Over the past few weeks our fifth grade classes have been studying the Age of Exploration. Each student was given an explorer to research and wrote blog posts as if they were the explorer. Then each explorer had to go and leave comments on other explorer’s blogs, noting areas of similarity, agreement, or disagreement. This has been an amazing activity and the students have created thoughtful postings and comments. This was my first time using Kidblogs, and I highly recommend it as a excellent tool for student bloggers.
Here are the blogs from our classes:
Bosch Explorer Blogs
Veldman Explorer Blogs
Is your class studying explorers? If so, we would like you to visit our blog! An easy way for your students to interact with our class would be let them read our blog and respond by commenting to the posts. Please have them comment as if they were talking to the explorer, not the student. In return, we would be happy to connect with your class regarding an online project that you have created.
If you are interested in connecting with us, please contact me by leaving a comment below or by emailing me here. Currently, comment moderation is on for the student blogs, so I need to know if you are planning to leave comments. Thanks!
I have been enjoying watching Ken Burn’s documentary on the National Parks this week. Last year I did a project in the computer lab with 6th graders about the National Parks. I had planned to repeat the project this year, but unfortunately, I have not been able to do it because of my reassignment back into the classroom. But I thought there might be some other classrooms that would be interested some of the activities that we did last year.
Each of these activities are explained in detail on the links which are posted in an exhibit that I created at the Apple Learning Interchange.
1) Google Earth – did you know there is a layer in Google Earth that clearly shows all the US National Parks?
2) Inspiration – excellent topic to create word maps to examine students’ prior knowledge.
3) Wikis – the National Parks are an excellent topic to research. Read how our students created a wiki from their research.
4) Comics – using Comic Life or other tools.
5) Travel Posters – we used Print Shop, but other tools would easily work.
6) National Park Trading Cards – students loved making these – so easy!
7) Postcards – we took advantage of the Instant Alpha effect in Keynote to make pictures where it looked like the student was actually in the park. Another easy trick!
8) Commercials – student used Garageband to create a commercial for the park that they researched.
Hope these projects give you some ideas of ways you can teach about the National Parks in your classroom!
Here’s a little Christmas slideshow from Smilebox – some Christmas trees created by the first graders using KidPix. Enjoy!
I recently ran a 3 week after school class where 2nd and 3rd students created a book using Kidpix. Each child wrote and illustrated a 5 page story, and most created a title page, end page, and an “about the author” page. The pages were printed out and then I bound the stories into hard covers. I used book covers from Lintor Publishing as an easy way to bind the books into a professional looking hard cover. If you buy the covers in bulk, they cost around 6 dollars each. I’ve found many parents are willing to pay to have their child’s project bound into a hard cover because it makes a great keepsake. (Silly me, I forgot to take a picture showing the covers!)
The system to bind the books is quite clever and simple. Here are the steps:
First you staple the book pages between the 2 binding pages. These pages have a kind of contact paper which is facing to the outside.
Here’s what the pages look like after they are stapled:
Peel off the contact paper on the back side:
Press it down onto the back cover:
Remove the contact paper from the front side. Press the front cover down. Then open up the book, and bend the cover gently. The contact paper binds the cover to the stapled pages. (The white page below is the contact page pressed to the cover.)
The students are always thrilled to have a “real” book which they created. It is fun to watch them reading the stories to their friends and showing them off.
I spent a good chunk of my weekend putting together an online project for lower elementary. I am hoping to connect our school with some other schools in a project where early elementary students share about their family and/or cultural traditions during the December holidays. This project is designed so that it does not require a lot of classroom time to complete and does not involve very complicated technology skills. It also will introduce teachers to Smilebox – which is a neat free tool for sharing images on the web and easily allows students and parents to leave comments.
Here is the link to the wiki where there are details about the project and how to sign up:
And if you have never looked at Smilebox, here is the link to the Teacher Tool Page to get a free teacher account:
Here is a fun activity to do in the Fall using Kidpix. Scan or take digital pictures of real leaves on a white backgound. Bring the images into Kidpix and save each one as a separate file. (I have a red, yellow, orange, and green leaf file that I use and I let the children pick the color of leaf that they want to use.) They use the wacky paint brush and stamp tools to turn the leaf into a person. I always use this lesson to teach the children how to “flip” the stamps so the the ears and feet go in matching pairs!Here’s an example, and yes, the child told me it was Indiana Jones!
Click here to see all of the students’ pictures:
Leaf People Gallery
I took individual pictures of each picture on an orange background, and used Smilebox to create this little slideshow. Enjoy! Here is the link to the Smilebox. Please visit our page and leave a comment! Thanks!
The second graders have been learning about communities in Social Studies. They have studied urban, rural, and suburban communities. They recently made illustrations of these communities in the computer lab. Here is a video which features their work:
I offered a 3 week after school digital photography class this fall. The students had so much fun and took some incredible shots. Here is a link to a gallery of some of their best photographs.Digital Photography Gallery
The second graders have been learning about oceans in class. In computer lab they made pictures using a coloring template that is found in Kidpix. They used the paint bucket to color the background of the picture and used the paint brush to add sand and coral to the ocean floor. Finally they added stickers and stamps of fish and other ocean creatures.
After students printed their pictures, I took a quick digital photo of the printout. I used to go to each computer in the lab to export a jpg of each picture, but that takes FOREVER to do. If I am careful with the settings on my camera and have good light I find I can get a fairly good shot of their printout. Then the images can be easily added into Animoto and in no time at all it is magically created into a video. This is the fastest way I know to publish student pictures to the web. You could do this with almost any picture that students make in class.
Here’s one more project that we did in our National Park Project.
I took pictures of each student against a blue background.
Then each student opened a picture of their national park on a Keynote slide. They wrote the name of their park and their message on top of the image in text boxes.
Then they dropped their image on top. Keynote has this amazing feature called “Instant Alpha.” With a few clicks of the magic wand on the picture, the blue background disappears! TADA – it looks like the student is posing in front of a scene of a national park!
I want to try this again, using some of the images in Discovery Streaming. It is such an easy way to combine images!