Mind Mapping with P3

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Every Tuesday morning this term I’ve had a lovely time working with all 12 Primary 3s in a small school.

One child has significant dyslexic difficulties and we felt he would benefit from Mind Mapping as a tool to express his ideas, circumventing the barrier of print. It seemed daft to teach him alone so the whole class experienced the programme.

The Curriculum for Excellence outcomes around the class theme of Rivers were:

Organising and using information

  • I can select ideas and relevant information + organise these in a logical sequence LIT 1-26a

Creating Texts

  • I can convey information and share my opinions in different ways. LIT 1-28a/ LIT 1-29a

I had shown them the various components of the Mind Mapping software, Kidspiration: Open, Main Idea and sub-topics, Library (of pictures), Link Symbols, SuperGrouper – setting a background picture, Symbol Maker, changing font style and colour and changing the background colour. They spent several sessions playing, inventing fantastic fish, grouping various creatures that live on or by rivers in order to get to know what the software could do, etc. Some taught others how to import pictures from the internet.

They also explored WordTalk: installing, adding Heather’s Scottish voice, again altering the font and colours, listening to separate words, sentences and paragraphs, using the speaking spell check and synonym finder. I also showed them several MS Word shortcuts using the ‘Ctrl’ key.

They spent the final session mapping information from an article (The River’s Story ) on to Kidspiration. Identifying key concepts is a most difficult task but all these children managed it superbly well.

They then copied and pasted those key words and phrases into a mind map.

It was thrilling to see how successfully they manoeuvred between the 2 documents; how well they co-operated with each other in deciding which words and phrases were most important and how easily they manipulated the software to which they had only recently been introduced.

 But the greatest pleasure for me was this:

Makes it all worthwhile! (and they loved my shoes!!)

Mind Mapping in an early years setting

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I have been working with a class of P2’s on developing Mind Mapping skills. Many of these children have a relatively impoverished linguistic background which means that they find it hard to attune to formal school language.

A Mind Map is most useful when it encapsulates the thoughts and ideas of an individual. Whether another person can read or interpret it is less important than that the creator has ownership, has designed her own web and made her own connections.

In order to achieve this effectively the creator must distil her thoughts into as few words or images as possible. Many children and young people find this process excruciatingly difficult. Note making requires deep understanding of the topic and a sophisticated ability to summarise and refine.

My first action with a group of such inexperienced thinkers is to get them to make connections. This took some time. At first they were tempted just to draw the same object again. Once I had publicly approved a couple of more divergent examples of thinking most of the class began to make their own less conventional connections.

I presented them with a series of pictures (borrowed from Eva Hoffman’s book, ‘Introducing Children to Mind Mapping’) and asked them to draw what came to mind.

Here are some of the ideas:

And some more:

I particularly enjoyed the dramatic POP of the balloon and the ‘cute baby’ inspired by the monkey. The big ears of the listener to the ‘noisy’ guitar are also enchanting. The monkey on a swing, the ladybird inspired by the butterfly and the connection between butterflies and balloons are good examples of thinking beyond the obvious.

Inspired by the exhortation to ‘think big’ some children began to draw elaborate pictures of rock concerts for the guitar but sadly ran out of time before they could be completed.

Tomorrow we move on to make a ‘cloud chain’ from an initial idea (a teddy bear, then the sun).

We can then progress to using the Kidspiration software to create Mind Maps that don’t depend on drawing skill or pencil control.

It’s good fun!