Sunday, November 29, 2015

What the World Eats- Compare Daily Diets Around the World

I just stumbled across this amazing, interactive tool from National Geographic called What the World Eats.  This must be a older resource since the data only goes to 2011, but nonetheless it is still very useful.  There are so many ways this fabulous resource could be used to connect real-world information to the standards.  Some of the features of this site are:

1.  The ability to compare the average diet of several countries and you can even narrow down further to compare one particular food category such as sugar and fat.  Math connections, anyone?  Tons of percentages and numbers to compare here!
2.  You can learn more about the eating habits of people in other counties and how they have changed over the years.  This is a great way to discuss the social, political, and environmental changes that have taken place over time and how they have affected people's eating habits and food availability.
3.  You can also view the consumption of various meats by different countries.  This is a great way to discuss how location and availability of resources drive the choices we make.
I hope you find a way to use What the World Eats with your students!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Do You Wanna...Play Some Fun Winter Themed Games?

Winter is here and although we don't have any real snow in the south, there are plenty of virtual ways to play! You will find heaps of icy fun with this collection of games that are centered around the winter themes of snowmen, snowflakes, and snow!  All of your students from Pre-K to 5th Grade will find something fun to do.  Teachers, don't forget that you can also easily connect many of these activities to curricular content.

 Curricular connections with snowflake activities:
Check out the Snowflake Factory and Snow Storm.  They both have connections to fractions and percentages.  
Math connections to make with snowflakes: symmetry, patterns, angles, shapes.
Study the science of snow and snowflakes.
Compare your virtual snowflake design to a real snowflake design.  Create a Venn diagram to compare the two.

Curricular connections to snowman activities:
Choose a simple snowman creator and figure out how many different possibilities there are to create a unique snowman.
Create a digital snowman glyph to represent the student.
Graph the information used from the students' snowmen creations.  Ex: What types of hats.
Copy the digital snowman to a writing program and write a personal narrative, creative story, informational (how to), or practice using adjectives.
Practice your fact families with Snowball Fight!

Have fun learning!

Image Brainteasers for Your Students Who Love Theater

Are you into theater and brainteasers? (Hey, even if you're not, keep reading!*) Here is a fun resource for you that has been created by some talented artists at and  They have put together a collection of 6 brainteaser images that you can find below.

 The illustrations are Catchphrase-style puzzles depicting famous songs from well-known theater shows, designed to challenge your musical/pop culture knowledge. The puzzles are brainteasers of sorts, and get children (and even adults) breaking down images and words and piecing them back together to figure out the answer.  The challenge is to piece together the words depicted by the image in each circle to create a full song title.

Did you figure out ‘Castle on a Cloud’ from Les Miserabl├ęs in the image above?

Here are the 6 images.  You are free to use them with your class.  If copied, please give attribution to the talented artists at and
(Please note, I am not compensated by the artists in any way to share these resources.)

*OK, for those of you that might not be into theater, what themes would you like to see and how would you use these in the classroom?  The developers would like to know.  Leave a message in the comments below.

Answers are below.

1. Can You Feel the Love Tonight
2. Castle on a Cloud
3. Dancing Queen
4. I Dreamed a Dream
5.  I Feel the Earth Move
6. Waterloo Sunset (This one may be difficult for Americans!)

Spell Up with Google

Spell Up with Google is a web-based game in which you build word towers by spelling words correctly.  The better you are at spelling, the higher your tower goes!  There are also word jumbles and missing letter words along the way.  You also collect power-ups that can be used to bypass difficult words if needed.
You must have audio to play as the words are spoken and can be sometimes difficult to understand.  The game has a few tools to help you to understand the word including a translator, an alphabet tool, and a dictionary.  Once you pass Level 1, the player can choose from beginner to advanced level words.  The screen shot above shows words from the intermediate level.  Your answers can be typed in or spoken.

Spell Up with Google has a "for teachers" section that advocates using this site in the classroom for teaching spelling and word pronunciation.  However, the teacher cannot set a level or provide words for this game.  I also found a lag with the keyboard when using my iPad to play this game- even though I chose the correct letters, it did not register all of my keystrokes.

Overall, Spell Up with Google can be a fun way to practice spelling maybe as morning work or when students have completed an assignment.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Gobble Up Some Great Games for Thanksgiving Fun!

Is turkey on your brain?  Serve up some fun with this collection of (mostly) educational Thanksgiving games.  You will find an abundant selection of gobbling good 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 Thanksgiving, there are also Fall/Autumn themed games available.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Booktrack Classroom- Add Music and Sound Effects to Your E-Books or Writing

I enjoy reading because it is free of the extraneous noise and images.  With a good book, my imagination is free to envision the setting, sounds, and characters.  So, it may seem odd that I am writing about Booktrack Classroom, a site and app that incorporates music and sound into e-books to "enhance" the reading experience.  Although I can't envision reading a book that includes a soundtrack, I can see valuable use of this site in teaching the writing process and writing for an audience.

Booktrack Classroom allows teachers to set up accounts for their students where the teacher and students can read and edit Booktracks for classic book titles (in public domain) such as The Wizard of Oz with other titles being added as authors allow.  Teachers and students can also write or past in their own text to create a personal Booktrack.  It is the section where students can write and edit their own work that I find most useful.  Think about the following examples and how adding music or sound effects could help students understand the concepts:

1.  Learning about imagery as a literary element.
2.  Learning how the mood and tone of writing can bring an emotional perspective to the writing.
3.  What is an onomatopoeia?
4.  How do descriptive words help us to better understand the setting or a character.

Booktrack Classroom is easy to use.  Simply choose a book, type, or paste your text.  Then select sentences, paragraphs or sections of the text and search for music, ambient sound, or sound effects to go with each section chosen.  You can also upload you own sounds.  Then publish to read in your online or app reader on your device.

Thanks to my friend Steve Dembo for introducing me to Booktrack Classroom on a recent webcast, Survey Says, Mash It Up! through Discovery Education.

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