After a couple of weeks learning all kinds of fantastic animal information, I asked the little ones to illustrate and tell about their favorite animal. Since they had learned about classifications, I also asked that they tell what the animal was and whether it was a mammal, fish, bird, etc and why.
We used the Book Creator app for this project. It’s the perfect app for students to illustrate, write, and record – all in one place. To show how intuitive this app is, this was the first time the kindergarteners had used Book Creator. In a 30 minute session, they were able to learn the basics, draw their picture, record, AND airdrop their book to me! Pretty amazing!
After deciding that dinosaurs and unicorns weren’t the best choice for this particular book, the students began their illustrations. They did such a fabulous job filling up the page with their animal and adding details that showed its habitat.
As students finished drawing, they scattered to find a quiet place to record. Some even wrote a script before recording!
The final step was to airdrop to me so that I could combine all individual books into one class book.
As I listened to the pages, I couldn’t help but chuckle at some of the recordings. Did you know that, “A pig is the most rare animal in the world?” and “Humpback whales can weigh over 300 million pounds?” One boy remarked, “My cow looks orange and they are supposed to be brown and actually black. I know that but I couldn’t find the brown. I’m sorry. So let’s just deal with it as a cow! Okay?” So, not all the facts are quite correct but they really had LOTS of information in their heads and shared it the best they could! 🙂
Tony Vincent, when he visited our school in April, shared how to sketch over a photo in Keynote. Click here for his directions.
Not knowing at all how this would turn out, I decided to have the 2nd graders try sketching their self-portraits. We did discuss that this was just a time to practice and that it would most likely be rather challenging.
The students started out with taking a selfie. They were encouraged to take a fairly tight shot which would make it easier for the drawing. Then we went through the steps in Tony’s excellent “how-to” sheet. The students did a fantastic job following the instructions and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such concentration!
This was HARD! But, NO ONE complained, which made me super proud of these wonderful second graders. They really stuck with it!
What we discovered:
It is SO much easier to use a pointed stylus than one of the cheap ones we have in the lab. I have an Apple Pencil and it was perfect for this activity. Sadly, it’s really too expensive to purchase class sets of good styluses.
A selfie is probably NOT the best choice for attempting a sketch for the very first time. Perhaps a cup or an apple . . .
One of the teachers told me later that she sat next to a student who talked herself through the drawing, saying, “Come on. You can do it. Yes, it’s hard, but we’re not giving up. It’s looking good. Keep trying!”
Don’t you love that? What a valuable tool to have!
None of the classes finished the drawings. Surprisingly, no one even complained about that. When asked what they thought of the activity, the students reported that it was fun.
“Even if it was hard?” I asked. A resounding YES was the answer! We’ll be doing more sketching in the days to come.
To prepare for the visit, our students have been learning all about these two wonderful ladies as well as exploring the many books they have authored and illustrated.
To bring in a technology aspect, I checked out the “Crummel/Stevens” cart of books and asked our first graders to choose one for a book talk using the ChatterPix Kids app. This is a fun (and favorite) app where a picture is added then a mouth is drawn and students record.
After tips on taking a great photo of the book cover (fill the screen!), the students went off to read their books and then scattered to find a quiet place to record.
ChatterPix allows only 30 seconds to record which is usually enough time, as long as you know what to say! For younger students, 30 seconds can be a challenge. And, we did talk about this! What I discovered as I listened to the recordings was that few students re-recorded if they were cut off – not sure why they didn’t try again. Oh, well . . .
After students added their name and saved the video, they airdropped to me so that I could compile them on a Thinglink image. Here’s the work from Mrs. Crumley’s class.
Collaboration with teachers is SO much fun! Our kinder students just started learning about animals and their teachers wanted to have the students share their learning by creating videos.
A few weeks ago, Tony Vincent visited our school and taught a first grade lesson using the website, Unite for Literacy. Although the book choice isn’t huge on this site, there are several animal books. The nice thing is that students can choose to listen to the book as they read so they don’t get bogged down with harder vocabulary.
We decided to split the lesson into two 30 minute parts since there was quite a bit involved. Students needed to read their story. Then, they were to use ChatterPix Kids (free) to tell about their animal.
For the first session, we started with practicing how to take a screen shot since we wanted a photo of a favorite picture from the book to upload to ChatterPix. Next, the students were given an animal card with a QR code that took them directly to the book they were to read. Once scanned, we went on a picture walk through the book – we didn’t take time to read or listen to the story. The goal was to find a favorite image and screen shot it. Then, we asked the children to listen to the story two times. Each child received a piece of paper where they could write the name of their animal and jot down facts they wanted to share. You should have seen the little ones taking notes!
The next day the students returned to the iLab. Armed with their notes and iPads, we walked through the ChatterPix for Kids app, getting everyone to the point where their photo from the previous day was uploaded and ready to record.
For this project, we only allowed students to add their name. Kids can get carried away with the stickers available in ChatterKid. Since those served no purpose, they were off-limits for the day!
After all the videos had been airdropped to me, I pulled them into Thinglink, onto a map where I tried to place the link where the animal lived. Thinglink is a fabulous way to add links, annotations, videos, etc to an image.
Here are links to the Thinglinks for the other two classes:
Our two sessions were super busy but the students were amazing in how they approached the task – listening intently to learn about their animal and then sharing what they learned. I was able to take several photos from Mrs. Rea’s class to show the process of what the children did.
After a successful bridge building experience with second graders, I decided to give it a try with the third graders. The idea (from Playground Park Bench blog) is based on the book, 21 Elephants and Still Standing, a true story about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. Click here to read the last post for information on the process.
This time I added pool noodles to the supplies. By the second class, it was apparent that those made the building process too easy. As a result, the last class didn’t get that option!
Notice how close the supports are in this video. The students forgot they needed room for boats to go under the bridge!
What surprised me was that the second graders actually had more detailed drawings in their design process. But, the older students had the vocabulary with much talk about supports, beams, etc.
Here’s a look at the process.
It’s interesting to see how each age approaches the challenge. Listening to their planning processes is amazing! I absolutely LOVED how respectful the students were to each other as they planned, built, and made changes. I’m eager to try this with first graders!
To go along with the second grader’s Fairy Tale unit, Mrs. Garcia’s class came to the iLab to design a latch for the three bears. The idea came from a STEM Fairy Tale Unit called, A Latch for the Three Bears, by Sarah Wiggins. Click here to find it on the TeachersPayTeachers site.
Of course, Goldilocks should NEVER have gone into the Bears’ house without asking. However, shouldn’t the Bears have locked their door?
A latch had to be attached to the cardstock door so that students could demonstrate how it worked.
Cardstock paper folded into 3 sections to create the “door” to the cottage, Bobby pins, straws, q-tips, bottle caps, masking tape, craft sticks, glue
The students were introduced to the task as well as the materials available to them.We did have to explain what a latch was – that’s not exactly a common word anymore! Before sending them to their tables, I asked the children to individually think how they might combine the materials to create a latch. The next step was to brainstorm with their partner and start sketching ideas. The students then drew designs on the tables and discussed with their partners which to try.
As the students built, they often revised their plans. A couple groups had enough time to test both designs they had drawn. We did have a few students who focused more on drawing the inside of the bears’ house rather than designing the latch first. Another group felt like the house needed a fence first so they built that which meant that they ran out of time to make the latch.
After completing the task, the students were asked to upload their design to Seesaw where they were to explain how their latch worked.
Here are some samples:
Here’s a look at the students hard at work!
Mrs. Garcia’s Class
Mrs. Shapard’s Class
Next time I’ll be sure to tell students the latch is the most important thing to design and build – nothing else! IF there is time, then they can go back to add additional details (drawing the bears inside the house, adding outside elements like fences).
The best part of this (or any) design challenge is listening to the students share ideas as they brainstorm, construct, and make changes to the design. You really learn a LOT! What I’ve found is that the quieter students that might not speak out in a whole-group setting, truly shine with activities like this.
Any kind of activity that’s open-ended and encourages creativity/problem-solving is something I love to use to challenge students. I came across this video from John Spencer and decided to try it with our third graders. Click here to view more of John’s videos!
The Challenge: Using the following supplies, create something that has a use.
2 pieces of paper
a few paper clips
a few rubber bands
8 or 9 inches of masking tape (Tape isn’t on the original supply list but, after watching the first class struggle, I decided to provide some tape.)
What I love about the video is how Spencer stresses that there is NO bad idea!
We began with asking students to brainstorm on their own. They could jot down ideas or draw them. I only gave them 60 seconds or so; usually students are so excited that they can’t keep quiet for too long! They’re very eager to get started!
The next step was for the group to discuss all ideas and then come up with a decision on what to create. Most groups did fine with this, although a very few struggled. It’s difficult to practice the give-and-take that is needed to collaborate but, it’s an extremely important skill to learn!
What was so interesting is that each class approached the challenge in different ways. With one class, every single group had the same idea – a slingshot! Granted, they were all different – but still, the same idea?!
The other classes provided more variety with their designs. One group designed a purse for their teacher. I wasn’t quite sure what role the marble played in the design, but was quickly told it went inside to check to see if the purse could actually hold things.
Here are a few other creations.
I wish the above group had explained more about their process. They built a bridge out of paper for the marble to roll on, but, what they discovered was that it rolled off the bridge every time. I overheard a member of the group exclaim, “We are ALL geniuses. We’re definitely NOT idiots!” That’s when the ideas really seemed to flow! The students came up with the idea of lining the bridge with paper clips. This provided a “railing” that kept the marble on the bridge.
This was hard for third graders! The type of supplies along with the limited number of items that could be used really was a stretch for the children. Even though some of the designs were similar and/or not too complicated, each group worked through the design process by planning, discussing, making changes, and sometimes, even starting over. The entire process was excellent practice and I have no doubt it will get easier as more challenges are presented!
Carrie Kunert, Beaverton School District Innovation Strategist, has compiled a huge selection of Seesaw Activity Links that she has graciously made available to anyone who would like to use them. In looking through the holiday section, I found one by Beth Saunders called Egg Decorating that I thought would be enjoyed by our younger students.
The directions are a bit small to read but the students were to roll a pair of dice that determined how they would decorate the egg.
In searching through my dice collection, I discovered traditional dice with the dots as well as dice with numerals. The students were placed in groups of two and they shared the dice. Then I added some instructions that differed slightly for each grade level.
Students took turns rolling. The idea was to have one child roll and both would draw what each person rolled. They started out doing that but ended up having the person who rolled the dice as the one who drew on their own egg. The hardest task was drawing stars – that’s difficult for this age. What was funny is that if stars were rolled, some students would roll again to get something easier to draw!
I had told the students that if they finished early, they could talk about their eggs. Below are a couple:
As one class left the lab, a little boy came to me to say, “I just loved decorating the egg. I LOVE coming to the lab almost more than ANYTHING!” That certainly made my day!
The directions I gave this grade were that they had to roll the dice for their partner; the partner would then draw what the dice indicated. They did a fantastic job working together, taking turns, and even agreeing on rule changes so that they ended up rolling favorite colors and decorating with what they wanted to draw.
It’s funny how something so simple can turn out to be so engaging! Don’t tell the students, but there was also quite a bit of learning going on:
listening to and following multi-step directions.
working with a partner and working out differences.
sharing and taking turns.
fine motor skills (drawing in small spaces).
communication and collaboration.
verbal expression for those that recorded.
even working through frustrations if they didn’t get the color they wanted!