Using an iPod Touch in the Primary Classroom

2011 is the fourth year I’ve been using an iPod Touch in my classroom. My students enjoy using these hand held devices and they can be used to enhance student learning in many different areas.

In this post I will describe how we set up our iPod Touches and how we use them.


In 2008, I was successful in applying for a DEECD Emerging Technologies Trial Grant. We purchase 8 iPod Touches and some professional development time.

Since then, our school has budgeted to purchase a small number of iPod Touches.

We generally buy our iPod Touches from BigW and get the lowest memory model.

More than half of the classes at our large primary school now have an iPod Touch in their room.


A headphone splitter was purchased for each iPod Touch which allow the device to be used by a group of five students at one time.

BellkinWe got the Belkin RockStar model which cost less than $20. Check out the ITmadeSimple website if you want to purchase some (currently on special for AUD$13.20).

For the first few years of using iPod Touches, I had sets of headphones for each device (not the in-ear style). I slipped each pair of headphones in a plastic pocket so we didn’t need to worry about tangled cords.

These were good but because we used them so regularly, they wore out very quickly.

This year, I asked all parents to provide their child with a set of headphones to keep in their locker tub at school. This has been a terrific solution and the students also use these headphones for our class netbooks.


Kelly Jordan and I currently have 4 iPod Touches in our class of 43 students.


We use our iPod Touches in our reading groups every day. We sometimes use them for small group  maths activities and sometimes allocate individual students time on the iPod Touches for a particular purpose.

We have found that a rotational approach to using iPod Touches works well when you only have one or a small number in your classroom.

While our headphone splitter works well to share one iPod between 5 students when they are listening to stories, podcast or videos, activities that involve apps are better in a 1:1 or 1:2 situation. We have found one way to get around this.

If a group of students were playing an app, they might take it in turns to have a go with the app while also engaged in another related activity. For example, students could be  taking it in turns to play the app Wurdle, while other students play the Boggle board game.


I usually find my apps by recommendations, searching and reviews.

Sample Apps

Tania Hunt is a teacher at Bellbridge Primary School. She has put together these screenshots of apps she uses on her 3rd gen iPod Touches with her primary students.

This is Tania’s website with links to some great literacy and numeracy resources for the junior primary classroom.

App Reviews

This website contains useful reviews of educational apps.


Apple in Education

This page on the iTunes website features some apps that can be used in education. If you click on the links, you can see the collection of apps in the iTunes store for a range of different subject areas.


Sample Activities

As well as accessing the wireless internet on the iPod, our grade two students complete a range of activities on the iPod Touches. This is just a small sample.

  • Students listen to various stories.  There are many free story podcasts available from the iTunes store. Some good ones include Storynory and The Story Home. We often have students practise various reading strategies as they are listening such as visualising, tuning in to interesting words (and listing), coming up with questions etc.
  • How-to videos from the howcast site have been stored on the iPod and students have followed the instructions to complete a task (eg. making origami).
  • Students have listened to songs and sequenced cards containing the lyrics to the song.
  • Students listen to a recording of instructions which they must comprehend to draw something or complete a simple task. The recording can by made by a student to practise oral language skills or a teacher.
  • Students have watched short videos (downloaded off YouTube or made in the classroom) and completed various response and comprehension activities.
  • Student created videos and podcasts have been added to the iPod as a way of sharing student work with the rest of the class.


Other Ideas

Tom Barrett and his readers have put together this slideshow with other ideas about using the iPod Touch in the classroom.

Click here
if you can’t see the presentation above.

Final Thoughts

The iPod allows students to learn at their own pace as stories and videos can be paused and replayed many times.

It is a great way to reinforce concepts and encourage independent as well as co-operative group learning.

I have also found the iPod Touch to be engaging for reluctant learners and helpful for students with learning difficulties.

How do you use the iPod Touch in the classroom?

Can you share any apps or activities?

42 Replies to “Using an iPod Touch in the Primary Classroom”

  1. […] this post with a more comprehensive guide to using an iPod Touch in the classroom in August, 2011. Click here to find […]

  2. There are some great ideas and info here. Thanks for the post. I will bookmark it for later reference if I come up against a teacher looking for ideas.

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Ross, thank you. I always appreciate your support!

  3. Great write up Kathleen. Also there is a Ning you can join to meetup with other Idevice users. If you have questions or want advice this community is the place to go.

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Jenny, that is a great link – thanks!

  4. Hi Kathleen! Awesome post! Was great to see and hear what you’re up too! We’re running an iPod Touch Research Project / Grant, and your post will certainly assist in the way this is directed! Hope all’s going well!

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Corrie, great to hear from you! Your research project sounds very interesting. Love to hear more about how your teachers are using the iPod Touches sometime!

  5. Fantastic post, Kathleen. I’ve only just purchased an iPod touch for my prep classroom and I’m hoping to start using it with them soon. For the moment I think it will mostly be used as a portable listening post (as well as for a QR code scanner for literacy activities… hopefully!).

    I love the idea of recording and storing student work onto the iPod for them to peruse at their leisure, though, and that’s something I’ll keep in mind as I start exploring classroom uses!

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Stefanie, nice to hear from you. I’m sure your preps are loving the iPod.

      A listening post replacement is a good place to start. I haven’t used QR codes yet but after seeing Jarrod Robinson speak about them at the ICTEV conference, I was inspired by all the possibilities! Our iPods aren’t the most recent ones so we don’t have cameras but I guess we can use netbooks for QR codes.

      I’m sure your kids would love seeing student work too. Good luck!

  6. Great post Kathleen – thanks for sharing! Do your students also have access to desk top computers or laptops?
    We have a class set of 20 ipods that we can borrow for any subject area, while the primary students share 10 iPads. My students enjoy using them for Maths games (they like Motion Maths and Fraction Factory in Year 7). We also had Year 6/7 students create digital stories of children’s books for the prep/1 students to listen to.

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Britt, yes we are lucky enough to have 20 netbooks, 10 PCs and 2 IWBs (with PCs) for our class of 43 students. Our prin organised the 20 netbooks for us as part of an ‘action research’ trial in our school. Very lucky!

      Thanks for your terrific ideas about iPods and iPads. How does the borrowing work? When we first got the iPod Touches we had 8 to share between the grade 3/4 teachers but I found I was always the one loading apps and activities onto the iPods. Other teachers would use these but it wasn’t like the activities were being tailored to their kids’ needs. I have found it works better when teachers are in charge of their own iPods, however it is good to have a larger number to access. How do you get around this?

  7. This is a fantastic post Kathleen which gives some great ideas about how to use iPod Touches and websites to go to for more ideas. We don’t have any at our school but they are certainly on the wishlist and when we do get them this information will be really helpful. Thank you!

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Michelle, I hope you end up getting some. Crossing my fingers for you!

  8. […] Using an iPod Touch in the Primary Classroom | Integrating Technology in the Primary Classroom 2011 is the fourth year I've been using an iPod Touch in my classroom. Source: […]

  9. […] Using an iPod Touch in the Primary Classroom | Integrating Technology in the Primary Classroom 2011 is the fourth year I've been using an iPod Touch in my classroom. Source: […]

  10. Dear Kathleen,

    Thanks so much for a timely post for me! I’ve watched you use iPod Touches in so many meaningful ways and am hopeful for some funding this year.

    I love the idea of having families provide headphones. That is a great idea!

    You mentioned that you always purchase the ones with the lowest memory. Have you ever had any problems and needed more memory?

    I know you are just testing out the iPad in the classroom…any early observations of how it compares to the Ipod Touch? I’m wondering if I should wait and invest in a class iPad.

    Thanks for another helpful post, Kathleen!

    Your friend,
    Linda Y♥llis

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Linda, great to hear from you.

      I wish I had have thought to ask parents to supply headphones earlier. It is so much easier and they only cost a couple of dollars so everyone was happy to provide some.

      No, we haven’t had any issues with the lower memory models (8G I think?). This is just me but I don’t like the iPods to be too cluttered with things the kids don’t need so if we start getting too many things on there that aren’t needed, I’ll just give it a clean up!

      Well I guess if I was offered iPads or iPods to use in the classroom I’d say iPads! The larger size is more functional and better for small groups of children to work together. I suppose it depends what you want to use it for. A know a lot of teachers who only really want to use the iPod Touch as a listening post replacement so an iPad would be a waste. If you’re doing lots of internet browsing and creating (movies, music etc) the iPad is the way to go. That is just my initial thoughts! 🙂

  11. Hi Kathleen

    What a brilliant post – and resource. I know many teachers who are just getting started using iPods and iPads. They will find your ideas invaluable.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Justine 🙂

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Justine, great to hear from you and thanks for your Twitter support too! 🙂

  12. Hi Kathleen,

    These are great ideas! I have shared it with my Elementary teachers’ Diigo group.

    When I was in the classroom (2nd grade, 3rd grade, and 5th grade), my students loved listening to Ron Brown’s Intelli Tunes. We had iPods during my last year in the classroom, and his math songs were played the most often by my 5th graders. It was fabulous for those who loved learning through music.

    Kind regards,

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Tracy – thanks for that terrific idea. I think the kids will love it. I’ll check it out 🙂

  13. I recommend getting the ebook “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.” I teach preschoolers but the pp book is rich is the kinds of literary analysis that can be done with young kids. It’s also a very new kind of interactive book.

    I also would suggest considering an app called story cubes, based on the actual story cube game, as well as an app call creative genius. These are useful as cues for creative story telling, writing.

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Thuan Le, thanks for the book idea. I hadn’t heard of that one but I will check it out. The story cube app sounds like it is worth a look as well. Thanks!

  14. Yesterday we did a great QR code activity in class.

    I only have my own iPod touch to work with so have to limit activities to ones that will work with that.

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Allanah, thanks so much for the terrific link! This will be really useful when introducing QR codes to my students. 🙂

  15. […] Using an iPod Touch in the Primary Classroom | Integrating Technology in the Primary Classroom […]

  16. Great post love all the great ideas for apps and links on the post. This is a blog I started to tell about how we are using ipods/ipads in our Second Grade classroom. Can’t wait to add new posts as school will be starting on Monday.

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Anita, wow this is a great blog! Thanks so much for sharing. This will be a really useful resource for me and my readers. 🙂

  17. Thanks Kathleen. I’ve been wondering how to start using my iPod for my class. Now I have somewhere to start! The Gruffalo is very cheap in the iTunes store – a favourite 🙂

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Kylie, terrific! Thanks for your comment.

  18. Dear kathleen,
    I have students that are a bit older than yours…they are 11 and 12 years old. Like you I have 2 older generation iTouches (no camera) but still incredibly helpful.
    We call them Thing 1 and Thing 2 after the Dr. Suess books!!

    Our best two ways for using them are as follows:
    First, I always have someone designated at the Googler. They look up words, facts, places, people and anything else that is really findable as we do class discussions. iTouches are able to connect to the WiFi and perform this function. I try to have several Googlers since most kids find different kinds of info…it gives us a reason to discuss searching strategies, for example.

    Second, students use some of the simple drawing apps to create diagrams of their understanding. Since I teach science, you might see them draw the rock cycle…making a different picture for each step in the cycle. The kids favorite drawing app is DoodleBuddy because it’s easy to learn and pretty straightforward to use. Then they upload those pictures to something like Reel Director, plug in the small microphones and record how it all works. If they work on this with a partner, they use the Bump app to transfer pictures back and forth. I’m going to buy a stylus this year to see if that helps them….they don’t like the way the pictures look if they use their fingers.

    Through Tony Vincent’s iTouch resources, I found mini-microphones at Amazon that are cheap and really great. I went to these types since my students seem to lose them fairly easily.

    I had never thought of using the iTouches as a listening station. I think that could be very useful with 6th graders and podcasts about different earth science topics. I would bet they could create their own sequence cards, too.

    Thanks again for another useful, practical post which moves my thinking along.

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      @ Marsha,

      Thanks so much for this terrific comment! I just love your idea of the Googler and I might use that idea. Using the iPod Touch is easy because it is so portable. They don’t have to go away and log on to a computer or get a netbook out. Your drawing diagrams idea is great too! The mini microscopes would be fabulous for your science lessons.

      Thanks again, Marsha. I know the readers and I will get a lot out of these ideas.

  19. […] Using an iPod Touch in the Primary Classroom | Integrating Technology in the Primary Classroom […]

  20. […] Using an iPod Touch in the Primary Classroom | Integrating Technology in the Primary Classroom Posted by Mrs Kathleen Morris on Monday, August 8th 2011 2011 is the fourth year I’ve been using an iPod Touch in my classroom. My students enjoy using these hand held devices and they can be used to enhance student learning in many different areas. […]

  21. […] Using an iPod Touch in the Primary Classroom 2011 is the fourth year I've been using an iPod Touch in my classroom. Source: […]

  22. […] Using an iPod Touch in the Primary Classroom 2011 is the fourth year I've been using an iPod Touch in my classroom. Source: […]

  23. […] Using an iPod Touch in the Primary Classroom | Integrating Technology in the Primary Classroom 2011 is the fourth year I've been using an iPod Touch in my classroom. Source: […]

  24. […] This is a short booklet we put together to give to the other school. It has some helpful advice about getting started and also a list of apps/activities we use across the whole school. This list is just a basic beginning guide and is not exhaustive. Getting Started With IPod Touches […]

  25. Thanks Kathleen,
    I am introducing a listening post to my literacy groups this semester using my IPAD. Your advice here is invaluable!
    Another idea I have found useful – logging onto your local library online gives you free access to ‘Belinda Audio Books’ for rental. So you download an audiobook using your library card number and then in a couple of weeks they send you an email reminding you that your loan time has finished and to remove it off your device.
    A great took for accessing the latest audio books for kids – free!

    1. Mrs Kathleen Morris says: Reply

      Hi Juliet,

      Thanks for you comment. I love the Bolinda audiobook service from the library and coincidently I’m listening to one right now! There are so many great titles for kids. We’re lucky to have such a fantastic service for free.

      Have fun with your iPad,


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