My favourite tip for anyone using an iPad with young children is enabling guided access. When it is enabled, this feature limits access to only the app which is open and can also control which parts of the screen are responsive to touch and which features of the app are available. It also disables the hardware buttons on the iPad. Apple Support details the steps involved in how to Use Guided Access with iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
This feature can be useful in ensuring that a student is able to focus on a particular task once it is set up for them without attempting to use or becoming distracted by other apps. If using apps which contain ads, guided access is useful in that you can disable the section of the screen where ads are placed so that students can not click on them. It also prevents students from changing the settings on the iPad.
Additionally, much like any other learning tool used in the classroom, rules need to be clearly established and taught to students before allowing them to use any app on the iPad.
Finally, there are a few additional resources I came across when conducting research for this blog that I would recommend to teachers or parents wishing to further explore ways of using apps or other technology in the early primary classroom.
Common Sense Education is a division of Common Sense Media providing resources and advice to help teachers use technology as an effective learning tool. They offer a variety of lesson plans, reviews, ratings, teaching strategies, tools for professional development, and information on digital citizenship and digital literacy.
Innovate with iPad: Lessons to Transform Learning in the Classroom by Karen Lirenman and Kristen Wideen is a book containing a tremendous number of ways to use iPad in the early elementary classroom. It is a bit of a movement away from the idea of merely using apps in the classroom, as the authors describe using iPads for a transformative shift causing their teaching to become more innovative and student-centered. They use apps in various ways to link curriculum areas and enhance students’ learning. I recently attended a GAFE summit session with Karen Lirenman and left very inspired by the myriad of ways she is currently using technology with her young students. However, I am also a bit overwhelmed and intimidated by how she seamlessly integrates technology in meaningful ways into everything she does in her classroom and hope that by exploring and beginning to use apps I can start small and gradually incorporate more of her best practices.
AppAdvice is a website which provides gift guides, best of lists, reviews, charts, and most excitingly for teachers, a section titled “Apps Gone Free”. As budgets are always tight, teachers love free things! Apps Gone Free is a daily list of apps which are temporarily discounted to free in the App Store.
Smart Apps for Kids is a similar website highlighting free apps for children. It also features a “free app alert” email subscription digest as well as reviews and curated lists of apps.
Finally, this list of 6 Hands-On Center Ideas for Using Technology in Pre-K and Kindergarten provides some additional ideas for bringing technology into the Kindergarten classroom.
Common Sense Education. Common Sense Media, www.commonsensemedia.org/educators.
Lirenman, Karen and Kristen Wideen, Innovate with iPad: Lessons to Transform Learning in the Classroom. EdTechTeam, 2016.
Smart Apps For Kids. http://www.smartappsforkids.com.
Nelson, Karen, “6 Hands-On Center Ideas for Using Technology in Pre-K and Kindergarten.”, We Are Teachers, June 4 2015, www.weareteachers.com/6-hands-on-center-ideas-for-using-technology-in-pre-k-and-kindergarten/.