Technology for learning: Integrating ICT into Reception continuous provision

by Claire Grief at Dulwich College Seoul


Claire graduated from the University of York with a BSc in Psychology in 2007 and received her PGCE from York St. John University in 2008. Claire taught in a small village school in Yorkshire for three years, where she was an Early Years teacher, then moved to Dulwich College Seoul in 2012. Since working in Seoul, she has been a Science co-ordinator, Year 2 Year Leader and is now working as Reception Year Leader overseeing the three classes within the unit.


From the Guest Editor:

Claire Grief (DCSL) discusses methods employed to give children in Reception opportunities to interact independently with age-appropriate technology.

“Children recognise that a range of technology is used in places such as homes and schools. They select and use technology for particular purposes.”

DFE, 2014. Statutory Framework for the Early Years Setting the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to five, Early Learning Goal (ELG) for the ‘Understanding the World’ aspect of ‘Technology’, in the Development Matters document, p.12.

Children work towards this Early Learning Goal (ELG) for technology during their time in the Early Years Foundation Stage by accessing a variety of technological provisions.

As a new team in Reception this year, we faced the challenge of providing enough opportunities for the children to interact independently with age-appropriate technology in order for them to meet this objective. Understanding and using different forms of technology has never been so important as it is now, and it was imperative that we got it right.

As with all aspects of teaching, this has been a reflective process and is still ongoing, but the integration of ICT into Reception Continuous Provision has been successful so far.

Immediate changes

As a starting point for the year we made some very basic changes to the layout of the reception unit, and the use of the technology that was already in place.

Instead of placing the desktop computers in separate classrooms we created a computer station for the children to access throughout the day. This gives the children more ownership over the computers and allows a variety of age-appropriate software to be used, meeting a range of objectives from different areas of learning.

We also started to plan for the use of interactive whiteboards throughout the day. The board in each area of the reception unit is linked to a different area of learning and to the children’s interests and needs.

Finally, we placed “bee bots”, small programmable robots, in the “investigation area” as part of our continuous provision, to be accessed at any time.

After a few weeks we started to think how we could take this further, as we did not feel this could give us enough evidence to meet the ELG for technology, and we also wanted to use technology to meet more of the objectives from other areas of learning in ‘Development Matters’. Although the children were accessing a variety of technology, it was not fully integrated into the different areas of learning in the reception unit. So how could we fully integrate technology into continuous provision? We decided to experiment with using iPads.

The Integration of iPads

We started with a project using a green screen application. We taught the children how to add a background and film themselves singing, dancing or acting. This was easily adaptable to meet the children’s interests so we had winter backgrounds, castles, and Christmas scenes. This helped the children’s Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED) as well as their Communication and Language (C and L), as they worked with other children to make their videos. We also used this app for retelling stories, using pictures from the books as backgrounds to develop the children’s literacy skills. The videos were extremely popular with parents on Tapestry (our online learning journal) and when we showed them at the start of our Christmas Production.

To allow the children to watch their own video creations and those of others, we started to use QR codes in the classroom. We taught the children how to scan a QR code with the iPad, and they enjoyed watching videos that they had filmed. These have also been popular with parents, who can scan the codes to see their children’s videos. Some children asked how they were made and we spent a week showing those interested children the full process, from filming the video to scanning the code.

As children became more confident with this technology, we developed how we used the QR codes. We made maths and phonics treasure hunts using videos of the teachers giving the clues, which the children could follow independently. These uses of QR codes have developed the children in relation to PSED, C and L, mathematics and literacy.

The iPads have also been used as cameras in a number of different areas. In the ’investigation area’ children were encouraged to take photos of objects close up, linking to “Understanding the World” objectives. They also gained more independence in their learning by taking photos of their own construction models to take home.

We have experimented with a number of different games, websites and apps in other areas of continuous provision, including the Maths Area, Reading Corner, Music Area and Creative Room. This has allowed children to access learning in ways that are new to them, for example, accessing a story independent of an adult.

The integration of iPads, twinned with the other provision we have in place, has provided teachers with a wealth of evidence for children meeting the ELG for technology.


Next steps

The success of this process has led the team to ask, where can we go next? We would like to tackle other challenges before the end of the school year.

We are hoping to integrate netbooks into other areas, such as role play. As  children will use laptops as they move into Key Stage One it is important that we start to develop their mouse pad control and use of the keyboard.

To give children further ownership of their learning, child friendly cameras could be available for children to take to any area and document their learning. This could then be linked to Tapestry for a teacher comment to be added.

By making the iPads more ‘child friendly’ we could allow children to have more choice over their own learning by choosing the app, game or website they want to use. This will make the learning with the iPads completely child-initiated.

Finally, we would like to develop how we can use ICT outdoors by investigating different applications and software that are available.