Using multiple apps

Having for several year explored various ways of using table computers to support children’s inquiry and learning, we feel that it is more useful to focus on a few core apps that enable students to record and create their own original work. Once the children are familiar with the core apps that we use, we begin exploring ways of combining apps to create more sophisticated work. All the images below have been created by the children, without any adult assistance, combining two or more of three core apps; DrawingPad, Comic Strip and the camera on the iPad. We chose these apps because of their open-endedness which allowed for limitless possibilities and because they supported twitter which is our main platform for sharing work beyond the classroom. (We quickly realized that apps which allow the children to create but not share were limited in their usefulness)

Making music

In music class, the children have been working with Ms Bridgewater to develop the musical skills, attitudes and understandings using the Orff approach. The children’s performance at our Friday assembly was a culmination of the work they have been doing this semester. The children performed two songs, one in Japanese and one in Korean. Each class took turns singing and playing accompaniment with percussion instruments. This was a truly collaborative effort as several parents helped the children learn the songs in music class, to ensure the correct pronunciation. It was a delight to see the children rise to the occasion, standing on the stage as true performers, singing clearly and trying to keep time with Ms Bridgewater.

Thank you to Ms Yuri for these wonderful videoes.

Morning Assembly -Sakura sakura- from Yuri Air on Vimeo.

Morning Assembly -Dahl- from Yuri Air on Vimeo.

Lauren Child – author focus for June

Our author for June will be Lauren Child, an award winning children’s author from England, best known for the Charlie and Lola stories. Child writes about characters and events that five and six year olds can relate to from their own first hand experiences. The stories are a great way of getting the children to think more deeply about the characters in a story and about why authors portray characters in a particular way.

As the children become increasingly aware of text and text styles, they get particular enjoyment from the way that Lauren Child mixes text fonts, sizes,bold and regular, upper and lower case letters etc to create particular effects.

Many of the stories have been made into animated cartoons, available on YouTube. Below is one that we watched at the sleepover and which the children thought was particularly appropriate!

One night in Kindergarten!

A landmark event in the Kindergarten learning journey:


Exploring in the dark:

A communal breakfast.

As happens so often, I am inspired by the independence and initiative of these five and six year olds as they manage their belongings and take responsibility for their needs. And I am humbled by the empathy and compassion with which the children treat each other and the way they comfort and care for one another. The sleepover has been a bonding experience for the children and an important part of their personal and group learning journey through Kindergarten.

A shopping trip

We have dedicated a few meetings to discussions about our meals during the sleepover. First we figured out which meals we would need to provide for. We did a think, pair, share thinking routine. We came up with this list:

  • afternoon snack
  • supper
  • midnight feast
  • breakfast

Next, we had to decide what to eat. After much data collecting, recording, analyzing and interpreting, we came up with these lists:

We made shopping lists, divided up into small groups and off we went!

(Many of the photographs are of one group -sorry, we only had one camera. The process was the same for each group.)

Preparing for the Kindergarten Sleep-over

The children are very excited about sleeping in school next Friday. For many, this is a landmark in their personal learning journeys; the first night they have spent away from their parents. School is a great place for a first sleepover as it is space the children know well and in which they feel comfortable. Over the week, we have discussed the sleep-over in detail.

The things that the children are most excited about are:

  • sleeping with their friends and teddies
  • exploring the school at night time
  • playing outside in their pyjamas

The things that the children are most concerned about are:

  • missing their mums
  • sleepwalking
  • someone’s teddy will get lost

We used a think, pair, share thinking routine to come up with a class packing list.

  • 1 teddy bear or night-time toy (not electronic)
  • pyjamas
  • sleeping bag or blanket
  • toothpaste and toothbrush
  • hair brush or comb
  • face cloth
  • wash bag to put wash things in
  • optional -pillow (we have lots of pillows in school but some children have special pillows they wanted to bring
  • full set of extra clothes (some children have a full set of extra clothes in school and do not need to bring more)
  • flashlight

The children are excited about managing their own belongings and routines, “just like grown-ups!”. It will be easier for the children to look after their belongings if they are clearly labeled. This weekend the children should practice packing and unpacking their bags by themselves, several times, so that they know exactly what they have in their bags, where to find everything and how to fit it all in. (Sleeping bags can be particularly tricky.) This will help the children feel a sense of control and independence and will ease anxiety. 

We talked about how everything has to fit in one overnight bag and the importance of “packing light”. While we have discouraged the children from bringing big suitcases (for space and storage reasons), it is important that the bag is big enough for children to fit  ALL their belongings inside easily.

Slip, slop, slap, slurp!

Throughout the changing seasons of the year we have been talking to the children about protecting themselves in different kinds of weather; wrapping up warmly in the cold; wearing layers so they can add or take off clothes to help them regulate their temperature; bringing waterproof jackets and boots to school so they can enjoy playing in the rain. Now that spring is finally here and the weather is warming up, we have been talking about sun protection. We saw a sun safety post on the KinderPals blog. Nathan had read a book called HOT HIPPO, about a hippo who fell asleep in the sun, so we read that to the whole class. The children knew a lot about staying safe in the sun. They came up with this list:

  • The sun is hot and it can burn you if you stay too long.
  • You need a hat.
  • You have to put on sun cream so your skin doesn’t burn.
  • It’s owey when you burn.
  • You have to drink lots of water because the water comes all out of you when you sweat
  • If you don’t drink you can get dehydrated -that’s when you don’t have any water left in side of you.

I showed the children this youtube clip which was part of Australia’s very effective sun-safety campaign several decades ago. Although old, the children loved the  clip and it remains an effective  and catchy way to help children think about protecting themselves in sunny weather.

Mako and Jaiden noticed that there was a pattern in the spelling. All the words started with sl.. and ended with ..p. Scarlett noticed that the vowels were different (we have been talking a lot about tricky vowels in spelling). We thought of another sl… word for sun safety -slurp! We made a class agreement that we would all help each other remember to slip, slop, slap, slurp each day! Kieran made a poster.

Please help your child to follow our slip, slop, slap, slurp agreement by helping them to remember to bring a T-shirt that covers shoulders and back, sun-cream, sun cream and water bottle to school.


Our class blog has played a central role in our year-long class learning journey. The children feel a strong sense of ownership and connection to the blog. They often ask me to post things on the blog so that their families and their twitter buddies around the world can see what they are learning. We check regularly for comments on our posts and leave comments on other blogs. Through interactions on the KC class blog and the other class blogs that we follow, the children have children developed a solid understanding of how blogs work.

Recently @KinderPals tweeted us to say that they had received the letters we sent them via snail mail. They had responded with messages for us. However, they noticed that snail mail between Canada and Japan takes a long time so they decided to put their messages on their blogs -not their KinderPals class blog, but their very own personal blogs on KinderPals Kidblog.

The KC children read KinderPals’ messages and left some comments on KinderPals’ individual blogs. This was the first time that the KC children had typed and published their comments themselves. Some children were hesitant to publish their comments because there were spelling mistakes. We had talked previously about the importance of correct spelling when publishing for a wider audience (books, twitter, blog posts). We had a discussion about whether the rules for publishing books would be the same as or different to leaving comments. In the end there was a consensus that since it was a kidblog, spelling mistakes were all right as the audience was other children and they wouldn’t mind the spelling and might even be able to read it because “they are kids like us!”.

The children wondered if they could have their own blogs too. Last year the KinderPals teacher, Michelle, introduced me to Kidblog, which provides safe and simple blogs for children. All posts and comments, both incoming and out-going must be approved by the teacher before being published. I showed the children the individual blogs from last year’s KC children and offered to set up blogs for them too. There was unanimous enthusiasm. I set up the blogs and today the children had their first go at writing their own blog post. I suggested that for this first post, the children wrote about the sleepover, which we have discussed at length and written about, so that the children could focus on the technicalities of typing a blog post without having to worry about content. The long-term idea is that the children will write about whatever they wish.

If you have time, visit our KC Kidblog and leave a comment. The children would love to interact with family, both here in Japan and in their home countries via their blogs. Several of the children are excited about blogging at home.  A couple of  children have asked me how to insert photographs into their posts. It is wonderful to see these five and six year olds talk so naturally and knowledgeable about blogging!  Thanks to @KinderPals and their teacher Michelle for introducing us to Kidblog!

Author for May: Mo Willems

Our author for this month is Mo Willems. Mo Willems is an American author who has won several awards for his books.

Willems’ pigeon books have simple illustrations and text and tell a story through speech and thought bubbles. Many of the children have been making books in the style of Mo Willems’ pigeon books. There has been a noticeable increase in the children’s use of speech and thought bubbles in their writing sessions since we began reading these books.

The Knufflebunny series are favorites with the children as they can make connections between their own lives and the characters and events in the stories. The illustrations are a combination of photographs and hand drawn illustrations which has generated much discussion. Many of the children have experimented with this technique using iPad apps.

Click here for a link to the Mo Willems website.

There as a “Don’t Let the Pigeon…” app for iPad and iPhone. I haven’t tried it. If you try it out, let me know what you think.