Category Archives: iPad
This is the story of an iPad enhanced storytime, told by colleagues Awnali Mills and Rachel Sharpe.
Awnali: I was getting ready to do a bird-themed storytime and found the book Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? by Rita Gray. It follows two children as they listen to various birds in their yard and watch a silent robin on its nest until its eggs hatch. The book verbalizes the calls of the various birds and contrasts them to the silent nesting bird.
As I was reading over the story, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could play these birdcalls for the kids?” I tried finding birdcall apps to work on my iPad in an unobtrusive way. No dice. I tried downloading individual bird calls, but that didn’t work well either. Frustrated, I reached out to my colleague Rachel Sharpe to see if she could conjure a technological brainstorm. She did!
Rachel: I searched the Internet for free, downloadable birdcalls and struck gold with a math professor’s website from SUNY (the site has been around since 1997!). The birdcalls are registered under a creative commons license (CC BY-NC 3.0), so I was able to download most of what I needed and modify them to fit my needs. For the rest, I used www.foundsounds.com.
Once I had my collection of birdcalls, I used Windows Movie Maker to arrange the sounds. Because I was working with sounds, not video, I had to add 90 seconds of a blank title screen to act as the video portion of the movie. I added the sounds, repeating some of the shorter ones, and left three seconds between each bird call to act as a buffer.
When all the sounds were in place, I saved the video and uploaded it to zamzar.com, a file conversion site. Zamzar quickly converted the file to an .mp3, erasing the video portion of the file and just keeping the audio. Voila! I quickly attached that file to an email and shipped it off to Awnali.
Awnali: Rachel’s .mp3 worked beautifully on the computer, but I needed it on my iPad. Following some instructions I found online, I downloaded Dropbox onto my computer and iPad and used the app to download and transfer the birdcalls .mp3. Success!
I practiced manipulating the iPad while reading the book aloud several times to make sure that it worked seamlessly. I learned that the three-second interval Rachel had inserted was just enough time to read most of the lines without stopping, and it was easy to pause playback for longer lines.
I had the .mp3 open and ready to go before the kids arrived (playing it from Dropbox). I held the book in one hand and operated the iPad with the other. This worked perfectly. As soon as the children heard the birdcalls, they gasped and looked at their parents, who smiled at them. When one little girl heard the catbird call, she piped up, “What was that??” Because the catbird does, in fact, sound like a cat! This combined to create the charming effect of walking through the woods listening to and watching birds. When I asked, “Do you see the_____ bird?” The kids excitedly assured me that they did. I couldn’t have asked for a better effect.
Undoubtedly, straightforward apps are much easier to utilize. But we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be limited to only the content supplied by others. In the true spirit of makers, we stepped out of the box, developed an idea, collaborated with others, and utilized numerous technologies to produce a beautifully enhanced storytime—no app needed.
Awnali Mills works in the Children’s Dept. of a public library and she gets the snot scared out of her by sudden loud sounds coming out of apps she’s trying out. She blogs at The Librarian is on the Loose.
Rachel Sharpe works in the children’s department of a public library and has permanent dibs on the department’s iPad.~*~ Little eLit is a collaborative think tank of professionals thinking about the topic of young children, new media, and libraries. Individuals who share their viewpoints, experiences, and presentations in Little eLit blog posts are expressing their personal views and do not represent Little eLit as a whole.
I recently used an app called Keezy in a storytime I was presenting all about music. The app was originally designed for professional (and aspiring) musicians to use as a sound mixing board, but it has a super-simple interface that makes it into a very flexible tool easy enough for kids to use and full of possibilities for different ways to use it.
The main screen of the app consists of 8 colored squares. When you first open the app, you can touch each square to hear a pre-recorded default recording. Some of the sounds are rhythms, some are synthesized voices singing, others are short musical riffs. You can play them one at a time, or layer them in any way you want, pressing as many as all 8 at once.
You can also choose one of the other pre-recorded musical mixes to hear a different selection of sounds.
But the real beauty of this app comes when you choose the “+” symbol from the options menu.
This option will take you back to the main screen, only this time, there is a small microphone symbol on each square. Press on a square to record your own sound clip and once it’s recorded, the microphone disappears to let you know that that color now has a recording associated with it.
Of course, you can record musical clips (I had my storytime group echo back a few bars I sang to them and then we listened to ourselves on the playback), and one of my favorite features is the fact that there are 8 squares, allowing a full octave of individual notes if that’s what you want, but…. you’re not limited to music. You can record any audio as long as it’s not longer than a few seconds! Some ideas I’ve thought of include:
- Recording animal noises (or your own voice making animal noises) for a guessing game.
- You could incorporate this app into a re-telling of one of those cumulative tales like “Too Much Noise” and record your audience making each of the animal noises before you begin telling the story and just press the button each time when it’s time to hear that noise in the story.
- Same thing for the song, “Bought me a Cat” (of course, the audience can still sing along if they want to!).
- You could do a MadLib story with a group and assign a part-of-speech to each color square (as long as your MadLib has no more than 8 blanks) and ask kids to come up and record a word for each square, then as you’re retelling the story, just press the square to playback the word at the right time.
- You could have kids write an 8-sentence story and record a sentence for each color, but in a scrambled order and challenge a friend to figure out which order the colors should be played in to make the story make the most sense.This is a great, easy-to-use, open-ended content creation app with so many possibilities to explore. Oh, and did I mention? It’s FREE! What will you make with Keezy?
Carissa Christner is a librarian with Madison Public Library.~*~ Little eLit is a collaborative think tank of professionals thinking about the topic of young children, new media, and libraries. Individuals who share their viewpoints, experiences, and presentations in Little eLit blog posts are expressing their personal views and do not represent Little eLit as a whole.
Let’s talk transitions. Storytellers and librarians are no doubt familiar with trying to come up with the perfect transitions in story times. I have used fun apps like Animal Sounds or Endless Alphabet as transitional activities between books in my Toddler Times. Parents too, are faced with a series of transitions for their young children. Waking up, going potty, brushing teeth, getting dressed, eating breakfast, playing, cleaning up, potty again, putting on shoes, getting into the car. All of this and more before story time! Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to share apps with parents that could help assist with transitions and waiting and kept the parent and child engaged with each other?
My go-to app for this is Sesame Street Family Play. It suggests real life games to play with children. The package of games for home comes with the $.99 app, download games for both travel and away from home for $1.99 more. The app asks simple questions to start, like your location and whether you have certain materials handy. If you say no, no problem, it moves right along. It then suggests a quick game, endorsed by one of the Sesame Street characters, that a caregiver and child(ren) can play together right that minute.
My children, ages two and four, and I enjoy playing together on my iPad. But they often have a difficult time transitioning to another activity. Enter Family Play. One night, after we had played with two apps, one of each child’s choosing, I chose Family Play. I told the kids that we were going to look at the iPad and a Sesame Street friend would suggest a game. They were sold. First, we measured the living room in lengths of kid (8.5 if you were wondering), then we played a game where the first person to find an object to put on their head was the winner and the most creative was also a winner. The app even tells you which skills you are helping your child develop by playing. We’ve also used the app when transitioning between non screen activities. The time between clean up and bath time went from boredom and sibling squabbles to pretending to be frogs and hopping over lily pads made of throw pillows. Yes, I can think of games on my own, but it’s always nice to have an assist after a long day.
Family Play is a favorite of mine personally. However, there are many other apps that would fit the bill for all sorts of families. Why not do a couple of fun math problems with Bedtime Math, learn a few new rhymes with ACPL Family, dance with the Laurie Berkner Band, or create a story about your day together using Our Story for iPad? All free to download! What apps do you like best for helping parents and children have fun together, both on and off the screen?Naomi Smith is a Youth Services Librarian for the Parkland/Spanaway branch of the Pierce County Library System in Tacoma, WA where gets to do the Baby and Toddler Story Times. She occasionally tweets at @Naomireads. ~*~ Little eLit is a collaborative think tank of professionals thinking about the topic of young children, new media, and libraries. Individuals who share their viewpoints, experiences, and presentations in Little eLit blog posts are expressing their personal views and do not represent Little eLit as a whole.
I am always looking for new and interesting way to use the iPad in storytime. I have used it several times to show pictures of something that is in one of the books that we read. For example, when we read a book about a grandfather’s topiary garden, I showed pictures of real, rather impressive topiaries (teaching background knowledge).
Recently, while planning a storytime about windy days, I came across a book, Blowin’ in the Wind, lyrics by Bob Dylan and illustrations by Jon J. Muth. It included a CD with the original recording of the song. The book contained the words from the song with beautiful illustrations. I was trying to figure out how to read this book, show the pictures, and listen to the CD all at the same time. But, I only have two hands. So, I turned it into a “movie,” a multimedia story.
I used iMovie on the iPad. I uploaded the song into iTunes and took pictures of all of the pages of the book. I moved the song and the pictures into iMovie. Since I took the pictures in order, they loaded into iMovie in order (thankfully). I timed the pictures to match the words of the song, played around with the transitions between pictures, and there it was. It took me less than an hour to do this whole project. And, I had never used iMovie before so I was learning that as I went along. In the interest of full disclosure, I have used Windows Movie Maker. iMovie is easier to use.
Then along came storytime, so we read the books and sang the songs and rhymed the rhymes, then I told them I had a movie for them to watch. I explained what it was, turned the lights out, fired up the iPad and…
They loved it.
I heard one little child “whisper” to his Mom, “We’re watching a movie, Mommy!” Such a treat.Mary Dushel is a Library Associate and Early Learning Specialist at the Anne Arundel County Public Library in Maryland. She learned to love reading to children with her own children sitting on her lap. Now that they are in their 20s, she comes to work and reads to other children. It turns out that she loves that, too. ~*~
Little eLit is a collaborative think tank of professionals thinking about the topic of young children, new media, and libraries. Individuals who share their viewpoints, experiences, and presentations in Little eLit blog posts are expressing their personal views and do not represent Little eLit as a whole.
Each month, we have an elementary craft program called Stories & Such. I’ve been searching for a while for a way to incorporate our iPad into the program and finally found a way to add a digital element.
I decided we were going to make sock puppets but add in the opportunity for the kids to film a short skit of their puppets interacting.
Additionally, I had remembered seeing posts from Allison Tran and Emily Lloyd about their success with using the Sock Puppet app in their storytimes, and I thought my elementary kids would enjoy the app just as much. Using the app, I filmed several 30-second segments starring the pig and zebra puppets.
In the first video, I had the puppets introduce the craft, while the other videos featured the puppets demonstrating what the kids could talk about in their videos.
When the kids arrived for the program, we watched the first video and read Smitten by David Gordon. Then they chose a sock base (which were donated socks left over from a program) and went to town, grabbing ribbon, felt, beads, googly eyes, and whatever else I set out. I gave them 20 minutes to design their puppets.
While their puppets dried, we watched the remaining videos, and we brainstormed about what they could talk about in their videos. I also had all the parents fill out permission slips that allowed me to film their children. The slips asked for the child’s name, description of the puppet, and parent email.
For our puppet stage, I took a table, covered it with a sheet, and placed it near a solid-colored wall. When the kids were ready to be filmed, they gave me their permission slips and climbed behind the table. I gave them one minute to do whatever they wanted while I filmed them with the iPad mini.
After the program, I edited the videos, uploaded them to YouTube, and sent the links to the addresses the parents provided. The response has been great. Several parents commented how much fun their kids had during program and how much they loved the videos.
1. Don’t use Elmer’s glue with fabric. It doesn’t dry fast enough, and nothing sticks to the sock. Although it was hilarious to watch puppet parts fly off while the kids were filming. Thankfully, everyone had a sense of humor.
2. Speak up! It was really hard to hear the kids who were performing the puppet show.
3. Have a separate area for filming if possible. For the most part, the kids who weren’t filming were quiet, but I had a few really excited kids who would keep laughing or talking while I was filming. You could hear them quite clearly on the video.
Overall, the kids were really receptive to the change of pace. I’m excited to see how else I can incorporate the iPad into more of my craft programs!Rachel Sharpe
Library Assistant II
Henrico County Public Library ~~*~~ Little eLit is a collaborative think tank of professionals thinking about the topic of young children, new media, and libraries. Individuals who share their viewpoints, experiences, and presentations in Little eLit blog posts are expressing their personal views and do not represent Little eLit as a whole.
In 2010, when I worked as a Reading and Comprehension Consultant, and the year the iPad launched, I immediately got excited at the potential for iPad usage in education. Of course now it’s become a mainstay in the classroom. When I started working in libraries in 2012, my gears started to crank again with potential ideas for program use.
Last summer I got to partner with a few of our children’s librarians to test out some apps in teen programming and storytime and discuss how to use iPads and apps in the most effective ways. It was well received but progressed a bit slower than I’d hoped (as some of you may have seen at your libraries). Getting people on board and excited can be a task in and of itself, in addition to just figuring out how to make it work. But once you get the ball rolling, it can be contagious and hard to stop.
So earlier this year, I started brainstorming with Amy Wright, Rifle’s Children’s Librarian, about how we could use iPads with the kids. Amy started to implement the digital piece in her core storytime while we planned to launch an all digital specialty program called Digi-tots Playtime.
We’ve been through 2 Digi-tots sessions now, held the First Tuesday of each month, and so far we feel we have a solid program. The challenge is getting people who would want this program to come on a different day that is outside of anything they else they attend regularly at the library. The feedback from those who attended has been great. It’s amazing to see how much families know and do not know about mobile devices and apps.
About the program: we have structured Digi-tots Playtime similar to storytime since it is something the kids are already familiar with. We have an opening song, a story app, an APP-tivity, a second story and one final APP-tivity before free play. The goal is to let the children with their caregivers have the iPads in hand so that they can explore the app along with the group. This had mixed results the first time we did it, especially with stories. Once the kids figured out how to turn the page, some of them were 2-3 pages ahead of the group and no longer attached to the group activity. This brought to awareness that we need a “best practice” for when the iPads are in their hands. Basically, some fun rules that engage the caregiver to encourage the child to keep “hands up” when Miss Amy is reading, and to touch the app when she says it’s okay. We haven’t had a chance to implement this thinking yet, but we shall see for next time.
I think one of the best parts of Digi-tots Playtime is the APP-tivities. Basically, it’s taking an early literacy app and turning it into an engaging group game that gets the kids Talking, Singing, Reading, Writing, Playing (and Laughing… I really think that should be a sixth practice 🙂 )
Some examples of APP-tivities we’ve done:
1. Endless Alphabet – Having the kids talk and tell the answer to what letter comes next in the jumbled word, and to play and make silly faces and the sounds of the letter. When we did the word “exercise,” we also played by exercising at the end of the word.
2. colAR Mix – Letting the kids write and color on the page and watch their faces light up as their creation came to life on the little screen (ie. iPad Mini). This app is a great introduction for families to STEM-based learning.
3. Wheels on the Bus Band – We played the song on the big screen and sang, and the kids had access to the iPad and app and can use any of the numerous built-in instruments to play and jam along. One thing to note: because that app interface is very busy, the children could feel overwhelmed by all the colors and activities. We talked about maybe having other singular instrument apps loaded, like the bongo apps, and also having things like egg shakers and other real instruments available in case the child wants to use something else.
At the end, the kids are free to go play with toys or play on the iPads with any of the apps we have loaded. We make ourselves available to answer questions that caregivers might have and to engage the children in play. The whole thing, with freetime at the end, goes for about 45 minutes, which is a good amount of time for this type of program.
We are excited for next month and will be working on bringing new families in to try it out and hopefully help them better navigate this digital world they are in.Stephen Tafoya works as a Technology Trainer for a library district, and he partners with Youth Services Coordinators to engage kids and teens with technology in library programming. ~*~ Little eLit is a collaborative think tank of professionals thinking about the topic of young children, new media, and libraries. Individuals who share their viewpoints, experiences, and presentations in Little eLit blog posts are expressing their personal views and do not represent Little eLit as a whole.
Here’s a recap of my first session (of four) of Tablet Time. Attending were 3 children and 2 parents. Because I only have 6 iPads, I have limited the registration to 6 kids, so half-full isn’t bad for this rural library. I started by reading a few books. The “featured” book was Press Here by Herve Tullet. Kids love this book—it is so interactive, they love seeing the “magic” that happens. My only caution–when the book asks readers to blow on the dots, hold that book up and away from you, because little kids do not know how to blow without spitting.
Our next activity was dot alphabet matching. I created a page of the alphabet—upper and lower case (see picture). Each child got a sheet of dots. We wrote their names, one letter per dot, and they got to search for the letter on the sheet. Then they pressed the dot over the letter. They wanted to do more than just their names, and I gave parents extra pages of letters and sheets of dots to do the activity at home. We tried another activity, which was to write their names on paper and put tiny dots along the letters, but this was too hard for the youngest ones and not as exciting as looking for letters.
Next up, the app Press Here. One thing I love about this app is that there are really no instructions. You just figure it out, and play. There are 15 different games, all involving dots. There’s a fireworks game which involves making, well, fireworks. There’s a music game, a sports game for 2 players called “Inside Goal,” a memory game, and more. I asked the parents to spend some time with their kids testing out this app, talking to them and working together. After they spent about 10 minutes with that app, they had free-play time. The kids did enjoy this app—though the youngest of them (3 years old) enjoyed it more. She played with it for quite a while, and I heard some good parent-child interaction going on.
One of the moms was looking for good apps for her son who is in speech therapy. He really enjoyed Alphabet Car and was even able to unlock a new level in the game–he was really enjoying saying the letter aloud when he ran it over with his bus.
The kids really enjoyed each having their own iPads, which is why I think I will keep this program small. When I tried this program before, we had 6 iPads for 20 people, and while they were really good about sharing, they much preferred this format of being able to really spend some time with the apps.Angela Reynolds
Head of Youth Services
Annapolis Valley Regional Library ~*~ Little eLit is a collaborative think tank of professionals thinking about the topic of young children, new media, and libraries. Individuals who share their viewpoints, experiences, and presentations in Little eLit blog posts are expressing their personal views and do not represent Little eLit as a whole.
All teachers know that there is a bit of risk involved in trying new things with students. Every time we introduce a new concept, and especially every time we try out a new tech tool, we risk the lesson not going according to plan. It is a calculated risk, but a risk all the same. We can almost always count on technology to surprise us, and at times completely fail. But when it works, when we manage to pair the right tool with the right learning concept, it is a most gratifying thrill that maximizes learning for our students!!
Which brings me to why I love designing new lessons for my students, why I am so passionate about library tech lessons. One of my greatest joys as the media specialist for a K-5 building is designing new lessons that combine books and technology and kindle my students’ creativity as they demonstrate their learning. It represents the intersection of children’s books (any format–hard copy or eBooks), teaching objectives/standards, and technology–the teaching trifecta!! I don’t believe that new technologies guarantees great lessons and outcomes, but experience has taught me that technology can energize lessons and give students exciting new ways to express themselves and share what they are learning!
My youngest students and I have been working on several projects this year! Follow the links for full program descriptions and write-ups.
First Graders Begin Working On An Oak Hills Elementary Alphabet Book!
Lesson Ingredients: Alphabet Books from Sleeping Bear Press, iPad camera, Chirp iPod App, and the Haiku Deck App
1st Graders Have Been Busy Creating Caldecott iMovies
Lesson Ingredients: 2014 Caldecott Books, Chirp App and the iMovie App
More Rules for Moose From 2nd Graders Using the Skitch App!
Lesson Ingredients: Oliver Jeffers’ book The Moose Belongs To Me, Google search for Landscape Art and any app that allow the user to draw/type on an image – I used the Skitch App
2nd Graders Share A Laugh Using The ChatterPix App During Joke Book January
Lesson Ingredients: Kid’s Joke Books for Read Aloud, if desired: kid joke websites (be careful to review content vigorously), Google image search and the Chatterpix App
1st Graders Research Chinese New Year And Celebrate With The Help Of The Augmented Reality App CoLAR Mix!
Lesson Ingredients: Chinese New Year Books for Read Aloud, Coloring Pages Downloaded from the CoLAR Mix website, and the CoLAR Mix App
This is a video the Yuma County Library District put together recently to promote its Digital Science Hour on social and various local media outlets. The Digital Science Hour is both an in-house and an outreach program. During the course of an hour, we explore various science-based apps based on a monthly theme. We’ve done everything from fossils to the universe!
While the program at the library has some devoted followers, the youth at the area schools love to see the iPads roll in as they know they’ll be doing something totally new and hands-on for their dose of science that day. The lesson plan initially created works best in the school setting, and we are tweaking that plan to make the hour at the Main Library (where the program is piloting) a little less regimented.
We’ve found exploring apps and “just having fun” with the device sometimes outweighs trying to learn too much when families pop by after work and school. By adding refreshments and more time to explore, we hope to attract more families to the program when we roll out new Digital Science Hours this Summer Reading.Emily Scherrer, Youth Services Director
Yuma County Library District ~*~
Little eLit is a collaborative think tank of professionals thinking about the topic of young children, new media, and libraries. Individuals who share their viewpoints, experiences, and presentations in Little eLit blog posts are expressing their personal views and do not represent Little eLit as a whole.
Lindsay Huth, Early Learning Specialist at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, and Holly Jin, Preschool Outreach/Early Literacy Librarian at the Skokie Public Library, reflect on their experience presenting on early childhood apps at the Opening Minds Conference in Chicago (January 2014).
When it comes to using technology with young children, early childhood educators and librarians have many of the same questions. What are the best practices for using apps with young children? What qualities should we look for in an app? When should we use apps with young children? We also have many of the same goals. We want to help children construct learning in creative and meaningful ways. We want to help children build technology skills. We want to support and scaffold learning in developmentally appropriate ways.
Since we have similar questions and goals when it comes to using technology with young children, it makes sense for librarians and educators to dialogue with one another about how we’re using apps in our respective settings. When the Opening Minds Conference, hosted by the Chicago Metro AEYC, called for proposals, we thought it could be the ideal forum to have this discussion. We titled our proposal, “Let’s Talk About Apps: iPads in the Early Childhood Classroom,” and were pleased (and a bit apprehensive) when it was accepted. Truthfully, neither one of us considers ourselves to be experts on using apps with young children. Thankfully, there are actual experts out there to guide us and lead the way. We attended as many webinars and conferences as we could to prepare, and tapped into other great resources found through NAEYC, Little eLit (of course!), and the Erikson TEC Center (Technology and Early Childhood), among others. We also drew from our own experiences using apps with young children in our storytimes and programs.
Though we admittedly have a lot to learn about apps, early literacy, on the other hand, is a topic we know quite well. We focused our presentation on apps that support Every Child Read to Read’s five early literacy practices of Talking, Singing, Reading, Writing, and Playing. On the day of our presentation, we were feeling fairly confident, a little nervous, and definitely excited. It was time to get the conversation rolling.
Though it’s not evident in these slides, our presentation included lots of discussion prompts. We often paused and asked the audience to share their questions and ideas. In addition to talking about apps, we also talked about the many ways that librarians and early childhood educators can partner on behalf of young children. The discussion around this point was the most animated and passionate portion of our session.
By the end of the presentation, I think we all felt we had learned some new strategies for using iPads with young children, as well as gained an understanding of how we can support one another in our common goal of helping children be ready for Kindergarten. As we all know, our impact on the community can be greater, and much more effective, when educators and librarians combine efforts to reach out to caregivers and children to promote early literacy.
The conference was definitely worthwhile. From both the standpoint of being presenters and attendees, it was packed full of opportunities for professional growth. And while we loved dialoguing with early childhood educators about how we can help children build pre-reading and writing skills using technology in “Let’s Talk About Apps,” the best conversations we had at Opening Minds were really about partnerships.
Let’s keep the conversation going!