PedagooPerth CPD

Last Wednesday I was lucky enough to attend PedagooPerth – an event where teachers and education professionals from around the area come together and take part in learning conversations.

 

I joined in with 3 conversations:

  1. The wonderful world of lego – how lego can be used to develop a range of skills in primary children.
  2. How can we develop education outdoors within our community?
  3. Music in the primary classroom.

I chose these conversations because

a) I’ve always been a lover of lego and I was looking for ideas as to how I can bring that fun and engaging resource into my lessons at school,

b) Outdoor learning is one of my big passions and I was interested to see how it can be implemented effectively within a primary school,

c) My next university placement (‘learning from life’) is music based and I was hoping to gain some ideas and inspiration for this.

 

The Wonderful World of Lego

This first conversation provided me with loads of ideas that I would like to incorporate into my future practice. One of these ideas was using lego challenges as a soft start activity. These can vary in complexity and can encourage creativity, for example: a challenge can be as simple as ‘build a car’ or as tricky as ‘build a nightmare’. HERE is a blog with an example of some lego challenge cards.

file0001439730330

Image from morguefile.com

I also learned about a kit that schools can acquire which links lego with technology and ICT. These kits include the pieces and instructions needed to build a robot. Once the model is made, children are required to use simple coding in order to make the robot move. Children can then use these robots to enter into a competition known as the First Lego League. It was easy to see all of the various learning and skills which the children can gain through these experiences; from problem solving and teamwork, to the mathematical and computer skills involved in coding.

During this talk, the leader also spoke about the lego club at her school. This club was completely run and managed by the children themselves, and was used to allow the children to build, code, and try out techniques to allow them to score points for the competitions. I really like this idea and would love to see something similar in practice. This might even be something that I look into setting up in the future.

How can we develop education outdoors within our community?

This talk was really interesting as we were able to hear about how a primary school was developing their outdoor area and small patch of woodland to not only allow the classes to use it for learning, but also to encourage the local community to get involved.

The project was being run in a way that the children were given ownership, involving them in all stages of planning and even allowing them to help with the practical development i.e. digging up the ground for a path! We discussed all of the brilliant learning that can take place with a project like this, such as budgeting (as the children were helping to decide what was going to go into the wooded area). We also were able to hear about the future plans, such as allowing each class to keep an allotment within the woods, and using this for enterprise as the children could sell on the produce.

file6001291126089

Image from Morguefile.com

I was particularly interested to hear that, as the site is community owned, the plan was for the community to take an active role in using and maintaining it. This would mean that the area would be open to families, even when the school was closed (for example during the summer holidays).

Alongside all the positives of this project, there are also barriers and challenges which must be overcome. One of these challenges is that in the past, the area has been subject to littering and vandalism. It is hoped that as the site is improved, and everyone is involved in its development, this will deter such activities. Another challenge is ensuring the sustainability and minimising the negative impacts of human activity on the trees and the wildlife. Rangers and the Forestry commission can be used for this purpose, for example conducting a tree survey, however it is important that staff, pupils, and the community are educated and made aware of what they must do to look after the environment.

This talk left me enthusiastic and feeling positive that forest school and outdoor learning can take place effectively within primary schools. Obviously, this is easier for those schools which are lucky enough to have a natural outdoor area which they can use (rather than a concrete playground), however I am confident that all schools can find a way to incorporate more of this valuable learning.

Music in the Primary Classroom

This conversation included lots of really practical ideas on how to teach music to primary school students. I was able to see how children could learn rhythms and patterns using their bodies, or spots on the floor, and how this would link with eventually reading written sheet music.

I was also able to make connections between the learning ideas presented, and the methods that I observed and have read about for my learning from life placement. This style did not use figurenotes, however the progression was very similar, and it was obvious that there was very positive results.

I particularly liked the idea of a noise pyramid activity which involves children making individual sounds, but being brought in, and brought off at different times so that the sounds build up in layers. I feel that this has clear links with helping children to understand written music notation.

While I have always been fairly keen and confident in using music within the early years, this talk has provided me with lots of ideas which I feel I can bring into my practice, both within my next university placement, and throughout my future teaching career. It has helped me to feel more confident about teaching music to primary children.

music

 

Overall, I feel that PedagooPerth was a really worthwhile event. I was able to meet with some really interesting and incredibly friendly people and I learned a lot too! If you have to opportunity to attend one of these in the future, I would highly recommend it.

Discovering new resources

This is a post which I wrote for my university blog, but it applies here as well as the resources could be used within Early Years. Take a look and let me know what you think ūüôā

 

 

Over the last few weeks, I have come across 2 online resources which I feel could be really useful in my future teaching career. These have been shown to me by university lecturers, and in the spirit of sharing, I thought I would write a little post about them to hopefully inspire some of my fellow course-mates.

The first of these resources was comes from the website ‘Chrome Experiments’.¬†This¬†is “an online showroom of web browser based experiments… and artistic projects” (Wikipedia.) In other words, people have been creating all kinds of weird and wonderful things and uploading them to share with the world.

The particular experiment which appeals to me and that I can imagine using within the classroom, is Chrome Music Lab.

Chrome Music Lab

Within music lab, there are various different activities, all connected with music. For example, the first activity (entitled ‘Rhythm’) you can experiment with having the characters beat their drum (or ting their triangle, or knock their wooden block…) at different times according to where you place a marker. This is a great introduction to simple rhythm and patterns, it also gives children a very basic, first introduction to how music can be represented on a page.

A screen grab of Chrome Music Lab

A screen grab of Chrome Music Lab

Another part of Chrome Music Lab is ‘Arpeggios’ . Here you can click on any letter to hear the arpeggio played in that key. You can also adjust the speed in which the arpeggio is played. I think that this could be a great tool for looking at how music can be used to provoke feelings and emotions – for example, the arpeggio in d#, playing at a slow tempo could be perceived to sound slightly sad/ melancholy whereas playing in G, at a faster tempo may sound happy and joyful.

A screen grab of the Arpeggios activity on Chrome Music Lab

A screen grab of the Arpeggios activity on Chrome Music Lab

The second resource was introduced to me through a TDT task which was sent earlier today. Again, I’d never seen it before, but it got me quite excited and I just had to try it out.

This resource is Padlet.

Padlet

Padlet is a virtual space where you can add ‘post-it’ style notes, as well as photos, links and media from your own computer or from the web. What I really like about it is that it can be used as a collaborative space.

Each board can be set to be private (for your eyes only), public, or password protected. This means that it could easily be used for students to work together on a project – collecting their research or sharing ideas together.

HERE is my example Padlet board (pictured below). To access it you will need the password: uodedu. Feel free to add/ remove/ change things if you would like to.

A screen grab of my example Padlet board

A screen grab of my example Padlet board

Having this information stored in a secure online space means that pupils could continue to add work or ideas to it outside of school hours if they so desire. It is also attractive (customisable backgrounds and icons) and easy to use, which may help to engage the children.

THIS article from Education World has some more ideas about how you might use Padlet within the classroom. I particularly like the idea of having a question wall – with children perhaps adding questions about what they are currently learning and showing any gaps in their understanding, or perhaps adding questions which show what they would like to learn next.

Of course, an issue with this is that not all children have access to computers or the internet at home. Therefore I would not use a resource like Padlet for any homework tasks or compulsory work unless there is time allocated to it within the school day.

 

*EDIT* 

Within EY, I could see Padlet being a useful tool for sharing ideas, planning and CPD. A team could work together on building up ideas for a play and learning.

Being a visual person РI love creating mood boards for a new area of learning! 

 

I always love discovering new resources and I would urge you to have a play with these. Let me know what you think of them in the comments below!

5…4…3…2…1…Blast Off!

Following the absolutely amazing experiences of the British astronaut; Tim Peak (if you haven’t watched the video of his space walk yet, check it out¬†here), my fascination with space and our solar system has been renewed!

If I’m feeling this way, I’m willing to bet that others are feeling the same, therefore this is a brilliant opportunity to do some space themed learning with our children!

The curriculum for excellence includes a line of discovery which is directly related to space:

I have experienced the wonder of looking at the vastness of the sky, and can recognise the sun, moon and stars and link them to daily patterns of life. SCN 0-06a

That being said, as always, the experiences and activities which you offer to your children will cross into many of the curricular areas. Below are some of the ideas which I’ve come up with and how they may link to the curriculum:

Language & Literacy

  • Make a ‘Word Wall’ display with the fantastic new language that you’ll be using, for example “rocket”, “planet”, “moon”…
  • Stock up your story corner with Space books – both information and story

    mfmoon

    Image from morguefile.com

  • Make up stories together about the man in the moon, astronauts or friendly aliens.
  • Decorate paper plates to look like the different planets and add their names. Display these around the room.
  • Add glitter/ coloured sand to your light box (and let the children know that it’s moon dust), then allow the children to mark make. Perhaps add ‘astronaut gloves’ for an extra challenge.
  • Singling space songs (this also links in with expressive arts):
    • Twinkle twinkle little star
    • Mr moon, Mr moon, you’re out too soon
    • 5 little men in a flying saucer

Numeracy

  • Countdown (5,4,3,2,1, blast off!)
  • Building up rocket pictures using shapes and colours (for example; can you make a rocket shape out of 3 squares, 2 semi circles and a triangle?)
  • Comparing sizes, and using mathematical language – Jupiter is the biggest planet, the Earth¬†is smaller.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA from morguefile.com

  • Add a sundial to your garden or outdoor area and observe with the children how the shadow moves. You may want to use chalk to draw around the shadow at different times so that the children can clearly see the movement. Link these observations with the idea of time. Perhaps take photos of the different shadows and display them around your clock.
  • Connect the stars (like connect the dots) to make simple constellations – you can do this on paper with a pencil, or can bring in some fine motor skills by having the children thread wool through card, making a small hole at the point of each star so that the constellation becomes clear.

Expressive Arts

  • Work together to create a fabulous cardboard space rocket or turn your role play area into mission control! Don’t forget to add space suits, helmets and space boots. There are loads of wonderful role play ideas on pinterest – I would encourage you to take a look! Simply search ‘Space role play.’
  • Bored of paper? Paint space scenes onto tin foil for an interesting effect.
  • Planet stamping (use sponge stampers or potato halves to stamp colourful circles onto black paper – add glitter/ sequins for a shimmery space result.)

    file3741251415177

    Image from morguefile.com

  • Build your own junk model rockets. As well as being creative, this activity also involves children thinking about which materials¬†they are going to use (“should I use the square box or the cylinder tube?”) and problem solving (“how can I get this tube to stick on?”)
  • Make some papier mache planets for the added bonus of sticky, sensory fun.
  • Get dancing with some music and movement (why not have the children pretend to be rockets blasting off, or experiment with taking great big ‘moon steps’)
  • Listen to some space themed music (why not try Holst’s Planets¬†or Bowie’s Space Oddity)
  • Try using musical instruments to imitate Sounds of a rocket (experiment with playing them loud/quiet/fast/slow)

Science

  • Build your own vinegar and baking soda rocket! Tutorial here
  • Explore light and darkness with torches and lights in a Dark den
  • Go out and look at the stars. If you have a real telescope then fantastic! If not, make some pretend ones with cardboard tubes – you can still go star gazing on a clear night!

Technology

  • There are many wonderful websites which can be used for finding information and also for games and activities. Take a look at:
  • file000926174817

    Image from morguefile.com

    Let the children see the ISS live feed

  • Watch videos of rocket launches, space walks and life in space. YouTube is a wonderful resource for this, but please always check the videos before you show your children and ensure that the ‘related videos’ bar is not showing anything inappropriate!
  • Use the bee-bot or other programmable toys to learn about the space rover and remote control robots in space.

 

 

Blog Hopping

While writing this post, I also came across some other wonderful ideas which I would like to share!

Galaxy Oobleck from Twodaloo

Loads of space themed ideas here from Fun in Pre K-1 and Kinder (I particularly like the sounds of the ‘squishy sun’)

Moon Maths from Stir the Wonder

A lovely, visual activity to introduce children to the concept of planets orbiting the sun here from Gift of Curiosity.

 

I hope that I’ve given you a few ideas to inspire you when broaching this wonderful¬†topic with your children! If you have any further ideas that you’d like to share, please comment, or tweet to me at @EarlyYearsIdeas. I’d love to hear from you!

Have a brilliant week everyone! Don’t forget to join us on Wednesday at 8pm for our weekly #childcarehour chat.

Signature

 

Enjoying Autumn

Autumn is one of my favourite times of year! The cold, crisp and clear skies, the colours of the falling leaves, the cosy feeling of being snuggled up in wooly jumpers and scarves…

There are many lovely activities on an autumn theme – some of which I explored in a previous blog post (see Bonkers for conkers) and I feel like blogging a few more – particularly focusing on getting outdoors:

Nature walks (H&W, Social, Lit&Lang, Num, Creative, Science)

Oh yes, this one again! Never underestimate the learning that can take place on a walk! You can:

  • Look for changes that are happening around your area2015-10-21 14.03.12
  • Collect interesting leaves to be sorted and compared
  • Jump in the leaves or over the puddles
  • Listen to the crunching of the dry leaves
  • Look out for any animal homes
  • Explore the light at different times of day – what happens to your shadow? (Try standing in the same place and having someone draw around it with chalk!)

Leaf sorting (Science, Num)

When you return from your walk – or anywhere where you can collect lots of leaves; have the children sort them into categories of colour, size, shape or whatever else they are interested in (or skill that you’re working on). Then look at different ways that you can display the information, for example – make a pictograph by gluing the leaves onto the paper – making it easy to identify which category has the most/ least. What a wonderful, practical way to introduce some comparative, mathematical language!

Natural art (Creative, H&W, Science)

2015-10-21 14.08.35

  • Leaf or bark rubbings
  • Painting leaves/ twigs
  • Using glitter and glue to make some wonderfully sparkly autumn decorations
  • Explore autumn colours – mixing and experimenting
  • Use a hole punch on some sturdy leaves and then thread them to make leafy jewellery or even some fab autumn bunting

Cooking on the campfire

If you take part in forest school activities, or have a setting where this is possible – outdoor cooking is a favourite activity all year around. Just be sure to complete the correct risk assessments and ensure that you and your children are 100% confident with safety procedures

Pumpkins (H&W, Lit&Lang, Num, Tech)

No list of autumn activities would be complete without a mention of that halloween tradition: pumpkin carving! My preferred ¬†method is to cut off the lid, then allow the children to get stuck in – scooping, scraping and picking out all of the insides. Don’t let it go to waste! The insides are great fun in your sensory tray as a squelchy, slimy experience, and the seeds can be roasted to make a tasty treat (see method here¬†and perhaps add some literacy and numeracy by following a recipe).

Once the innards are well and truly gone, I allow the children to draw a face onto the pumpkin. This is often the job for just one child, so you might like to get the others involved by researching different designs and offering their own ideas.

Depending on the age of your children, you might allow them to do some of the cutting out of the face/design, but please be very careful (we don’t want any missing fingers!)

Finally, add a battery powered candle to complete the spooky effect!

More Halloween themed activities to follow in my next post. For now, wrap up warm, get outside and enjoy!

Signature