5 EASY Techie Activities for Valentine's Day

Monday, February 1, 2016

5 Easy Techie Activities for Valentine's Day
Happy February! Here are a few ideas for some EASY techie activities you can carry out with your students this month:
ABCya's Talkify website is a fun one! Have your students create a heart with eyes in any sort of paint program you might have on your computer. I made the one below with the shapes in PowerPoint and saved it as a jpeg. Talkify will allow you to import your own image and add a mouth. You can then record! Have your students recite a poem to practice their fluency.

VDay Poem from Julie on Vimeo.

Use Festisite's text layout  to make your writing into a visual masterpiece! Have your students write a thoughtful Valentine's Day card to a family member, peer or community helper. Or, have students write adjectives to describe Valentine's Day. This site generates your text into a heart shape and creates a PDF for you to print. EASY!

Give students a "secret pal" to write an anonymous Valentine's Day card . See if they can guess who their secret pal might be! Students can use the site: The Ransomizer  for this activity. Simply type in your letter and the site generates a ransom note. You can send your note via email, grab the html code or screenshot the note to print. This would be a great way to boost morale in your classroom.
Happy Valentine's Day! I think you are one of the nicest people in our class. Thank you for always smiling and being so friendly to everyone. You rock!

Make a heart shaped word cloud filled with synonyms for the word "love". Or fill it with words that describe things you love! You can EASILY do this with the Word Hearts website.

I LOVE Read Write Think's Theme Poems website. When you are asked to select a theme, click on the Celebrations folder. There you will find a heart theme.

Next, you will be prompted to list words or phrases that remind you of a heart:

Then you title and write a poem about any topic of your choice. The words that you listed on the previous screen show up to help you write your poem. This is so nice for students that have a hard time thinking about what to write!

Finally, your poem turns into a PDF that you can print:

Have fun creating with your kiddos!

Check out more technology posts:

Matter iPad Projects: 3 Levels of Acvtivities

Saturday, January 16, 2016

This past Thursday I worked in 3 different 3rd grade classrooms at the same school and all of the teachers requested to cover how molecules behave differently in solids, liquids and gases. I didn't want to do the same lesson all three times. Instead, I wanted to show these teachers different digital tools so they could share among their team. Of course we had to use the iPads for these lessons :) One class has had a lot of experience with iPads so we carried out an ADVANCED lesson. One class has used the iPads a few times this year so we carried out an INTERMEDIATE lesson. The third class had not used the iPads in school this year so we carried out a BEGINNER lesson... 


Erin from the blog, Technology Erintegration, and I were bouncing some ideas about these matter lessons involving iPads and I told her that I wanted to somehow make the molecules in each state of matter move. She suggested to use a stop motion app...BRILLIANT. Within a few days, Erin put together {THIS} amazing iPad resource and sent it my way. The trick to stop motion is to take A LOT (hundreds) of pictures, move your objects ever so slightly and have A LOT of patience. You will notice in the class movie below the groups who took their time and the groups who thought they could beat the system by taking less than 100 photos. Ha! Overall, I was truly impressed how the students made the molecules in a solid keep their shape, molecules in a liquid take on the shape of the container they are in and molecules in a gas float around and take the entire shape of the container. Check out their videos:

Taylor from Julie on Vimeo.
I highly recommend purchasing this resource from Erin's TpT Store.


This app smash used the free apps Doodle Buddy and FaceTalker. Students scanned a QR code that took them to a matter template that I had created in PowerPoint, saved as a jpeg and uploaded to Comemories. They saved the template to their camera roll and imported it as a background in Doodle Buddy. I passed out stylus pens (THESE are super cheap on Amazon and work pretty well if used properly) for the next step. Students used the smiley face emojis to stamp out the molecules in solids, liquids and gases, drew arrows to show movement and saved that to the camera roll. We then imported the Doodle Buddy creation into the app, FaceTalker, replaced the scientist's head with our own head and then recorded our explanation. Whew! Lots of steps but the kids rolled with it. Check out some of their creations:
  Thayer's Matter from Julie on Vimeo.

If you are interested in carrying out this exact project, check out this matter activity I have in my TpT store.

If you are not fully comfortable with using iPads, then this beginner lesson would be for you! Students can either find an image of the molecules in the 3 states of matter to save to the camera roll (you can use websites like Photos for Class, Pixabay or Morgue File), take an actual picture or you can preload one into a Google folder or Comemories site and create a QR code for students to scan. We used Chatterkid to make the picture come alive and talk. Chatterkid does such a great job walking students (and teacher) through step by step of the process! Check out the class movie:

  Matter from Julie on Vimeo.

Math is Real Life Linky: Math on the Spot

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Hey everyone! I am linking up with Miss Math Dork for her Math is Real Life monthly linky.

Today I wanted to share an incredible GROWING resource that I am working on with my fellow ITRT clan. It is called...

This is a place our teachers (grades 3-5) to go to find REAL LIFE videos of math in action in the world around us. We (ITRTs) are the actors and actresses so we aren't talking Oscar winning flicks. However, the kids are LOVING the scenes and even the MATH involved!

For instance, our Yogurt Probability movie was filmed at our local Sweet Frog. What child doesn't love Sweet Frog (besides the lactose intolerant)?  We explore probability and making different combinations of ice cream flavors, something students do all of the time without realizing it. I actually had a child tell me the other day, "Mrs. Smith, I went to Sweet Frog last night and couldn't stop thinking about that Math on the Spot video". YEEEEES!! This is EXACTLY what we wanted to happen...awareness of math in the world around us.

The other day I was "hanging" with a small group of 5th grade students during our Tech Takeout Day at one of the elementary schools. We were just randomly talking and one of the girls brought up Sweet Frog. The others in our group jumped on the topic and I KNEW that would be such a great time to introduce them to our site. After explaining what we had done at Sweet Frog this year, they were anxious to see the video. We started watching a little bit and then had to move onto our next activity for Tech Takeout. Those kids were so disappointed to turn it off. They quickly got out scraps of paper and wrote down the web address. Apparently it was "so cool" that we had created videos in our community and they couldn't wait to check them out at home. YEEEEES!!!

Also included with these videos are "Spot Checks". These digital activities can be carried out if your students have Google accounts. 

For instance, our "Hooray for Arrays" video, in which we visit one of our local high schools to bake cupcakes with some students who won our county's "Cupcake Wars", has a Google Slides presentation as the Spot Check in which students drag cupcake tins and cupcakes to make an array match a multiplication word problem.

Like I said, this is a GROWING resource. We have three videos and Spot Checks posted so have fun checking them out with your students. Click {HERE} for the link to the Math on the Spot site!

A huge SHOUT OUT goes to Henrico's Education Foundation for providing us with funds to purchase high quality video equipment to film our next episodes :)

Top Creative Classroom Ideas from 2015

Thursday, December 31, 2015

As an ITRT who serves FOUR different K-5 elementary schools I am in A LOT of classrooms each week which means I get to see A LOT of really awesome things happening! This year teachers absolutely blew my mind with their classroom management techniques, creative projects and overall innovative ideas. Here just a few of the hundreds of incredible ideas I observed this year that many amazing teachers implemented in their rooms.


Using Hula Hoops to teach personal space:

I LOVED this the moment I stepped foot into this kindergarten classroom. This teacher has her students grab a hula hoop when they are doing cut and paste activities. All supplies have to be kept inside of the hula hoop. WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THIS??

glitter maker
Pedal Desks keep students moving!

4th grade teacher, Beth Waggoner, wrote a grant to get pedal desks FOR HER STUDENTS. I had never seen them before so imagine my excitement when I stepped foot into her classroom at the beginning of the year :) She was able to purchase two large tables that fit three students each. Click the image below to take you to a site about these pedal desks:


Read to Self Post-It Note Anchor Chart:

This picture was taken in Katie Taylor's 5th grade classroom
I LOVE these symbols students use on their stickies as they are engaged in read to self time! They truly can make connections :) 


I have heard of Clock Buddies to partner up students. I used Compass Buddies in my 2nd grade classroom. But this year I saw iPals/Speed Dial Buddies/iPhone a Friend (whatever you want to call it!) to partner up students in a class. A student teacher in one of the 3rd grade classrooms shared this idea with me. Her professor had shared it with the class. Brilliant! The kids absolutely LOVED pulling out their phones to find their speed dial partner for different activities.

glitter maker
One day in October I visited this 1st grade teacher's classroom and noticed a child's outfit hanging up on her front board. Come to find out, she hangs up the outfits she wore that month when SHE was in 1st grade! I bet her students eat this up. I know I would look forward to seeing her different outfits each month. What a great way to connect with your students!

glitter maker
I LOVE this visual for the 3 States of Matter this 2nd grade teacher posted outside of her classroom. Each child cut out a picture of themselves to represent an atom. Together as a class they arranged the atoms as they would appear in each state of matter. Easy, cute and an effective visual!

One of my favorite activities I witnessed this year was created by a 2nd grade teacher, Mr.Vanlandingham, who used Tug-of-War to get his students thinking about equalities. We gathered in the gym and had the students bring their white boards, markers and erasers. Mr. V invited a random number of boys and girls to each side of the rope. Those who were seated on the side line wrote the equation (#boys+#girls)___(#boys+#girls). They solved their equation by doing the addition, comparing with the equal/unequal sign and then tested out the equation with a little Tug-of-War! This was such a creative way to teach this difficult concept and the students (and teachers) had a blast!

I got so excited the other week when I walked into a kindergarten classroom and saw this musical jewelry box sitting on the teacher's reading table. I had the same exact jewelry box when I was a little girl and it was my absolute favorite. Students were spread about the room engaged in all sorts of different centers and it was time for us to gather together for a technology lesson. All the teacher had to do was open the jewelry box and the soft, sweet music filled the air. The students immediately started to clean up and head to the carpet. IT WAS LIKE MAGIC. The teacher shared that she had learned about it at a conference and that children are more responsive to a gradual, soft sound rather than a jarring, loud bell. I had never thought of that.
Those are just a few of MANY amazing ideas I observed this year! Looking forward to what 2016 has in store :)


FaceTalker App

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

I recently stumbled upon the FREE app, FaceTalker, and can't WAIT to get back to school and try it out with the kids. Okay, so maybe I can waaaaaaait; however, I'm pumped to try this out with the primary folks. It is one of those apps that is so super easy that even the young ones can create a snazzy project.

FaceTalker is another app that makes creations come alive and talk. If you have been following my blog for awhile then you will know how I like to take advantage of any opportunity for students to explain their thinking with an avatar app. Now I have a new one to add to our toolbox!

This app allows you to take any photo from your Photo Library and make it talk. You can accomplish this two ways. One, you can add the mouth wherever you like on the one image and record. Two (my favorite), you cut out a face that will do all of the talking and put it on another photo from your Photo Library to serve as your background image. Unlike other similar apps, I do not think there is a recording time limit! Woo hoo!

Here are a few ideas/examples that I quickly threw together for using this app in your classroom. Students can take a selfie and put their face on anyone or anything they are learning about in class!

White Tailed Deer from Julie on Vimeo.

Ancient Egypt from Julie on Vimeo.

Book Talk Summary from Julie on Vimeo.

Here is one I made using the background and stamps in Doodle Buddy. I saved this to the Camera Roll before pulling it into FaceTalker.

Math from Julie on Vimeo.

I made this one the same way except that I pulled this New Year's Resolution background I made into Doodle Buddy before drawing those beautiful vegetables :P

Resolution from Julie on Vimeo.

If you are interested in grabbing this New Year's Resolution FREEBIE, click the image below to take you to the FREE download:

Once you save the New Year's resolution template to the iPad's camera roll, open Doodle Buddy and set it as the background:

Draw in your body under the hat and a picture representation of your New Year's resolution:

If you would rather type a sentence to explain your resolution then click on the "Tt" tool to add text.

If you have never used the app, FaceTalker, and would like to carry out one of these projects, then follow these directions.

First, have your students get two images onto their camera roll by taking a selfie and finding an image from a copyright free website.

How else could we use this app in the classroom? I am interested in hearing YOUR ideas. Maybe you have already used it! Please share in the comments below :)