iPads and Science in Kindergarten

“Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year.” -Chad Sugg

IMG_5602Fall is my favorite season, but living on the coast of South Carolina, we see very little evidence of the season.  We experience fall for about a week and a half in late November or early December.  The leaves are green, turn brown, then fall to the ground in that length of time.  So, I was excited to find a few  leaves on the school grounds that were living it up early! Party on…fall!

Talking about fall with my students is almost as difficult as talking about snow.  I say almost, because we do experience a bit of fall, butIMG_5601 we haven’t had significant snow fall here in 10 years.  It’s hard to even talk about the change in weather that fall brings when the high temperature today is 80 degrees. I know, I know…my friends in the north have no sympathy as they’ve already had their first snow fall.  But people, the struggle is real.  So today, in our short sleeves, we left our air conditioned class room to go look for fall leaves.  We discussed why there are so few leaves and the characteristics of the leaves we were able to find.  We made a chart of describing words and then, we grabbed our iPads.

They had a variety of leaves on their tables and they chose 2 or 3.  They opened Pic Collage and used the camera function in Pic Collage to photograph the leaves they chose.  After they added their pictures, they use the text function in Pic Collage to write about the leaves.  Here are a a couple of samples:













Soon, my students will have the choice of which app to use to demonstrate their work.  We use Book Creator for math journals, but it is a great app for science journals, reading response journals etc…For this particular activity, we used Pic Collage, but we can add this Pic Collage image to our science journals in Book Creator. There are so many wonderful creation apps that allow students to create their own content and demonstrate their learning.  The hands-on portion of this activity created a great deal of rich conversation and enabled us to make the anchor chart.

A big part of early childhood education is experiential learning.  Giving children a variety of experiences and enhancing those experiences with the iPads creates long-lasting connections with learning.  The technology extends the learning experience and enriches it.  We spend a lot of time as educators preparing the path for the child, when we need to be preparing the child for the path.

Today we will do exciting new things.  Let’s get to it!



Making the Most of Small Moments

Life isn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments. -Rose Kennedy
snailI don’t do critters…creepy crawly, slimy, or slithery.  So when my students found this guy at recess yesterday, of course, they were fascinated.  I had to admit, he was pretty spectacular in a disgustingly slimy way.
Their intrigue, however, brought about some pretty awesome conversation and some creativity later.  They immediately asked questions like, “Is it a snail or a slug?”  “What does it eat?”  “Does it keep its shell or outgrow it?” “Is it helpful or a pest?”   Then came this little gem from a child…”I wish we had an iPad out here to take its picture for the science center.” Silence for a moment.  In that moment of silence, I’m thinking, “Me too…it would make a great picture.”  Suddenly, a child says, “Mrs. Meeuwse has an iPhone (awesome brand identification for a 5 year old).  She can take a picture of it and print it out!”  Huh?  Oh yeah…I DO have a phone! I quickly snapped a photograph and then many started asking if I could send it to their iPads with Showbie…And then I was asked if I could “text the picture” to their parents.  Several wanted them to see it.  In our quick 25 minutes of recess, about 20 was spent with this snail.
During all of the activity, I was preoccupied with their questions and getting a good picture, making sure the creature wasn’t injured or touched, etc…but afterward, I reflected back on that moment and was struck by my students’ thinking.  The immediate thought of including technology…using my phone to take a picture, putting it on their iPads with Showbie, texting the image to their parents…technology was at the forefront of their thoughts.  It was not an afterthought.  It was how these 5 year olds solved their questions and problem-solved in the moment.
Later in the afternoon, many chose to draw the snail in art and write about him in the writing center.  Here is one example from the iPad:
snail drawing padThe child used Drawing Pad and saved it to his camera roll.  I used Simple Transfer to get it off his iPad on to my laptop.
Our thematic unit this week is Pumpkins and how they grow…but  yesterday, we took a detour and talked about snails.  The questions, vocabulary, and engagement were just too good to shut down at the end of recess.
I don’t necessarily recommend taking a detour every time the opportunity appears, but by being open to small moments in your day and allowing students to lead the way in their wonder and discovery, we begin to create students who think deeply.  I am always amazed at the complexity of a child’s mind and yesterday was no exception.  I was reminded just how naturally they incorporate technology into their lives and how curious they are about living creatures.  By being present in that very small moment, I’m certain I learned more than they did yesterday!
Today, we will do exciting new things.  Let’s get to it!

Kids Teaching Kids with Book Creator

collageKnowledge exists to be imparted.-Ralph Waldo Emerson

For a short time, I considered that it was highly possible I had lost my mind.  I was going to teach my kids how to use Book Creator on a Friday. Not only that, they were going to teach another kindergarten class how to use it later in the day.  Simmer down…my sanity is still intact.  I worried needlessly.  My iPad proficient five year olds created a 4 page book on Penguins in less than an hour.  They illustrated their pictures in Doodle Buddy, saved them to the camera roll, imported them into Book Creator, typed their text and exported the book to their iBooks app in the morning.  I demonstrated how to do this on the SmartBoard prior to their starting on their own.

In the afternoon, we hosted another kindergarten class to come learn from us.  At one penguin bookspoint, there were 50 kids in my classroom.  They were in groups of 2 or 4, working together.  By the end of our session, the other class had at least the book cover completed and some had their first page finished.  My children loved, loved, loved teaching them.  The engagement was instant.  Their conversations were instructive, relevant, and meaningful.  There were conversations about word choice and details in illustrations.  We even discussed getting back together and sharing our finished books with each other.

My students, in the end, wanted to know if they could show another class how to create their own books.  What a great way for all of my students to have an opportunity to be a leader.  Even the quiet and reserved students, who may otherwise be reluctant to share in front of the group, took a leadership role in the small groups.  While the finished products are going to look great, the process in getting there was priceless.  Not to be forgotten, the science facts they acquired as they wrote about penguins, their life cycle, and their habitats.  Combine that with the literacy aspect and the cooperative learning on the iPads, and I’d say today was a complete success.

Here is a screen shot of one of the book covers:

book cover

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