how long this activity will take. I shared this idea with a year 1 teacher and she had similar thoughts. Her thoughts were that as a teacher you would have to plan this type of activity a year in advance in order to get the correct resources. However, she did say that there were plenty of compromises that could be made for example using paint instead of ink.

Here is the final product,

IMG 0661[1] from Holly Randall on Vimeo.


How do I feel about IPad’s in the classroom?

  • Risk of children dropping them, sometimes I think cameras work best however the IPad is instant – you can make a story instantly.
  • I am conscious on using ICT in the majority of planned lessons, however to a certain extent; there are many other ways that children learn.

When available, I enjoy using I-pads in the classroom. I have used I-pads for encouraging children to read. I have encouraged children to read e-books on I-pads as an interactive teacher directed task. Children really enjoyed this as they were able to read and listen to the story. A similar activity has also been used for whole class teaching, an eBook was shared with the class and then the children were encouraged to create freeze frames of certain pages of the book.

These are the websites that I use for children’s eBooks:

Oxford Owl

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Using Ipads to record and make music, was it successful?


This music session had a heavy emphasis on using apps to record and make music. The suggested apps, for instance garage band, were easy to use and would be manageable for younger children. I have yet to fully experience planning and engaging children in using an app to record or make music. This may be due to the fact that I do not own an I pad and do not feel entirely comfortable in incorporating the use of apps in a lesson. For a part of the lesson we had the opportunity to create a musical piece of work in relation to the noises that trains make. This may be a topic that follows children’s interests. I worked in a group of three; we clearly distinguished the roles that each member would play. This meant that our recording was successful. We used a combination of musical instruments and our voices to make the noises of a train , getting closer and then travelling away. We recorded it on the app, garage band.  It was suggested that before the children have the opportunity to make their own music they should be exposed to video clips or have access to an app that addresses and discusses the sounds that a train, particularly a steam train, may make. YouTube is a great method in doing this, I have used you tube many times in lessons.

Alternatively, the BBC website offers free audio resources on various, familiar sounds that a child may here. I used this website and the available sounds to encourage children to think about possible sounds that they may here while on a walk around their community. This activity encouraged the development of listening skills of young children. This lesson was then developed by the teacher, whereby the children were encouraged to copy the sounds using body percussion.

These are pictures from the Ipad app, Steam Trains along with our train recording.

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An interesting way to use cameras…


Within the first week of our placement experience, it is suggested that we have a tour of the setting. My mentor used a particularly beneficial way in doing this for my personal purposes and for the children in her class. The class is a reception class and have recently joined the school. They are learning about their school and environment in their literacy lessons and had not yet had a tour of the whole school (which goes up to year six) themselves. Therefore, the teacher asked if I could take small groups of children around the school and ask the children to take photos of what they found interesting.

The areas of the school that they found interesting included the big globe in the year five class room and the builders they could see through the year three classroom. All of the photos taken were shared with the whole class. The teacher used a programme called ‘spotify’ whereby only some of the photo was shown. The children then had to guess what room it was.

This was a lovely activity and reflects the mosaic approach. It definitely beats a standard tour of the school!

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Sing, sing sing! – it’s very important!


Music is very important for the youngest in our society. However, for me it is something that I have never really enjoyed and I feel like this could be a barrier if I do not tackle it now. For this music session, the lovely Sue Nicholls  created a welcoming atmosphere for all us, starting with some singing exercises. I do not enjoy singing! However, I got stuck in and I could easily identify how easy it is to incorporate music throughout the curriculum. An activity that I particularly enjoyed was making/using music alongside a story. The story was Cinderella. The task was to relate to the feelings and emotions of those within the story. Our group used our voices to represent Cinderella upset in not being allowed to go to the ball. This task could quite easily be linked to English/Literacy, music and PSED. It is definately a cross-curricular activity.

Sue bought various musical instruments with her, including instruments made out of recycled materials. Materials included, bottle tops, bucket bins and even plastic shot glasses. Sue has made  you tube clips that provide the methods in making these instruments; these will be particularly useful in the future. It is important as teachers to be resourceful because it may not always be possible to provide expensive musical instruments. Plus children enjoy playing with everyday items, reflected in heuristic play. I think that the children themselves will really enjoy making these instruments, and if possible I plan to do this very soon.

The final activity of the session was to compose a piece of music; this was recorded and is available to listen to. This activity showed how easy it can be to create a piece of music and it got us thinking about the elements of music (pitch, duration, texture, timbre, dynamics, tempo and structure).

Here is a collage of the music session.

music session

I have purchased a couple of the recommended resources, including the Tam Tam Tambalay book and the Handy Band book. Once used, I will provide an evaluation.

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Evidence that art, ICT and the outdoors can mix…


bags on feet

This photo obviously shows that I did not receive the memo on an outdoor lecture, so I had to think of a method in protecting my very white shoes! The lesson learnt here, is that I need to prepare myself for all weathers when working with children!

The lecture was conducted in a self-contained part of a forest on the university grounds; one of the first activities was to think about the risks involved on having an outdoor lesson. Through our investigations two points particularly interested me. Firstly, it is important to allow children to take risks but strong boundaries need to be made to reduce injuries. Secondly, it is essential that the outdoor site is visited first and a thorough risk assessment is completed. An article with top ten hints of risk assessing provides a good checklist for those venturing outside. Click here for the link.

This outdoor lecture, created a culture of conversation, made us feel awake and engaged and encouraged us to use our imagination.  This made us think about the effects an outdoor lesson can have on children and their learning. It is widely accepted that learning outdoors has many benefits for children such as; encouraging risky play, opportunities for learning in all areas of the curriculum, social interactions and an environment that inspires ‘what if’ thinking. Tovey (2007:37 cited in Waller 2009 p.50) provides an extensive list of why outdoor play and learning is significant. Please see the reference below, there is whole chapter of outdoor play and learning:

Waller, T. (2009) An introduction to early childhood. 2nd ed. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

The first activity was in small groups, to create a story/short film using the I pads and with the resources found in the woods. This was an excellent group work task and everyone was thoroughly using their imagination. Our story had a focus on a magical hat and spectacles. We took photos using our phones and IPads and created it into this short film. It was very easy to take photos of the various stages of our story but proved VERY difficult in making it into a movie.

Moving on from this, we looked at art within an outdoor environment. We were shown examples such as a grass covered car. Children enjoy looking at pictures that are unusual and out of the ordinary. It is important to share with children that art can be expressed in many different ways. Holding on to this thought, our next activity was to use the natural resources and our bodies that we find in the forest to create a piece of art. Being a group of girls and only having ten minutes to complete it, we created a leaf headpiece and bracelet out of leaves. Going back to Tovey’s list on the benefits of outdoor play, he mentions that outdoor play is a multi-sensory experience and that the whole body is needed. This is definitely true in the case of this activity.

This is a collage of some of the photos of the session.

Outdoor lecture

Here are some useful articles on outdoor learning:

Learning Outdoors: the Forest School Approach

An ethnography of the outdoor classroom – how teachers manage risk in the outdoors

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It is everyone’s responsibility to keep children safe online!


Our first session for this module (multi-sensory media for teaching and learning) had a focus on the importance of ICT safety and how as trainee teachers, would we encourage this with children. Since this session, I have done some personal research and investigation on this topic, as it was a grey area for me. The Bryon Review 2008 and 2010 provide a good, up to date summary on internet safety within the United Kingdom. Within these reviews Bryon argues that since the 2008 review there has been a number of steps forward in child digital safety and this is mainly due to the increased media debate.  Sadly, it is issues that focus on the extreme and tragic stories of harm to children that are used to fuel this debate. A very recent example of this is children being blackmailed online by paedophiles, which is resulting in some of these children self-harming and even committing suicide.  This article may be distressing to read, however it may encourage parents, guardians, teachers and others working with children to highlight the importance of ICT safety. To see the full article click here.

Technology in general is a huge part of our functioning society, so it is important that children know and understand the hazards of using these types of devices. A supportive activity within this session was that we use the website ‘storybird’  and write a story suitable for children on ICT safety. The purpose of this activity was that it could be used within our future classrooms. Personally, I found this tool not particularly useful for the topic of ICT safety. However, it is a great website and I plan to use it for other subjects such as PSED, English and other similar subjects. There are some great pictures that capture various emotions and others that ignite the imagination.

blog bunny

On a final note, if you visit Bryon’s 2010 review you will see work/poster completed by a child, headed ‘Web Safety’ this might be a possible activity that can involve children in spreading the word of ICT safety.You can find it on page seven,  please click here.

These are the links that I found useful:

Child Internet Safety

Safer children in the digital world (Bryon 2008)

Do we have safer children in the digital world?  (Bryon 2010)

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