Dec 13 2013

MSML 6, Art & IT

Filed under Art,IT

Printing, Clay and Stop Motion


So there it was our final session. As with endings of other modules, it serves as a reminder of how quickly the year is racing by!

In the first half of the session the focus was on art. We talked about story making, in particular what it means to be an illustrator, we looked at different illustrations and books. Here is a picture by one of my favourites…

08 lynley dodd

We discussed how to convey meaning by varying simple techniques such as size, detail, colour etc. We also thought about the different things which would appeal to children such as colour, shape, different things going on the picture to think/talk about.

It then moved on to the creative phase of the lesson (my favourite part). We were showing how to use different printing techniques to create a background and then different ways of manipulating clay in order to make characters. Most groups stuck with a Christmassy theme. I worked with Sulina, Tracy, Gill and Lynn, and we created a penguin and a robin who make friends and go ice skating. Sulina and Tracy set to work on the background which came out rather well…

Gill and I made the clay characters of the Penguin and the Robin and I think they were pretty good too ūüôā

We then put the characters and the background together…

In this session had there been time we would then have experimented with software to create a short animated story or ebook, however we all had such a brilliant time creating our scenes and characters that we ran out of time (this Art session had been shorter than previous ones), luckily as IT was next we were able to complete this aspect then.


Helen showed us a vast array of different story makers, slideshow video editors, quiz makers, voice recording to pictures to make a talking book, ways to draw your own pictures on ipad and make a talking story and many other clever apps and computer software story creators.
I worked with my group using ‘Stop Motion Studio’, Lynn was the camera gal, here is our short video…

Click below to watch our stop motion piece.

I later played around with another online story creator. I used Night Zoo Keeper. I didn’t realise to start with that The Night Zoo Keeper is actually a company which travels around schools promoting creativity and self expression. Here is an interesting interview with Josh Davidson the creator of the Night Zoo Keeper. ¬† I especially like the part where he talks about technological toys limiting creativity, but wanting to provide platforms on which children can use their imaginations and creativity to create alongside of technology,

Anyway enough of that, heres the creation process and my short story…


First you draw (either by hand and upload or on the website with a mouse) a picture of a creature of your choice, then you cut it out.

I liked how it gave simple instructions and showed a picture of someone elses creation.





This is my sheep, Sybil,  mid cutting out.





Then you choose a habitat for you animal to be in and position it somewhere in the picture. There are a wide  range of night time habitats and you can chance the size of your animal to complement them.





The next stage of the process is. to write a story to accompany the image. Here is mine about Sybil the Lonely  Sheep.


Whilst completing my picture and mini story I found that I was thinking of various different ways you could implement the use of this story maker in class. It would tie in nicely with work to do with animals (as mentioned previously in an earlier post) and so could go well with Music. Children could work in pairs to create an imaginary creature and a short story or some information about/attributes of their creature. Or you could ask small groups of the whole class to write small sections of a longer story then take screen shots of their image and word sections and compile it in to a class book on a slide show or other program such as Story Bird. You could even link it to a zoo trip and ask the children to choose their favourite animal, draw a picture and write in what they liked about it, some information about it etc.

There is also a way to have lots of people logged in at one time on Night Zoo Keeper and set them drawing challenges, some ready made examples I saw include ‘draw a moustache on each of the faces you see’ and ‘draw a mirror image of…’, but you can also create your own to send out to all the users on your log in. I noticed also that there is an ipad app which sounds slightly different and might be easier for little fingers to draw a picture with than using a mouse like I did.

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Dec 06 2013

Session 5 – Computing

Filed under IT

At the start of the session I did feel slightly uncomfortable as I personally know little about programming…I’m more the¬†switch it on – use it – shut it down¬†type, used to the computer doing its thing (despite growing up with a computer wizz as a father). Having said this I do think it is important that the understanding, that the machine doesn’t just run itself, is there. It goes through many processes in order to supply the desired result. This is something many people are losing touch with. (More discussion on the importance of schools providing opportunities for pupils to understand more than just the basics can be found here). Initially I was also a little confused as to how programming could be used with in a EYFS/KS1 classroom, but all soon became clear.

365-127 - BeeBot
It turns out I had been witnessing preschoolers using simple programming with Beebots in my last job as a preschool assistant.

In this session we discussed various different approaches to involving children in programming, some were ways I’d never of recognised as programming at all. Such as….

Isle of Tune


You create Islands by making roads and putting in houses, street lights and plants, each object you can assign a noise to. You put the cars on the roads and press ‘Go’, when they drive past each of the items next to the road the sound is played, you can create different music pieces this way.


Find the website here


Screen Turtles


This example of a screen turtle comes from the GCSE bitesize website, but there are versions for younger children too. The principle is the same, but the method and the design are slightly different. By identifying the direction and how many squares the turtle should take you help it to get from one side of the screen to the other. I found this tricky to begin with but with a little bit of practice I improved.




Lego We Do is a kit which comes with instructions, you build it, connect it to your computer and it moves with instructions of your choice. Some other fun things can be found on the lego website.

The above are all described as Plugged ideas, which mean they involve technology. We did discuss Unplugged ideas which are just the opposite. An example would be – following instructions, such as using a recipe, completing a sequence, using a zebra crossing etc.
Pelican Crossing
This sort of unplugged programming activity could tie in nicely with a road safety theme. Some simple ideas for teaching road safety to young children can be found here. It would be possible to create your own road with traffic in an outdoor environment using trikes/cars/bikes, coloured paper circles for traffic lights and large black and white paper for a zebra/pelican crossing.

I worked with two of my peers Ellen and Molly to create 2 activities – 1 plugged and 1 unplugged, both centered around the theme of the game Snake.


Either in the hall or outside in the playground the class would be split in half. Half acting as the snake the others acting as their instructors helping them to travel in the correct directions at the right time. This could be used for shape/number recognition, avoiding obstacles, finding a way through a maze and many more ideas besides.


We created a game of snake centering around healthy eating, the snake must avoid the unhealthy foods and eat the healthy ones. The directions are made using the arrow keys.  This could complement a creative curriculum centering around food and healthy choices. It also helps with the development of directional and positional language, which is highly important in early Mathematics.

  • Find a link¬†here¬†to a downloadable document from Australia about early maths, how children learn it and why it is important. Although it is from 2006 and written for the Australian Early Years Curriculum it has some very interesting information and ideas.

This game was simple to create, you assigned attributes to the snake’s head and body. Then chose the obstacles which when collided with cause you to lose points and the objects the snake would gain points from. You could then press start and navigate using the arrow keys.
Many other activities are available on the Purple Mash website  where we created our snake game.



I like the idea of children knowing how technology works (& hopefully I’ll learn a lot too), I feel that the more it comes in to our world the greater the need to understand it. We need to master the computers not let them master us (this all sounds very 1984). I still feel though that there needs to be a good balance between using technology for learning and using it just because. It should not be a ‘baby minding’ service, nor should it be ignored altogether – there should be a middle ground.

  • An article containing info about the effect (or hang on do I mean affect?) of technology on spelling…

  • ¬†A link to a page advising how to balance the use of technology in our lifes (good for adults, adaptable for the classroom too)…

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Dec 02 2013

Music using apps

Filed under Music

So I did a little exploration of some different music apps and found one I thought was child friendly, funny and informative. It’s called ‘Childrens Classics’, it features different animals playing different classical pieces with different instruments. There are also descriptors for each composer and each instrument.

It could be useful to use this app to introduce young children to classical instruments and music:

  • Characteristics of classical instruments
  • The concept of a composer
  • ¬†The names of different classical instruments (in total on the paid version of the app there are 12 different instruments)
  • Emotion inspired by music (could link in to art)

I would then introduce a full length piece of classical music, possibly going on to use it in a music and movement or dance PE session.

Perhaps one such as this…

or this if sticking to an animal theme….

The use of animals could also inspire discussions about pets in a cross curricular classroom.

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Nov 29 2013

MSML 4,Music Session 2

Filed under Music

This Music session focused more on the use of IT in Music. Although much emphasis was placed upon using ipad apps with the class (which in many schools would not be possible due to resourcing and numbers of children) there were some really lovely ideas for various different things within this session.

I really enjoyed the ‘In this bag I have a¬†sound‘ game where the children repeat the sound and then the bag is passed around. Each time you hear a new sound you repeat all the sounds which have gone before.

We looked at a few songs from other countries as well:

& discussed transport sounds as inspiration for musical compositions.

By looking at videos of certain vehicles in motion and using apps (in this case it was an app called ‘steam trains’) and playing a piece of music the children can be inspired to think about their own piece of musical composition. I liked the idea of linking this to a music and movement session where the children can pretend to be the mode of transport – possibly as you play them a composition such as ‘Little Train of Caipira’ or the own composition.

We participated in various other activities in front of the group. One of which was linked to the work with trains. Here is our compostion:

We played around with a few different apps for other things, this is a video of a drum kit ipad app called ‘Drum Kit’

There is a task to write about an app for use within music lessons. I shall make this into a new post…over and out.


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Sep 30 2013

Introducing an Artist to young children

Filed under Art

I found this task quite hard initially as I was desperate to use natural materials or recycled materials as these two things are very close to my heart. I started off by looking at a few artists who create artistic pieces with the above. I did find some rather nice art….

Driftwood Art "My Heart Smiles"

Recycled art 3

However, I felt that perhaps for little hands the recycled art may not be a great place to start (sharp edges and fiddly) and that if I were to do something with natural art I would want them to collect their own items and this may not be possible depending on the location of the school and the ease of a trip out in to nature. So I decided upon Monet, a little cliché, but my favourite artist.


I love the shapes and the delicate colours. As a teen I visited his home in Giverny and was blown away by the likeness paintings of his garden had to his real life garden!

Monet's Garden

After Considering Monet I thought it could easily be possible to explore recycled and natural materials in this context by making a collage.

A variety of other methods could be used, including pastels, paints, crayons, water colour etc.


An exploration of Monet could then be used to lead in to other impressionist artists eg Renoir, Pissarro, Degas etc. There could be further links to History as well in a creative curriculum.

Here are some inspirational pictures on someone elses blogand here

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Sep 29 2013

Session 3 – Art

Filed under Art,Uncategorized

This session involved much experimentation and group work which was a breath of fresh air when I consider the ‘creative’ experiences of preschoolers and myself when I was a child. Where art is a sort of production line, everyone makes a snowman that looks much like someone else’s/the teachers example. The individuality is sucked out of something which should be a fun exploration of self expression, creativity and experimentation. The session was packed full of different ways to encourage children to be expressive and creative – and not just with a paintbrush!

Paint Brushes

In the EYFS ‘Expressive Arts and Design’ involves much more than meets the eye. Such as – music, drama, messy play and story telling before we’ve even got down to pen and paper (excuse the pun).

Art should be something that involves freedom, not the ‘production line’ effect I discussed earlier. We were also introduced to the concept of Art being something which helps to improve personal and social development. Which links back to group work! We worked in groups to explore line, we made a sculpture out of objects found around the room and did a mark making activity based on feelings and movement.

emotion and movement

This one can be used in a variety of ways, such as with different mark making tools, to a piece of music, to a story, ask them to imagine they are a star/the night sky/the rain. These pieces can then be used to create a story.

Rolling a ball in paint, then on paper

This one was my favourite activity, the colours came out really well. Unfortunately one ball did veer off in a funny direction painting a multi-coloured line on someones notes (I’m hoping they didn’t mind).

Exploring line with square spirals

objects from around the room

We discussed at great length different ways to get the rest of the school, parents and the local community involved in the children’s art work. By way of accessible displays, meetings, video & art work sharing with the rest of the staff, coffee mornings for parents, evening art exhibitions. Some of these may even be turned in to fund raisers to help buy new art supplies for the class. It was all good food for thought and very inspirational.

We have been set a directed task to select an artist to use in school as inspiration. Watch out for the next blog post which will contain this.



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Sep 26 2013

Music in the Early Years and Key Stage 1

Filed under Uncategorized

Last week we had an inspirational Music lesson with a wonderful lady called Sue Nicholls, She taught us about all sorts of interesting and exciting ways to use music in the classroom Рfrom making our own instruments from recycled materials to creating songs to the tune of a familiar song and using songs to help with literacy and maths.

Although it was a 4 hour session, it flew by.  I really enjoyed making music with a small group of peers (videos to follow)!

Another activity was one in which we had to use different instruments to illustrate the story of cinerella, but by far my favourite was exploring the instruments made from items which would normally be thrown away or recycled (there are some great videos here of sue making her own).

After the lesson our set task was to create a song for a class of children based on the tune of a familiar nursery rhyme, with percussion accompanyment. A group of 5 of us chose ‘twinkle twinkle little star’, we decided to make our song about going home at the end of the school day. The words are as follows:

‘We’ve had such a wonderful day

learning lots while we play

Grab your coat, grab your bag

Its time for home don’t be sad / aren’t we glad / its been fab

How are we getting home today?

Tell us insert¬†name here¬†, method of transport lets be on our way!’

The verse is sung several times with different childrens names and methods of transport. The writing in bold can be exchanged each time you sing the verse. After the last line of the verse everyone can act out the method of transport should they wish to. We also made up some actions for the song (in the following video the person on the far right hand side is modeling the actions) – in the music lesson Sue asked us to think about actions which use both sides of the brain (linkin in to brain gym), these include movement of the arms across the midline, we have attempted to reflect some of these in our actions. In order to extend this activity in real life we would give the children the opportunity to make up their own actions and possibly record their own backing track for the song with a choice of instruments.

This is a video of our group singing the song…

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Sep 25 2013

Forest School & a brief look at Art

Filed under Uncategorized

Earlier last week (Thursday 19/09 in fact) we had our first session at forest school. After a slight misunderstanding of exactly where to go and the beginnings of rain I found the group and got stuck in. Having previously attended forest school whilst working as a pre-school assistant I thought I had a fair idea of what to expect, however I was blown away by the level of creativity which came into the session, that was completely unexpected. My experience up till then had been one of play in the forest, den making and collecting items from the forest floor.

Initially we had to survey the area as if we were risk assessing to bring children there. We then had a great time finding items in the wooded area and then using them to piece together a story of our own, we took pictures on ipads during this time (although unfortunately an error with drop box has meant that they are not available to post on here). I worked with Caroline and Sonia and we created a story where a child could put on a hat/scarf/bag/binoculars and be transported to another world by looking in the mirror, in each world they would have an adventure, finally they would fall asleep beneath a tree and be transported back home. After that we all discussed various aspects of our stories with the whole group and made a present from found things for the evil King in someone elses story.

The next part of the forest school experience was focussed around art. We looked at some examples of art which involve the natural world in different ways and then had to create our own art in this way. We decided to cover Sonia as much as possible with leaves and twigs to make her look like a tree, although due to limited time and limited ways of attaching undergrowth to her we were unable to complete the task but the idea was there and she did look kind of like¬†a tree… After completing this activity and tidying up after ourselves we went back to the art room to talk about the session and organise our pictures. This is where drop box comes in, I had never heard of it previously and¬†although it didn’t work for us this time (possibly due to an internet connectivity issue) I have since¬†found drop box to be a brilliant resource.


Next up will be an overview of our first ICT session…

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Sep 21 2013

ICT Session 1 – Internet Safety

Filed under Uncategorized

#ISRU11 - There is no 'real world' and 'digital world'

During our IT session we talked about internet safety. Both in terms of children and in terms of ourselves as future teachers. I think it is easy to forget how accessible information is on the internet in this time when technology is increasingly becoming a huge part of our world. It made me wonder how many people go for a few days without sending any text messages, logging in to facebook and video chatting with family and friends. I too am guilty of this, but it seems unnatural to me that communication via social networking has become somehow even more important than physical conversation. The internet is almost becoming peoples lives, we use it for so many things from online banking to shopping to messaging others around the world.

I do believe that technology and the internet are very important tools, however I think a focus on physical activities is of higher importance. When considering the increasing rates of child obesity in the UK and the amount of computer gadgets there are geared towards children it should come as no surprise. (Obesity-Technology)

There is further evidence to show that technology is affecting social skills (Social Skills-Technology)

I can’t help thinking that use of ¬†TVs, computers and ipads etc in the classroom are useful but need to be regarded with caution and respect. Children have vivid imaginations that need to be harboured and inspired. I feel that this is a task achieved through a variety of methods, most of which do not involve the internet but through exploring the world around them and being creative. I know if it was a choice between a life lived fully through gadgets and the internet or one lived exploring the outdoors, reading real books and having physical experiences I would definitely choose the latter. (Interesting article about creativity and the outdoors)

  • On 3/12/2013 I heard on radio 4 that a large UK bank had had some glitches with its systems preventing thousands of its customers from buying anything with their card or even withdrawing money. This news report shocked me as it focused only on the fact that online shoppers had been unable to complete online payments on the busiest online shopping day of the year. There was no mention of the people stuck at petrol station unable to pay for fuel or people who had just put their family weekly shop through the check out and found they were unable to pay, or those that had been unable to pay rent and bills out of their accounts. I’m so sure if I was at home on my sofa, surfing the web, I’d be a little annoyed that I was unable to pay online but I’d be far more inconvenienced if I were actually out shopping. For me this further highlighted the increasing issue of over reliance on the digital world.

  • On 2/1/2014 I read a very interesting article about Asimov’s predictions for the future, he was writing 50 years ago in 1964. Many of his predictions have come true, but possibly one of the most worrying was this: “with boredom spreading more widely each year and growing in intensity as we lose our duties to machines”. Although the article stated this to be untrue I feel there are elements of truth in there. Many people are losing their jobs to computers or even other countries (only possible through technological advances in telephone communications and the internet), self service checkouts, internet banking. Moreover as a society we are using gaming, the internet and TV as a way to fill our time – whatever happened to books, fresh air, gardening, cooking, creating things with our hands?–as-predicted-by-sci-fi-writer-isaac-asimov-fifty-years-ago–163400347.html#7B61WRe

Knitting Hands


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Sep 19 2013

First Ever Blog Post

Filed under Uncategorized

So here it is, the first post. I’m not entirely sure anyone know exactly what they want to say in their first first post but here goes…

I’m new to this malarkey, but I did enjoy discussing the brilliant uses of blogs in my first ICT session, and I am looking forward to finding exciting blogs about education, early years, creativity etc. I need to attempt to get myself a twitter account up and running as it sounds like a great tool to keep in touch with other schools and teachers around the world. I also intend to read more about E safety in Primary Schools, so watch this space as I will likely post about this too.

Here is a link to a simple E safety book I created online for pre-schoolers, I used a great website called storybird, it has loads of pictures by different artists so you can create your own stories.


Anyway over and out for now.


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