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!

Little Chatter Boxes

Last week’s #childcarehour was all about supporting Language Development in children.

It was a brilliant chat with so many great points and discussion! Please click on the image below for a link to the ‘Storify’ where you may read all of the tweets.

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image from morguefile.com

Some of the points that were raised:

  • Language development covers making sounds (which eventually develop into words), listening, looking and mark making.
  • PLAY and following the children’s interests are the best way to develop these skills (as with all skills!)

    whimsypaint-speech-bubble

    Image from morguefile.com

  • Questioning can be very effective, but it needs to be used carefully so that it is not false and doesn’t take away from real, genuine interactions.
  • We all love stories!!
  • Singing and music can help to develop rhythm, rhyme, intonation etc
  • Reading or singing together can also build those all important bonds with the children.
  • It’s vital to provide activities and environments that are stimulating and engaging.
  • And we all felt that children do not need to be formally ‘taught’ letter formation and writing (at the early years stage) – rather, we should be providing opportunities for the children to explore and develop the underlying skills of fine motor and co-ordination.
funky-alphabet

Image from morguefile.com

Do you have any comments/ ideas that you’d like to share? Join the discussion using the hashtag #childcarehour!

 

P.S. I wrote a post on my University blog about how one might use a picture book in the classroom. If you are interested, please take a look HERE.

 

Wonderful Walks

I know, I know! Anyone who has read previous posts will be sick to death of me talking about nature walks – but they are brilliant!!

Today, I had a long overdue day off. I’ve been on teaching placement for the last 4 weeks which has kept me more than busy – getting up at 6:30, working until 4 and then coming home and planning/ evaluating until midnight. But now it’s all finished (I passed first year WOOHOO!) and my summer holidays have well and truly started.

So… how did I spend my day off? I went for a lovely walk in the sunshine!

walks

Feeling inspired; I thought I would blog about some of the learning opportunities that I stumbled across:

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The first thing I noticed were that there are lots and lots of Dandelion clocks! I have many fond childhood memories of picking these and using them to ‘tell the time’.

There is a very obvious connection to simple counting here (count how many puffs to blow away all of the seeds). You could also use them to spark children’s curiosity in telling the time – do the dandelion clocks really work? What time is it now?

A different way to explore these would be to think about simple seed dispersion. Why did these dandelions grow here? What will happen to the seeds when you blow them away?

Blowing the dandelion clocks has the added bonus of developing some of the muscles in the mouth. These types of experiences can have benefits for speech and language.

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Of course, it wasn’t just dandelion clocks that I saw. There were all sorts of flowers and plants!

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The next part of my walk involved sitting in the shade and looking up at the trees. ¬†It’s important to take a break and sit in the shade – particularly if it’s a really sunny day. ¬†Encourage your children to look at the patterns that appear as the trees move and sway. Can you move your body in the same way? ¬†Children can also see how the sunlight sneaks through the gaps to create speckled patterns on the ground. Can we sketch any of these patterns? Could we make a similar pattern using paint/ collage?

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Speaking of light and shadow, how much fun would it be to trace the shape of these shadows with chalk onto the pavement? You could also have the children explore their own shadow shapes using their bodies or loose parts. Come back to the chalk outlines later in the day/ the next day. Are the shadows in the same place? Why do you think this is?

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Time to look up at the trees again!¬†At this time of year you’re bound to find all kinds of beautiful blossom! What colours can you see?

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Consider using colour match cards or some kind of chart to note down the different colours that you spot while walking. I’ve seen some great examples of this using paint cards e.g. Dulux (with the various shades).

Again, this is a great link to some fabulous art – you could use tissue paper to imitate the soft, delicate blossom petals.

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As I was heading back towards home, this tree caught my eye. Firstly, the bark looks perfect for some fantastic rubbings, but also the bottom looks like a fairy door! If you have any trees like this near you, why not work with the children to turn the tree into a fairy house, and create a little fairy garden at the bottom? There are LOADS of great ideas for fairy gardens to be found on pinterest.

2016-05-17 15.12.54 Here are some of the bits and pieces that I collected while I was out walking.

Be sure to explain to the children that we mustn’t pick too many plants/ leaves (especially not from people’s gardens if you pass by).

When you bring these items back home/ back to nursery, you could display them on a nature table for the children to investigate wtih magnifying glasses or mirrors. You could also add your natural materials into the sand/ water table, into playdough or into potions. On the other hand, they could be used for measuring and weighing, painting, or printing… the possibilities are endless.

 

I hope this post has given you a few ideas for your next nature walk!

Don’t forget – you don’t need the sunshine to get outside, puddles and mud are just as much fun!

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Twitter

Following the wonderful experience of hosting the #ScotEdChat last week, I was reminded of the potential of Twitter as a resource for professional discussion and CLPL.

However, I am aware that some people find Twitter to be overwhelming and are not sure how to make the most out of the experience. For that reason, I have decided to make a little guide which I hope will encourage others.

Getting started

Well first things first, you’ll need to create an account. This in itself requires some thought;

  • will it be a personal account or a professional one? Or perhaps a mix of both.
  • which image will you use? An appropriate picture of yourself or a picture which represents your field of work will encourage other Tweeters to engage with you.
  • don’t forget to add a little bio, telling others a little about yourself. This helps when others make the decision whether to follow you as they can see any shared interests or themes among your Tweets.

Start Following

It sounds a little creepy, but following other people on Twitter means that their Tweets appear on your ‘home’ feed.

There is a handy little search bar at the top of the page where you can look for ‘teachers’ or ‘education.’ ¬†When you click on the top result, you will be presented with a page like this:

twitter

Here you can see all Tweets relating to the subject that you have searched. Clicking onto ‘Accounts’ will allow you to see profiles of people who Tweet about the subject.

Once you have started following a few people, Twitter will begin to make suggestions of similar profiles which you may be interested in on your home feed.

Home

When opening Twitter, or clicking onto ‘Home’, you will see your home feed. It should look something like this:

home

Circled here, you can see the suggestions of profiles which are suggested for me to follow. These ones in particular have been suggested due to the people which I currently and recently follow.

Start Tweeting

‘Tweets’ are short (140 character) posts. Being able to say what you want to in such a short space is a bit of an art, but you’ll soon get the hang of it!

tweet

You might want to Tweet about an interesting article you’ve read. If so, why not add a link to that article and allow others to see it too? Just copy and past the url into the Tweet! If it is a long link, you may want to shorten it using the handy tool Tiny Url.

Retweets

Retweets are when someone  shares a post that someone else has Tweeted, making it available to their own followers. You may also choose to add your own comments to the retweet, sharing your own thoughts on a matter.

Replies and Mentions

Replies work in the same way has having a conversation with someone. An @ sign will appear before your name or the name of the person that you are Tweeting to.

In the same way, someone may mention you in a Tweet by adding the @ sign before your name.

Notifications

When someone retweets your post, replies to you or mentions you in a Tweet, you will receive a notification. These appear in the banner at the top left of your page.

Direct Messages

These are messages which are not available publicly. You may want to use these for making arrangements or sharing information HOWEVER, (as with all social media) I would strongly advise against sharing personal details such as phone numbers, your address etc with unknown others.

Hashtags

Hashtags are a way of grouping tweets and conversations under a similar umbrella. For example, if you were tweeting about education, you may want to add the hashtag #education or #teaching. This means that when these terms are searched – your tweet will appear.

Chats

Hashtags are also used in Twitter chats. These work as everyone involved includes the same hashtag at the end of their Tweets – grouping them all together in a list. For example, during ScotEdChat, everyone used the hashtag #scotedchat on each of their Tweets.

Following a chat can be difficult as they are often quick moving and very busy. A nice way to keep on top of it is to use a tool such as Tweetdeck.

You can sign into Tweetdeck using your Twitter login details. You are then presented with columns which include your home feed and notifications. You may add columns with follow your searches (the hashtag for the chat) and this will then update in real time, allowing you to see the most recent Tweets in a list. Here is a nice little guide to getting started with tweetdeck.

Some hashtags and chats which you may be interested in:

#EYTalking (This is a place where early years professionals share ideas, advice, successes and challenges. Loads of brilliant links are posted for professional reading. The chats are not weekly, however they are worth watching out for as they cover brilliant topics such as planning and outdoor learning).

#kinderchat (This chat takes place on Mondays from 8:30-9:30. There is a helpful calendar HERE which lets you know the topic of the next chat).

#EYshare (This is the chat which I host. It takes place on Wednesdays from 8-9pm and we aim to provide a friendly place to discuss a range of topics related to early years education and childcare).

 

I hope that this little post has got you feeling a little more confident about using Twitter as the fabulous resource that it is.

Happy Tweeting!

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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.)

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    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:
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    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.

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No excuses…again!

A quick update following my last apologetic post!

I promise that lack of posts are not due to me putting my feet up! In preparation for my first teaching placement, my reading and studies have kicked up a notch!

If you would like to see what I’ve been up to, please take a look at my other blog:

http://tinyurl.com/hxn2nvl

Thank you again for your understanding!

 

 

No excuses…

Hello everyone and a very happy 2016!

Firstly, I would like to apologise for the lack of posts recently. I’ve been a very busy lady! Before Christmas I had a period of assessments and a very heavy workload which took over my life, then the holidays were been spent visiting friends family, and now I am just getting back to University¬†while also juggling agency work to pay the bills!

However, I am not making excuses and I really will try to post on a more regular basis! In fact; I do have a half written post about some very exciting Space themed science learning which I will complete over the weekend (watch this space!)

Finally, I would just like to thank everyone who supports me by following either my blog or my twitter account. I have received some lovely feedback and I really love sharing with you all! 

 

Right, I’d better get back to work!

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