Anyone who has grown up in Australia over the past 40 years is familiar with Play School – an iconic educational television show for preschool children.
It’s welcoming theme song, vibrant piano music and simple, yet engaging format is loved by children (and adults) throughout the country. Running since 1966, Play School is the longest-running children’s show in Australia and the second-longest running children’s show in the world. It has a strong focus on storytelling, interaction, and creating with craft materials and loose parts.
Play School has now delved into the world of interactive media, producing some fantastic educational apps for children between the ages of 2 – 6 years. Not only are they great to use in the classroom, but they’re lovely for parents to share with their child too, because they’re a wonderful trip down memory lane! Once the app is downloaded, no Internet connection is required unless you want to watch the Play School episodes that are included.
Introducing Play School Art Maker
This interactive storytelling app is a favourite in my classroom. The children’s imagination and creativity are fostered while they create pictures, movies and slideshows with well-known Play School toys and craft items. Once the children understand the basics of how to navigate the screen, they are able to let their creativity run wild and be quite independent whilst using the app. (There’s a handy tutorial for parents too). The visual prompts are simple for children to follow, and there’s a familiar Play School presenter’s voice to guide their art adventures too. The app features favourite characters such as Big Ted, Little Ted, Jemima and Humpty, and the children can incorporate these and others into their storytelling.
First of all, choose a scene
“Let’s make a picture” – these are the welcoming words that invite the children to dive into the world of storytelling with interactive media. They’re able to choose from backgrounds including the sea, farm, space, bedroom or kitchen – all are backdrops that children have real-life experience with, or imagine about. A blank background, or personal photo can be added too – lots of options for creativity there!
Let’s add some characters
Next, it’s time to add some characters and props to the story. Children can drop-and-drag toys, animals and other items from the top of the screen, and arrange them on the page. Fine motor skills are encouraged as children pinch the image to make it bigger or smaller. Staying true to the loose parts element of Play School, children can also select an endless variety of odds-and-ends, ranging from buttons and cotton reels to pom-poms and pegs. For added excitement, some of the characters and items also become mini-games for the children to solve.
Get ready to move your toys and make some noise
Once the children are happy with the scene they’ve created, they have two options. They can click the camera icon and take a photo of their scene, which is added to their Art Maker book. These can become an ongoing project, and made into a story slideshow later. Or, if they click the movie camera they can make a film of up to 30 seconds in length. There are so many possibilities with this feature!
Children can record and re-record their story, moving the characters on the screen while they experiment with the voices and script as they go. They are free to create a voice that matches the one in their imagination. Or, they can create lyrics and sing them, making a music clip of their characters. Children can make an individual story, or collaborate together – a task that requires some great sharing, negotiating and turn-taking skills amongst the children. Movies are stored in the Art Maker book, and can be enjoyed later by the child, the family, or the whole class.
Play School Art Maker and Play School Playtime are available for free on Apple Store.
This article was written by Wenone Hope (Blue Mountains, Australia).