Rachel Orr: Bringing EYFS lessons to life with now>press>play

Two boys writing and revising for their SATs while wearing Now Press Play pink headphones.

Education Consultant and ex-headteacher Rachel Orr explains how she used now>press>play to nail her EYFS Gingerbread Man class, and why she would recommend now>press>play for early years education.

now>press>play is an immersive resource that can stand alone, integrate into all curriculum areas, be a hook or stimulus to start a lesson, and can also be used to create your own Experiences.

I first donned a pair of pink headphones at a technology conference in the North East of England. now>press>play were presenting at a teachmeet event and I was invited to take part in one of their Experiences! Ever since, I have had the privilege of sharing this ORRsome resource with teachers across the country in a variety of schools. These include special schools, mainstream, and private schools.

How now>press>play helped me in my EYFS Gingerbread Man lessons

I was working on fairytales with a challenging reception class. Some children were unable to speak and others did not like music or loud noises. One young chap in particular wore ear defenders and very rarely engaged with his teacher and classmates during the week. I thought now>press>play might be a great way to engage him in my lesson.

We used the story of The Gingerbread Man, one of over 80 Experiences provided by now>press>play.  It was great to see how well the children followed the instructions in the story. The teaching assistants said it was a moment of awe and wonder (or should I say ORR and wonder)! As they watched the children, they were there to support on a one-to-one basis engaging and listening. 

We became the Gingerbread Man; we were baked, chased, and eaten! The children did not have any inhibitions: as soon as they saw me drop to the floor, crawl, and roll around, they were totally immersed and were all doing the same thing.

A pile of gingerbread people, from Now Press Play's The Gingerbread Man Experience. Caption: The gingerbread man outruns everyone he meets, but will he be able to outwit the fox?
now>press>play's The Gingerbread Man Experience immerses EYFS pupils in the classic fairytale.

The role play and drama that ensued was amazing. We baked gingerbread, made our own recipes, decorated our gingerbread, and began to write.

Getting creative with now>press>play

Yes, you could read the book, download an e-book, or PPT, but the auditory experience of now>press>play allows you to become the characters and immerse yourself in the story. I always use now>press>play Experiences alongside other resources so that the staff and children see how the connections are made and it isn’t simply time to put the headphones on.

At the start of the following lesson with the same class, the children spotted biscuit crumbs on the carpet, tables, and their writing books. The TA began to sweep them up (well-primed). The children asked what they were doing, and they replied they were clearing up gingerbread biscuit crumbs. This immediately sparked discussion and a detective spirit. One child asked if the school’s CCTV would have spotted anything.

I used the app FXGuru to film the Gingerbread Man’s escape out the classroom when they weren’t at school:

You should have seen their faces as they realised the Gingerbread Man had been in their room! I mentioned that he had left them a note praising their writing and looking forward to reading more.

Creating my own now>press>play Experience

Having heard recently of the death of author John Burningham, it was so special to work with nursery children using Mr Gumpy’s Outing.

Mr Gumpy is not a prepared Experience on now>press>play. I worked on this myself, but it shows the versatility of the resource and how much you can involve all children in writing, scripting, and recording an Experience. I retold the story of Mr Gumpy using the tablet that comes in the now>press>play kit. It was important to leave appropriate pauses so that the children could react and respond to the characters in the story.

Book cover of Mr Gumpy's Outing

I recorded sounds effects for the animals and inserted them into the story. We used the hall and laid PE mats down the centre to become the boat. We sang new words to the tune of ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat’ and introduced each character as they climbed into the boat. Once recorded and saved onto the tablet, you can play it through the pink headphones.

Imagine the immense possibilities of recording your own Experience with the children, getting older children to record for younger children, etc.! The children began joining in with the sound effects and retelling the story pattern even though they were wearing the headphones.

I also used FXGuru to simulate a beanstalk coming out of the floor as part of our now>press>play Jack and the Beanstalk Experience:

We were able to bring a lot of music using high/low and loud/quiet into the story with the Giant stomping and Jack tiptoeing around and a display of writing followed.

Rachel Orr is a now press play ninja

now>press>play is such a versatile resource that has endless possibilities across the whole curriculum. I am proud to be an NPP Ninja.

Rachel Orr – Education Consultant, Ex Head Teacher Extraordinaire.

Find Rachel Orr on Twitter: @RachelOrr