Today we had the chance to use a mini ipad during our learning center time. Our school secretary is the proud owner of one of these wonder-devices and she was brave enough to allow us to put it into the hands of our preschoolers. She’s just that amazing. She actually doesn’t even realize how brave she was. It turns out that the ipad mini was easier to use without the protective cover. I was worried that the students were going to get so wrapped up in keeping the cover out of the way that they might end up dropping the whole ipad, so I took the protective cover off. Thankfully, the students who used her ipad for the QR code activity were very careful and it survived a full hour of center time, even without its cover.
The mini was easier for the students to handle. It’s significantly lighter, and it fit better in their hands. I want to look into whether or not is has the same processor speed. One of the things that happens with the sight word QR code activity is that the kids potentially end up with 36 internet browser tabs open after they’ve listened to the audio files for each sight word. That’s a lot of tabs. It seemed like the ipad mini got a little bogged down with just a dozen tabs open, but that might not have been related to the processor. I do know that after awhile, the mini got a little glitchy in loading the audio files, when the full sized ipads did not.
The other area I wanted to explore with the mini was journaling. I’m interested in finding ways that our ipads can become a tool for deeper learning and creating, not just a gaming device. Journaling is one way to promote that. I’d tried journaling one other time with a student and I wanted to see if the results were any different on the ipad mini. I invited the same student to journal on the ipad a second time. He’d been begging for this opportunity since I’d let him do it the last time, and he’s too charming to resist, so I figured I’d indulge him. I also wanted to keep most of the variables the same, and working with a different student would have made it harder to compare just the two devices, and not the two children.
Journaling on the ipad was much more challenging on the mini. That surprised me. I expected that the pictures might end up smaller and less detailed, but I didn’t expect them to be more challenging to create, and they were. The pop-up menu that you use to change the color & shape of your “pencil” was much smaller. Several times my student got frustrated when he couldn’t change features that he wanted to change. The stylus, which had seemed so convenient last time, seemed clunky and cumbersome. We ended up stopping his work mid-journal and switching to the larger ipad just to ease some of his frustration. He wrote “legos titanic” and drew a picture of a titanic. He specifically chose the water scene for the background so that the Titanic could be on water. I love how he figured out to add glitter to his picture! Here’s his final product.
I wanted to see if the ipad mini was a viable way to do a little budget trimming before we purchased a whole group of ipads to really kick off our program next year. After working with both full sized ipads and an ipad mini, I think a full size ipad is the better choice. The mini is better for scanning, and it is comparable for playing learning games, but the full size ipad is better for creating. While we’re not there yet, I think creating is ultimately the direction we’re going to want to go with our ipads, so we’re going to want to get the full sized ipad.