iPads in the Kindergarten Classroom
Anyone that has seen a toddler with an iPad realizes right away that these devises were made for the non-reader. Last summer I spent ten days with my three year old granddaughter and their family iPad. The functions were so intuitive (and the fact that she is a sheer genius) that she never once asked for directions as she navigated through a variety of apps. I had been researching handheld devices like the Leapster and DS for years. I could see that five year olds were drawn to them like a duck to water, but the variety of learning software available did not make them a practical choice for the classroom. Finally, the iPad with its tens of thousands of apps specifically targeted at the learning skills of the emergent reader, was the perfect tool for me.
Of course. the next hurdle is funding. I could not get our open source IT guy to come on board with the new Apple product and so I had to find my own funding. A parent suggested a bake sale and I wavered, thinking this was pretty ambitious, after all we only had eight students in our class. Administration said to go for it, and we did. We raised $800 in one weekend! In November we purchased our first iPad 2 and Gum Drop Hard Candy Case.
Moms with apps is my number one resource for keeping our classroom iPad current. They have App Friday in which they will send you an e-mail with reviews and special offers only good until 8:00pm that evening. I schedule thirty minutes every Friday morning to check out these reviews and download new apps. I think one of the reasons the students like the iPad so much is that there is always something new to discover.
The applications of the iPad in the classroom are limitless. I continue to be amazed at the ingenuity of educators as they think of new uses for this tool. I think one of the most outside the box uses this year was the QR Reader.
We made a pictograph showing all the dairy products we had in our homes. When we were finished I asked the students to tell me one thing that the graph showed and recorded them using Fotobabble. I then linked QR codes to the Fotobabble recording and posted them with the graph. Students enjoyed revisiting (and reinforcing) their responses.
At the end of the school year we had a final donation to our iPad fund and were able to purchase our second iPad 2 (now reduced $100 because of the introduction of the new iPad). We also ordered another Gum Drop Hard Candy case because the first one performed so well, but were given it free as a sample. They also offer a 20% education discount. Now our goal is to get two more so that we can use them in small groups!