Sunday, October 25, 2015

Boo! Halloween Themed Games for You!

It's the time of year when our students' brains are being clouded by thoughts of candy and seasonal fun.  I can help you "trick" them into thinking they are getting a "treat" with this collection of over 40 (mostly) educational Halloween games.  You will find an abundant selection of ghoulishly themed games that support learning for math, language, and logic.  There is something here for every student from Kindergarten through 5th grade.  If you have a student that doesn't celebrate Halloween, there are also Fall/Autumn themed games available.
Happy Halloween!

Carve Up Some Virtual Pumpkin Fun for Halloween

It's almost Halloween!  Are you ready to make your jack-o-lanterns?  Pumpkin carving can be fun, but it can also be a messy, dangerous job with kids.  So here are a few VIRTUAL pumpkin carving sites that you and the kids can use to carve pumpkins over and over again.  With virtual pumpkins there are no sticky guts, no cuts, and no tears because it didn't turn out the way you expected!
Why not use these sites and the pumpkins the kids create as a jumping off point for storytelling, creative writing, discussing the properties of shapes, or word work (like discovering new adjectives)?  

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Safe, Licensed, and Cited Photos for Classroom Use!

I am so excited to see an image search site like Photos for Class.  This site makes it easy for educators and students to find photos and images for classroom projects.  The site accesses Flickr's vast collection of images and uses filters to provide results that:
1.  Are Rated G (with very few exceptions, you can read the site's filtering info here).
2.  Are licensed under Creative Commons for school use.
3.  Include a formatted citation on the downloaded image.
You can use Photos for Class directly from the website or there are other options too.  If you use Edmodo with your class, you can install the Photos for Class FREE app straight from the Edmodo Store
You can also embed a code to include the Photos for Class search box on your own webpage or school webpage for your students.  You can get the embed codes here.  Try searching for an image with the search box embedded here:

Safe image searching!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Osmo- Play With Your Numbers

Osmo has just added an amazing new game to their collection of interactive games for the iPad.  The Osmo Numbers Game is a fun way to get students excited about math without them even realizing that they are learning!  Students start out with the counting level and gradually move up to multiplication as the levels progress.  But no worries, students can repeat levels as many times as necessary and the game changes every time so it never becomes repetitive.

Counting Level One:

Addition Level One:

In the Osmo Numbers Game, students try to release the fish (and other fun objects) that are trapped above the bubbles.  The bubbles are popped when students place the correct number tile(s) in the camera area.  After completing each level students have the option of moving up to more difficult levels.  As an educator, I would like to see Osmo add an option to access each of the levels (addition, subtraction, or multiplication) at any time so that specific skills can be targeted for students whenever needed.  Hopefully this will be in a future update.

Check out the Osmo site to learn about the other amazing games such as Words, Tangram, Newton, and Masterpiece that will get your students learning through hands-on, fun activities.  You must purchase the Osmo base unit and reflector with game pieces to use with the free apps.  

*Note: I do receive any compensation from Osmo.  I just love their products!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Creating Your Own Custom Silhouette for Tagxedo

One of my most popular posts on this blog was about using student silhouettes and memoir writing in  Many teachers have asked me if there is an easy way to create student silhouettes or general silhouettes for Tagxedo.  The answer is yes and I will show you how!

1. Download the FREE editing program at This is the easiest software I have ever used to make images transparent (to remove backgrounds).
2.  Take a picture of your student, pet, or object in front of a blank wall or area.  Try not to have shadows behind the person or object.
3.  Open the program (downloaded in Step 1) and open your image.
4.  Choose the Magic Wand tool and click in the blank (wall) section of your image that you wish to delete.  It should turn blue.  If it is all selected (such in my picture below), press delete on your keyboard.
Sometimes, not enough or too much of your picture will be selected by the Magic Wand tool.  When this happens, you can change the Tolerance levels to select more (a greater %) or less (a lower %) of the area you are selecting.  If you have selected too much or little, click edit and undo then change the tolerance and start again.  You can also delete some of the background and then come back withe Magic Wand to delete other areas until you have removed all parts.  (This is especially helpful if you have shadows or items that need to be removed.)  If you have too much background, you can also crop it out with the cropping tool.
5.  Save your image with the background removed.  You want to save this image as a .jpg file.

6.  Now open (works best in Firefox or IE browsers).
7.  You will import your newly created silhouette by clicking on Shape and then Add Image.  Browse to where you have saved your image and import it.  Accept the settings that come up unless you want a reverse image.
8.  Add your own words (click on Load), change the colors, layout, and theme to create your own word cloud image that is personally themed with your own silhouette.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Teaching About Floods and Severe Weather

In South Carolina we have just been hit with a major storm that has caused mass flooding in the state.  An event like this reminds us how important it is to prepare our students and families for severe weather emergencies.  I have collected some interactive sites that will help teach our students about flooding- how it happens, how they can make their homes safer, what to do in a flood, and where floods have happened historically.  

These sites are informative and fun for students on their own, but remember to take the learning an extra step.  For example, the Cost Calculator can get students thinking about what it would cost to replace their own belongings- this could be a great math lesson.  Students could create a timeline using the floods of the 20th Century site.  How about using the Choose Your Own Adventure Story as a hook for your own students' writing?  Maybe you can also take a look at a topographic map of your area to see where your school sits?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Augmented Reality Elements 4D Blocks and App by Daqri

My next few posts this month will focus on one of my favorite topics- Augmented Reality!  
Daqri makes some of the most amazing AR products for education- so I will start with one of my favorites by Daqri- the Elements 4D Blocks and App.  

If I had these blocks when I took beginning Chemistry in high school, I probably would have liked chemistry class a whole lot more.  Daqri's Elements 4D Blocks bring chemistry, properties of elements, and chemical reactions to life right before your eyes.  The best part is that no students will blow up the lab or injure themselves because all of the chemicals and reactions are simulated!

The app and blocks are simple to use, just print the blocks from Daqri's site, cut them out and put them together. (Hint: They can be printed on cardstock, laminated, and stuffed with paper towels or other light materials to make them hold up better before assembling.)  

Then open the app and view the blocks one at a time or combine blocks to see if you can create a reaction.  There are 6 blocks with 6 different elements on each side, so there are plenty of elements and reactions to explore.  Amazing!  Plus, the Daqri website now also has some great lesson plans for elementary, middle, and high school that connect to the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.  I work at the elementary level and I have always advocated using the blocks to study and demonstrate the states of matter.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a wonderful lesson plan and extension activities written around this very standard on Daqri's site.

Here is a quick video I created to show how the app works:

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