Bev's adventures in ICT

Posts tagged ‘Beebot’

Little Children…

Little people…they’re a bit different to big people aren’t they? Always busy, always curious and they say what they think too (Miss…I like your dress, miss. It’s all swirly…). Trying to get them interested in ICT though – that’s pretty easy, especially as there’s lots of stuff available that’s just for them (it definitely helps). Recently I’ve had some very young children in the ICT suite: we’ve had fun with BeeBots (as we always do) and Easi-Speak Microphones. We’ve checked out some pretty cool websites and checked into Purple Mash’s online creative space (more of that on another day). We even did a little work and printed it out. But mostly we’ve been having fun – here’s just a few things we’ve been trying out.

Poisson Rouge is one of my favourite websites: it’s packed with great stuff, there are no instructions, it’s suitable to use with all sorts of pupils (especially great for pupils with SEN  – even the older pupils like to pop in occasionally) and it’s totally intuitive to use. Although I’ve only mentioned it in passing before it is a website I like to return to. For a start; it’s just great for mouse skills and screen scanning as it has lots of interactive dot to dot or follow on type activities. It’s also got some nice musical activities on it and some lovely simple language activities which could also be useful for EAL pupils. Best feature, by far, is just the sheer variety of things available via the website: I’ve seen pupils (and adults – yes I’m talking about you, Ian Addison) get lost in the activities. Definitely worth checking out.

Here’s a nice ‘(2)simple’ idea, that’s a little different from just playing keyboard games to get pupils familiar with the keys. The picture above was created using the ABC setting on 2Paint a Picture: pupils have to type in their name using the keyboard (voilà: keyboard skills) then alter the style of font and decorate it using the selection of pens (developing mouse skills and using tools). The printed out images make a nice colourful display and parents coming into the classroom can see exactly what their child created – lovely! This idea could be adapted to make a keywords or topic based vocab display, which could be extra special if you hunted around for some interesting fonts.

When I’m looking for ideas to use with younger pupils I often test things out on my grandchildren. Recently they’ve enjoyed a number of apps on the ipad which I think could be just as useful in a school setting, especially at this time of year, With a number of pupils looking at life cycles this term there is an obvious link available in Eric Carle’s My Very First App. As you would expect the graphics are gorgeous and it was definitely a hit with my younger grandchildren. They also enjoyed Rumble in the Jungle: an interactive version of the famous book; read by Hugh Laurie and, one for the boys, Misty Island Rescue: it’s a must have app for all young Thomas the Tank Engine Fans! The final app I’m going to share with you is not really aimed at the children – although it did allow them to access and use Purple Mash and a few other child centred websites over the Easter break. This app is called Puffin and it’s just a great browser if you want to access websites which have Flash content on your ipad – great stuff!

Moving on…if you want to undertake some animation projects with young children there’s a great program available called Anithings. Using a selection of shapes, that can be combined together to make different shapes, pupils can make simple moving pictures that are really cute and engaging. It’s not stop motion – it’s far easier than that! Pupils can record motion or use the timeline slider to get their images moving. Pupils can make adjustments to the size of objects to make it seem as though they’re are moving closer, or further away, with just a few mouse clicks, Different backgrounds can be imported, it allows pupils to use storyboard techniques and it’s good for cross curricular activities. But for those of us of a certain age (okay… me) there’s untold pleasure in the mere fact that the click of a mouse can make it look like it’s made of Fuzzy Felts. Makes me wish I was a little person all over again.

The Great Outdoors

Linking ICT with the Outdoor Curriculum can often be a head scratching experience. They’re not a combination that, at first glance, appear to fit together. And yet there is more and more focus in our school lives on being outside (and not just for excursions or PE!!). So what can you do? Is there an easy answer? Well, new opportunities for linking ICT and the Outdoor Curriculum and there is much to be discovered and explored. Here are a few suggestions for younger pupils!

  • Bring your BeeBots outside: Now this might not seem to be an obvious choice (after all – BeeBots need a smooth surface to run best) but it’s not too difficult to set up. you could develop an outdoor BeeBot area with a track and a clearly marked out area, but any large table will do – just make sure it’s on a level surface. Perhaps children could make obstacles for the BeeBot to travel around (extra DT is always good fun) or you could provide them with card, precut to 15cm x 15cm, to design their own track. You know everything is twice as much fun in the sunshine 🙂
  • Get some walkie talkies: There are so many uses for walkie talkies in the outdoor area. As a starting point they’re great for role play – maybe you’ve got a vet or hospital topic going on? What better way to link in a little ICT than to have a paramedic or a vet radioing back to base with details of injuries or requests of assistance? They’re also good on a trip to your Forest School area, local beach or any other outdoor excursion, as pupils can use them to chat to each other compare information between groups.
  • Get detecting: If you’ve got a large outdoor sand play area, or you’re out on a trip to the beach, a metal detector is a lovely addition to your equipment. Maybe you could use it to check different materials (metal/non metal) or actually hide some treasure for the children to find (nice if you’ve got a pirate topic going on) – I’m sure you can think of more suggestions.
  • Talk about stuff: Got some Easi-Speak microphones? Then take them outside and let the children record what they’re doing so they can share it with others back in class. Slightly older pupils could record information while on excursions and use the recordings as a basis for their writing afterwards. What about using a digital recorder to help you remember the sounds you heard? Then use the recording to get an atmosphere of the excursion back in class.
  • Give them a camera: Digital cameras are great in the outdoors 🙂 Younger pupils use could use cameras like these and then use Photo Simple, on the basic setting, to edit them back in class. You’ve then got a perfect opportunity to use PhotoStory 3 (or whatever else you might choose) to make little movies from your images. Alternatively get hold of a Flip Video camera and use it to record pupils’ activities for playback later. You could even get the children to record their own adventures!
  • Plan an audio trail: Leave clues for the children using recordable speech bubbles or talking points in addition to some written or visual clues. A bit like a treasure hunt but with added sound!
  • Make some music: Remember Tom Hanks on the big floor piano in Big? Why not recreate it with a roll up keyboard? A bit of music in the outdoors is always enjoyable – for you and the children.

Hopefully you’ll find something in this little list that you haven’t tried before and be tempted to give it a go. Although some activities will work better with a little adult supervision there’s plenty of opportunity for a little independent learning. There’s also great scope for including pupils with SEN and getting them as involved as everyone else – so go out and explore the possibilities.

Go BeeBot Crazy!

Most Early Years and Key Stage 1 classrooms have been transformed by the addition of the BeeBot programmable robot, which just seems to go from strength to strength. It’s so easy to use and endlessly cross curricular we all wonder how we ever managed without it. A great activity is linking BeeBot work to DT: allowing pupils to create roadways using construction toys or junk modelling materials. It is a fantastic way of linking to a topic about your local environment – particularly if the children make junk model houses to line the route. Pupils might also enjoy estimating how many moves the BeeBot would need to make to travel down a street or stretch of road in the environment, giving excellent opportunities for basic maths and counting activities to boot! This activity also gives large groups of children the chance to work together. You can also use the BeeBot to measure things around the school – how many BeeBot moves across is the duplo box? Or the fish tank? Great fun 🙂

Another popular activity involves creating an obstacle course and then planning the BeeBot’s route around it. You can use all sorts of things to create routes and obstacles I like having  a selection of large plastic bobbins and bendy straws! The bobbins work well with the straws; the holes in the bobbins are just the right size for threading the straws through (fine motor skills ahoy!) and the bobbins are chunky and tactile. You can get bobbins from recycled craft shops – look out for something like this in your area.

Luckily there are lots of fabulous mats available to use with the BeeBot. I have created a selection of maps and mats using Microsoft Publisher and also use basic 15cmx15cm cards for some activities. Pupils thoroughly enjoy planning routes from Ayre’s Rock to Sydney or around a road layout of our local town.

There are a lot of readily available resources from the web to extend BeeBot work. Kent ICT have a fantastic selection of resources to use with BeeBot! Children love creating their own BeeBot shells on different themes – you could have shells for traditional tales, minibeasts and all sorts of animals. There are also some fantastic activities on iboard :  not BeeBot but beautifully presented control activities that extended our fun! And of course theres the fantastic Focus on BeeBot software (now with a version 2) and all sorts of ready made resources available to try as well. See how many ways you can link it to your curriculum!