It is sometimes difficult to think of ICT as being anything beyond a computer or an iPad, but ICT in EYFS takes on many different forms and can be promoted in all areas of continuous provision – and beyond.
Undoubtedly there has to be a taught element of ICT, but as many aspects as possible should be integrates into the Continuous Provision that we create to make it real and relevant to children.
ICT should be viewed as a tool that will support all of our teaching and learning, rather than just a single focus for teaching. As well as getting children to be familiar with the ‘operation’ of equipment we need to try and ensure that they can access, experiment and practise with various forms of ICT in their play.
The world of ICT moves forward at an ever increasing rate and often we find that children’s skills in operating equipment are just as good, if not better than ours! There is no shame in adults being learning partners with children when it comes to experimenting with new gadgets. After all to teach someone else can be the most powerful way to learn.
I watch my pre-school Niece and Nephews navigating their way around an IPad or playing apps on my iPhone and I am struck by how accomplished they are performing tasks that some adults find challenging. We cannot underestimate the high level of ICT capability that our very young children have. We need to make sure we acknowledge it and reflect it in our environments and planning.
When showing my 2 year old Niece a picture (in a frame) of my boys when they were little, she swiped her finger across the glass and asked me why the picture didn’t change! Many young children have high expectations of the level of ICT that should exist in their little worlds.
Having said that ICT is SO much more than an iPad or a computer. ICT in everywhere around children in many different guises. We need to help them to recognise it, explore it and apply it to their investigation and play.
Lots of you will already be familiar with programmable toys like Bee -Bot. These have many uses and children really enjoy working with them. Ideally, alongside a focussed input, this sort of toy should be part of your Continuous Provision, so that children can access them in their free play.
When we are thinking about areas like Role Play, think about including ICT resources that children will experience in their everyday life. Has your role play area got a cashpoint machine (a cardboard box with a slot)? Does your ‘shopping’ enhancement box have a self service till? Does your restaurant enhancement box have a chip and pin card reader and calculators for working out the bill?
Anyone who has ever been on a staff night out will know that you have to allow at least an hour at the end of the meal to work out how much it will be per person (‘but I didn’t have a starter’…’I only had one glass of wine’…’we shared a desert, so can you split the cost between three’…)!
If you haven’t got the real thing (there aren’t many spare cash machines knocking around) then you can make it. Better still get the children to make it. There is huge fascination though, for children with ‘the real thing’, so if you can, go real.
Effective ICT is also good for helping children to develop creative and critical thinking. Operating and applying the technology that they come across helps them to make sense of what they are experiencing and also make new connections about how things work and how they can use them.
Try to keep your ICT experiences relevant and meaningful to children. If it matters to them and engages them then they are far more likely to learn.
One really effective and engaging way for children to learn about how things work is to take them apart. I guarantee that you will get huge levels of engagement from children if you provide them with a selection of screwdrivers and a pile of ‘stuff’ to unscrew. (Obviously, remove any really dangerous bits!)
Switches, wires, circuits, connectors, bulbs, batteries – it is all there waiting to be discovered and tinkered with.
Snack is another great opportunity to get children using ICT. They might be using an electric timer to demarcate how long they can spend in the snack area, a bread maker to make their snack, a toaster to toast their bread, an electric apple peeler, a juicer or a talking tin to give them a talk prompt the possibilities are endless.
Using 'easy to follow' instructions.
Nursery and Reception children self serving toast
You can have endless fun at the photocopier (as long as the Office Manager isn’t looking!). I have yet to meet a child who doesn’t get a bit giddy when they get to press the big green button and have a copy of whatever they put under the lid pop out of the other end. Try copying their hands to create a number line.
Lots of settings have a Visualiser now, but if you haven’t got one, you might want to consider it. You can attach it to your lap top and your Smartboard. Anything the children put underneath it gets magnified. Great for sharing interesting ‘stuff’.
Equipment like metal detectors are relatively cheap and highly engaging both indoors and out. Just make sure that whatever they are looking for is worth finding. No one wants to find a word card with a paper clip in the corner!
Simple video cameras are very easy to get hold of these days. There is also lots of really simple software out there that lets children turn their videoing into short films. There is something VERY empowering about being in charge of a video camera or camera. It gives children a sense of power in that they can capture images that are important to them.
Video cameras and cameras are also a really good social prop for children who are shy or lack language, because they give a valid and accepted reason to approach other children and engage.
A video also allows children to re-visit and reflect. This can be a very useful and enjoyable thing for children to do.
If you are in a setting with a working kitchen then try and make as much use of that as possible. Not just when it comes to ‘baking’ but work with the children to use the other electrical items that are in there like the washing machine, the microwave and the dishwasher (if your setting is dead posh!).
Bring in from home items that children might be less familiar with like a sewing machine. They will be fascinated by how it works.
Make sure you let them have a go. Under supervision of course!
You can also add to your everyday provision with equipment like a light box, torches, microphones, remote control vehicles, voice changers, talking tins, torches, listening centres, headphones, karaoke machines…the list is literally endless.
This is a 'black light' torch. It makes highlighter pen water, tonic water and anything white glow in the dark!
Don’t forget that if you have access to two laptops/computers and an internet signal you can Skype or Facetime either from the room next door or get your friend's school to do it from the other side of your County, the Country or even the World.
I am working on a project at the moment using Xbox and Wii in Early Years, with some fantastic results – but more of that in a longer post at a later date!
ICT can bring really high levels of engagement, learning and interest from children. There is so much out there, make sure you have plenty of it in your setting and LET THE CHILDREN USE IT. It is no good it is still in the stock cupboard.
To help you along with your ICT provision. The lovely people at TTS are donating quite a spectacular ICT package for this month's giveaway.
You can win a set of these Mini Mobile Phones worth £119. They were Shortlisted for BETT Awards 2014 – Early Years Digital Content – Category
These six walkie-talkies, realistically styled like the latest smartphones with bright colours are a fantastic addition to your ICT resources.
So simple to use, they are ideal for outdoor play or even used from room to room.
- Up to three pairs of children can speak to each other simultaneously, each having their own conversation without the need to select different channels.
- Colour coordinated buttons make 'dialling' easy. Simply press the button that corresponds to the phone you want to call. If the other phone is busy, you get a realistic 'call waiting' function.
Answering is simple – just press the 'answer' button and talk, just like you would with a real phone. Children can talk together naturally and enjoy real conversations without pressing extra buttons to talk or listen.
If that wasn’t enough, they are also letting me have 2 sets of Walkie Talkie Headsets worth £38.34 each. These headsets allow the children to communicate with each other whilst on the move or from their secret hideout! Or, if the fancy takes you, you can use them to chat to the person on outdoor provision! (If you win, you will need 2x9v batteries per headset which are not included in the giveaway.)
So, all you have to do to stand a chance of winning the set of mobile phones and the two sets of headphones is:
Leave a comment at the bottom of this blog post and/or
Leave me a tweet @ABCDoes and/or
Leave a comment on the ABC Does Facebook page here
All comments and Tweets must be made by noon on Saturday 1st February 2014. The winner will be selected using a random number generator.