10 000 visitors to the prep blog!

Today marks a landmark for our prep blog as we recieved our 10 000th visitor from somewhere around our world. The blog has now recieved visits from 102  countries around the world and we have recived 476 written comments to the blog from as far away as the United States and recently our friends in Switzerland.


The prep blog started about 2 years ago as a way of sharing the work our Prep unit was doing as part of a department sponsored research project looking at the ways to incorporate Technology into the prep classroom to enhance digital literacies. At that stage we didn’t imagine the impact the blog would have on our school community and we certainly didn’t anticipate that we would have written 95 posts over the two years. The school now has blogs in each of the other levels and hopefully these will continue to be developed to show the varied and rich learning that is going on every day at Grovedale West Primary School.

What began as a way of sharing our work with technology has developed into an ‘eye’ into our classroom.  We know that our parents and families really enjoy being able to follow what is happening with their children’s learning and the many photos and videos posted enable those special moments to be shared beyond the walls of our room. We know that students with families interstate and overseas find the blog a great way to experiences some special moments in the lives of their grandchildren, nephews, neices and cousins.

What we also didn’t forsee is the number of other teaching professionals who follow the blog and have given us feedback on the blog and been inspired by some of the ideas we have shared over the last two year.

It is a time consuming job to prepare photos, videos and to write blog posts and is one of those things done outside of school hours in a teacher’s life, but it is worthwhile and rewarding when you know that the work is appreciated by the school community and the wider world of  teaching professionals.

This is the cluster map which shows the places around the world that we have recieved visits from. We are currently exploring what ‘Community’ means with our students and looking at the map we can see the world community that we are living in and sharing our learning journeys with.


10 000 visits from around the world!



If you are responsible for one of our red dots from around the world and are a regular visitor to our blog we would love for you to post just a short comment on this post to tell us who you are and where you are from in the World. It would be very exciting for the students and the teachers to help experience our global community.


Ipad app recommendations for Prep learners

Hi everyone and welcome back to term 3.

During our student led conferences last term a number of parents mentioned to me that they would like to know what apps we would recommend for their children to use on any ipads or ipods that they might be able to use at home. We have many apps installed on our class ipads and they serve many different purposes depending on whether the students are ‘Investigating’ or whether they are practising a specific skill, for example during letters and sounds time or numeracy.

During ‘Investigations’ the most often used trio of apps on our ipads are ‘google’ the ‘camera roll’ and ‘comic book’. Using these apps together allows students to research pictures on the internet, save them to the camera roll and then organise them into Comic Book and add labels and writing before printing.

They also frequently use the ‘ABC Little explorers’ apps which are a fantastic resourse for learning about many topics that students are interested in. There are 10 ABC Little Explorer apps including Wildlife, Food, Sports, Music, Insects, Vehicles, Farms, Zoo animals. In addition to giving kids lots of information about these topics they also help them to learn to navigate the alphabet similar to using a dictionary.

Below is a list of some of the apps that come highly recommended, many of them have free ‘lite’ versions that you could check out first:

Letters and sounds

abc pocketphonic

Montessori Crosswords

Handwriting (includes writing numbers)

rED Writing


sight words pro

Treasure Hunt

little speller Sight Words

Talking Books

Wonkey Donkey

Dr Suess books such as Fox in Socks/Green eggs and ham/Cat in the hat/ ABC

Elmer stories (Elmer and rose/The lost Teddy)


Hairy Maclary stories by Lynley Dodd (various)

Story writing (creative)

Comic book

scribble my story

My Story


Junior Toontastic



Friends of  Ten

Math Balloons

Maths Adventures (number find)

Math Bingo

4 in a row (connect 4)

Investigations (learning about the world)

ABC Wildlife

ABC Bugs


ABC Food

ABC Music

ABC Play

ABC House

ABC zooborns

ABC aquarium

ABC Farm

Good luck! If you have any questions then you can either post them on the blog or ask us in person in the classroom.

If you have any great learning apps that you think we would like to know about them please post them onto the blog for us too!

Many Thanks

The Prep Team

Using Technology to help build vocabulary for writing.

Big news in the prep room is we have Living Eggs. Yesterday an incubator was delivered with 10 eggs and the preps have been loving observing the changes in the eggs as they begin to ‘pip’ and then hatch into chicks. This experience is fantastic for helping the children understand about Life cycles and it is also providing a fantastic stimulus for oral language development and writing.




During our writing time today, the focus was on developing topic specific vocabulalry to help support writing about the chicks experience. The aim was to produce a ‘word shower’ created by the children with input from the stimulus, teachers and the technology on hand in the classroom. The children worked in small groups of 4 to think of words and then to generate new words.

The results of our learning today were amazing.

We used 2 key pieces of technology.

The first was our ‘talking tin lids’ which allowed children to record their ideas and words that they are not yet able to write and to remember these when they had to share them back to the class.



The second was our I-pads. The 7 ipads in our classroom are used daily by our children to support their learning. They are not kept in a cupboard or used as a reward for finishing work early but are always available for students to use when they need to during their learning. Most frequently this is for taking photos, finding pictures on the internet, reseaching a topic ,making posters and presenting their learning. Today we used ‘google’ to help generate new vocabulary linked to our topic.

Before using the i-pads we asked the children to record words they already knew about our hatching egg stimulus.Some children noticed a poster in the room and together the class came up with 8 words. Egg, Hatching, brooder, chick, chicken, hen, pipping, incubator. We thought this was pretty good.

We then gave each group of children one of these words and modelled how to type this word into ‘google images’ and generate new words from the pictures that appear. They then had to record new words that came to mind from looking at the pictures. For example, the group with the word ‘Egg’ found pictures of ‘shell’, ‘yolk’ and ‘white’, therefore expanding the topic words. After 10 minutes or so all the groups shared their new words and now our word shower had over 40 words!!



Interestingly, the google images search for ‘Hatching’ showed many cars (hatchbacks) and doors which led to the discussion about some words having more than one meaning, introducing Preps to Homonyms!

The children then used this topic specific vocabulary to work with a partner using an Interactive approach to their writing. We think that what they produced for children who have been at school now for just over 50 days was pretty amazing.

I think we will definately be using this approach again to help develop vocabulary and language.

Prep reflections on their learning….

430 visitors to Box World!!

430 visitors to Box World!!

On Friday the children were asked to write their personal refelction about our Box World Project. To do this not only did they need to use their developing writing skills but we were also asking them to think about the difference between something that they had ‘Learned’ and something that they had ‘Enjoyed’. As Miss O’Bree and I put up their writing today in the classroom as part of a box world display we contrasted it to writing that we displayed at the end of March this year when the children were asked to write their name and how old they were. The box world reflection activity was hugely more complex than writing their names, yet the children had managed not only fantastic writing but a sophisticated level of thinking about the task and the ability to seperate learning from what they enjoyed best. They really have come a long way in such a short time. We hope you enjoy reading their learning reflections below.

Learning outside the Box.. (Box World Exhibition goes Global!)

The inspiration for the Exibition was a visit last term to the excellent Box World exhibition  which ran at the Geelong Wool Museum , here is a video that gives you an idea why the children were so excited. Listen to the maker of Box World Warren Thomas talk about the inspiration behind it.

Our preps and teachers loved it and the prep children wanted to make their own, so we gave over a number of weeks of our learning to it. The building of our world has taken a number of weeks and has involved lots of stages. Firstly we planned with the children what we would need to do and how we would do it. We then invited parents to come and help with the learning. We also used a wide range of  technology with our prep children during the project. They firstly took photos of buildings in our local community using camera’s ,ipods and flip cameras. We  then used google maps for planning the shapes of our buildings and measured where they would go onto our model. We used the photos and maps to make sure the building were painted the correct colour and we also added details such as roads, trees and signs. Our children then used their writing skills to add information to the displays and practised their oral language skills by recording extra information onto small recording devices (our Talking Tin Lids!) to make the exhibition interactive.

Please watch the making of Box World

The children then set up their own Exhibtion, designed an Invitation and made a slideshow to tell visitors how the Exhibition was created. We have had a huge interest in the exhibition with 409 visitors last week, the children are using numeracy skills to collect blocks for every visitor who comes and collecting feedback on the exhibition from visitors using a flip camera or with visitors pasting their comments onto a cardboard box!.  We have had visits from the Geelong Advertiser who ran a feature in last week’s paper , parents and children from our school, the local Kinder, regional and network staff from other schools, our play groups and we also had an email from  Warren Thomas, the maker of the original box world, who is interstate but we hope to skype with him. On Friday we had the educational officer from the National Wool Museum come to visit, which was wonderful for the students, as they were showing their Exhibition to the person who ran the Exhibition that they visited. The museum were really excited to see the impact their Exhibition had had on the learning of our children.

It was also wonderful to see the interaction and connection between all of the children in the school community, Kinder and even the secondary College, as other children had the opportunity to appreciate and reflect on something made by the preps, but about their own community. The comments left on the video camera and written on the boxes were wonderful.

Box world has even made it onto the TV. The prep children took it down to our local community centre as part of Children’s Week to be part of an Early Years Expo. Mr Ramage was interviewed for Channel 31 news, so Box World is now well and truly famous.

What a great example of how children can extend their learning through authentic learning experiences that are truly planned with children and allow them to have involvment, creativity and ownership in their learning.

Please enjoy our videos below:

The Box World Exhibition goes Global!

We would love you to tell us what you think of our amazing Preps!

Enhancing Oral Language through the use of Technology (teachers)

Last Thursday evening (October 20th) our prep unit hosted a professional development session for other teachers in our Network. This was to share the work we have been doing with a range of technologies in our classroom to support the student’s Oral Language skills and their Inquiry Learning.

The event was really well attended with over 40 teachers coming along and it was great to be able to share the way in which our teachers and the prep students have been integrating new technologies into their learning.

We are lucky to have had the opportunity to purchase a range of technologies thanks to the department funded research project with Monash University that we have been part of this year. We hosted the PD session as part of the Literacy and Numeracy week Network sessions.

Here are my notes from the session:

Notes oral language technology pd

Here is a list of the technologies with approximate prices and details about where to purchase them.

Technologies with information

There are also a documents relating to Ipad uasge DEECD iPad support booklet for special education and screen shots below from one of our classroom Ipads with some of the good apps shown on it.

We have also added a link to the excellent UK Letters and Sounds Program which gives excellent phase by phase activities to help develop young learners phonic and phonemic awareness. Phase 1 is very useful and you can download any phase (1-6) free from the UK website.

(for letters and sounds)

If you attended the PD and have any questions or would like to post a comment on whether you found the session useful then we would welcome your feedback via the comments section of this blog post. If you want to be notified of a reply to your comment, please tick the small box before you send the comment.

Many Thanks
James Ramage and Katherine O’Bree

Digital Story Writing with Prep and Year 5 Buddies

During this term the prep’s and their buddies have been working on stories together. They joined forces to plan a story together, with prep children helping with ideas for the stories, the drawings and writing on the story plans. This has been great re-inforcment of the learning that the prep children have been doing this term during Literacy, focusing on stories having beginning, middle and ends.

They have then worked together independently over a number of weeks to publish their stories in the Multi Media Centre using a great early years program ‘2 Create a Story’. This program allows children to add basic animation and sound effects to a story, or to record their voices to read the story out. Please click on the links below to enjoy the children’s work. More stories will be added when they are finished….

Can you leave a comment to say which is your favourite story and why?

ben ten story

Talking Tin lids to support Instructional Writing.

Our prep children love the Talking Tin lids in our classroom. They are simple to use, portable and allow children to record, reflect and correct the message they are giving with their oral language and here if what they say makes sense.

There are so many ways to use the tin lids in any literacy activity. One of the ways in which the prep children have used them is to help structure  Instructional or Procedural writing. We often find that when children have conducted a lengthy Investigation they want to share the steps to take for their project if another child want to follow their learning. This gives an authentic reason for teaching the genre of instructional language and writing.

Or if they have invented a game then writing instuctions about how to play the game also gives  a real life context for the writing genre.

The  video and photo below demonstrates the use of the tin lids to help create an interactive classroom display to assist another student wanting to play a matching game that Maxton had made.

The example below speaks for itself and is an extension of work that we have previously posted about on our blog.

This is the finished writing produced through interactive partner writing assisted by one of our parent helpers.


Technology adding a purpose to writing and reading.

As this term has progressed the children in the class have really begun to see that their writing can have a wider audience than just the classroom teacher, such as their friends, their parents, other teachers and family members . The prep blog has played a large part in this, as has the visualiser camera which enables children to present their books and other work to the whole class on the Interactive Whiteboard. They have quickly seen how their work can be captured and then placed on the blog for others to share.

The session where the recordings are made are usually conducted in front of all the class. This gives a further opportunity to re-inforce many key elements of writing and reading. If the writing has not been presented well, then the child finds it difficult to read. If the writing does not make sense then the audience soon notices and if the reading is not clear and audible again the feedback about this is very instant.

We have talked with the children about the need for well presented and quality work to be published onto the blog and they certainly seem motivated to produce work that meets these high expectations.

We have had a burst of creative projects over the last few weeks and many of these have resulted in books presented on the visualiser.

I hope you enjoy listening to the writing and reading! We think they are doing an awesome job!

Which book is your favourite?

Using a digital camera to support learning.

Our prep children have independent access to the digital camera in the classroom and they are becoming increasingly proficient in taking photos, thinking about the composition of the photos, zoom and what they will use the photos for.

Here are a couple of videos which show different ways the camera can be used. The student who use the camera to take a screen shot of the computer was really thinking outside of the box, as he had never seen anyone do this before…it was a truly original piece of thinking.