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£5,771 pledged of £25,000 goal
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By Julie Anne Gilleland
£5,771 pledged of £25,000 goal
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About this project

Our idea is simple!

At Think with Things we are creating a community digital library of everyday objects and their connected learning possibilities.

Our collective years of observing and working in educational settings has led us to one conclusion. Things for learning are all around us, we just need to unlock their potential. Teachers and parents already have all the materials in place to engage and create amazing educational outcomes for each and every child. 

We want to ...........

When our CEO Jules first started to research this, she carried boxes of ‘things’ into every workshop, training, and discussion. 

And she learnt that, children and adults alike, become more and more engaged, communicative, creative and inspired when they work with “things”.

So what are these amazing things? 

Are they expensive, rare or fragile?

Harry presenting the power of Things with his mom Isobel
Harry presenting the power of Things with his mom Isobel

No! 

They are simply found objects, bottle tops, corks, buttons, things from everyday life, you probably throw them away without thinking twice.  For our children, however, they are treasures, things that they keep in their pockets.  A rock from a walk in the woods, a bottle top from the side walk.

These things are much more than stuff that clutters adult surroundings.  We have seen their potential as amazing thinking tools and we believe children see this potential as well.  They collect things, keep them safe, tell stories with them, and use them to build and design wonderful new worlds.

These THINGS not only fill up their pockets, they fuel their imagination and build their knowledge.

When it is time to learn, we tend to take these precious things away.  We ask children to empty their pockets and often their minds, in order to be fully focused and ready to learn.  But are they?  Why are more and more children disengaged with learning?

Some educationalists consider disengagement to be one of the biggest challenges facing education today. We need new tools and techniques that work for ALL children to engage their interest.

Emily was a quiet 3 year old in a Belgian school. Her teacher thought she might need learning support as she never engaged in any classwork, until we came in one day and asked a group of children to group the things.
Emily was a quiet 3 year old in a Belgian school. Her teacher thought she might need learning support as she never engaged in any classwork, until we came in one day and asked a group of children to group the things.

At Think with Things we dream of capturing children’s attention and sense of wonder during structured learning.  Not unlike those things in their pockets, encouraging things to become thinking tools in education.

We not only love things, we also love technology and the wonderful opportunity it gives to organize and plan, spread ideas, connect thoughts, and capture information. 

That's why we are making an APP that joins these two powerful tools; Things and Technology to create a community digital library of everyday objects and their connected learning possibilities. An application that supports problem solving, creative thinking and collaboration skills and enriches present learning practices to engage more children everywhere in the world! 

Paper prototype sketch of educators home page.
Paper prototype sketch of educators home page.

Through listening to educators and parents, we have designed 4 powerful tools within our digital library.  These are easily integrated into every part of the learning process, at any stage of development, and with a large variety of concepts from literacy to numeracy. They are: 

TWT COLLECT - allows you to keep track of collections, create wish lists and include parents and children in the collection process.

TWT CONNECT - allows you to start with a concept or a collection easily searching our library for connected learning possibilities.

TWT CAPTURE - allows you as well as children to document thinking, by image, video or audio in order to reflect on their learning journey.

TWT COMMUNICATE - allows you to easily share this with colleagues, parents, etc. to show learning, start a conversation or get feedback.

Think of it like a digital cookbook for hands on learning, that's simple, easy to use and adaptable to any learning concept and learner level.

1) You decide the concept, such as maths

2) You chose the learning level, like beginner

3) You input 'everyday things' you have collected

or let the app tells you what to collect, like ingredients!

The app then gives you questions to ask connected to the concept, and ideas on how to set up an engaging age appropriate learning experience, just like a recipe!

It doesn't stop there.  We learnt from teachers that they need a tool that, not only supports them throughout the learning process, but also helps them with their educational objectives and accountability.  

So, we created features that support documentation and communication. These two tools allow you to capture and save learning moments easily, as well as to share your teaching practices with fellow teachers, parents, and learning support. It also shares back to the Think with Things library creating a rich community of like minded educators all working towards one goal of raising the level of engagement and understanding of children everywhere!

We have spent the last year working with teachers, parents and children developing the best tool and experience possible. 

Now we are ready! 

And we need your help....... to get it out to all teachers and children no matter where they teach or learn, or what learning tools they have available or can afford.

We have an initial goal of £25,000. This goal enables our prototype to evolve into a downloadable app, as well gets us closer to achieving more far reaching goals.

In February we conducted workshops with over 100 children in 4 different primary schools in Brussels. The challenge was to TELL and CAPTURE a story using things and tablets. The following video shows the process of learning through telling stories with everyday objects and how technology became just one of the tools to capture it. It is lovely to hear the stories the children are telling and how the teachers experienced the workshop. This film was presented at the UNESCO mobile week in partnership with we.learn.it

Between Feb 2nd and March 23rd we had 171 applications to our first pilot program.  They came from over 20 different countries UK to Australia and India to Nigeria.  It showed us how ready educators are for a like-minded community and a tool to spread the amazing learning outcomes that come from using found objects.  Our 6 week pilot began on April 20th with 50 of these educators.  Below you can see some of their comments.  If you are interested in looking to the work they did during the pilot you can join our google+ community. 

"Playing with things awakens the inner genius in every child." - Deb, Oregon

"One important thing I noticed today was that the boys, in general, are more fully engaged in these sessions than usual...." - Carola, Brussels

"I was amazed by the imagination children demonstrated and the engagement and interest children showed in using these objects" - Kielly, Indonesia

"It was such an awesome surprise as the quietest unresponsive girl in class was the first to volunteer telling a story." - Timi, Nigeria

"I was so impressed with the links she'd made to the world around her, literacy, science and she'd managed to create her own problem and find a solution!" - Carola, Brussels

Julie Anne Gilleland Co-Founder - CEO Living in Belgium. Brings 14 years expertise designing educational environments, products and experiences. She founded a non-profit 7 years ago, where she developed the methodology ‘Material Thinking’ which is the foundation of our products.

Isobel Demangeat Co-Founder-CTO Living in the UK. Brings 13 years expertise in designing & UX for on-screen interactions in e-learning, mobile devices and future technologies with a focus on user experience of digital to real world interactions.

Helen Walsh COO Living in Belgium, Helen brings extensive business experience to Think with Things. Working for many years in retail, she led and managed multifunctional teams to deliver product ranges to 22 markets.

Pam Elwood-Lead of Educational Methods Living in Iowa, Pam bring an amazing educational background of over 30 plus years of working with children, families and teachers in search of wonder and believes in play as the primary curriculum. 

Allie Bishop Pasquier-Lead Early Childhood Educator Living in Washington, Allie brings experience as a preschool classroom teacher in a variety of educational settings with a strong interest in learning through hands-on, open-ended play with a passion for created curated collections to enhance learning. 

Accepting the award for one of 7 most innovative edtech start-ups in Europe.  Presented by Lord Puttnam, Jury President, & Xavier Prats-Monné, Director General for Education & Culture at the EU Commission, at the “Education in a Digital Era” conference..
Accepting the award for one of 7 most innovative edtech start-ups in Europe. Presented by Lord Puttnam, Jury President, & Xavier Prats-Monné, Director General for Education & Culture at the EU Commission, at the “Education in a Digital Era” conference..

Our journey to bring this idea to life began one year ago, when we were one of 7 winning teams chosen as the top new education technology companies in Europe. This backing enabled us to create our business plan, make contacts and expand our knowledge of the Edtech start up world. We now are looking to you our community to help us reach this next step.

With your help we can pay for developers, designers and user experience specialists to get the app up and running. When we reach our goal, the BETA version will be built and available by the end of January 2016 and the full version by September. This means access for children and teachers in every setting and location! Groups of learners from US to Africa will be using and collaborating around materials thinking!

Kickstarter is an amazing way to engage a large global community to come together for one goal and what better goal than raising the level of engagement and sense of wonder in today's learning environments. It is also an all or nothing platform, so if we do not reach our goal the project does not continue and all money is returned.

In exchange for your support in helping us create this project we have come up with some pretty awesome rewards. After talking with countless educators and parents we feel very excited to offer you rewards focused on our product and experience of Think with Things. We hope you find something in our rewards for yourself or something to gift to another. 

Although, you will notice the amounts in £, credit cards will be charged however in your own currency. So, for instance the collectors calendar at £20 is approx. $30 minimum backing and the subscription at £70 is approx. $90 a minimum backing. We hope you find something in our rewards list to treat yourself or something to gift to others.

Please help us get the word out to parents and teachers all around the world by using any or ALL of the below links. 

Risks and challenges

The past months have proved one thing to us and that is that there is an amazing community of innovative parents and teachers eager to make learning happen everywhere with every ‘thing’ and if we build it for and with them they will come. We believe our biggest challenge then right now is funding and development. To raise our target amounts to make sure our timeline can continue to move forward.

In addition, there are always some challenges in developing a software project, mostly related to timing and debugging of the prototypes. We will handle these challenges as they arise but we are confident that through our tested methodology, clear development roadmap and combined passion they will be overcome.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £5 or more About $8

    Become a Backer!
    Every penny counts! By backing the project at this level, you show us your support. Your donation will also allow us to keep in communication with you about our progress.
    Our most heartfelt THANK YOU!

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    Pledge £10 or more About $15

    Become a Follower!
    Join the movement and receive a link to download your own pack of our very popular "Think like a..." prompts. Download and print to inspire those around you to think with things.

    included:
    + a download of 8 A4 prompt sheets

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    Pledge £20 or more About $31

    Become a Collector!
    Receive a link to a cool collection calendar to print at home or in your class. Designed by our own CEO Jules. Start now to create your box of things, to be ready when the app is available.

    included:
    + a downloadable A4 full color calendar

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    Pledge £35 or more About $54

    Become a Champion!
    Receive a beautiful batch of photos visually explaining loose parts play and thinking with things.

    included:
    + a download of 8 A4 prompt sheets
    + a download of 10 digital images

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    Pledge £50 or more About $77

    Become a BETA tester!
    Be one of our testers in 2016! You’ll get an advanced look at the Think with Things basic app before it goes live, to share your feedback. Be part of making something amazing!

    Also, get your name on the final product as a BETA Tester and a big thank you for shaping the experience for others.

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    Pledge £70 or more About $107

    Become a Subscriber!
    Get a 6-month subscription to Think with Things full version, plus community portal when it's ready. Also, you receive our prompt cards and image pack to start advocating for "thinking with things" in your learning environment.

    included:
    + a download of 8 A4 prompt sheets
    + a download of 10 digital images
    + 6-month pre-subscription (sept '16)

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    Pledge £140 or more About $214

    Become a Learner!
    Be part of our first pre-launch webinar. Learn ideas on how to integrate the digital library in your learning environment and hear from educators who are changing education from the inside out.

    included:
    + a download of 8 A4 prompt sheets
    + a downloadable A4 full color calendar
    + 6-month subscription (Sept '16)
    + Pre-launch Webinar (May '16)

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    Pledge £300 or more About $459

    Become a Giver!
    Gift two above LEARNER packs to two educators of your choice, plus your name listed in the credits of our app as a GIVER.

    included:
    + 2x download of 8 A4 prompt sheets
    + 2x downloadable A4 full color calendar
    + 2x 6-month subscription (Sept '16)
    + 2x Pre-launch Webinar (May '16)

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    Pledge £560 or more About $858

    Become a Forward Thinker!
    Receive one LEARNER pack above, plus a 1hr online consultation to help you implement in your specific setting.

    included:
    + a download of 8 A4 prompt sheets
    + a downloadable A4 full color calendar
    + 6-month subscription (Sept '16)
    + 1hr consultation (Sept-Dec '16)

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    Pledge £900 or more About $1,378

    Become a Believer!
    Bring Think with Things to you for a face-to-face pre-launch workshop/presentation for up to 70 participants. (before Sept '16, travel expenses not included)

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    Pledge £2,000 or more About $3,063

    Become a Platinum Supporter!
    Have your name listed as a Platinum Supporter in the Think with Things credits. Plus, your support will help us provide free subscriptions to classrooms in impoverished regions.

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Funding period

- (49 days)