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e-learning support for pre reading, letter, sound recognition, and formation.

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Started by Anne Kenneally  08 May 2013 12:35pm () Replies (20)

I am sourcing ideas people have trialled and found successful for working with pre readers on laptop or desktop to support letter and sound recognition and formation.  We are trying to source ideas that do not involve little learners logging out and struggling to log back on... I know it's a big ask but would appreciate any ideas and suggestions please.


  • Roxy Hickman (View all users posts) 08 May 2013 5:29pm ()

    Hi Anne, 

    Do the students have Internet access on laptop and desktop?

    These are some old but good ideas, but my challenge to you is to consider how combining these suggestions and from others can potentially offer a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approach - using multiple means of representation, multiple means of action and expression and multiple means of engagement to reach all learners. 

    Starfall - each letter has an interactive activity and supported by their phonic sounds throughout. UDL: Visual and aural representation, interactive activity for the student to show their understanding, short and sweet for short term engagement, easily repeated activity for those who like to practice more than once.

    “Phonics songs” on you tube are also great for repetition of letter and phonic sounds - many kids like to sing along. I have seen on a couple of occasions a student remembering the phonic sound from the song to support their decoding (literally singing it under their breath).

    Photostory - or even a basic powerpoint! (don’t need internet) or voicethread. We use photos relevant to the student to represent each letter and record their voice in a similar style to the phonic songs (the whole alphabet) or starfall (focus on one letter). In this way they can express themselves in multiple ways: choosing the appropriate photo to match the letter, finding the letter on the keyboard, recording the sound and word.

    Continuing the challenge – physical action. Letter formation is a bit more difficult using a computer simply because using a mouse for writing is not as natural – There is a UK based website busy things that has a lovely range of activities, some of them being letter formation watching an example then following along. 

    Letter Formation

    Hope these are helpful and that others have more ideas to add different elements to a universal design for your learners. 

  • Anne Kenneally  (View all users posts) 08 May 2013 10:26pm ()

    Hi Roxy, thanks so much!  What an awesome start!  They do have access to the internet but the teachers have found it problematic after a term of learners logging out and needed help to reconnect, so are trying to find independent options.  I have forwarded these onto the school and look forward to UDL!   :)

  • Kate Tonks (View all users posts) 07 Jul 2013 6:20pm ()

    Hi Anne and Roxy. Any chance of the kids using tablets? I currently have a new entrant I have and have been using some great apps with the kids. There is also a NZ/Aus one with NZ formation and accent and you can track the students progress. They need to learn to click their name bit's that is learning in itself for some. Also....on desktop or laptop making your own videos is helpful. I can make one using Explain Everything on an iPad and then display on the activboard for them with my voice, it just takes time :-) BBC Schools UK has lots of different literacy learning opportunities as well. 

  • JMKellow (View all users posts) 07 Jul 2013 7:36pm ()

    Hi Kate

    What's the name of the NZ/Aus one? The overseas ones I have found don't have the correct formation for some letters. A search found the "School Writing" - is that the one?

  • Monika Kern (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2013 9:02pm ()

    One of my teachers has recommended to me iWrite and Write & Touch. I belief they ae using NZ letter formation but you would have to check to make sure.

  • Jill Hammonds (View all users posts) 08 Jul 2013 6:51am ()

    Hi Anne,

    I've always been a great believer of getting the kids creating rather than just playing related games and activities.  I used PowerPoint/Keynote with juniors and the Paint prgramme via "Insert object -> Bitmap image" to create templates that the kids then clicked on the coloured square and drew their own pictures, clicked on the letter shape in wordart to change to the correct letter and then wrote their own sentence using inventive spelling to complete the set.  Aa is for apple etc.  Because the kids were making their own pictures and all the transitions were already set, the kids would play the ppt over and over with groups of kids crowded around reading their presentation and hence they learnt them really fast.  You can find examples in my junior classes wiki at http://juniorclasses.wikispaces.com - probably something in the resources tab but also on some slides in the presentations tab.  I've got a plane to catch this morning but will hunt out the specific examples and post later today.

    Well maybe a lot later than today but here's the link to a downloadable eBook made by kids whose teacher I worked with years ago in Paeroa.

    Cheers, Jill

  • Jill Hammonds (View all users posts) 08 Jul 2013 6:56am ()

    Hi again,

    Popplet would also be another programme that I would use for this - they can draw direct onto the popples using the pencil or take photos of things that begin with.  I use Popplet Lite on iPad or http://popplet.com online.  Witht he latter I also use the free version with 5 Popples and export them to jpeg and then delete to keep having more to use.

    Cheers, Jill

  • Mary-Anne Murphy (View all users posts) 08 Jul 2013 7:03am ()

    Hi Anne

    A good ole word doc is another tool that can be used for this purpose. One of the key aspects in my thinking is that students access their own environment for their learning. This would see (in this instance) students taking photos of things around the school that begin with the various alphabet sounds. This could be collated in the word doc eg: things that start with the "Sound B/Letter B". It could be part of the daily letter/word work ie: the letter of the day.

    As well as this, the photos (or a pdf of the word doc image) can then be transferred into movie maker, powerpoint or photostory. In this way a class/group alphabet book is created using student-sourced images from their own environment.

  • cathie zelas (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2013 2:49pm ()

    Hi Anne

    We've found iPads to finally be the breakthrough here. At last a device simple for New Entrants to really use independently. We are only in the initial exploratory stage but a a search of free alphabet apps brings up heaps of options. The downside to restricting it to free apps is many only allow you to access only some letters of the alphabet. A few very simple ones our NE teachers have used are below. Nothing very creative here but good for practising letter formation and making letter / sound connections.

    ABC alphabet touch- identifying correct letter or sound. Modifies according to child success 

    Alphabet is Fun -3 simple games to build letter / sound links. 1 letter formation tracing activity 

    Blackboard- good for practising letter formation, HF words or just drawing 

    Blobble Write hand letter formation practise



  • Anne Kenneally  (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2013 3:04pm ()

    Hi Cathie, thanks so much for sharing.  I wholeheartedly agree that some free apps only go so far.  It can be very valuable to have guidelines for the purchase of some apps that really are worth spending money on.  I have been working in classes all day today using Google docs on ipads for writing - one doc with 8 writers on.   After school I am working with the junior teachers for a whole session on the power of Pic Collage.  It is a free app, and I believe one of the most versatile apps.  I will share what we come up with this afternoon for you to use.   Thanks again

    Anne K

  • cathie zelas (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2013 3:22pm ()

    Hi Anne

    I agree some guidelines can save a lot of time and wasted money. We've developed a google doc that we add good apps to As we discover them. Book Creator and Puppet Pals are two of the best non free apps we've found to  support literacy learning in Y0-2.

    Also yesterday I came across a lovely free writing app that looks great for juniors? It's called "Write about this". Have you tried it?



  • Anne Kenneally  (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2013 8:32pm ()

    Hi Cathie, I do not know the app "Write about this" but I am off to explore it soon.  I thought I would share here the preliminary list we came up with for learning, creating and sharing on Pic Collage.  We had a wonderful session today and uncovered a little of the potential of this app across the levels and across the curriculum.  I am hoping to create a resource from the examples soon.  

    Maths - shape recognition

    Adding adjectives

    Word banks in writing

    Letter and sound recognition

    Maths trails

    Introducing self with self portrait and describing words

    Social stories

    Pictorial instructions

    Clipping self out and adding to a background… perhaps putting self into own artwork...

    Jigsaw puzzles

    Reading response




    Photos of items - copy and line up in ten frame order - eg 8 bears - need 2 more to make 10

    I would love to see this list grow.....

  • Monika Kern (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2013 8:58pm ()

    Hi Cathie,

    I just lost my comment, so apologies if it turns up as duplicate eventually :-)

    One of my schools got this app, so I bought it also, in the full version as it had more features (can't remember the cost but it was not expensive). I have made a tutorial for how to use it https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Ok2uHkutscMXElxt8Vfv9KwbHNf5fJL5wXsWkdZ5IhQ/edit?overridemobile=true# - feel free to use (and add to or correct).

    I like that you choose a picture to write about - good for reluctant writers I think. You can set up your task in writing or as audio recording (or both) - caters well for different levels. The students complete their writing next to the picture and / or can record their story.

    I have used it too little still but aim to trial it more widely in some of my schools.

    Cheers, Monika

  • Anne Kenneally  (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2013 9:13pm ()

    Thanks Cathie and Monika, I have just downloaded the free app.  The paid app is $5.29 which is quite expensive for a number of ipads in a class.  I will have a play with the free version and see what I can do on it.  I would love to hear from people using the free and the paid app please.

  • Monika Kern (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2013 9:54pm ()

    Oops, more than I remembered.... I seem to recall the limitation on the free app has to do with your custom prompts = tasks (or no. thereof) for which you upload your own pics

  • Jill Hammonds (View all users posts) 14 Sep 2013 9:59am ()

    Hi Anne,

    I guess the attitude towards paid apps highlights the problem for many schools.  They are still in the "add on" thinking, and therefore buying apps is an additional drain on the budget.  However we need to get into "replace" thinking with technology, and work out what the new enables us to drop off the old ways of working.  With the amount of free online reading material available in both eBooks such as Storybird, and general reading via websites (supported by text read software such as Natural Readers), we no longer need to spend as much money on books, or social studies picture packs, science cards, maths games etc., because these resources can be supplemented freely online.  LEARNZ Virtual Fieldtrips are one such example of the free resources that are educationally sound and wonderful learning experiences which could replace some science information resources.  Check out my Reading section on LEARNZ for ideas on how to use this resource of previous and upcoming trips.  I'm not advocating no books or resources, but I do strongly advocate that schools think anew about how much of each they purchase so that they have some budget for paid apps and online resources.  So saying there are still plenty of great free apps which can be a large part of what we use.  I still love apps like Pic Collage and Popplet Lite that are open to rich creativity and much more thinking on the part of the children.

    Cheers, Jill

  • Anne Kenneally  (View all users posts) 14 Sep 2013 4:45pm ()

    Hi Jill,

    Thanks for the reply.  I totally agree that we need to change our thinking with regard to the way we resource now.  Pic Collage is possible one of the mose versatile creative free apps around and can be used in a multitude of ways across the levels and across the curriculum.  I have also seen Penultimate used very cleverly.  As we see the power of creating and sharing expand, we are realising the true transformative power of mobile devices. Not only are learners creating, the are sharing and getting feedback on sophisticated resources or supports for learning. 


    Anne K

  • Marnel van der Spuy (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2013 3:33pm ()

    Hi Anne

    I found that http://www.starfall.com/ is excellent to use and students love this. It is a free website to teach children to read with phonics, with exciting phonics games and online interactive books.

    Hope it helps. Smile

  • Anne Kenneally  (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2013 8:33pm ()

    Thanks Marnel.  I have seen Starfall used by a number of teachers and learners and see HUGE potential. Smile

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