5 Fun First Day Back Apps
By Nick Acton
Activities for that Haunting Day
Before we know it the school year will be over. The summer break will come and go and all of us will be faced with the first day back! It is a daunting time for everyone involved. Joining a new year group or taking the very first step into education is in no way easy. Of course, these opening statements are true for children and teachers alike! For many, the first few days can define the tone for the rest of the school year. They provide a foundation that sets up the rest of the three terms. On top of this, all sorts of little logistical aspects have to be tackled such as table groups, carpet places, attainment levels, classroom set ups, name learning and so on. With this in mind, technology is not always the first thing that pops into a teachers mind. However, I believe that iPads can make a big difference during the first day back. I think it can help a teacher to grasp some of the aforementioned aspects through facilitating fun activities that provide useful ongoing resources.
1) Photo Booth Class List
Easily one of the funniest apps to play with on an iPad is Photo Booth. The app is so popular that it comes as standard with any iPad. For anyone who has not had a go on it, Photo Booth is a simple and hilarious way of taking self-portrait photos. Amazing effects enable a child to morph and stretch their faces to create almost caricature images. It could not be easier for each child to take a picture of themselves and share the photo with the teacher via airdrop or email. The teacher can then arrange the images and whack the names of each child under their corresponding Photo Booth picture to create a fun class list!
2) Split Pic Selfie Class List
Depending on the age group or past iPad experiences of your class, Photo Booth might not be your best option for a ‘Class List’ activity. Another way of engaging your class in this kind of project is by asking them to create their own selfie for you. However, to make it really interesting, the children can edit the images and put their own artistic flare into their Selfie images. There are a number of apps that can offer up some cool editing options but I think that Split Pic is my favourite. Children can choose from a whole range of filters and effects within the app. They can put frames on the photos and even merge other images into their pictures in clever and creative ways. Again, it’s easy for a child to share their finished Selfies with the teacher via airdrop or email. It’s then up to the teacher to put it all together to create an interesting twist on the class list.
3) Table Group Quizlet Activity
A nice way of getting children to find out more about each other is through the sharing of fun facts about themselves. Quizlet is an app that can facilitate this kind of activity in an interesting way. The app itself enables children to create little quizzes or flashcard revision resources (known as sets) that can be shared quickly and easily. Simply give the ‘set’ an searchable name and ask each child to write their name on one side of a flashcard and their fun fact on the other. Passing on iPad around the table, each child can complete this part easily. When the set is finished, every child can rap an iPad, open Quizlet and search for the ‘set’. When they find it, they can engage in a flashcard game that asks them to match the name with the interesting fact as quickly as they can. It’s a really fun and easy way of getting children to start learning more about their peers. The activity could extend to get table groups to try out other table group Quizlets.
4) A Wunderlist of Golden Time Activities
Giving children choice and ownership over their ‘Golden Time’ is common practice for many teachers. Wunder List is an app that can help a teacher and their class organise and collate suggestions for Golden Time Activities. Essentially, the app enables you to create a collaborative list where everyone involved in it can see and edit the listed items. In this scenario, the teacher could create a Wunder List that the entire class could access and add to. Not only that, both the teacher and the children could return to the list at any time to add to it or review the items. Therefore, a class could create an ongoing list of activities and the teacher could keep coming back to it before ‘Golden Time’. If an activity has been done and dusted, you can tick it off the list.
5) Keeping it Positive with Tally It
A really nice activity to run with your class is a game I like to call ‘Keeping Positive’. It’s a simple idea that can put something like a ‘first day back’ in to perspective. The idea is to ask each child to keep note of a pre-determined ‘positive’. Each member of the class should be given one secret ‘positive’ to look out for. For example, one child could keep track of every time they hear someone laugh. Another could count every time they make someone smile or tally up every time a class member does something nice for another class member. An app that can help children keep track of such observations is called ‘Tally It’. It is another really simplistic application. Just name your tally table and swipe down on the screen to add a counter. It doesn’t matter if you leave the app and come back to it. The numbers will be stored. A teacher could then systematically work through the register and ask each child to reveal their ‘positive’ and tell everyone the number of times they observed the positive behaviour. Not only is this a lovely thing to do, it can also highlight what an overwhelmingly positive environment most schools are. It enables children to think less negatively. It can also give a teacher an ongoing data to play with and question the children about.
My hope is that some or all of the above activities are simple enough for any teacher to embed into a first day back. No matter what your experience is with Apple Technology, these ideas are easy to grasp and rely more on the children’s willingness to explore and play. As we all know, there is no such thing as a child technophobe. Use this fact to your advantage when your new class walks into the classroom. There are very few things that every child has in common. However, I can almost guarantee that each pupil will have a fondness for technology. I would even suggest that engagement with technology could make some children feel more comfortable in a new setting. I also believe that children respond to innovative ways of doing things. By the time a child reaches key stage two, they have experienced many ‘first days’. In this case, the question becomes less about how you keep children happy on the first day but more about how your ‘first day’ stands out.
Nick Acton is an Apple Curriculum Specialist at JTRS as well as being a part-time Computing and Music teacher. Through the creation of bespoke training, Nick specialises in empowering educators so they can embed Apple technologies into their day-to-day classroom practice.