Category Archives: General News

iPads for phonics

Outdoors and technology are two of my favourite things in the EYFS. Naturally, I like to combine the two when I can. Reception class haven’t taken the iPads outside this year, until today.
We introduced the children to the sound ‘s’ today in letters and sounds. After we practiced writing it and reading it we thought we had better search for some items that started with it.
I then took a group of children outside, we went on a ‘s’ hunt. Children took part in a competition to find different items that began with a ‘s’.


Once the children had found ‘s’ items that began with ‘s’ they had to take photographs to see who found the most.


We came back together as a group to discuss which items we found.
After our discussion we went back inside and drew some pictures of things that begin with ‘s’ too. As you can see we found things such as saucepans, scarecrows, scooters, spades and so much more. Some of the children even labelled their picture with the initial sound. I was so proud of them!




I’ve been using PicCollage for two years now. I use the app when blogging the children’s photos for their individual blog. I usually use PicCollage to sequence a series of photos of the same activity a child is taking part in. It’s good to show the process from A-B in an activity or a before and after.

I then decided, why not let the children do the same. As part of our ‘under the sea’ topic one story we have read is ‘The Rainbow Fish’. Naturally, around the room I had activities that linked to ‘The Rainbow Fish’, one independent activity being a story sequencing activity. The children used PicCollage for this activity. To order the pictures of the story from beginning to end. This was a success. Both the boys and girls were keen to complete this activity, improving and developing their speaking and listening skills on the way. Some children worked independently and others worked in pairs.

A lot of discussion took place with this activity and it will be surely something I use again the future and in my reading area. Children were able to speak in full sentences about each of the pictures and talk about what was going on. Some HA children were also able to talk about what pictures were missing.


After having my class for almost two weeks now I am starting to paint a picture of the children I have and their abilities. I’m starting to see where the gaps in their learning are and where my EYFSP and I have to focus on this half term. One main focus for my children is number…particularly recognition and formation.
We have had a lot of independent activities available for the children to aid their number recognition and to improve their formation, including number hunts, number writing in glitter, number cutting in scented dough etc, but nothing was enthusing the children a great deal…until I stumbled across PaintSparkle.

This app has multiple possibilities, however my children have mainly used it for their number formation.

Modelling it on the interactive whiteboard using Apple TV and showing the children the sparkles and shines that are created when marks are made amazed my reception class, I was particularly impressed with how impressed the boys were.

I then created an independent activity opportunity for them to write their numbers using the iPads, and blimey it was a success! Their formation (6 boys in particular) has astounded me, minor errors that were constantly cropping up are slowly disappearing, all because of an ‘under the sea’ number line and the sparkly app 🙂
I can see this app having many possibilities in my class and the EYFS at my school. . . My next thoughts are to incorporate it into letters and sounds.


Chatterbox Plenary


Communication and language is still a main focus for the children in the early years foundation stage at my school. As mentioned in previous posts I am constantly thinking of different ways to encourage discussion, speaking and listening etc. One way I encourage and develop these skills happens during my plenaries, using methods such as the cat walk plenary, pass the parcel etc.
The chatterbox is now another method I use to encourage the children’s communication and language.
It’s used the same way as it was back in the day on the playground, but instead of being told ‘you have cooties’ or ‘you fancy Mrs Smith’ or ‘you kiss boys’ it enquires about the learning the children have taken part in.
Questions such as ‘can you explain what you have been learning about today?’ ‘What did you find tricky today?’ ‘What did your friend learn today?’ Or ‘where has your friend been working today?’
The questions /statements can be any you want, I have just chosen particular ones to encourage speaking in full sentences and to develop good talk partners and listening skills.
The children first of all pick a number, then a sound and then get asked their question. Questions can obviously been differentiated for the needs and ages of your children.

Beetbot Bees

I have used beetbots in different ways in the EYFS. With the new programming focus starting in September I thought I would give the EYFS children a head start. This activity also helps their reading and ‘tricky’ word recognition at the same time.
Children work in pairs and give each other a word on the grid to program the bee to travel to. The children have to then read the word that the bee has landed on and then identify whether they landed on the correct word.
This is also an activity that the children can complete independently. Children have a number of ‘talking spots’ around the grid with an instruction or word said to them that has previously been recorded by a practitioner.
As they do when they work in pairs children program the bee to land on the correct word.

Phonic Alien Adventure

Like many EYFS teachers, one of the main focuses for me is getting my children to read. Teaching and encouraging the children to take what they have learnt in phonics and apply it to their day to day reading. Whether this is hearing or identifying initial sounds or blending simple CVC words.

Phonic Alien Adventure is an App that has really assisted the children with their reading. Particularly with the boys, they have enjoyed using the alien game to help with their blending.
Personally, I found planning for independent reading tricky, especially when I had to get the boys involved . With reading being a whole school focus, I was conscious I had to get a method in place to encourage and develop my children’s reading. This app ticks all the boxes.
It has been used for intervention groups to aid initial sound hearing and further on along the process helped with blending of CVC words.
Children are presented with an object (in the example above and egg and elf ) they then must choose the correct initial sound to help blend the word.
I found this also an ideal time to familiarise the children with ‘alien words’ again as I did with the Aurasma app. This familiarity and awareness will put them at a great advantage for the Year 1 phonics screening.
Children have an option of initial sounds to place at the front of a CVC word. Children read the word and in my class say whether it is an alien word or whether it is a real word. If it’s real we see if it matches the object on the alien’s belt.


Story writing is something I love to do with my children in Reception. Their ideas during shared writing are fantastic, however, I am conscious that these ideas do disappear when it comes to their independent writing. . . This is where PuppetPals is very handy for my children.
PuppetPals is an app which allows children to create their own characters, setting and stories and truly bring them to life.
When the children choose their characters and setting they have the option to record their characters moving and speaking, creating their own story along the way. Once recorded and finished, children have the option to then watch their story being performed.

At this point I give the children the title of being ‘producers’ and afterwards explain to them that to become an ‘author’ like the ones we love in class we have to write our story down. It is truly amazing how many children choose to access the writing area and then write their story down.

In Reception we then have the story read out to the class by the ‘author’ followed by the ‘PuppetPal Production’ .
With the major focus on speaking and listening in the Early Years currently and on Communication Language this app provides opportunity for children to link sentences, words and phrases, speak in different tenses and the list continues.
Another great app I cannot wait to continue using next academic year.

Aurasma in Reception

With the Year 1 phonics screening being a paramount factor in primary schools now, I wanted to get children use to ‘alien’ and ‘nonsense words’ in Reception so they are not phased next year. My reception class love the iPads in our class so it makes sense to combine reading with iPads.

Using the app Aurasma I am able to make a simple 2D picture transform on the iPad to a short video/image.

Below you can see children using the app to point at Alien pictures around the classroom which then loads three ‘alien’ words for them to read and blend during either independent learning or plan do review.

The iPad involvement really encouraged the children when introduced a few weeks ago, especially the boys. I have seen a dramatic change and improvement with their blending and reading.

A great APP! And it’s free!


Shooting stars

I don’t know why, but every since I started training to be a teacher I have HATED having hands up in my class! I just think seeing 3-5 years old sitting in the floor, with their hands in the air is just wrong! It was a strategy I never wanted to use, but I knew I needed to think of something similar to replace this strategy.
Shooting stars is something I say to my children instead of ‘put your hands up’. The children flash their hands back and forth like they are counting in fives in different spaces around their body.
Similar to ‘twinkles’ when we sing ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ however the children’s hands move slightly faster and around their body so instead of having twinkly stars I have shooting stars. I then tell them I like to pick the brightest star. With both classes now they have loved them! Something simple yet effective to assess learning.




Well, after successfully getting on the correct train this time, unlike my trip to @abcdoes last week, my arrival to Bolton was off to a great start. The Premier Inn provided me with a great double bed with fresh crisp sheets and with a divine Indian Restaurant down the road, the SLT and I were set for a good evening.

The highlight of the two day conferences and seminars were without a doubt the ‘Engaging Every Teacher’ workshop led by Lorraine Peterson. This inspiring woman really enforced the importance of professional standards and us as professionals having true ownership of our children and the learning / progress they make, whether they are or are not Special Needs. Although obvious to myself, it really brought it home that some practitioners were not aware that the progress that their SEN children make it still there responsibility.

Lorraine also targeted and highlighted that when we plan for our children, obviously we need to plan, differentiate and personalise our lessons to ensure we engage them if we want them to progress. Teaching should be structured and managed according to the needs of the pupils and the learning objective.  

Being within this workshop was a great benefit, as it allowed me to reflect on my own practice in the classroom and step back and think ‘Do I actually full engage my children? Is my planning personalised and effective?’ This will be something I will be taking to my fellow senior leaders to have a look and scrutinise with me.

Naturally, on an SEN course, there was a lot of talk on intervention and the impact that these have on the children and in the classroom. Are the methods that we use in the intervention in place within the classroom too? Is there the consistency for our SEN children. Do the people who are carrying out the intervention know the true needs of the children and how to cater best for their needs? Are they fully aware of their targets? It all came back to the teacher and the accountability aspect.

An interesting encounter during the course was the new introduction to Assess, Plan, Do, Review. This new core approach within the new SEN Code of Practice reminds me and is similar to the ‘Plan Do Review’ approach I have in my EYFS setting for my child initiated learning. Seeing the approach in a ‘whole school’ / ‘bigger school’ image and mirroring what EYFS practitioners do gives one comfort and great satisfaction in the practice that is happening within EYFS classrooms.

It is great to see, in my opinion, EYFS terminology and practices in place in higher school settings.

A great and eye opening course overall 🙂