Sharrow School’s visit to Heeley City Farm
Nursery children at Sharrow School have been practicing their digital literacy skills. A couple of weeks ago, they experimented with digital cameras: learning where and where not to put fingers when taking pictures, and how to make sure that the object you are photographing is on the other side of the camera to you! In preparation to their planned visit to Heely City Farm, they took pictures of some model farm animals laid out on green ‘turf’. Many of the children were learning English as a second or third language, and this was an exercise to extend their English vocabulary.
Some children were amazed to see the animals displayed on the viewfinder. “Look a sheep and another sheep look!” cried one enthusiastic paparazzo pointing urgently to a cow, and then its image on the viewfinder. Another child confided quietly to me that her mother used to have a camera, but her sister put it in the bath, and that it doesn’t work now. I wondered if she really did have a sister. Meanwhile across the room another enthusiastic photographer was keen to announce her news: “I’ve got a camera in my house. I’ve got a video in my house”, when I asked her what else she had, she told me she had daisy boots!
Soon the children were becoming quite adept with the cameras: figuring out how to switch functions from taking pictures to viewing them, learning how to select and chose their subjects. Later they uploaded their snaps to the Sharrow farm blog, and talked about them to Zubida and Alice, who typed up their comments for readers to share.
Then it was the day of the visit. Children, parents, technicians, governors, and members of the DeFT team all trundled up the hill armed with digital cameras, ipads, bananas and raincoats- just in case. The farm is a half an hour’s walk away from the school, and mostly up hill; but there were no complaints; the children managed very well. The aim of the visit was to give the children first-hand experience of farm animals, and to develop their speech and language skills. It soon became evident that the preliminary work they had done with the cameras had paid off, as they were all quite confident when handling them. Parents brought their own cameras as well, so everyone had some way of capturing the event. The staff at the farm, and the animals were welcoming, and after a bit of sustenance the children were eager to explore. They were fascinated by the animals, and were given the chance to handle and stroke them. They all had the opportunity to use the cameras to select and capture images, which they seemed to do very well. Some of these pictures were of animals, although I was with a child who was enjoying taking pictures of his own feet!
Jackie and I were amongst those who had charge of ipads. We positioned ourselves next to animals and asked children to draw pictures of them. The children were really interested in looking at and touching the animals, it was a windy day, with bright sunlight, so I found it quite a difficult task. The pictures children did for me were rushed, and I felt that the ipad was not the best technology for the job, although others might have had a different experience.
During the next few weeks, Jackie will be going in to school to help children and staff upload these images onto the school blog together with children’s stories, where you will be able to share their experience.
all photos taken from Heeley City farm website