Saturday, June 4, 2011

iPad experiences with young children at Manaia Kindergarten

At Manaia Kindergarten we bought out the ipad for the first time on Thursday to explore the universe and find the Matariki stars in the sun lit sky through the iris of the ipad. (See blogpost about SKYVIEW app). This was a little tricky with a group of 30 eager children. Each child wanted a closer look. The Sun and the planets proving a big hit over the small stars.

THE 1st QUESTION raised from my first experience of the ipad with young children is:
"How can I connect the ipad (with apps running such as SKYVIEW) to our digital projector?

A Boy's Experience
Later in the morning I noticed one of our quiet boys looking a little lost and struggling to connect with other children. As I talked to him he asked me if he could see the stars again. When I handed him the PRECIOUS ipad, he confidently took it from my hands and swung it up to the sky. We were sitting at outside tables, on a slab of concrete. I HELD MY BREATH, .... AND .... trusted him.

Immediately others came over to him and they began to talk about the stars, the sun and the planets - swinging the ipad above their heads as they talked.

They wanted to explore more!!

So we tried out SMULE together. WOW - the music they played - tapping on the screen together, trying to catch the glowing green balls - then swirling the balls to make patterns in the music. I have been considering purchasing a MAC keyboard - but this was much more fun. SMULE combines music and art. It is all about process and experience, and not about an end product. GREAT!!

I really thought they would stick with the music - but we only had the one free song - Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (which btw we had learnt in Te Reo (Maori) that morning). However there was obviously only so much of that song and the art they could handle.

What budget does a school/early childhood centre set for ipad apps? And how would you prevent children deleting them accidentally?

The Watermelon Dog
by an ipad Sculptor
The children wanted to explore more. By now J had one boy buddy and five girls hanging over his shoulders. But he was beaming with his new found magic and the ipad.

So he began his first role play as a SCULPTOR.

This app provides children with choices of wood or vegetables to sculp. They are probably American woods - it would be nice to apply different names and grains to the wood, to represent New Zealand indigenous woods - but hey - it is a start.

J choose to sculpt a watermelon. As he tapped he talked about the bit flying off the watermelon and it took a few moments for him to realise that by tapping he was changing the shape of the melon. He quickly learnt that by holding his finger down on the screen and moving it, he could rotate his sculpture in 3D. He did this regularly, seemingly assessing his work. Four other children created sculptures that morning. And it made me think.....

Questions no.3
WHY am I encouraging children to sculp in 3D on a virtual cold screen?
WHY am I not rather giving them a piece of REAL wood?
We do of course provide woodwork opportunities for children. WAS I today encouraging them to sculp on a screen rather than risk injury with REAL tools?

And then again....
I had fun sculpting on the screen - so WHY should I deprive children of that similiar experience?
AND more importantly top designers usually design on a screen first (these days) before investing time and money on real resources.
WHAT would this virtual experience do for young children's REAL life experiences?

The Great thing about the ipad
After the children had completed their virtual sculptures - we emailed the images straight from the SCULPTOR app to their parents. No cameras, no downloading, no uploading, no exporting or converting. I look forward to hearing their parents responses.

The Snow Princess
by an ipad SCULPTOR

The OTHER Great thing about the ipad.
It is a tool, integrated into a programme that provides children with a range of experiences.

After two of the girls, who didn't really know eachother, had completed their virtual sculptures, chatted about their designs, giggled as they moved the image in 3D, and emailed their final images to their parents..... I saw them 10 minutes later - at the wood work table - earmuffs on, goggles over their eyes, drills rotating, and wood in their hands - SCULPTING!!!

And J made new friends today!!

In just one morning session - I see a whole lot of potential for this little screen.

Related reading from ICT in ECE

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Greenhithe Kindergarten said...

Oooooh you are just fueling my impatience to get my hands on an Ipad with our children - still waiting on a grant.

Can you use the Ipad through your laptop via Bluetooth to show on the projector? We have a visualiser (Avermedia) that we can put an Ipad/Ipod under to share through the projector, but again they are very expensive and need to be added to the budget.

Looking forward to trying the apps you have found with our children in the future, keep up the wonderful work!


Treehouse Dwellers said...

Thanks Margaret. MMM - haven't found a way yet to share on projector (only been day one). Will investigate the visualiser. Kinda spent our budget on technology this year - and needing to spend on environment. I wonder if it will connect to a TV? Anyone know?

Angela said...

You can get a VGA adapter for iPad similar to dongle used for MacBook or MacBookpro. I did read somewhere today that ppl have developed the ability to connect to hd tv as well will post a link when I find it. You are doing such great things with you kids can't wait to share with junior teachers at school :)

Lyn said...

I think the iPad and mobile learning technologies in general is going to make a huge impact on how children learn and interact with the world. I am thrilled that you have been able to add this item to your 'tool box' and look forward to hearing more about your discoveries and how it is being used in kindergarten.

I'm sure you will have found it by now, but you can lock down some options (such as preventing Apps from being deleted) in Settings - General - Restrictions.

Greenhithe Kindergarten said...

Beverly I just remembered about this from a Break Out on Ipads I went to at Learning at Schools Conference earlier this year.
Hope this helps - she reviews the dongle Angela is talking about.

Treehouse Dwellers said...

Thanks Angeal and Marg - I will look into it. @ Lyn - I've tried the restriction thing - seemed to make the apps disappear - will have to re-try with a little more brain power.

Will also have to figure out how to spend Kindergarten money on apps (and not my own) without a visa or master card. Once I've figured that out - watch it fly!!

(or, as I have said on my latest app - sorry post - I will have to write my own - apps that is)

Marianns said...

Hi Bev
As long as your iPad is synchronized ...if the apps are mistakenly deleted - just synch them back? Also..on money..why don't you buy a visa debit card from Kindie money and use that on the kin die's apple account?

Tim said...

Hey TD, long time no comment. I previously had a site
It is still around but lost it's education focus, concentrating on Kanguru now.
Re iPad: The apps should be backed up on the computer, so that if anyone wipes them, you can easily reinstall them when you sync.
We have been experimenting with iPads with students with profound communication difficulties, and finding it is marvelous, I will write more about it on my blog soon.
I love iPads and know the power the hold. The cost is a problem though. The other thing I am checking out is the use of Kindles in the classroom. Probably not as relevant in a Kindy though. There are lots of advantages for primary schools to look at.

Kathryn Pomroy said...

Love the idea. Love the iPad. Question...have you tried to have the young children use the onscreen keyboard? Have you found that problematic? I have found that the keyboard is awkward, and makes typing (without errors) nearly impossible.

Mrs M said...

Hi, sounds like you are having great fun. I have been using iPads and iPod Touches in school for some time now with great success.

As for deleting, settings - general - enable restrictions and make sure deleting apps is turned off.

Budget - well, there are so many great apps out there. Try looking at websites like, and - they show apps that have been made free by the developer for a limited time. There are alot of irrelevant ones but occasionally a few great ones. Download any that are free that day that you think may be ok. At least then you can try them and if they are good then they were free and if not then just delete them from your app library.

I hope this has been of some help - have fun!

ako said...

You may be interested in this children's book for the I-Pad to "shake perspectives".

The author presented it in a TED conference:

Very cool - however after more learning about the 'suicide nets' that surround the Apple factories in China I'm even more reluctant to bring these tools into my centre.

Anonymous said...

Hi Beverly This is fantastic. I am doing a DC101 course at school and getting back into blogging.I love reading about all these new applications and ideas and it keeps me in touch with home, thanks. I will share this blog with other teachers here.