Making Our iPad Covers Work for Our Preschool and Kindergarten

So did we really need military grade covers for our classroom iPads?  Are we going to stick with our Garmin Extreme Duty Military iPad Covers for preschoolers or go with something different? Read the post below to find out.

iPad covers for preschool and kindergarten

When I first wrote about our Garmin iPad covers,  they hadn’t been truly put to the test, in the way that only preschoolers can. I knew that our iPads would be protected,  but I wasn’t sure that they would be functional in little hands that are still developing  fine motor skills.    Well, now we’ve got a verdict.

It took two sessions with preschoolers and iPads before I ripped off the protective screen covers that come with the Garmin. I actually did it right in the middle of a lesson. That’s how much they irritated me. The screens just weren’t as responsive as I thought they should be with the covers on.  I was asking kids to draw pictures and write words. Many of my students were familiar with iPads and instantly comfortable, but I did have a couple kids that were almost scared of this new digital device.  It was clear they’d never seen an iPad before and were worried they’d mess it up. I wanted to make sure their experience was positive and successful and the screen covers were starting to get in the way of that. So, off they went!

four discarded screen covers

We aren’t using the screen covers anymore.

It was during  the second lesson with iPads, when I was asking the children to take pictures and records sounds that I further disassembled the covers.  The Garmin comes with a moveable piece that covers both the camera and the speaker. If these iPads were outdoors, on a construction site or  in a military zone, I can see how those moveable pieces would be essential for keeping out dust and grime. While our iPads do get dirty and need to be cleaned, (find out how we clean our classroom iPads here) they’re not in the dusty outdoors and my students need to get to the camera and speakers as easily as they possibly can.  Fortunately,  these pieces pop right off. I was able to take them off and set them aside, in case for some reason,  we needed them again.

Camera cover and Speaker cover

We’ve said goodbye to the camera covers and speaker covers too.

The last thing I did to make these covers our own was irreversible.

clipping the headphone cover off of the garmin

The piece that covers the headphone jack is even hard for me to open.  My most coordinated students struggled each time they needed to open the cover to plug in the headphones. So I took the scissors to this little flap on the student iPads. This has allowed the children to be more independent with their iPad use.  Below are the before and after shots with all of the changes we’ve made.

Before we modified our Garmin iPad Covers:

Griffin Survivor iPad Case

Griffin iPad Cover Back Side

 After  we modified our Garmin iPad Covers:

After Garmin Modifications Collage

Given all of the changes we made to the Garmin covers,  I would imagine that readers are wondering, would we still recommend these covers? Or would something that starts out simpler be better?  There might be a better cover out there, but right now,  I’m pretty satisfied with our hacked Garmin covers.  The only flaw is that the fact that without the screen cover,  the home button is more easily exposed. So when I stack the four student iPads to try to move them from one place to another, I end up with four different Siris asking me if they can help and telling me they don’t understand. It is annoying.  The workaround is pretty simple though. I simply crisscross the iPads whenever I stack them, and that saves me from Siri’s overwhelming confusion. (As a side note, I’m curious if other classrooms engage much with Siri.  This is really the only time she shows up in our classroom. I’d love to know if other teachers are finding her useful for teaching.)

2014-02-19 11.29.35

I think our iPads are still very well protected, even with all of the changes we’ve made. I love the slimmer profile of the Garmin covers than some of the other heavy duty covers out there.  It fits perfectly in our dish drainer charging center. And now that we’ve hacked it a bit,  it’s actually quite functional. I think we’d be hard pressed to find a cover that protects as well and is still accessible for the children. For now, I’ll stick with what we’ve got. The Garmin Extreme Duty Military iPad Case, as we’ve hacked it, has turned out to be pretty perfect for preschoolers.

Check out my updated article about iPad Covers for 2014:

iPad Covers for Preschool and Kindergarten

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  1. Mo says

    My school purchased Otterbox cases that I have the same kind of issues with that you had. My own iPad case is from 5 Below and it’s wonderful. Durable and a real bargain compared to the Otterbox.

    • says

      I believe you about having similar issues with the Otterbox cases. I’ve got an Otterbox case for my (android) phone, and it feels a lot like the Griffin Survivor. I’ll have to look into the ones from 5 Below. I haven’t heard of them before.

  2. Joy says

    We use the exact same Garmin iPad covers in our 1st grade classroom. I have had no problems with the screen covers and haven’t removed any of them. The speaker and camera covers though have all been thrown away. We’ve also gotten rid of the pop out stands.

    • says

      I will confess that impatience might have played a small role in my not being able to tolerate the screen covers. :) They seemed like they worked OK whenever I tested them without students, but in the middle of the teaching moment, they just didn’t quite seem to perform.

  3. Melanie says

    We use the grip case and I LOVE them! We have students in grade k -6 using iPads at our school. They stack great on the cart with our bretford syncing station. No problems with any of the camera, headphone, volume, on/off button, etc. very light weight yet durable and they come in cool colors at a reasonable price. You should check them out at