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Cool Tech 4 Kids to Beat the Heat: Part 1: Imaginative Play and Games

As we are already in triple digits and haven’t even celebrated the 4th of July, many parents are opting to stay indoors rather than brave the blistering heat. While we will make the occasional trip to the Children’s Museum, Magik Theater, and Schlitterbahn, my focus has been trying to come up with alternatives to playing in the heat.


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If you are like me and have two young boys (or children of any age for that matter), you are probably looking for something to keep your kiddos busy… indoors. If I am not prepared, activities around the house may be as simple as block day (where we dump all of the Mega Bloks out on the floor and build various structures) or city day (which consists of pulling out all of our Fisher Price toys…airport, barns, zoo, cars, people, etc… and arranging them into something that resembles a metropolis of sorts).

These activities are fun but given some more time to prepare, I like to arrange activities that bridge the gap between fun, technology, and instruction. The activities listed are broken up into categories and are accessed via the iPad. (Upcoming posts in the series will focus on both apps and Web 2.0 tools).

As I am also a bargain app shopper, the majority of apps suggested are… FREE (or moderately priced)!

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Imaginative Play: Many of us remember tea parties and puppet shows so the idea of using technology to foster imaginative play is not so far-fetched. While Toca Tea Party may only appeal to preschool and elementary age children, Puppet Pals & Sock Puppets will bring joy to all who are young at heart.

Tea for Two or More

Need ideas for your next Puppet Show? Check out Three Little Pigs, Three Billy Goats for some great examples of puppet shows (both are paid). Plums Rhyme and Tortoise and Hare Puppet Show (includes step-by-step video workshop for how to make puppets and create a show) are both free!

Legos, Board Games, and Puzzles: Cure Boredom!

Let Your PegLight Shine Brite!

Create Your Own Wordventure

Have an overcast day or an early morning? Check out 225 Kid Outdoor Games (games for ages 2-16 from around the world – paid app).

Don’t have an iPad? Consider creating your own board game (Tools for Educators) or dusting off Uno and Connect 4.

Stay Tuned over the next couple of weeks for upcoming Part 2: Virtual Vacations, Part 3: Books & Storytelling,and Part 4: Scrapbooks, Timelines, Arts & Crafts.

Tune in: Thursday June 23rd at 8pm to Social Geek Radio where I will be a guest discussing cool technology for kids (apps and Web 2.0 tools) that they can utilize on these hot summer days.

Please Comment with your favorite apps (and Web 2.0 tools) for imaginative play and games.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2011 in Cool Tools 4 Kids, iPad

 

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HOT APPS for HOTS: Tour of Apps

Our Hot Apps for HOTS course is in its final stages of development. In an effort to create an agenda that is not traditional and stuffy, I have highlighted the apps we will cover using one of our HOT APPS for HOTS: Popplet Lite (check out the rest of the HOT Apps for HOTS entries for more detailed lessons and activities). Little Bird Tales and Todays Meet are actually Web 2.0 tools (thus they are indented a bit in the “agenda” to differentiate them from the apps). I included Todays’ Meet to highlight a Web 2.0 tool that works with the iPad to create an instant chat and gain valuable formative feedback from students. While Little Bird Tales does not work with the iPad (flash issues – although they are testing a version that will allow you to export your tale as a mp4 which will work nicely with iTunes), it is a great way to show that not all information and resources must be housed on the iPad.

The wonderful thing about these tools is that they can be used individually or be paired with each other (see Little Bird Tales: Signs of Math lesson for a sampling of this pairing.)

©2011. Lisa Johnson. All rights reserved. Permission to reproduce for classroom use granted.

Below, I have included two of the lessons from a guest chef, Terri Sanchez.

TerriSanchezLessons: tsanch@neisd.net

Popplet Lite: Activity guides students to use Popplet Lite to map nouns (common, proper,singular, plural, and possessive). Popplet Lite-1 (PDF Lesson). Other uses are listed and highlighted as extensions in the Signs of Math lesson.

iBrainstorm: Activity guides students to use iBrainstorm to pre-write/brainstorm for a persuasive essay. iBrainstorm (PDF Lesson). In using iBrainstorm, we encountered one minor glitch: when students try to write with a pen, the dotting the i and crossing the t is read as a double-tap and initiates a new sticky note. To avoid this issue, we recommended using the sticky notes for text and the pen tools only for basic annotations.)

If you like Popplet & iBrainstorm, check out the paid app Corkulous for more functionality.

Check out Jon Baldoni’s article on “Using Stories to Persuade” and consider having students use Puppet Pals in conjunction with Mind-Mapping apps to create a persuasive story.

The rest of the lessons have been cooked up in house by yours truly: Puppet Pals, iCardSort, “Signs of Math”: Bump & Contacts

While these apptivities were not specifically categorized according to Bloom’s Taxonomy, they all involve creating & analyzing. Check out these sites that http://ilearntechnology.com/ has compiled according to the levels of Bloom:

Bloom's Taxonomy of Apps

Also Check out Kathy Schrock’s Bloom’s Taxonomy of Google Apps. Consider using these in conjunction with your iPad apptivities.
 
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Posted by on May 27, 2011 in HOT APPS for HOTS, iPad

 

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HOT APPS for HOTS: Puppet Pals

Puppet Pals Activity

Puppet Pals is a fantastic app for any age level to create a show (a video) for almost any topic. While I have purchased the Director’s Pass upgraded version, the app itself is free. The Director’s Pass has 13 actor sets (each with 5 to 11 characters) with 3 backdrops for each actor set. The Director’s Pass is a one time fee and you will have access to all of the current sets as well as any future ones – a fantastic deal, if you ask me. The free version only furnishes a Wild West theme with 6 characters, 1 prop, and 3 backdrops.

When I first started planning this lesson, I was really stumped, how do you build a lesson (other than studying the gold rush, cliche cowboys, or the Wild West) around such a specific theme? Then it hit me! It wasn’t about the theme but the content. Puppet Pals Lesson (PDF Lesson)

So I put together this sample (and rough draft) video to highlight how the free version could be used to support the study of figurative language also seen below).

I have included the Henry & Henrietta.

After creating the video, I have a few “wise words of wisdom” (pardon the alliteration):

  1. Plan & Storyboard: Lay out your story in a storyboard or graphic organizer.
  2. Dialogue & Stage Direction: Make sure your dialogue is written and clear as to who speaks when (also what voice you will use for each actor), what actions the actors need to perform (e.g. move off screen, come closer, walk, appear on screen, turn, appear smaller, etc…), and what actions need to take place between scene changes (e.g. rearrange actors, have an actor move off stage or into the background).
  3. Group Assignments: If you are working in a group, you will want to assign parts and actors and plan accordingly. Not everyone may have an actor assignment. One person may be responsible for the changing of the backdrop or prop.
  4. Dress Rehearsal: Once your story is written, parts are assigned, and dialogue is rehearsed, you are ready to perform. I would suggest doing a dry run before recording (like a table read).

Slide to Perform: The Basics

  1. How to Select Characters: Tap “Press to Start”. Select actors by tapping on them (a green check mark will appear in the bottom of the actor when it is selected). Tap “Next”.
  2. How to Select Backdrops: Select backdrops by tapping on them (a green check mark will appear in the bottom of the actor when it is selected). Tap “Next”.
  3. How to Change Backgrounds while filming: For full screen image, change the orientation of your iPad to landscape (held horizontally).
  4. How to Turn Character, Change their Size, or Move them from the Stage: Tap & drag a character to move, pinch out to enlarge, pinch in to reduce, and double-tap to change direction. Tap & drag actor out of area of backdrop to remove them from a scene.
  5. How to Record, Pause, & Stop: Tap Record (red circle). You can Pause (2 vertical parallel lines) in between scenes, Tap Stop (white square) when finished. Click Play (green triangle) to preview. If you are satisfied with the quality of your show, you are ready to Save.
  6. How to Save: Tap Save (looks like old-school 3.5 inch disk). Type a title in the space provided. Tap Save.
  7. How to Export: When you launch the app, tap “Saved Shows”. You will be presented with an option to “Export”. Your show will be saved in the video section of your camera roll, photo app that looks like a sunflower.
  8. How to Upload to YouTube or Email: From your camera roll, locate the video. Tap the rectangle with the arrow in the upper right hand corner. You will have the option to email the video (many videos may be too large for this option), send it to YouTube (will have to sign in to an account), or copy the video. If none of these options seem to work, you can always pull the videos off the device when you sync your iPad to your designated computer.
Screenshot from PuppetPals

Possible Topics for Puppet Pals (without Director’s Pass)

  1. Illustrate a vocabulary word, math problem, or scientific concept
  2. Recreate a story in a different setting
  3. Apply today’s government and economic structure to that of the Wild West
  4. Create a news story (interview a character or a witness)
  5. Illustrate a poem (include various elements of figurative language: simile, metaphor, personification, alliteration, onomatopoeia, hyperbole, idioms, cliches) or practice rhyme scheme & meter
  6. Write a story using a certain number of prepositional phrases, adverbs, adjectives, etc…
  7. Create a story to illustrate humor or another emotion or depict sarcasm or irony (verbal, dramatic, situational) or even a paradox
  8. Create a story to illustrate word play & literary techniques (spoonerisms, wellerisms, rhetoric,puns,
  9. Create a story to narrate conflict or climax
  10. Create a story that is a biographical retelling of a historical figure from the era (or a historical fiction account) – check out Time Warp Trio for some great extensions and ideas (also has an Old West section) to spice up your show.
  11. Create a talk show to have various characters share their story or debate a topic.

Tech Camp Assignment: Choose 1 of the following show ideas:

  • Option A: Create a Puppet Pal Show using the existing characters and backdrops that highlights at least 3 idioms, 3 prepositions, 1 metaphor, and 1 simile. Export your show (as a video) so others can see it.
  • Option B: Create a Puppet Pals Show using at least 2 one-syllable rhyming words, 2 two or three-syllable rhyming words, 2 idioms, and 2 alliterations.

You may use the resources highlighted here to assist you with your show: Idiom Dictionary, Idiom Site, Rhymezone, Ryhmer, The Preposition, Your Dictionary: Alliteration, Your Dictionary: Similes & Metaphors, Buzzle.com: Metaphors.

Director’s Pass: If you have the director’s pass, you not only have a plethora of characters and backgrounds to choose from (Arthropod Armada, Christmas, Entertainers, Fair Weather Friends, Fairytale, Monsters, On the Farm, Pirates, Political Partay, Talk Shows, Thanksgiving, Wild West, and Zombie Attack) but also the ability to add actor(s) and background(s) from your photo collection (either images you have taken or images saved from the internet). These images can be cropped to create your own puppets.

Check out other apps like it: Toontastic

There is also a great children’s book series that is useful to illustrate idioms: More Parts and Even More Parts by Tedd Arnold (Say What You Mean Please Lesson). Teachers may even want to have students create a table of figurative & literal idiom meanings prior to the activity.

©2011. Lisa Johnson. All rights reserved. Permission to reproduce for classroom use granted.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2011 in ELAR, HOT APPS for HOTS, iPad

 

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