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Sunday, 26 October 2014

Sneak - Perfect for EYFS

The app 'Sneak,' has been one I have been desperate to try! I came across the app so long ago I can't remember who first shared it with me! Anyway, for any households who need an app to keep younger children engaged and quiet this half term, Sneak is the answer! I can't wait to use this in an EYFS and KS1 classroom.

What this app entails is different from most apps for younger children, just watch the official trailer -

Now that my brood have started Nursery, I decided to give this app a go... Wow! The iPad ran out of battery before the children stopped playing! Playing hide and seek whilst trying to take pictures of different monsters had them hooked! The app has two modes of catching the children - listening using the microphone or watching for any quick movements using the front iPad camera, you can choose either one or both. There are a range of different monsters to snap and it is great to have an app where more than one child can take part! I couldn't help but film them enjoying the game - 

I think this could be a great app to use in the EYFS/KS1 classroom. Not only for children playing the game but to inspire some discussion and writing. When children snap a picture of one of the monsters, can they describe it? What does it look like? What sounds/movements does it make? Could the children draw the monster or even create their own? What would it be called? Where would it live? What would it eat?

If the children first hand draw the picture, they can then use an app like Doodle Buddy to try and recreate it on the iPad - 

The children can even design their own monsters using Abby Monster Maker, this could easily be linked to the children's profiles if you use Class Dojo or the Monsters Can Read app

Basically, lots of possibilities! But essentially Sneak is a fantastic app that doesn't involve children simply sat in front of the screen and instead has them moving, playing and smiling!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Our New Interactive Reading Display!

I am a massive fan of Augmented Reality! I have previously blogged about it here and here. It can be used to inspire, share and enhance learning in a number of ways. The latest way in which we have used Augmented Reality is to create an interactive reading display.

The initial inspiration came from this tweet I stumbled across on twitter -

And so have created a very similar display thanks to the wonderful staff at Davyhulme Primary -

However we decided to make ours a little differently. I asked all the children to create a Tellagami review of their favourite book using the cover as the background. Each cover was then printed and used as a trigger image to create Auras using the app Aurasma. We also had some fun reworking some of our favourite pop songs to try and promote reading for anyone who scans our display.

You can watch how it all works here -

If you like this idea and others on the blog remember I can visit your school to deliver bespoke training on a range of ways to use technology to raise standards across the curriculum - more details here.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

The 12 iPad lessons of Christmas!

I am very excited to announce that my latest eBook - The 12 iPad lessons of Christmas, is available on the iBook store now!

This new eBook contains 12 fantastic lessons that will inspire and engage your children in the run up to Christmas. Covering a range of different curriculum areas including; Literacy, Numeracy, Geography, Computing, Art, Languages, RE and PSHCE, this eBook will be a great resource for any iPad classroom. 

With lessons using a range of apps such as: Thinglink, Pic Collage, iMovie, Puppetpals, Phoetic and many others, each contains a clear explanation and many contain examples of children's work from the primary classroom.

Make the most of children enthusiasm for Christmas with lessons that really help develop children's learning in innovative and creative ways.

You can buy your copy now from the iBooks store or have a PDF copy emailed for you to print or save on any device!


If you do download a copy I would really appreciate any reviews on the iBooks store! Please also tweet or email me - any examples of work if you use ideas from the book.

I must say a special thanks to @inspiredmind5 for all his help editing the project. 

 Thanks again to everyone for all your support. 

Quick update - Absolutely overwhelmed to see that on the first day of release the eBook went to number 3 on the iBooks chart in ALL categories so a huge thank you!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

#saveyupi - Inspiring writing through real life issues

Today I started a new project with a group of Year 5 children. After researching about Polar Bears, a pupil stumbled across this website - After discussing the issue with the class, we felt the need to learn more and try to help this defenceless animal.

After a shared writing session, where we tried to use as many of Alan Peat and Mat Sullivan's exciting sentences as possible, the children wanted to create something that would catch people's attention. Using greenscreen, we created a video sharing our research about the topic. Adding music and images helped to enhance the writing and make it more

Here is the finished effort -

I am hoping this video will inspire some amazing writing that we will be doing over the next few weeks on this topic. After the amazing response we had last year to our #blackfish and #marius project, I would love to have the same impact on children's learning this time round.

What I have found is that when children are writing about something real and the writing they produce will be viewed by an audience on the school blog, they have a purpose to write. This has had a massive impact on the quality of their writing in the past.

If you want to help inspire the children visit their blog -  and comment on their video and writing. Feel free to share the video or even do some writing on this topic with your own class.

I will update this post with more examples of work from this project.

Reaction to the children's video -

Comments on the Youtube video - 

Emails -

"Dear  Lee,
We can't thank you enough for doing this video with your students about Yupi and Arturo!
Thanks for helping us create awareness about Yupi.
Pls check some info about what we have been doing behind the scenes for Yupi, to learn some of the facts behind the Yupi Campaign here: Yupi  and I invite you and your students to join the OFFICIAL SAVE YUPI FB GROUP:
Best regards from Canada,
Ericka Ceballos, Coordinator
President and Founder
CATCA Environmental and Wildlife Society/
Campaigns Against the Cruelty to Animals (Canada and Int)
Animal Conservation and Welfare Foundation (Europe)
www.ACWFeu.orgWorld Animal Day Canadian Ambassadress"

"Hi Lee. 
Rob, at Zoocheck, forwarded me your class video. I coordinate the education program with Zoocheck. I've just posted your video on our blog. You can see some of the postcards and comments other students here in Toronto have written about this issue if you look at some past posts.   Too bad you are so far away - I would love to visit your class and do a polar bear workshop with them. Thanks for trying to help Yupi. I will check out your class blog to find out what the kids are writing. Take care, Nadja
Nadja Lubiw-Hazard, D.V.M.Education Coordinator, Keep It Wild "

"Hi Lee:
Thanks for sending the video. It's great. We'll post it on our Facebook page and I'm sure others will as well.While the prospects for Yupi and Arturo are at present not good, their plight has attracted a great deal of attention and will help ensure that other bears in future do not suffer in the same way. Having said that, you can never tell what will be enough to convince them to give up Yupi and/or Arturo, so the ongoing pressure may at some point yield a positive result. As to future actions, I would simply encourage everyone to continue to write on both the Yupi and Arturo issues. If you have any questions, please let me know. Thanks again for sending the video.
Sincerely,RobPS - Please let the students know that their efforts are greatly appreciated. "

"Dear Lee,
I am writing to you from the Zoo Check team here at the Born Free Foundation following the message you sent to our Facebook page concerning polar bears in captivity. Please accept my apologies for the delay in replying to you.The issue of keeping polar bears in zoos remains a contentious issue, so I was pleased to see that your students feel passionately about the matter and worked together to make this video.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us again.
Yours truly, Sarah Jefferson Zoo Check Assistant Born Free Foundation "

Facebook -

"Hi Lee I have just seen this message and shared this video now. Thank you! xoxo Hopefully everyone will share it including the hashtag #Storm4Arturo when sharing and tweeting. Please tell all those beautiful children that we are still trying very hard to help Arturo! May god bless both those bears xoxoxo"

Twitter -

Friday, 10 October 2014

Seeing things from a different perspective

I am a big fan of asking children to write stories from different points of views. I think it is a challenging way for children to create stories. One form of this method is writing stories as inanimate objects, for example I recently posted this picture on my Facebook page, showing Mona Lisa's view and think this would be a great writing stimulus -

Recently, I viewed an advert for SSE Energy Supplies and think it would make an amazing writing stimulus -

Here are a few ideas for how you could use this advert in class -

Discussion - Reading Skills
  • Watch the first 10 seconds, listen carefully to the sounds? Where is this story set to begin with? What time of day is it? How do you know?
  • How do people react to the Orangutan roaming the city streets? Why do you think no-one pays much attention? This could lead into a discussion about people being too busy to notice amazing things around them - this video discusses this.
  • Pause at 25 seconds, what is the Orangutan in awe of? Why?
  • At 27 seconds, how does the Orangutan feel towards the escalator? How do you know?
  • Discuss the other things that the Orangutan is impressed with? Do we ever look at these things in the same way? Why is the Orangutan so bewildered by it all? At 1:05, how do we know the Orangutan is impressed with everything? 
  • At 1:17 who is the only person to notice the Orangutan? Why do you think he does?
  • What is it that the Orangutan is so amazed by? Electricity/Energy.
Writing Opportunities
  • Children could write a first person recount as the Orangutan. The fact that the Orangutan doesn't speak throughout therefore all his emotions are displayed by his actions creates a great opportunity to develop children writing. 
  • Ask the children to pretend to be the Orangutan at the end of the video when he returns to his child. Challenge them to describe what he has seen on his adventure but do it in a way so that the baby Oranguatan can understand. We couldn't say 'Lightbulb' as the baby would have never seen or heard of one so how could we describe it so the baby could picture it - a great way to develop similes and metaphors. Ask the children to read their efforts to you, the teacher, who could pretend to be the baby. In role, you could then question the descriptions if you think the baby wouldn't understand.
  • What if the Orangutan was to visit the school? What do you think it would be fascinated by? Write a story as the Orangutan visiting the school.
  • Write a poem about how much we take things for granted - have you ever noticed....
  • Write a newspaper article about the Orangutan roaming the busy city streets, interview eye witnesses.
  • Research and create non-chronological reports about Orangutans. 
Of course, if you have any other ideas for how you would use this video please feel free to share in the comments. 

Thursday, 9 October 2014

App Bundles!

With the new iOS 8 update, iTunes have started to offer apps in bundles which is great for teachers as it means you can save money! For schools who have a lot of iPads, this is a great way to save more of the precious budget. I am a massive fan of Apps Gone Free, where paid apps are released for free for a limited period and often share useful apps on twitter. Below are some app bundles that I would recommend looking into for schools:

Quick Math Pack -  Bundle - £1.49 Separately - £2.76

These are some of my favourite apps to use in Numeracy, children really enjoy using them and the additions of Quick Clocks and Quick Fractions make these apps usable with plenty of different maths objectives. I have also been sent the new app from the Quick Math team and am very excited at the potential so make sure you keep a keen eye out for that one!

Let's do Mental Maths - Bundle - £4.99 Separately - £11.94

These are fantastic apps to support mental maths tailored to the UK curriculum. You can read more about these apps here.

Ultimate Productivity Bundle by Readdle - Bundle - £13.99 Separately - £18.96

These apps are great for teachers, particularly the Scanner Pro, just for simply scanning texts, pictures and sharing them as PDF or JPEG files - no more photocopying!

Toca Toy Box - Bundle - £4.99 Separately - £7.96

I absolutely LOVE Toca Boca and the range of apps available. They are superb for EYFS for role play but can also be a useful 'Camouflage Learning' stimulus for writing. 

Artgig Maths Mysteries and Mazes - Bundle - £5.99 Separately - £7.96

The apps from Artgig are an engaging way for children to practise their maths skills in game-type environments. Children revel in playing these games and often will choose to play them when they get some free time on the iPads. 

Primary Apps Megapack - Bundle - £4.99 Separately - £10.90

The Primary Apps collection has some great apps specifically designed for the primary classroom! Well worth a look!

I have only chosen app bundles where I have used nearly every app included. There are plenty of other app bundles available but these are ones that I have used in class and have worked well in my lessons. 

Please feel free to share any other app bundles that you feel may be useful in the comments below.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The Maths Apprenticeship - Challenge your level 5/6 children

The skills that you need to be a successful mathematician in school – at least, the skills against which children are assessed in SATS tests – are much narrower than the broad range of skills that you need when using mathematics in the real world. Maths ideas and concepts have evolved to help people find efficient solutions to a range of practical problems; yet mathematics is often seen as being a relatively closed, abstract subject.

The Mathematics Apprenticeship helps to bridge this gap. In it, the children get to ‘do’ mathematics in real contexts, helping them to see the practical application – and importance – of maths as a subject.
Also, like in the majority of real-life contexts, being able to ‘do the maths’ is only one part of what it takes to complete a tasks successfully. The children will have to organise the work between the team members; prioritise tasks so that they meet time deadlines; communicate their ideas in writing; and interact confidently with a range of different customers.
A natural need will arise to write letters, show calculations, use technology and give formal presentations. I remember, for example, one group of children discovering and using Google Sketch-Up so that they could produce a 3D model of the ‘Head of Secret Service office for the MI5 task. Also, it allows children with different skills to make a positive contribution – whether mathematical, organisational or in presenting ideas.
The aims of the project, therefore, are not limited to improving the children’s maths skills, but to giving them the broad range of qualities that they need in order to be successful in the future. 

The Mathematics Apprenticeship is a resource which has been made to challenge and inspire high attaining children in UKS2 (ages 9-11). It is comprised of 11 real-life, extended mathematical challenges: from designing a menu for a music festival stall, to analysing football data, to writing security codes for the MI5.
The resource is available to buy from Creative Educational Press and comes in the form of USB pen drives. There are two different USB sticks. The teachers’ USB, as shown in the picture below, gives information about how to run TMA, and has tips and hints for each task.

The children’s USB sticks are the actual resource, as pictured below. It is suggested that the children work in groups of 3, with one USB stick per group.

Having shared this fantastic resource with my Year 6 staff, I am excited to see what the children come up with! The Maths Apprenticeship is more than just another numeracy resource. It challenges children to think and apply their knowledge in  real life challenges adding more purpose and value to children's learning.

 To see TMA in action and for more tips and advice please visit - and follow @gareth_metcalfe  on twitter.