As an Early Years teacher I have always capitalised on opportunities for literacy in everyday life. Making children aware and involving them in these things is often key to children viewing reading and writing as fun. Traditionally these would have been things like writing shopping lists, reading road and shop signs, mark making in diaries and calendars or following recipes.
However literacy in the real world is changing. Children these days are just as likely to see you read or write on your phone or laptop as they are to see you write a list or note.
This really hit home with me when I watched my 3 year old playing on my iPad a few weeks ago. She asked if she could download an app called Dad book, designed for dads to record stories for their children.
But mummy it’s not doing anything
she said once it was downloaded.
No, someone has to tell the story and record it.
I asked her 7 year old sister to record the story for her, they sat together as my 7 year old narrated the story. When she was finished my 3 year old listened and then repeated the words as she had seen done with another app Pat the Cat .
What a great opportunity for playing with literacy for both children. This made me think about all the other literacy activities my children tap into on the iPad.
My 3 year old is learning about the alphabet and phonic sounds using the wonderful Elmo loves ABC’s app. This has loads of different levels of games all based around learning letter names and sounds and includes lots of memorable Sesame Street clips.
Another favourite is Me Books a children’s picture book reader for classic Ladybird books. Both my children enjoy following the stories and adding in their own sound effects. This is simple for the children to do and another great way of getting different aged siblings to share reading.
We have even discovered new songs and rhymes through English Songs and Chants. My 3 year old loves this one and can be heard walking around the house reciting the chants and singing the songs. The chants are excellent for teaching rhythm and steady beat, a concept I usually teach using Ros Bayley’s Beat Baby. I wonder whether Ros has considered creating a Beat Baby app?
There are a number of things that I really appreciate about the way my children use technology to play and learn about literacy.
- The children freely choose the literacy apps and never feel like they are learning literacy skills. Everything they choose to play is fun and interactive.
- The apps are an added dimension to their experience of literacy. They still love books and choose to read traditional books more often than e-books, still love to write, tell and listen to stories.
Current touch screen technology is still a little small to offer good mark making experiences for the youngest children but the drawing apps are good fun for when they get a bit older and are able to work on a smaller scale. I look forward to a time when I can roll out a big screen onto the floor and let the youngest children explore markmaking on a large scale.
I also think Kinect holds great possibilities for literacy. My children talk to their dad via video Kinect when he is not at home. There would be great potential for speaking and listening activities if they connected with other children from around the world and shared experiences about their life and culture.
My girls are avid readers, I’m not afraid that new technology will distract them from traditional literacy, but that it adds a richness to their lives and new possibilities for exciting literacy experiences.