Blending Art and ICT

 

This session at university was a mixture between both art and ICT. We initially had an art lesson where we learnt a variety of new skills. Following this, we used the resources that we made in the art lesson, photographed them and transformed the photos into an interactive book.

I will begin by discussing the art lesson and the new skills we learnt. We were first taught about the technique of printing and the variety of styles and materials that go alongside this. For example, Using objects to print onto surfaces with; manmade objects, natural objects, sponge shapes, letters, numbers or body parts. Monoprinting; mark making or drawing into ink or paint and blocking out ink or paint with paper shapes. Using and making printing blocks; pre-made printing blocks, card prints and collagraphs and glue/String prints. Cutting into the printing block/tile; press print, linocut or woodcut. This is known as relief printing.

We were also advised that we could use a variety of materials to print with such as, paint and ink. Below is an example of a print I made and used to create snowflakes during this session. I created this print by carving the snowflake shape into polystyrene and painting over the top with paint.

 print2

Whilst half of the group were sent to work on creating a background using printing, the other half were sent to make characters using clay. We decided on a wintry Santa Claus scene and the models we made we of penguins and an elf. You can see these below!

characters2

Following this, we were then asked to put our background together with our characters and create a scene, I was so proud and impressed with our final piece and really feel it was so simple yet so effective. To do this with children over a term would be so much fun and they would gain so much from it. See our final piece below!

  art2

This is the point where ICT took over. Our task was to use our background and characters that we had created in our art session to make an interactive book. We used an app called ‘book creator’ to do this. We took lots of photos of our scene, moving our characters about to create different scenes. We could then insert it into a book with turning pages where we could add music and text to each page to create a story. From my experience children love using technology and being able to create a story using something they have made is so rewarding and will teach them invaluable skills.

You can see the story book that we created below:

I believe that using the iPads for books for children to read, create and look at whenever they want to is an excellent way to encourage young children to read and enjoy stories. As I have mentioned in an earlier post, Storybird is an excellent website which allows you to create your own stories using unique artwork. Another website which is a useful for online books is Oxford Owl.

 

 

Sing up!

As I have mentioned in a previous post, music is something which I really enjoy and feel is a very important aspect in early years education as it is something that all children can engage with. During our second music session we were shown not only how to make music with a variety of instruments, but also the vast range of apps that can be used to create music. The session started by us looking through a resource pack that contained a variety of ways to introduce music and song into early sessions in classroom. This resource pack was called ‘Sing up – breakfast club’. I really liked these songs as they are all short and simple. I will definitely be using them in my future practice as a teacher. You can download your free breakfast club sing up pack by clicking the picture below.

sing up

After looking through the resource pack and practicing some of the songs as a group, we were then shown some apps that can be used to create music. The app that was suggested to do this was called ‘garage band’. This app allowed you to play a variety of instruments such as guitar and drums and blend the sounds together to create a piece of music. The app also has a recording device so you can also add your voice to the music. I found that this app was relatively simple to use, however, if this was to be used with younger children, then adult supervision would be advised to ensure children could access all aspects of the app to their full potential.

Our task was then to use real instruments, our voices and the garage band app to create the sound effects of a moving train. This could be tailored in a classroom environment to suit a particular child’s interests. We worked in a group of three and we each had a role to ensure that our recording was successful. We used a mixture of instruments and our voices to create the sound of a train leaving a platform, travelling at speed and then arriving at its next platform and recorded this on the garage band app. It is suggested that if this task was being carried out with children, you would show them a video or sound effects of a train leaving a station to inspire them. To hear the train sound effects that we created, click on the picture of the train below!

trin

The idea of getting children to create their own ‘sounds’ of every day objects is a brilliant idea and is a way of getting children to express themselves musically in a unique way. An important part of getting children to try unique and different activities is to model first. The BBC Website provides some excellent stimulus sounds to encourage listening skills.

 

Creating plugged and unplugged activities

Our second ICT lesson taught us about plugged and unplugged activities and how we could link these together to provide a serious of excellent learning opportunities for children. Before the session I had never heard the terms ‘plugged’ and ‘unplugged’ before, so this
session was a real learning opportunity for me. Plugged activities can be described as those that use a source of technology such as iPads, and cameras etc. Unplugged activities, therefore, are activities which don’t use any sources of technology. During this session we were introduced to a variety of different apps that we could use in the classroom for a plugged activity. For example, we were shown an app called ‘Build a train’. This app allows the player to build a train track for the train and decide on which direction the train will go, how fast or slow the train will go and when the train stops and starts. It was then suggested that this could be linked to an unplugged activity such as children working in pairs building their own train tracks, one child being in control of the toy train and the other child giving instructions for the train to go in certain directions, or to speed up and slow down etc. These activities would provide children with the opportunity to learn about directional language and giving or receiving instructions.

Working in groups of three, we were then asked to create our own linked plugged and unplugged activities as well as relating them to real life. As there were many groups choosing to use pre-made apps for their plugged activities, our group wanted to do something a little bit different. Therefore, we decided for our plugged activity, our source of technology would be remote control cars. The activity we chose was to have a maze set up in the outdoor area with dead ends and obstacles etc. Children would then work in pairs, one child would be controlling the remote control car, and the other child would be giving directions, as a pair they would have to work together to try and escape the maze in the quickest time. This was then linked to our unplugged activity which we decided would work best in P.E sessions, children would work in their same pairs, one child would pretend to be a car and the other child would have to direct them out of the maze in the quickest time. Again this would be working on their directional language, ability to give/receive instructions and working as part of a team. We then decided we could link this to real life by showing children a video of a satnav and showing how a satnav gives instructions and how it works.

This session was really informative and showed how easy it is to create a series of exciting lessons, using a healthy balance of technology. I will definitely use what I have learnt from this session in my future teaching practice.

Art in the Early Years

I believe that being creative and incorporating art int0 as many aspects of the early years curriculum as possible, is extremely important. Creativity and art is something which all children can relate to and be involved in, despite any additional needs or language barriers. Therefore, I feel art provides a great opportunity for all children to be included. Our first art lesson provided us with many exciting ideas of ways to include art into various areas of the curriculum and this is something which I found extremely useful.

An idea that was presented which I believe is so simple, yet could provide children with the opportunity to create outstanding pieces of art, is to very simply put up an artists painting in your classroom. By then providing materials underneath this painting which children can use to create their own painting, this will give children a starting point, but allow them to interpret the painting in their own way and create a unique painting which is comparable to the artists style. Similarly to this, you could use a photo of a sculpture, such as The Angel of the North and provide the children with play dough and see how they interpret the sculpture, I feel this would be an excellent free flow activity for children to come and work on whenever they like.  I really believe this will give them the independence and freedom to create amazing and unique pieces of art as well as learning about different artists and styles of art. You could then extend this by introducing a different artist’s painting each week for a few weeks, and then hold an art gallery of all the children’s work for parents. This would be strengthening the parents as partners link and get them involved in their children’s work.

The first activity that we were asked to do involved considering the meaning of line. We were asked to think of how many types of line we could think of. For example, straight lines, zig-zags, swirls, waves, squiggles!! We were then asked to choose one of these types of lines and using anything we could find in the art room, create a picture, just using this type of line. This activity was so much fun as it became apparent that there were so many different materials in the room that we could use to create these lines. For our first piece we decided to do ‘swirls’ and our second piece was straight lines. Examples of our final pieces are shown below!

Another activity we were asked to do involved choosing a word that relates to art, and finding things in the classroom which represented each letter of the word, taking a photo of them, and putting them together to create the word. This really demonstrated just how well art can link in with other areas of the curriculum, for example in this case, literacy. We were also given the idea that this could be a way to make spelling tests (for older children) much more exciting, which I feel is an excellent idea!!

Can you guess which word we chose from the photo below?

Art, ICT and the Outdoor Environment as one

One of our lectures on multi-sensory media for teaching and learning involved a very practical session outdoors, incorporating art and ICT into the outdoor environment. I found this session extremely enjoyable and interesting and it completely opened my eyes to the fantastic learning opportunities that the outdoors creates for children in all areas of the curriculum. The lecture was carried out in a contained area of a forest on the grounds of the university.

Our first task of the lecture was to have a walk around the forest school and investigate the risks that may be associated with forest schools and children learning in the outdoor environment. As group we collectively identified a variety of risks such as the possibility of children going further than they should and therefore recognising that there should be visible boundaries. Alongside this we identified that there could be many trip hazards and a risk of children falling/slipping on areas that they could climb. However, after speaking to one of the tutors, she explained to us that although there are such risks in the outdoor environment, it gives children the chance to be involved in risky play, which has been outlined as essential learning by Tovy (2007) in her book ‘Playing outdoors: Spaces and places, risk and challenge’.

Tovy, H. (2007) Playing outdoors: Spaces and places, risk and challenge. Berkshire: Open university press.

Following this activity, we were then asked to create a story, using props that the lecturers had placed around the forest earlier on and iPads to capture pictures. Everyone seemed to really enjoy this activity and worked together to create some extremely creative stories. The story that our group created involved an invisibility hat and some magic glasses! See our video of this story below!

This session allowed us to see how the activity could really spark children’s imagination as well as involving ICT. The final activity that we were asked to do involved integrating art with the outdoor environment. We were shown pictures of artists who use natural resources to create art such as the picture below.

We were then asked to use organic materials from the forest and our own body’s to create a piece of art. Together we chained leaves together to create a headband/crown and a bracelet and decided that this could symbolise a forest princess!

This was a lot of fun and so interesting using natural resources. It also required us to use our initiative as how to attach resources together etc. This activity is brilliant for using art in an original and unique way and showing children that art doesn’t just involve painting and man-made substances! This lecture really inspired me to use the outdoor environment in a variety of ways and showed me the opportunities for learning in all areas of the curriculum.

 

Music is important in the early years!

I have always really enjoyed music and singing (no matter how bad!) throughout my whole life, both as a child and as an adult. I believe music is an excellent way to express emotions, especially for those children who struggle to express their thoughts and feelings through speech. I found this session extremely enjoyable and beneficial as I have always struggled to understand how to incorporate music and song, in an imaginative way, into the early years especially making cross curricular links. The fantastic Sue Nicholls was able to provide us with an insight into just how easy it is to include music and singing into many areas of the curriculum and her passion for the use of music in the early years was truly inspirational. Sue began the session with some singing exercises and taught us many simple songs that we could use in our practice. She also taught us little hints such as, instead of just saying ‘go’, always count in before a group performs so they all know when to start and begin singing or playing music at the same time. After this we had a variety of activities to carry out, these included making actions to a song and using a simple template to create our own songs based on a fairytale. The activity which stands out most to me, was making music alongside a story. Each group had a picture card of a significant event in the story and the group had to make music using instruments or their voices to represent the significant event. One group went after another and we told a story using music. This was extremely fun and can easily be linked to different areas of the curriculum such as literacy and PSED.

In the final activity of the session we were asked to work in groups and produce a simple musical piece using musical instruments in order to demonstrate how easy it is to layer different instruments and create music. The piece of music me and my group created (Holly Randall and Jodie Timmins) is available to listen to if you click the link below.

Musical Masterpiece

Not only did Sue provide us with knowledge on how to create music using classic instruments such as a Xylophone and a tambourine, she brought in instruments which she had made herself out of recycled materials! These were absolutely fantastic and worked just as well as the other instruments! As it is not always possible to provide expensive musical instruments, it really highlighted a quick and cheap way in which we can create our own musical instruments and therefore always incorporate music into the early years. A video of how Sue made the instruments is available  if you click the picture below:

ncj

I believe that this music session was invaluable to my future practice of music in the early years. Sue Nicholls was excellent and really motivated and inspired me. The session was extremely well resourced and she passed on so much of her knowledge which will most definitely be used in my continuing study and future practice.

 

 

Children’s Safety Online

The first post on my blog is going to focus on a theme which we discussed in our first multi-sensory media for teaching and learning lecture; children’s safety online. This topic is extremely relevant in today’s society, which is forever changing and growing with the latest technology.  One of our jobs as future teachers is to provide an environment where children can investigate the latest technology and explore the internet safely. The topic of child safety online has unfortunately been at the forefront of the media recently due to children as young as eight being blackmailed by abusers online. Paedophiles posing as children online persuade children into sending explicit photos over the internet and then threaten to send these photos to the victims’ families and friends if they don’t continue to send images. This has resulted in young children self-harming and tragically even committing suicide. Click here for the full article about abusers blackmailing children online, this may be upsetting to read.

However, we must also remember that we have access to an amazing range of technology, which when monitored and used safely and appropriately, can be extremely beneficial for children! I recently read an article which supports the use of technology with young children and suggests it is essential if they want to succeed in the 21st century!  IPads provide us with a huge amount of useful apps which support children’s learning and education, and I personally believe that as trainee teachers we are in the perfect position to share this with young children. Technology is a huge part of today’s society and therefore it is extremely important that children are given the opportunity to explore this. However, if we are giving children the freedom to explore technology and the internet, it is also extremely important that they are made aware of and understand the dangers of using these devices. In our lecture we were introduced to a website called ‘storybird’ as a tool in which to make children aware of the hazards online. This website allows you to create your own story, providing you with numerous pieces of artwork to support your story. If you click on the picture below, it will take you to an example of a very simple book I created just outlining ways to keep safe online.

I found that ‘storybird‘ was an excellent website and I believe it will be extremely useful in various areas of the curriculum, such as personal, social and emotional development as well as literacy, as you could create a story together as a class, or the children could create their own individual stories.

Children’s safety online is such an important topic and should be taken so seriously, we need to work together to ensure children are staying safe online. Some articles you may find useful are:

https://www.getsafeonline.org/safeguarding-children/

http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/

http://www.theguardian.com/mcafee/child-safety-online