What Is It?
Kidspiration Maps is an iPad application, which is best described as a multifaceted graphic organiser. Students can create their own mind maps, diagrams, venn diagrams and other graphic organisers to record and present collected information. Kidspiration is also available on the computer, for a cost, and can be downloaded here for a free trial. However, this review is based upon the features of the iPad app.
There is a lite and paid version of this application. I only downloaded the lite version; the paid version is $12.99. The lite version would not be adequate in the classroom, as it only allows for five documents to be created, and does not allow you to delete documents once they are created. There are also regular notifications to upgrade, however I recommend downloading the lite version first to have a play and decide if it would be appropriate in your classroom context. The paid version enables you to create unlimited documents and share these documents through a number of avenues, such as email and iCloud.
There are three formats that can be used within this application for students to record collected information:
- Diagrams – create something similar to a mind map, very easy to use, can make the circles bigger or smaller and change them around.
- Super Grouper – allows students to sort and put information into a number of categories.
- Activities – pre-made templates for a range of subjects using either the diagram or super grouper format. These can be modified and cater for a range of subjects including English, Maths, Science and History.
In all three features students can choose to type words or search for pictures to represent information. There is an inbuilt picture library within the application that students can search, but they can also easily access the iPad camera from within the application and take photos, which can be inserted into their document. Additionally, students can access an inbuilt microphone and add voice over to their organised information. All documents created are automatically saved in the ‘Open Document’ section.
The best part of this application was that it is easy to see how it caters to a range of different learning styles and learning methods and it has flexibility to be used as a whole class, group or independent activity. I found this application very easy to understand and use and loved the auto saving feature. The one thing I found lacking was the limited teacher information or platform, the pre-made templates are fantastic but these would have to be loaded onto each iPad that was going to be used. There are teacher tips within the program and a help button, but it would be too complex for early years students to navigate.
This application is not complex and requires no sign up details. My biggest advice is to just play with it yourself before you try and introduce it into the classroom. Other tips include:
- Go to the app store on the iPad and download either the lite version or the paid version. Search ‘Kidspiration Maps.’
- Check out our Practical Tips and Hints page for teaching students how to use this application.
- Use the pre-made templates for inspiration or create your own templates – these would have to be loaded on each iPad that was being used.
- If students don’t finish work you will need to organise some way to identify which iPad they have used, many schools number their iPads and record this number next to the group or individual student who used the iPad so that time isn’t wasted trying to work out where their document is. Documents will only save on the iPad they were created.
- Allows for many different teaching methods, works as a whole class, group or independent activity.
- Allows for different learning styles of students, visual learners can use pictures, linguistic learners can use the microphone function or text.
- Teachers can easily differentiate by creating a range of templates based on ability, lower ability students may only need to collect and add five bits of information while higher ability students may need to collect ten. Scaffolding can also be used by partial filling out templates for lower ability students.
- This application facilitates group work, which can be mixed ability to encourage collaboration and peer scaffolding.
Possible Lesson Ideas – Prep – Year Two
- Look at the pre-made templates, these provide quite a large base for ideas ranging from sorting beginning sounds to sight words.
- The diagram feature is a great whole class activity to ascertain what students know about a certain topic before commencing learning.
- Use Jigsaw activities – information about them can be found here. Basically students break into groups and research a particular aspect of a topic, they then come back and report what they have found.
- Another review of Kidspiration Maps.
- Description of Kidspiration Maps from iTunes with additional screenshots.