Today’s guest post is by Lucy Marcovitch, an education consultant and writer who blogs about writing and children’s literature at www.lucymarcovitch.wordpress.com, on using our Jack and the Beanstalk app in the classroom.
Can there be any new ways to teach fairy tales in the classroom? The answer, with Nosy Crow’s Jack and the Beanstalk app, is: absolutely. And what a lovely innovative way it is too, lending itself to a whole range of teaching possibilities that go beyond straightforward storytelling.
On the face of it, Jack and the Beanstalk is an attractive, interactive re-telling of the fairytale. That in itself would qualify its use against the 2014 National Curriculum for KS1, which requires a familiarity with fairytales in its reading – comprehension strand. A younger or less able reader could choose to have the text read to them and words highlighted, while still interacting through swiping or touching the clearly-signposted ways through the story. A more able reader could read the text to themselves, an adult, or other children. The app’s versatility means it could be used for whole-class teaching displayed on a whiteboard, in small groups on tablets for guided reading, or for paired and individual work for a more personal experience.
Jack has other tricks up its sleeve, however, which takes it into a whole other realm of teaching opportunities. For example, you don’t have to proceed through the story in a linear way if you choose to do otherwise. By using the screen that gives a graphic overview of the story, you can enter different rooms in the giant’s castle and make various choices, solve puzzles or play games within those rooms. If you make particular choices, the story might end very differently – wake the giant up when you steal his gold coins or the goose who lays the golden eggs, and you’ll be chased from the castle and have to do some quick thinking at the bottom of the beanstalk. Each child could end up with their own individual version of the story, which they could use to re-tell the fairytale as their own version of the story.
Alternatively, you could develop inference and prediction skills with older or more advanced readers, by doing some careful questioning of each screen. What might happen if you wake up the giant? What will you do if he wakes? What could be behind that door? Or you could comment on one another’s progress through the story, based on what you already know, both of the story and of fairytales in general: if your friend takes Jack into that room, what do you predict might happen?
New research published by the National Literacy Trust in conjunction with Pearson (March 10th 2014) has found that children from more disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to perform below the expected reading standard for their age if they look at stories using books and touch screens, rather than using books alone. The research also found that children from all backgrounds are more likely to enjoy reading if they use both books and a touch screen to look at stories. Using an app such as Jack and the Beanstalk as another way into teaching fairytales could therefore provide not just an opportunity to teach about texts, but another way to lay the foundations for reading enjoyment.
Jack and the Beanstalk is available on the App Store here, and you can watch the trailer below. If you’d like to stay up to date with all of our app news, you can sign up to our Apps Mailing List here.