Providing Learning Opportunities
Providing learning through ICT is extremely important in the Early Years. The children we are teaching will have jobs in the future which haven’t been invented yet, using technology that currently exists in science fiction and they will be performing services that we currently don’t know we need. It is our job to provide ICT opportunities to provide children with the skills they can build on to prepare themselves for the future.
Saying that, we don’t want to have them sat in front of a screen for hours on end. The trick is balance.
My ICT Area
It’s important to remember that ICT means Information and Communication Technology.
I am very lucky in my classroom that I have space for an ICT area on which I have two computers. The PC was donated as an old computer from anther school. It is perfect for our purposes as the children don’t do anything difficult on the computer.
The netbook on the left is a Fizz Book. I cannot recommend the Fizz Books enough! They are fantastic! Every Early Years classroom should have at least 6 Fizz Books for the children to use independently.
They work as laptops, tablets and they have an in-built camera. They are fantastic! The children really love using the Fizz Book and are engaged and excited to learn when the activity involves using the Fizz Book. Also, they are not indestructible but they are more sturdy for use by young children. Highly recommend them and hope your setting can get some!
Other ICT Activities
While computer use is the obvious place to look for an ICT lesson, there are other ICT devices you can use with the children in your class.
iPods, MP3 and CD Players
Anything with a micro-processor in it can be used in an ICT lesson and both CD players and MP3 players use micro-processors. Even cassette tape players can be used in ICT lessons as they are communication technology.
image from diamond-valley-leader.whereilive.com.au
Children do enjoy using the devices and controlling the music played in the classroom.
More and more now, children will have this technology at home. It is important that we as Early Years practitioners use our ICT sessions to teach children how to use these devices safely and appropriately.
If you are worried about buying expensive devices for your classroom, there are a number of cute protective cases for iPods.
There are also child friendly CD players available:
Children’s CD players are durable, sturdy and can stand a little bit of abuse from children but they are also a good tool for teaching children to be gentle and respectful of their toys.
Tablets and Convertible Netbooks
With tablets and convertible netbooks becoming more and more affordable, they are becoming a part of every day life. It is important that children have the opportunity to explore this technology in the classroom.
There are a lot of different apps available, ranging from free to £10.99. For a comprehensive list of good apps check out Apps in Education.
Convertible netbooks are obviously more expensive but they are so versatile they are worth it.
Children can share the convertible netbook, work by themselves and can walk around the classroom using it. It is more versatile than a tablet but they are also heavier.
Telephones are our main use of communication technology. Almost every single person on Earth has a mobile phone in their handbags.
The telephones on my ICT area are broken and old phones but the children enjoy pretend playing on them. There are toy telephones and walkie talkies that can promote speaking and listening as well as use of ICT.
A popular item in my classroom is the karaoke machine!
It is fun and easy to use, and fantastic for those shy children you may have in your class. All you need to do is find out what song they enjoy, put it on and see them sing!
Talking tins are also amazing and fantastic. Easy to use, however you may need to put an adult with this activity to teach children how to use the talking tins to begin with.
image from Early Years
Talking Tins record about 30 seconds of sound and then play back. The children enjoy listening to their own voices and saying silly things to listen back to. Talking Tins really encourage speaking and listening!
There are also Talking Postcards which do the same thing.
image from TTS
And don’t forget the talking photo albums!
image from Google
The talking photo albums also record roughly 30 seconds of sound but the children can make their own story. You can ask the children to agree a story, discuss it with them and ask them to illustrate the story, each child drawing a different part. The children can then voice the story. This is fantastic to leave in your book corner for children to access independently, and a good way to get topic books into your book corner.
Both photo cameras and video cameras give the children opportunities to record images in and around the school setting. Especially when I take videos of the children singing or dancing they always say, ‘There’s me!’ when they appear on the screen.
The VTech cameras are good, sturdy and reliable but there are other good brands available. Remember that the picture quality in the children’s cameras tends to be quite poor so don’t buy one to be your primary camera.
You could publish photos and videos of the children on your passworded website so that the children can share their work with their parents.
All these devices will require batteries! My advice, where possible, is to get a device which has a rechargeable built in battery, like most digital cameras now have. Otherwise, I’d suggest buying rechargeable batteries. We use them in our setting and they have proved to be essential.
I hope that these ideas will help you but if you have any other ideas please let me know!