Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Allen Adventure iPad™ app - helping develop social skills in the early years

Contact: Bullying. No Way!
w: www.bullyingnoway.com.au

Date: Available any time
Location: Online

Intended Audience: Teachers & educators of children aged 3 to 8 years; childcare workers; parents & carers

The Allen Adventure iPad™ app is an interactive story about a young visitor from another planet who is new to school and is learning how to get on with his Earthling classmates.

It is designed as a fun way to help parents and early childhood educators more effectively engage children aged three to eight years on topics such as identifying different feelings, making friends, getting on with others and managing challenging behaviours.

The app was launched in March 2013 on the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence; Australia's key anti-bullying event for schools and can be downloaded for free at Bullying. No Way! - the Australian schools' anti-bullying website.

The Allen Adventure was developed by the Safe and Supportive School Communities Working Group - made up of all Australian education authorities - following a review of professional literature on early childhood development.

The findings of this review highlighted the advantages of intervening with social-skills learning at a young age. In particular, it was clear that taking action in these formative years would be beneficial in preventing bullying behaviour developing in young children.

Market research for the design of the app was undertaken with parents, early childhood educators and children. It found that younger children require simple and interactive learning tools for increased engagement. In particular, this research suggested that younger children in primary education have a preference for mobile or tablet-based technology, relate well to unusual and quirky characters and are engaged quickly on any type of game.

The research also found that at this age it is better to engage young people around concepts of being 'mean' or not sharing, rather than through more complex concepts of bullying. Being app-based also means that children can use it without having to be supervised on the internet, which was an important safety factor for parents.

Kellie Klinge, a Prep teacher from St Martin's Primary School in Brisbane, found that the students easily engaged with the characters in the story.

'The fact that the characters are animated seemed to be easier for the students to build empathy with. They also found it easy to relate to Allen, particularly as he needed their help when deciding what the appropriate behaviour was in the different social situations he encountered,' Kellie said.

'It proved to be an engaging teaching tool and easily held their attention. The use of music and sound as they progressed through the app made the experience fun. It was also a good conversation starter with the students when talking about what positive behaviour means.'

The Allen Adventure free iPad™ app and video are available on the Young Children's section of the Bullying. No Way! website.

For more information, and to download the app, go to the Bulling. No Way! website.

The Allen Adventure iPad™ app, Bullying. No Way! website and the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence are initiatives of the Safe and Supportive School Communities Working Group, made up of all Australian education authorities.

Fast facts on The Allen Adventure
  • The Allen Adventure is a free iPad™ app available on the Young Children's section of the Bulling. No Way! website 
  • The Allen Adventure was launched on the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence in March 2013.
  • The Allen Adventure iPad™ app, Bullying. No Way! website and the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence are initiatives of the Safe and Supportive School Communities Working Group, made up of all Australian education authorities. 
  • The app is designed for children aged three to eight years old and is based on a review of professional literature on early childhood development and behaviour. The findings of this review, among other things, pointed to the advantages of intervening with social-skills learning at a young age. In particular, it was clear that taking action in these formative years would be beneficial in preventing bullying behaviour developing in young children. 
  • Market research for the design of the app, undertaken with parents, early childhood educators and children, found that younger children require simple and interactive learning tools for increased engagement. In particular, this research suggested that younger children in primary education have a preference for mobile or tablet-based technology, relate well to unusual and quirky characters, and are engaged quickly on any type of game. 
  • It found that it is more useful to engage young people around concepts of being 'mean' or not sharing rather than through more complex concepts of bullying. 
  • Being app-based means that children can use it without being supervised on the internet, an important safety factor for parents.