I recently had the opportunity to host an assembly for KS1 and Foundation Stage pupils and decided to focus on esafety. In particular, I wanted to convey the message of online stranger danger and not trusting everyone you meet online. Younger and younger kids are interacting with people in digital spaces through online gaming platforms so it's crucial that they understand the potential risks. The challenge is conveying this message to them in a way that is engaging and yet not too graphic so as to scare them.
PenguinPig is a book by Stuart Spendlow and Amy Bradley that can be purchased both in hard copy and via the iBooks Store but I actually used the app version by Alan Peat. The story centres on a little girl who is online on her own and comes across a remarkable creature called a PenguinPig. She tries to show her parents but they are too busy to pay attention. The website suggests that anyone who wants to see a PenguinPig come down to the zoo and ominously warns that when they reach the correct door, not to worry if they hear any growling and just walk right in...
Naturally this is a trap and when she leaves alone to find the elusive PenguinPig, she instead finds herself face to face with a hungry bear! Returning home she tells her parents and they finally make time to discuss the dangers of believing everything you read online (note the parallel message to the parents about not letting your kids roam the Internet unsupervised!)
As an introduction to the assembly, I discussed the term "avatar" with them and how people don't always look like who they really are online. I showed them a few images of various avatars and reinforced that these people could be very different to who they looked like in their avatar. Then I read them the story straight from the app.
The response was overwhelming - they were absolutely captivated - so much so that I set a little impromptu competition to draw me a PenguinPig or similar fictitious animal. I figured that this could open up dialogue at home about the story and boy was I right. I don't think I've ever had so many parents mention a subject to me! The kids all went home talking about it and I had reams of PenguinPig art submitted, in some cases before the school day was even over!
It's an excellent story and is pitched perfectly at these younger age groups. The app version also comes with a fun whack-a-mole style game and a digital colouring activity.
I can't recommend this story enough.
So it got me thinking about some of the other apps and resources available for the iPad that I use for esafety and I thought I'd share some other great content available on the App Stiore.
Digital Passport I use Digital Passport with Year 6 students and it's very popular. Having signed up online, the educator can then assign class logins via the web portal and the students can download the Digital Passport app. The app is split into five sections covering topics like online decision making, intellectual property rights and more. It cleverly gamifies each topic to ensure engagement levels are high and student progress can be tracked via the portal. I use it in a single session and then challenge students to log in at home (they can log in for free via the web portal if they don't have their own iPad) and try to complete all of the challenges!
This quiz app from Internet Matters is unique in that it is designed for children and their parents to access in parallel. Using a split screen interface, family members can take quizzes across nine categories of esafety subjects including downloading, chatting online and cyberbullying. Points are scored and if needed, more information on a topic can be accessed. It's a clever concept - providing the perfect opportunity for parents to prove to their kids that they are not as knowledgeable as they perhaps think they are in terms of esafety! It's free too - grab it here.
DigiDuck's Big Decision
Looking for an alternative story to help teach younger students about esafety? Another great choice is this tale from Childnet International. Digiduck receives a humiliating picture of one of his friends and almost posts it online until a series of Christmas Carol-esque glimpses of how this decision negatively affects his future (and that of his friends) he dcides to tell his mother instead. This sweet little story is narrated by British pop icon sophie Ellis-Bextor and her mother (former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis) and comes complete with a short quiz at the end to reinforce understanding. Download it free here.
Simon Pile's multi-touch book series The final resource I would mention isn't actually an app but can be accessed via iBooks on the iPad. We recently interviewed ADE Simon Pile and he mentioned that he was working on this series of interactive books that play on the concept used by Usborne in their "that's not my dragon/pony/tiger etc" series. These excellent books are now available for free on the iBook Store and can be found here.