Monday, December 12, 2011

Fun on Youtube for children and children with Special Needs

In my last post, I shared some websites and apps that I like to use as a teacher. I also thought I should share some videos that I use for a range of purposes in the classroom. Another amazing form of technology that was introduced into our classroom late last year was the Interactive White Board (IWB) or a SMART Board. I think most classrooms have one of these now, or at least a couple in the one school. The IWB is an amazing tool for both mainstream and special needs schools. We love ours because it opens the classroom learning to all our students. In the past, we had to share a small computer, and this meant that usually only 1, sometimes 2, but usually 1 student could sit at the computer to do an activity with the teacher. Now, we can have all the students be part of an activity. They can either see it or hear it, and then be part of the experience. It also gives some students the opportunity to be part of an activity by just touching the board. Before, we would have to rely solely on adaptive technology (eg, a switch, or adapted mouse) to achieve similar outcomes. One particular thing I like to do with my students is help them write/spell(hand over hand) their names on the IWB. Then I let them use the pointer we use to decorate the page that their name is on. They love it! They love seeing that their touch on the board can make a squiggly line, or change the background colour. There are many other amazing things you can do with a IWB which I can touch on in future posts.

I also wanted to mention some fun things we do to fill in time. I use YouTube for songs that make our students smile. They like all types of music, from Shakira Waka Waka, to Black Eyed Peas Pump It. I personally love music so, I like to have it going as often as I can throughout the day. It keeps my feeling happy, and my students respond well to the different types of music that are played. On a side note, there are many studies that have proven that music and music therapy have positive affects on students with special needs. Some students that I have taught who are quite shy and quiet, become different kids when exposed to music, musical instruments, and singing. Its really an emotional experience as a teacher to see the students brighten up and participate.

Back  to what I like to put on Youtube. One particular group that I always play and my students absolutely love is GiggleBellies.  The clips are super bright and on an IWB the characters are quite large, so students with vision impairments are more likely to see the characters, or at least follow movements. The bright colours also help students with vision impairments and they are more likely to watch the screen in amazement or curiosity. As for the songs, well, there are all types like Incy Wincy Spider, Wheels on the Bus, and Five Little Monkeys. There are other that are new to me, but I can;t be sure if they are their own songs, or borrowed songs. I tend to have these songs going to, first thing in the morning when the kids are being bought to the classroom. It tends to set the mood for the morning program. Here is an example of one that one student in particular loves so much. It's called, "Mr Sun Sun,Mr Golden Sun".
As you can see, the colours are bright, and the song is cute. As for the characters, its up to you. Some might find them a little weird and quirky, but you can't deny how colourful they are and how happy they look. They are winners in my class and my son also loves the GiggleBellies and he is turning 3 in a couple of weeks.

Another I want to share with you is the timeless classic, "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". There are many versions available, even GiggleBellies do a version, but the one I love best and my son loves, and my students, is done by SuperSimpleSongs. There is also an App available for Ipad, which, if I had an Ipad would be one of the first things I would purchase. This has been viewed on YouTube over 66million times! Take a look at the other Super Simple Songs, the animations are so cute!

Before I go, I want to mention another App site that I was recommended to check out. Apps for children with Special Needs is a site, by Dr Gary who is dedicated to reviewing great Iphone, Ipad apps that are suitable for children with special needs. There are some really good apps here and some that I have not seen before. I particularly like how Dr Gary does a video review of the apps as well. This gives you a sense of what it looks like, how it works, and what features you get, basically kinda like a try before you buy, but without you using it yourself. It also helps you know whether or not a particular app is suitable for your child or student, and this is so helpful! They are not brief videos, they are comprehensive and detailed, and I love this feature.

Anyway, take a look, he is currently reviewing his top25 apps for 2011. Already, I want to purchase Fun Words Deluxe and Bob's Books! I just wish I had an Ipad, it's much nicer to use a bigger screen than the Iphone.

I will be adding more over the Summer Holidays, so please follow me, or use the E-mail subscription link.

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