How do you protect your classroom iPads? Which cover do you use for Pre-K and Kindergarten? We’ve tried a couple of options.
We added four iPads to our classroom collection this year and that meant four new iPad covers too. Last year, we had two teacher iPads that the students used. Those iPads had the “classic” iPad cover that they sell in the Apple store.
My teaching partner and I were admittedly anxious when we handed those iPads over to our students. Preschoolers are not necessarily known for their care and cautiousness with electronic devices. We were worried that one of the iPads might meet an untimely demise at the hands of our students. The covers didn’t seem quite as rugged as others we’d seen. Fortunately we survived the year without any tragic iPad accidents. At the same time, as we made plans for our new iPad additions, we wanted to make sure we had covers that would withstand anything our young charges might inadvertently impose upon them. After exploring a variety of options, and watching a few YouTube videos of various expensive electronic devices being dragged behind moving vehicles or dropped from rooftops, we settled on these covers:
This is the Griffin Survivor Extreme Duty Military Case. With a name like that, how can it not stand up to an active four or five year old? Indeed these cases are nothing, if not durable. We purchased 4 different colors. The one above is actually purple. We also bought pink, green and blue.
There is both a rubberized shell and a hard plastic shell that combine to offer a solid shatter resistant case. The hard plastic shell also includes a plastic screen cover.
Every opening (camera, home button, power button, volume control, mute button, speakers, & charger plug) is secured under 1/4 inch of silicone. I have no doubt that an iPad protected with this case could tumble off one of our table tops and survive without any damage.
If a completely damage resistant device were my only goal for our iPads. I could be completely confident in the Griffin covers. Unfortunately, the covers diminish one of the features that makes the iPad so incredibly perfect for early childhood classrooms. They make the iPad a lot more complicated to use, at least from the perspective of a preschooler. One of the things I’ve loved about using iPads with my Pre-K kids, is how very simple they are. All you have to do is push the home button, open a quality app and you’re good to go! With these covers, you have to push the home button, uncover either the speaker or the headphone jack (or both!) and then uncover the camera if you’re going to scan or photograph. As I put together my Augmented Reality Number Activity, I used an iPad with one of these new cases, and often found myself having to flip the camera cover out of the way as I filmed or scanned. It was annoying. I have no doubt that my students will be able to figure all this stuff out, but I wish they didn’t have to. There are so many other fun things we could spend our time on besides these sorts of logistics.
I also initially had trouble with the touch screen. It wasn’t as responsive with the cover as it is without. Fortunately, that turned out to be user error. There are a lot of little places to snap the silicone and plastic together to make the case secure. I’d missed one tiny snap and that was giving me trouble. So if you decide to go with the Griffin covers, check those snaps!
While I worry that having so many of the key components covered (speaker, camera, headphone jack etc.) will make using the iPad a bit more complex, I know I will breathe a bit easier with the iPads wrapped up so tightly in silicon and plastic. We didn’t have any iPad accidents last year, but we did have a few near misses. I watched more than a couple of students abruptly stand up and head for the bathroom, forgetting that they were wearing headphones and still plugged into the iPad sitting on the table. Fortunately I was close by and able to avert disaster, but we’re going to have almost twice as many students, and twice as many iPads, so it’s going to be a little harder to keep track of them all. I’m expecting at least one of them to accidentally hit the floor.
Which iPad covers are you using in your classroom? Did you stick with the classic Apple store cover? Are you using the Griffin Survivor? Did you try something like this rugged Gripcase? Or are you brave enough to forego covers all together? I’d love to hear what is working for other teachers of young children.
Check out my updated article about iPad Covers for 2014: