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Using Mindmapping Software to Develop Thinking and Creativity in the KS1 Classroom

One of the things my KS1 children have always enjoyed doing is using mind mapping software to organise and develop their ideas. This was an obvious use of ICT for us to explore in our school, as for a long time we had been working with children mindmapping on paper. We used the mindmaps to find out what children already knew about a topic and what they wanted to find out. From the final mindmap at the end of a topic we could see what children had learned.

We started to use 2Connect which is one of many mindmapping programs available. Alternative software packages include Kidspiration, Thinking with Pictures and Mindview. When the children started creating mind maps using 2 Connect they loved being able to add their thoughts and questions. Sometimes we would see them move items around as their understanding of the relationships involved grew. When they added items to the mindmap they were able to add pictures, text, and sound. They were communicating their ideas in their own chosen ways rather than being forced to use a particular medium.

Sometimes children worked on individual mindmaps or sometimes they collaborated in groups or as a class. As we researched a topic and children discovered more, they added their ideas to build up the mindmap. Sometimes they used their completed mindmaps to go on and write their own information texts.

We also worked with children to plan stories and creative writing using mindmaps. With the software we were using the children were able to click on a button to reveal a writing pane and their mindmap moved to the side and became a wordbank. This usually worked well although sometimes with large mindmaps the wordbanks were quite squashed with some words overlapping each other.

We found many benefits to using mindmapping software. It's much easier to create mind maps on a computer than on paper, as children have the flexibility to move things around as their understanding grows. It's a great use of ICT as it is a way to bring together children's ideas using multimedia. The children really enjoyed creating mindmaps on the computers so they were really motivated and engaged! If you are thinking about exploring using mindmapping software in primary education there is some interesting research undertaken by Ralston and Cook in 2007 entitled Collaboration, ICT and Mindmapping that can be found at[]=43&path[]=45