5 ways to teach Religious Education

Dec. 3, 2018

Whether your school is a faith school or a secular one, there is plenty in Purple Mash to help you meet your curriculum requirements. In this article we’ll look at five main ways in which Purple Mash can help.

Find what’s there

A good place to start is to explore what religion-based resources available, and as usual there are several ways in which to do so.

One way is to simply click on 'Topics' on the home screen. That will take you to a vast range of resources including Celebrations and Faith, and Faith. Each of these leads to a new set of ideas and resources, of course, and it’s worth spending a bit of time looking around: you’re bound to find something you can use right “out of the box”, or be inspired to come up with ideas of your own.

If your school defines RE as including secular ideas and topics too, you’ll be pleased to discover that one of the areas listed under Topics is ‘The Environment’. This includes the idea of being responsible users of resources and treating the environment respectfully.

Another option is to use the search box in the top right hand corner to look for Religion. Then click on the topic ‘Religion’ and you’ll see a screen listing nine religions. Click on any one of these for resources and ideas specific to that faith.

Alternatively, once you’ve searched for Religion, click on the topic called ‘Theme’. This will take you on to very specific resources such as what vicars do, when Muslims pray, and what the Torah is.

We’re not finished yet!

If you prefer, you can use the search facility to look for particular festivals, such as Diwali, Hanukkah or Christmas, or even universal themes like courage, integrity and forgiveness.

Also explore...

Another idea you might wish to try is searching for God (in the search box, that is!). As well as presenting one or two of the topics available from other searches, this will also direct you to older beliefs such as those of the Romans, the ancient Egyptians and the Anglo-Saxons.

When using the search box, if you click on the arrow next to it you will be able to filter your search by year group, subject, or both.

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The advantage of doing so is that it narrows down the number of items you need to explore, and presents you with more relevant results, both of which save you time. However, you might wish to consider the fact that many of the ideas and resources in Purple Mash can be adapted for use in other subjects, and for older or younger children. From that point of view, not using the filter makes a lot of sense too.

Make a mindmap

An interesting activity that could be used to encourage the children to find out things for themselves, and also to show what they know, have done or think, is to use 2Connect to make a mindmap.

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When you start the app you’ll see you have a range of templates to choose from, and three are clearly potentially very useful for RE. One is the template to record a visit. If you’ve taken the children to see a mosque, or are planning to take them to visit a synagogue, this mind map will help them to organise their thoughts about what they’ve seen, or help them think about some useful questions.

Another useful template is character, because you could use this mind map as a way of starting the children thinking about ideas like supporting other people, and integrity.

Alternatively, you could simply ask the children to select the blank one, and use it to create a mindmap of a region-related topic or theme. For example, what are all the ingredients needed for a Seder plate?


Also explore…

Think about using 2Chart to create a flowchart of all the preparations they need to make for Christmas (or a different festival). If you search for 2Chart in the search box you’ll discover a teacher’s guide to using the app. Although this app has formal flowchart symbols, the children can still use it for non-programming tasks like this. In fact, you could even use the example chart called ‘Morning Decisions’ as a way of getting started.

Obviously, using 2Chart is a good way of preparing the children for learning about coding, and the next suggestion can also help. If you search for ‘latkes’ in the search box you’ll find a resource called ‘Latkes Recipe’. This comprises a video showing you how to make the Chanukah dish called ‘latkes’. It’s then followed by a SequenceThis activity in which the children have to put the steps in the correct order. Because the order is crucial, this is a great example of an algorithm.

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Write a story

All festivals have stories associated with them. For example, there is the story of the Crucifixion and, in Judaism, the story of the oil running out in the lamp of the temple. Why not get the children to write the story in their own words, with illustrations and even animations? The most accessible tool for this is 2Create a Story.

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This enables the children to create a picture with accompanying text, all on one screen. Alternatively, they can create a simple book by using several screens for different stages of the story, and then play the book back like a video. Each page can also have an animated sequence.

For younger children, the simplest way to start is to click on ‘My simple story’ on the opening screen. For older children, ‘My story’ gives access to more tools.

Also explore…

Another option is to use 2Publish to create a book about a particular Festival, using the ‘book pages’ template. There are plenty of other templates to choose from though. For example, why not ask the children to create the front page of a newspaper about a famous religious event, using the ‘Read all about it’ template?

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Write a news bulletin

On the subject of newspaper stories, the children could use Mashcam to create a news bulletin about an important event. The app allows you to use a webcam to take a photo of yourself, which is then inserted into the illustration of the newsreader.

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Select either the male or female newsreader. To insert a photo, click on the camera icon at the top of the screen. Once the webcam comes on, position your face in the oval ‘hole’, and then click the left mouse button. Your face will then appear as the newsreader. You can then type out your news bulletin in the space provided. Then you can make an audio recording too by clicking on the red record button.


Also explore…

For special occasions, like Christmas, a very nice resource is ‘Writing projects’. To find the most useful one, type Faith into the search box. Among the myriad resources with which you’ll be presented, one section is called ‘Writing projects’. The children can use this to use make a Christmas card.

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Alternatively, one of the templates is for designing a poster to encourage people to volunteer for something. This could be very useful when teaching the children about the importance of caring for and supporting others.

Another option is to use 2Animate to create a 'living' Christmas card, complete with sound too! If you search for 2Animate you will see a teacher’s guide there as well.


Make a Christmas quiz

Everybody loves a quiz at Christmas, and there is no reason for the children not to create their own. A good tool to achieve this is 2Quiz.

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Although creating a quiz is a good piece of end-of-term fun, there is also a serious side to it. The app gives the children lots of choice over the type of questions they can set. For example, one of the questions asks you to link one picture with another. This would be a good type of question to use in a more general sense. For example, the pairs of pictures could be from different faiths.

The serious point here is that the children can be encouraged to think about which question type would be most appropriate in the circumstances, for what they want to ask.



Also explore…

Use 2Question to create a branching database type of quiz. For example, the questions can be used to find out what religion is being talked about. You can even be a little more adventurous and create a simple text-based adventure game using 2Question.

Once the database has been created, it can be played by clicking on the play button. This will cause each question to be presented to you in turn.

If you search for 2Question you’ll find a teacher’s guide along with some example databases and printable resources.

Finally…

Although we’ve covered five main ways in which to use Purple Mash to teach RE, we have only scratched the surface of what you can do! So here are a few more suggestions to think about and explore:

Show the children films of aspects of various religions, such as the uses of a synagogue. You can find the whole range of films for various aspects of different religions by typing Religion into the search box and then clicking on ‘Film’.

Use Minimash to delve into the Chinese New Year, or to find Easter resources.

Even if you’re not in Scotland, check out the Teachers' Guide: Religious and Moral Education (Scotland), because it has some great ideas and links to resources within Purple Mash.

Phew!

In January we’ll be looking at online safety, in time for Safer Internet Day in February. In the meantime, we hope you and the children have a well-deserved break.

If you enjoyed this article, then why not have a look at these others in the ‘5 Ways’ series?

5 Ways to magically embed maths across your school with Purple Mash

5 ways to inspire writing with Purple Mash

5 ways to engage your pupils in English and Literacy

5 ways to inspire design with Purple Mash and Mini Mash

Terry Freedman is an independent educational ICT consultant and writer, having had a long career in Education, including teaching, advising schools and inspecting. He publishes the ICT and Computing in Education website at www.ictineducation.org, and the Digital Education newsletter at www.ictineducation.org/diged. You can follow Terry on Twitter if you wish:@terryfreedman.