Monday 23 January 2012

Interactivity:Too Much Sugar

For a few years now I’ve been making IT resources for education and trained teachers to use them on a range of platforms PC, Macs and IWBs etc. All too often the potential of this material is lost.
Abandonment is the major cause.
The common idea, and practice, that once the computer is all fired up and the kids are away they require no further input. Somehow the programme will do it all and the software developer is now the teacher. Even more of a worry, that the programme is so well made that the child will be entertained maybe even educated and the adults can get on with more important stuff.
Interactivity is required. The interactivity is required because the teachers says this is what captures the children's interest. Then more and more interactivity is demanded. There is a strange idea that interactivity means the child will press a button and zap, excitement and interactivity happens. Does it? Actually often for the child no activity happens. The child is left glazed and still, and just like eating too much sugar, is left unsatisfied and desperate for more and sadly the developers are left competing with each other to make more and more interactivity, more zap.The child becomes numb.
Let’s stop this depleting spiral.
Let's slow down and see what's there.
Let’s make slow food for the mind.
By looking deeper into the software resource and finding ways to integrate this material across the curriculum. How could this resource motivate work in art, drama, literacy, science or social studies? Once these questions are answered, in a practical hands-on way, we the adults can engage with the child again. We can engage in IT learning in the same way we engage in an art lesson or a science lesson, meaning and motivation will return. The child is no longer abandoned. The teacher teaches. The programmes will be truly interactive and hey some learning may happen too

Tuesday 10 January 2012

A Beginners Guide to Literacy and Nursery Rhymes

Nursery Rhymes work as a foundation to literacy.
There is good reason for this. The rhymes have been polished over time and the patterns form the basis for English. If we learn these patterns we come to anticipate and replicate these patterns as we read and write.
The Pixelhouse nursery rhyme resource can begin the process of becoming literate for a child from very young age, from babies. Teachers and parents can use this simple structure to give their child/children foundation literacy skills.
When using the Pixelhouse Nursery Rhyme resource it's best to begin with the posters and songs on the music CD, learning the whole rhyme. Repeating these wherever possible in everyday activities, going on walks, swinging, rocking a child to sleep etc...
The next step is to introduce the books. We have made them small for small hands. The children will recognise the illustrations as being similar to the poster artwork.  They will choose their favourite and a teacher or parent can model the reading of these with individual or groups of children.
At this stage the children then take ownership of the material. They carry the books around with them, read the stories to their teddy and take them home to share with their family and friends. The stories of the rhymes become the action in their imaginary play as they retell the rhyme and invent their personalised version,
Once the rhymes are well established the ebooks can be introduced. The children will be excited to see their nursery rhymes in a new medium. This is integration at work. We have added open ended creative eActivities as follow up to the ebooks. There is no one right way, the software developer is not in control the child is, so the child's creativity is encouraged not squashed by an error button. The observant teacher will extend and enrich these experiences by making hands on activities available near by the computer. The child can then extend their own thinking through artwork and dramatic play.
I have been asked to take workshops on this literacy process and for some early childhood centers it has become the framework for language acquisition and literacy development. Please feel free to share this blog with others and contact me if you would like this workshop at your center, parent group or school

Sunday 8 January 2012

Language Aquisition and Nursery Rhymes

I thought I'd begin my working year by reviewing our Pixelhouse Nursery Rhyme resource in action. That is, how have the people who have purchased this resource found it....did it work?
So I headed off to Miramar, to the Kidz Corner Early Childhood Centre This switched on centre was the first in Wellington to purchase and use this resource. So for and publishing in Wellington their feedback is pivotal.
Well what a gift. It couldn't have been better. The kids love the books, the songs, the posters, the ebooks...everything... Wow.
It gets better.
Gillian, the headteacher had given the books, posters etc., to the under twos and they loved it so much no other age group has had a chance to use it. Helen, the teacher with this age group, had done a terrific job. First she introduced the books, one at a time, beginning with the most familiar, Twinkle Twinkle and Baa Baa Black Sheep.  A visiting singing/music teacher extended this and and included the rhymes in her programme and next came the nursery rhyme themed dramatic play with puppets and actors. dress-ups and props. All eggs are now Humpty Dumptys and all spiders Incy Wincy. And the sad ending of Humpty Dumpty has had a new resolution as the children adapt the events to their world view...let's just say a bungy is involved and everyone feels much better for Humpty.
I couldn't have scripted the programme better. The teachers noticed the acquisition of language, the independent reading of the books, the increase in dramatic play and storytelling. Many children carrying their favourite "one" around with them or taking it home to share with their family and friends.
There are ebooks and eActivities with this resource as well. Helen very cleverly didn't introduce these until the children were familiar with the books.The moment children saw them on screen they recognised them  instantly and rushed off to find the matching print version. Again this was how I as the publisher/educator had envisioned things unfolding but for it to happen without my instruction or "how to guide" was exciting. It is the integration of media that excites me. The possibilities that integration gives the repeating and extending  learning experience for a child. We don't all get it in one go or in one way. This is integration at work.
Where to from here?
I'm inspired. I'm motivated and I am grateful to the teachers at The Miramar Kidz Corner, and their professional practice that is leading the way for literacy in an early childhood setting.
On the 10th of February, next month, I'm returning to Miramar for photos and learning stories of all of this in action watch this space for more.

Friday 6 January 2012

Pixelhouse Poster...we love it

We love our new poster. It manages to capture the playful creativity of our resources...thanks Sharee-


Pixelhouse welcomes you to our blog.
We make resources for Education. Print book, ebooks and eActivities on DVDs and have resources available to be online on any platform, PC, Mac interactive whiteboards and on other platforms. Some of these education resources are register for free and chehk them out at
We promote "The Art of Learning" because as Einstein said "Imagination is more important than knowledge."
We are 100% New Zealand, educators, artists designers, techies and printers.
 We make our own resources but we also collaborate and make resources for others too and if they want to use our online tools to deliver this material this is possible too.