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Kennford Playbox, a pre-school nursery in Devon, is the lucky owner of a Promethean interactive whiteboard system and software, after winning Nursery Education PLUS’ fantastic competition

Jacob Horn, age 41/2, whiteboard

When nursery manager, Michele Berry entered Nursery Education PLUS’ whiteboard competition, Kennford Playbox was in the process of moving to a new purpose-built facility, so the thought of winning an interactive whiteboard was an exciting prospect for everyone.

Since the Activboard+2 was installed at the nursery, the interactive whiteboard has quickly become an integral part of everyday learning. ‘We couldn’t live without it now we’ve got it,’ said Dawn Whitton, Deputy Manager. ‘From storytelling to mark-making exercises, the Activboard+2 has facilitated a range of engaging and stimulating activities’.

Making its mark

The Activboard+2 is a digital interactive whiteboard that is controlled by a battery-free pen. This means that for drawing and mark-making activities, the child simply writes on the board as they would with a pencil and paper. As Kennford Playbox has learned, this capability has a significant impact on young learners. Michele said, ‘The under-threes in the nursery have been particularly keen to use the Activboard+2 and Activprimary for drawing and mark-making, rather than the traditional computer and mouse. As well as finding this method easier to cope with, and more engaging, they are rewarded by the ability to see the result of their action immediately’.

As the pen makes direct contact with the surface of the interactive whiteboard, the children are able to make a clear association between the movement of the pen and the image that appears. Using a pen in this way also has a profound benefit on the development of fine motor skills, manual dexterity and for older children, handwriting ability.

Expanding imaginations

Although the Activboard+2 and Activprimary software have only been installed at the nursery for a short period of time, both the practitioners and children grasped the technology immediately and have demonstrated a number of creative and imaginative uses. Michele said: ‘To illustrate a story, one four-year-old, under her own initiative, selected a picture of a mouse from the resource bank and then drew some seeds beside it in great detail. While telling her peers the story of how the mouse ate the seeds, she used the eraser tool to gradually delete each seed as the mouse nibbled, and she recounted the number left. Every day the children are discovering new tools and using the board in ways that we had never envisaged’.

New learning opportunities

Alongside its creative uses, the Activboard+2 is proving an effective tool in supporting more formal activities. Michele said: ‘We recently explored the topic of animal patterns in the nursery, so in Activprimary, I selected an image of a zebra from the resource library and used the spotlight tool to reveal small sections of the pattern. I then asked the children which animal they thought it was. An activity such as this would be difficult to develop without interactive software’.

The Activboard+2 and Activprimary software have also enabled the nursery to introduce self-registration. The staff created a registration flipchart that features each child’s name at the bottom in the grass. As a child arrives, they go up to the board, find their name at the bottom and drag it up into the sky at the top of the flipchart. This helps the children to recognise their own names and encourages them to take responsibility for their learning.

As Kennford Playbox has discovered, the design of the Activboard+2 provides further practical advantages. ‘Because the Activboard+2 is controlled by a pen, rather than touch, the children can lean on the board for support while writing or drawing, without affecting what appears on screen,’ said Michele.

Confident in the whiteboard’s ability to withstand the rough and tumble of a nursery environment, staff at Kennford Playbox allow the children to use the Activboard+2 independently. By offering continual access to the interactive whiteboard the children can be creative, spontaneous and learn at their own pace. This level of independence encourages exploration and the development of new skills.

As well as the educational benefits of the Activboard+2, the interactive whiteboard can support the development of social skills. ‘As the children have to take turns to use the pen, they are quickly realising the importance of negotiation and collaboration,’ Michele said.

‘After only two days of having the interactive whiteboard, we noticed the children were teaching each other different skills and working together more closely. It is vital that children develop these skills at an early age and the Activboard+2 provides a way for the children to learn through play.’

Winning the Activboard+2 and Activprimary software has opened up a new world of learning opportunities for the staff, children and parents at Kennford Playbox. ‘I find it amazing that you can instantly print what has just been drawn’, said Stephanie Proctor, Nursery Assistant.

An outstanding result

Kennford Playbox was recently awarded ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, putting it in the top five per cent of nursery education providers in the UK. In the inspection report, the interactive whiteboard was noted as making a positive contribution to the learning environment.

So, what do the children like about their new whiteboard?

“I like colouring on the board” Jacob Horn, age 4 1/2

“I like to play games on the whiteboard” Jimmy Houghton, age 3

“I like putting my name in the sky” Huey Pearce, age 4

“I like drawing on it” Katie Proctor, age 2

“I like finding pictures” Jessica Philip, age 3