Tag Archives: ipad


During the 6 weeks holiday I had the pleasure of travelling to Amsterdam to attend the Apple Distinguished Educator’s Institute for the Class of 2015. During this time I met some amazing people and shared and saw lots of good practice. Whilst I was in Amsterdam I numerous talented and skilled staff, one of which was @nicholaspokes, a primary head from Ireland. Nichola introduced me to the computing app ‘Kodable’ (free). This app helps with the early stages of teaching computing and introducing the children to the concepts of algorithms, programming and the terminology that is used.



Kodable contains a variety of levels that are accessible for the children and aid and further their progress (some are in app purchases).


The children are presented with a course that the alien/creature has to venture through. Using the directional arrows at the top of the screen they have to programme and direct the creature to tell him where to go. To begin with the children will be given clues and the arrows will change size as a visual aid and support for the children. This is an option that can be changed whether you are in lesson mode of free play mode. Once the children have completed the course and algorithm for the creature by selecting the play button at the top of the screen the alien will begin to move and follow to algorithm in place.

If successful, the child will move onto the next level, if not successful then the child will stay and be asked to try again.


I loved this app and straight away thought it would be good for the later part of EYFS and especially good for the beginning part of KS1. As we were off school I didn’t have the option to try and work with this app and try it in our school, however I do plan to :). Instead I popped down to visit my little cousin who has just left Reception and I know he has had some experience of Beetbots in his previous Reception class, so I know he has some awareness (basic) or programming.

My little cousin responded to it very well. He had never seen the game before but knew that he had to “get the blue alien to the other side without him stopping”. He said “it’s a bit like the bee at school, we have to count the squares for the bee to go”, so immediately he created that link  to his previous learning. My cousin then went ahead and made the link between where the alien had to go first and which arrow it would be. To start with he would only do one step at a time and then press play to see his alien move, however, he realised quickly on his own that the alien had to get from one end of the screen to the other independently, forcing him to think ‘stop’ ‘then go up’ then ‘stop’ which are the basic principles and early stages of computing that the children have to think about before they eve go on to variables and doing such things such as ‘turn’ or ‘wait 3 seconds’.

A simple yet brilliant app to help with early programming in the KS1 classroom.


Many teachers in the EYFS and teachers across the school, will probably agree in one challenge…getting boys to write. Whether the boys are 4 or 14 years old, they just find it hard to engage and do not want to do it. I find great enjoyment in finding new ways in the Early Years to get the boys to write. I have previously written about successful methods to get my children (mainly boys) writing, and then recently have found another success. 🙂

Luckily for me it linked directly with another passion of mine, iPads. I have used an app to engage children in different environments and settings and what was originally intended to discuss different people’s lifestyles and homes sparked an idea that would also get my children writing.



The app is called Sphere, and is very similar to google maps, in that it gives the children a variety of places across the world and allows them to do a 360 tour of the environment from one spot. The app contains places and are categorised such as landmarks, places to live, air, land and sea etc. Once the children select an category they choose an image they wish to explore, once selected that destination opens. As the children hold the iPad or device in their hand as they move it the screen and view moves too, as it would in real life. Children can look up and down, move around from left to right and see what they would if they were standing in their chosen destination in person. The camera moves as if it were the human eye, as you can imagine, there were a lot a ‘wows’ and ‘oooohs’ when this was shown on Apple TV, from children as well as support staff 😉


How did it get them writing? 

Once the children were familiar with the app and how to use it and discovered that you could also move the camera or ‘magic eye’ with your finger on the screen too they were using the app and speaking to their friends about what they could see and how ‘wow’ it was, this is when I dropped in the magic word ‘mommy’.

“I bet your mom would like to know about that!”

“Wow, your mom would like to know about that big blue sea”

“Do you think your mommy has seen that?”

And from that stemmed the next part…”You should tell your mom…oh, but what if you forget?”…the child(ren) would then reply “We can write it down and draw her a picture”.

The smug face then appears from the staff.


Children were then willingly choosing a ‘special place’ to write about it (what it looks like, where it is, who lives there) drawing a picture underneath and then going home to show their mommy about it. A perfect opportunity for the child to write, practise their tricky words, letter formations, sentences etc.

An overall great find that my children loved.

Fairy Tale App

Over the last few weeks my children have completed work on ‘The Gingerbread Man’ ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, ‘Goldilocks’ etc, however, because we have done so much work on different traditional tales and ‘Once upon a time…’ stories, I thought it would be good for the children to have a go at writing their own traditional tale. For this to happen they needed their own character, this is where the ‘Moca Boca Fairy Tale’ app comes in.


Children each get to choose their own fairy tale character, they design him/her, dress him/her and customise their character’s clothes (also a good opportunity to talk about length, colour, patterns etc). Once the children did this they took a photograph of their character in our classroom environment and then wrote about him/her and his physical appearance.

Boys loved this just as much as the girls as they then naturally went on to speak about what the character was doing in the classroom. Children were eager to write about their physical appearance (what they were wearing and why) as well as talking about their name and their home life. Children had this enthusiasm because of that ownership of the character, it was their own piece of work and it was eventually going to become their own story. The ideas were amazing and the imagination from the children was magic.

Once the children had designed and written briefly about their character their next task was to create a story about him/her. Children were fantastic at this, they took different photographs of their character around the classroom different position with different objects and then wrote step by step what was taking place. The high frequency words and sentences that were written were incredible.



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.


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!



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When starting at Rivers Primary Academy, one of the first questions I asked my new Head was whether I could introduce blogging to the school. As some may know, blogging was something I learnt and loved during my NQT at Leamore Primary. The school had set this up before I arrived and something I loved to do for my class.

At Leamore, and now Rivers, each class has their own class blog set up which is accessible to anyone around the world! Photographs, videos and animations are set up and placed on the blog so that parents or anyone who is interested in our school can view and see what the children of Rivers Primary Academy have been up to.

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Teachers try to update their blog weekly, however, if you are a keen bean like myself they are updated more so.

In the EYFS we also use our blogs to evidence the children’s learning. Again, something that was pioneered at Leamore by the deputy head teacher I had to set this up at Rivers too. The children’s are private and password protected so only the head, class teacher and Early Years Foundation Stage Practitioners and parents have access to them.

Parents have the option to leave comments on their children’s posts and we too have to opportunity (and allow the children) to comment back.

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Different schools and settings from around the world have made contact with us and we now have relationships and comment on their blogs too.

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The response and popularity of our blogs has really impressed the children and myself. I was honestly thinking that it would take a couple of years to get a name for our blogs, but I was proven wrong with the visits that were made to Reception’s blog.

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During my NQT this was a system the my old Deputy and I shared with other schools in Walsall and this year something I have done independently, through meets I have had at EYFS Coordinator’s meetings and other training courses. I have also shared with two cohorts of University Students who are training to be teachers.

The use of social networking sites has also assisted with the set up of the blogs. After asking permission, I set up a twitter page for our Primary School and shared our practice and ideas on there. Promoting the blogs and informing followers of the links to see what our children have been learning was somewhat an assistance getting more views and helped up profile our school and the practice, teaching and dedication within it.


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