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JohnSB
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I am currently writing guidance material for early educators - and would value ideas about what works in your setting in terms of computer applications and/or the wider field of learning about ICT. Also what support do you need - and are not getting? My general approach/perspective is an 'emergent curriculum' one:

 

An ‘emergent technology curriculum’ may be considered similar to any other ‘emergent’ curriculum. Just as the teachers who teach emergent literacy encourage ‘mark making’ as a natural prelude to writing, in emergent technology we encourage the childs playful ‘application’ of technology. Teachers who teach emergent literacy read a range of different kinds of text to children and in the same way, as emergent technology teachers, we can introduce the children to ‘new applications’. We can provide them with the essential early experiences that they must have if they are to go on to understand and be empowered by technology in their later lives. These early experiences will include playing with a range of different technological artefacts and software products (real and pretend telephones, cameras, computers etc.). They will also include drawing children’s attention to the uses of technology in the world around them. We can encourage 'technology play' in the nursery, setting up pretend office play environments, supermarket checkouts, and bank cash points for children to integrate into their play. Just as teachers who teach emergent literacy provide positive role models by showing children the value they place in their own use of print, in ‘emergent technology’ we can do the same by demonstrating and talking about our own use of technology. In so doing we will be encouraging the children to develop an emergent awareness of the nature and value of these resources for themselves. They will also be developing positive dispositions towards the kind of technological applications that will be experienced in the future. It will be these positive attitudes and beliefs about the importance of the subject, that, more than anything else, influence their motivation to engage in the subject in the future.

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Hello John. Welcome, and thank you for joining and posting.

Lots of things spring to mind, so the most straightforward way of telling you what works in our setting is just to list them. Our setting has eighteen children aged from 2.5 to 4.11 years, from 8.30 - 12.30 each weekday, with three or four members of staff.

* Our computer is situated in a quiet(ish!) area of the nursery, near the mark-making table, book area, and puzzle/construction/threading etc table. It is freely available for the children from 8.30 to 10.30, and a member of staff is positioned in the area for support. The children are, on the whole, confident in approaching the computer, moving the mouse experimentally, and switching the whole thing off in the blink of an eye! :o It is easy to tell which children have access at home because they tell the younger and/or inexperienced ones what to do.

* Deciding on suitable software is a problem because many CDs are so expensive and we don't want to make expensive mistakes. For this reason, we bought a selection from Dorling Kindersley, Knowledge Adventure, and Learning Land, which have proved to be just right in terms of variety and suiting the diverse levels of understanding and development of the children, and they are also fairly inexpensive. Sometimes we choose games that are related to our topic, or those that help with a new concept we're developing. Children are encouraged to make their own choices and often request "Dazzle".

* We don't have the printer in the nursery all the time. We find that the children still enjoy "Dazzle" even though they don't print out the final pictures.

* Our children have access to a digital camera for supervised use, and have seen the results on the computer screen to their great delight. Their pictures can be of other children, or, more recently, "changes in the garden during Spring".

* We have two left-handed children, and we don't know whether we should change the mouse set-up to a lefthanded one or not. One child is very definite about using her left hand for the mouse, with her index finger on the left mouse button. Is this going to lead to her having a problem later on?

* In addition to the two hours of free access to the computer, we often have a focus group activity later in the session with 2 or 3 children to learn a new computer game.

* In terms of other technologies, we have a popcorn machine, pretend and real telephones, cash registers (which should read barcodes but have never really worked), tape recorders (which need replacing regularly because the ELC or toy shop ones are not sufficiently robust to stand up to large numbers of children), a programmable car, and controllable fire-engine with retractable ladder.

* Whilst thinking about our practice before I posted this, I realise we don't talk about technology as much as we could, so thank you for allowing me to reflect on this; we'll talk about it at our next nursery staff meeting.

Hope this helps, and I hope other practitioners will give you their views. :)

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I think it really is worth changing the mouse settings - to save time you can put a shortcut to the mouse on the desktop (right click on the mouse icon in the control panel). As in the case of computer ergonomics the trick is to teach the children themselves to be aware and to look after this themselves.

You mentioned the difficulty selecting software - you might take a look at:

http://www.teem.org.uk

http://www.ioe.ac.uk/cdl/datec

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Hi John -

To add to Helen's reply, I think that on the whole, the children are already very positive towards all sorts of technology - I work upstairs from our nursery, and am regularly being 'called' by one of the children on the toy mobile phone, to come downstairs and buy something from the shop we regularly have set up. The seriousness with which they use the mobile phoneand the cash register and engage in business transactions when I come down is really quite captivating.

 

Similarly, when the computer is on and being used with a popular application, quite a crowd can gather around the one operator. In these situations I would expect, certainly with older children, that there would be a regular tussle for control of the mouse and keyboard, but this is rarely the case - instead all eyes are on the screen with advice and suggestions being called out in a real show of teamwork and collective problem solving.

 

In terms of the physical layout, computers can take up a lot of room. We've set up low seating and bought a flatscreen monitor which allows a less bulky and oppressive feel to the area (and obviously takes up less room. There is permanent broadband access to the internet via a network (which I guess is probably more than you'd expect in a pre-school environment but was fairly natural for us to set up as an exension to my work) but this is not heavily used - standalone applications on CD are the usual source.

 

Hope this helps. Let us know if you're interested in more specific stuff.

 

Regards, Steve.

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Guest Fiona

I'm a Reception teacher in a class of 30 children, in a Primary school. We have one computer in the classroom which has Dorling Kindersley CD Roms, the Tweenies Let's Play CD Rom, Reader Rabbit Toddler and internet access. We also have tape cassette recorders, a CD player and one or two programmable toys. We have 2 sessions in the ICT Suite (with 15 computers) every week, where we use mark making/painting programs like Dazzle (which the children love), My World (which is a cross-curricular set of activities) and the children also use websites such as CBeebies, Numbertime, The Little Animals Activity Centre and others. I am so impressed with how confident the children are. They help each other if they're stuck and are able to log on and off the machines. Of course I do need about 10 extra pairs of hands to troubleshoot and give extra support....unfortunately there's only me and one other adult if I'm lucky! Oh well...you can't have everything! :D

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  • 2 weeks later...

A really excellent piece of equipment for the ICT suite is an interactive whiteboard. It can perform wonders and **** miracles (as my old granny would say!). Seriously though it is a great tool for demonstrating how to use different programmes to the whole class - saves rushing round 15 or so different computers repeating yourself. Whiteboards are often seen as too expensive by budget holders in school but we got our one through an EAZ project and it is worth hassling local businesses and charities for finance. Our ICT teaching has significantly improved across the whole school since its installation.

Also PIP, PIXIE and other floor robots are exciting and interesting ways into technology.

Good luck

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We too have a interactive whiteboards in school. There is 1 in each of the nursery,reception and Y1 classes and 2 in Y2. The classes which have them report excellent results as the children can see what is being done on the screen and can internalise strategies before having a go themselves . Whole class teaching in lots of areas is revolutionised - using Textease/Clicker to create screens pertinent to the work happening iun the classroom right now.Demonstrations are a dream and the screen is acessible to all regardless of fine motor skills ability or previous computer knowledge.

The downside is that the head expects all of the classes to make equal use of the whiteboards -just not possible in our busy classrooms - but maybe next year?

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Excuse my ignorance you two, but what's an interactive whiteboard? When I used to work in a corporate environment we had whiteboards which were effectively computer screens, with a projector from a pc. The whiteboard could sense movement across it and therefore you could use plastic 'pens' and erasers to draw pictures or write into programs on the pc.

 

Is that what you mean? Those tools were fiendishly expensive back then (about 3 years plus ago). But I can see that they would be great for children to experiment with (as well as great fun for the carers...)

 

Regards, Steve.

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Yes Steve you are right .The board is a huge screen that shows what is on the computer and can be accessed by the keyboard,mouse or stylus (which has a removeable tip that can fly across the room it used to gesticulate!!).

It is a great tool and when on constantly the children use it quite naturally.

And yes you are right - it is expensive - but now schools( well ours anyway) have an extra budget which MUST be spent on ICT equipment.

They are lovely to have and the children like them - just dont get me started on the cost versus impending redundancies in our school!!! :o

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Now here's a really great site, with all sorts of tips on ICT on the foundation stage.

 

Includes, for example, descriptions of products such as a mini mouse for little hands. And a recommendation to stick a little star on the left hand mouse button so the children know which one to click. Lovely stuff.

 

No interactive whiteboards though, unfortunately!

 

Regards, Steve.

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Ok - Here's some information for those who might be tempted to find out more about interactive whiteboards (which do look like wonderful toys... :o ).

 

There's a general list of links to all sorts of information here.

 

And for those who just want a quick analysis without fishing through all those links, I found a summary of the good and bad points here

 

For myself, the research told me what I was already pretty certain of. They are sadly out of the reach of we little private nurseries! xD

 

But if you've got a lovely LEA ICT budget, I'd start talking to the person who gets to tick the little box.

 

Regards, Steve.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi

There's a much easier version of Roamer called the Pixie. :o It can, if memory serves correctly, go forwards, backwards and turn, but is much easier to program than a Roamer or Turtle. I work with special needs children and if they can work it..... Hope this is of some help :)

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thanks Kate for that

 

I hadnt heard of a pixie before and the info I had found about roamers was limited

Im doing an assignment about ICT in the early years and its given me an extra paragraph or two to write :D

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Alison -

Thanks for the Becta link! I'll add it to the links page.

By the way, did you know that the roamers (or turtles) have on-screen versions for teaching simple programming concepts. I'm trying to find a good free example of one which is simple enough (ie uses symbols not words and has a good graphics interface) and when I do I'll make one available.

 

Or if anyone else has any knowledge here, I'd be interested to hear from them :)

 

Regards, Steve.

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  • 3 months later...

Hi to everyone,been looking in for a while and finally got around to making my first post :D

 

I have run workshops and a study morning on the use of Roamers in the foundation stage. They can be very exciting for the children. The first problem is its appearance, I have a colleague who describes them as a 'sucked smartie' There are simple ways to develop this, from the covers and stickers you can buy for them, quite expensive. You can use the cover provided as a mould and make paper mache covers for it, which you can then decorate to give your Roamer a new identity. I have one which is a ladybird and very popular with the children. A simpler method is to wrap tin foil around the plastic cover then stick material to it, this can be made to any story character and is quick and easy to remove. Another tip is to use tape to cover keys not being used, make a colour chart showing the order the keys need to be pressed.

 

It is difficult to use with young children but I find they cope very well once they gain confidence with it.

 

There are many other programmable toys you can use instead, I have a ladybird which can be programmed to turn, move forwards, backwards and left or right, it repeats the instructions before it moves which helps the children develop their mathematical language. I have also seen robots that work in the same way. These are much more attractive and easier to use. Very young children can learn basic skills with simple push button controlled toys, I have seen ducks, cats, cars and dogs which have a 2 or 3 button control, these are very cheap and are ideal for teaching little ones about basic control technology.

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Hi Tilly,

I've been thinking for some time about buying a Roamer for my setting, but I've had reservations due to the complexity of the button/ operations etc. Do you know where to get the simpler models you mentioned?

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Helen, I recall one in the shape of a ladybird. very simple, goes forward left or right but I seem to remember it has difficulty going backwards. 'Speaks'eg 'forward 4' and then moves. The children loved it, cost about £30 but sorry i cant remember where from. Perhaps somone else will knowwhat Im gibbering on about....

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Been hunting for the catalogue, its T.T.S

 

you can find the ladybird here :-

 

TTS

 

you need to go to Early Steps then ICT in EY, did try to link directly to the page but it didn't work :o

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Hi Tilly -

 

Thanks for the description and the (graphic) reference. I'll have trouble looking at sucked smarties without suspicion in the future...

 

Welcome to the forum by the way! Good to have you here, and I hope you find lots of entertaining and stimulating stuff. :D

 

Steve.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Have just this thread and realised that it's answers the post I put up in ICT.

 

That explains the lack of replies, am being very slow, going back to uni tomorrow and am getting into a flap.

 

Just wanted to say that all these posts have been really helpful, and anything else anyone could add about ICT skills in the foundation stage would be really helpful.

 

Thanks again will make sure i read everything properly next time.

 

 

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Hi Pinkster -

Don't worry about missing posts elsewhere - there's a great mass of conversation building up at the moment and it's easy to miss things. And sometimes it's good to kick off a subject again, as it brings new perspectives to the problem.

 

Also, it's actually quite different to find a definitive place for everything so sometimes there are two natural homes for a question - eg: Should I put a question about Special Needs ICT equipment in the ICT forum or the Special Needs forum... :o

 

Anyway, glad you found some useful answers - the one thing I always marvel at with children clustered round a computer is how it seems to encourage a natural collaborative problem solving attitude. There's rarely an argument on who has control of the mouse, and half a dozen other children can be watching intently, all offering suggestions which the 'pilot' quite happily follows. And they're all equally delighted when something is achieved.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 months later...

The debate about the use of computers (and other forms of ICT) with young children is currently very much on the agenda in Scotland. Early Learning, Forward Thinking: The ICT Strategy for Early Years was launched by the Deputy Minister for Education on 8th October, 2003. A considerable amount of research was carried out in order to inform the strategy, including a review of international research into the use of information and communications technologies with young children. ICT in Pre-school: A ‘Benign Addition’? published by Learning and Teaching Scotland includes a chapter dedicated to the debate about whether young children should use ICT. The document can be downloaded free of charge at http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/earlyyears/Be...ignAddition.asp The literature review highlighted the need for further Scottish research. This led to a focused study 'Come Back in Two Years!' http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/earlyyears/Co...kinTwoYears.asp

 

which observed children’s use of computers, and gathered the perspectives of staff and children in seven early years settings within Scotland.

 

 

 

 

 

Early Learning, Forward Thinking: The Policy Framework for ICT in Early Years provides details on how information and communications technologies can enhance and support the development and learning of children aged 3-5 years, providing them with a secure foundation on which they can build. This can also be accessed on the Early Years Online site, together with information about the strategy; examples from practice; software evaluations and ICT advice, at http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/earlyyears/Ea...%20Thinking.asp

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Hi Eileen -

Welcome to the forum and thanks for an excellent and informative first post!

 

We do link through to the LTS site in our links page, but it's good to have a specific link to that page which I hadn't noticed before.

 

Would you be the Eileen I spoke to last year about this? :)

 

Regards, Steve.

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Hi Steve

 

Yes. I'm the Eileen you spoke to last year. I'm Development Officer for Early Years Online, the NGfL funded Learning and Teaching Scotland managed website which aims to support all concerned with the care and education of children 0-8.

 

It's fascinating to see how the same concerns about providing high quality experiences for our youngest children are arising within the different countries in the UK ... and all around the world. :)

 

I do enjoy visiting your discussion forum and will try to keep you up to date with developments in Scotland

 

Best wishes

 

Eileen

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