One of my new favorite things to do in my programming schedule is to run an iPad story time. We call ours Tablet Tales. It is extremely popular (like the program will fill up in 30 minutes or less when we open registration). In addition to doing it as a story time, which I love, I am modeling ways for caregivers and their children to use tablets. We follow each program with an app explore time and it is so much fun watching the parents use my examples to play with their children.
If you are looking for information about how to set up a story time like this, check out my original blog post, which includes information about the equipment and registration.
Today's program was about Colors. I start every program by showing everyone where the Home button is on their iPad, along with the volume button. Every participant gets a handout which lists the apps used, along with recommended apps on the same topic. As I start each app, I explain why I picked it-is it early literacy, do I like the interactivity, etc.
We started off today with Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton. With this app, it is important that you show the participants how to swipe across the screen to turn the page. The kids pick it up right away, but sometimes the adults have problems. While I have a small group and they might be able to hear the narrator, I read the story. This way I can show off the fun things, such as all of the clothes flying out of the dresser. This also gives me a chance to stop and ask kids silly questions based on the story, such as "Do you wear your shirt on your legs?"
The second app was Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley. While this one doesn't have the interactive components of our first app, the kids were fascinated. It was one that many of the kids came back and did again in our app explore time.
I like to use music in my programs and one way to do it well in an app story time is to use Felt Board. It also shows parents that they don't have to use the app by itself-you can talk or sing along with it. Today we sang "Mary Wore Her Red Dress." I like this song because you can't have too many verses and you can include every child's name in the song. They find that fascinating.
Next came our app explore time. I had Eric Carle's My Very First App, Let's Color! by Lazoo, and Squiggles by Lazoo. (Squiggles was not originally a part of this program, but since it was on the iPad, I added it at the last minute.) I like to show off the apps at the beginning of this time, then I let the kids explore. This allows me to walk around the room, answer questions, and show off neat features of the apps (such as you can shake your iPad with Felt Board and all of the pictures will go away). The parents really appreciate this time because it gives them a chance to try out quality apps before buying them.
The other fun thing to come out of a program like this is that the app that I think is going to be a big hit, never is. Today's big hits were Felt Board and Squiggles! Plus, I know I have a hit on my hands when my niece, who was a participant in the program, goes home and immediately needs to have all of the apps from today downloaded to the family iPad.
So what's next in Tablet Tales programming? I am running out of theme-based ideas, although I still like the idea of ABC's and Mother Goose as possible themes. I think that the next goal is to develop a number of themeless programs that include a couple of good story apps along with playtime apps. While I like the idea of themes, it doesn't seem to be a big deal for the kids or the parents. They just want ideas.