Bev's adventures in ICT

Posts tagged ‘Early Years’

Old favourites revisited.

I spent a bit of time this morning going through long and forgotten folders on my computer (sad, I know, but a bit of housekeeping was in order) and came across a few things I remember downloading long ago when working with pupils with Special Educational Needs. Some of them are quite old and some of them may still be available online but I thought someone, somewhere might find them helpful so…here we go.

The first thing I came across this morning was a game/activity simply called Road. I remember downloading it so it could be used as a free time activity by a child who loved trains. I have a feeling I found it though SENTeacher.org but can’t see it listed there today so I’ve placed a link to a zip folder here. With a little investigating I’ve found a similar, more modern equivalent on HelpKidzLearn but this doesn’t have the same flexibility or options as Road which still seems to run okay on my newer system(although the one on HelpKidzLearn is switch accessible). It does look dated but might still be fun for the child who loves to play with trains and roadways. Another free time activity I came across and downloaded (possibly for the same child) was John’s Funny Face game: pointless fun for those with a few minutes spare.

Another couple of great downloads I remember finding via SENTeacher.org were called Tunes and Chimes: simple musical activities that worked brilliantly on a touch screen. In this day and age of apps and interactive content they are looking a little tired and dated but still might be fun to try out. Chimes is very simple and I first used it just to get a particular child engaged in touching the screen but Tunes is quite funky in its own way and might be a nice alternative to some of the newer interactive music things about (such as Incredibox), especially for younger pupils. It’s worth mentioning at this point that many of the downloads I found via SENTEacher.org are still there (some newer and updated) and could be useful in any classroom setting: not just one set up for pupils who need that little bit extra. A few of the mathematics downloads are particularly useful and it’s definitely not just a website for practitioners and facilitators working within the Special Needs sector! Another great place with free general classroom downloads is the Primary Resources online activities section. The activities run online but are also downloadable and there are some really useful things there, including an activity for ordering numbers that I have flagged up to many people over the years.

Returning to Special Needs, I came across a few downloads this morning to support the use of sign language in the classroom.  These came from ET Resources and are still available (Windows platform only). The downloads can be run in a demo mode (without purchasing an activation code) and include a range of simple signs that have a picture prompt and supporting text alongside the sign. You can search through the signs available and click on one to view. A small flashcard then pops up in the bottom right of your computer screen. The sets don’t include endless numbers of signs but it is a good way of checking a sign you’re not sure of or picking up a new one. The signs would be particularly useful when supporting a signing child in a mainstream setting – especially for those who were not confident in their signing as it is always good to have back up.

I have to say I came across endless downloads to support literacy when sorting things out today but, unfortunately, many of them will not run on anything newer than Windows XP. I have fond memories of using RnR spelling ( Look, Cover, Write and Check activity where you could add your own lists) with lots of children but it just doesn’t work on newer computers (although I’ve still got it if anyone does is still running XP and would like it!). There are similar things available to use online, they just don’t give you the same amount of control (although they are excellent). My pick would be the Doorway Speller but there are also versions from Ambleside Primary and ICT Games (among others). I also had a huge collection literacy of resources from Grey Olltwit – the site still going but has different activities and it would seem you know have to register – that no longer work but most of those activities (missing letter, hangman) would be available elsewhere on the web I am sure. You might wonder, with all this talk of literacy, why there is a picture of a calculator above this section. It’s just because I was going to mention it. I downloaded a stand alone version of it a long time ago and it’s still available online via Crickweb – a site with loads of great activities for different areas of the curriculum (and it also includes links to other worthwhile sites). And for those of you who don’t want a Big Blue Calculator; here’s a big red one – just in case.

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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.