¿Qué animal es?

Our first grade children have created the cutest project in Spanish class with Sra. Ross. Here’s what she said about the animal project:

As part of our farm animal unit, we discussed using tiene, it has, to describe the different body parts each animal has.  We talked about what color the animal is using es, it is, learned the vocabulary for each part, discussed how many parts each animal has, and also what actions the animals do.

In Spanish, the students had written a description on the first page and written and illustrated the answer on the second.

Sra. Ross asked what we could do to record the students and get their work uploaded to Seesaw digital portfolios. Since there were two pages to this, I thought Book Creator would be perfect. The children could make their book and then air drop that to be combined for a class book. The class books could be placed on the class iPads so that students could practice listening and practicing their understanding of Spanish.

For my part, I created a template in Book Creator and air dropped that to each iPad. I then went into each iPad to personalize each book with student and teacher’s names. The children can set this up but I find it saves a LOT of time, especially for the younger students, to prepare as much as possible ahead of time!

In the first class, we had the students take a photo of  each paper using the camera that’s built in to Book Creator. In that class, only 6 students completed their book (steps to completion:  take photos, insert into Book Creator, record the  Spanish, let Sra. Ross listen to it, and air drop the book to me. For a 30 minute class, that was TOO MUCH to do! We only had about 6 people complete their book.

After that class, I suggested that we take the photos and insert them into the books before students arrived. That was SO much better!

Once Sra. Ross checked the work, the students came to me where they added  page colors to their books then they air dropped them to me.

Two of the three classes completed their books. The books were saved in the ePub book format as well as a video. Here’s one of the videos (the title slide was created with the Assembly app).

Instructions for Downloading Books:

  • In order to read the books, you will need to have the iBooks app installed.
  • Tap on the link while on an iOS device (iPad or iPhone).
  • Choose download.
  • Choose open in iBooks.

Mrs. Kee’s Class book

Mrs. Crumley’s Class book


En Mi Mochila Tengo . . .

I am SO excited about our Kinder-First grade Spanish teacher’s project! Sra. Ross has done this activity with her first graders for a few years and, wanting to use Seesaw to share this with parents, asked me to be the “tech” help.

Sra. Ross’ students have been learning the Spanish names for school items. To help practice what they had learned, they wrote and illustrated various items (pencils, crayons, etc) that they would find in their backpacks. They practiced how to say, “En mi mochila tengo . . .” (In my backpack, I have . . .)

She brought each class to the lab where I offered tips on taking good photos of their work. (I certainly was no help with the Spanish!)

Then, they recorded what they’d written.

Before posting, the children checked in with Sra. Ross so she could help with pronunciation.

Sra. Ross’ bulletin board will feature the students’ work along with QR codes to scan so others can hear their voices. What better way for parents to listen to their children speaking another language! Thankful that Seesaw makes this such an easy process.

Below are some samples of how they did.

Coding Unplugged: Great Ways to Introduce Concepts

I found the best tool at a teacher supply store last summer – magnetic arrows!

I’m not sure what the maker had in mind for these, but they are absolutely PERFECT for practicing coding movements on the board!

One of the best and most comprehensive (and free) coding curriculum is from code.org. There are many excellent programs and apps available but I highly recommend this be a integral part of a coding program, especially for elementary ages. Besides the student activities, there are numerous resources available for teachers. One such resource is called “Happy Maps” where students tell Flurb (see below) which way to go to get the fruit.

Meet Flurb!

Last year, we used arrows to point the directions to move. The magnets I purchased have a turn arrow which is great for truly showing the sequence of steps necessary to reach the fruit.

After reviewing the vocabulary:

  • algorithm – a list of steps that you can follow to finish a task
  • program – an algorithm that has been coded into something that can be run by a machine

I ask how Flurb can get to the apple. With all the volunteers, we could spend the entire time moving arrows!

After one child has placed arrows and moved Flurb, I ask if there is another way to reach the apple. We spend a lot of time talking about being able to have several solutions to get to the same result. Of course, fixing and trying again (debugging) are extremely important parts of the computational thinking process.


After a few students have tried progressively harder puzzles, we move to the iPads and code.org. I encourage students to “walk out” the solution when they get stuck. We’ll hold the iPad together and walk in the directions they need to go. Some students (me included!) need that extra kinesthetic approach. I always love watching children do just that – they talk quietly as they walk the steps they should take:

one step forward > turn right > two steps forward

As we wrap up the lesson, I always ask, “Did anyone get stuck?” A few hands slowly go up, as if they are unsure that they want anyone to know. Then I tell the children, “You know what I noticed? When you got stuck, not one person complained and said they couldn’t do it; that it was too hard. You didn’t give up. You kept trying. That’s what coders do!”

And, isn’t that what we do everyday in life?!?

Hour of Code: Ozobots!

What a hit! The students absolutely LOVE programming the tiny Ozobots! These are small robots that are programmable using color codes, the Ozobot app or the online Ozoblockly block-based program. What I love about these is that they can be adapted to several ages.

One first grade class entered the room, immediately noticed the Ozobots on each table, and suddenly I heard, “Oh, Oh, Oh, we get to do Ozobots!” This little boy was practically dancing with excitement; even rushing over to give me a hug.

Some of the second, third, and fourth grade classes were asked to video their paths and codes to upload to Seesaw journals while explaining what Ozobots are and what they do.

Here’s an example:

These fourth grade students did a fantastic job with their explanations. I see a future in sales! 

Ozobots are a fun and easy way to introduce computational thinking to children. It’s easy to adapt these robots to any age.


Making the Grinch Grin!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss, is one of my favorite books! When Mrs. Kee, a first grade teachers, came to me wanting to incorporate technology for “Grinch Day,” I jumped into brainstorming mode.

She wanted to have the students come up with ways to make the Grinch grin, and wondered if the Seesaw app would be an appropriate tool for this. I agreed that Seesaw would be perfect for this.

Using the DRAW tool in Seesaw, the children illustrated what they would do to make the Grinch grin. Before posting to their journal, they recorded what they would do. They came up with some very creative methods.

Here are samples from all of our first grade classes:

And, for the true meaning of Christmas . . .

Don’t you just love these cute drawings? And, wouldn’t this make a fun class book? The Book Creator app would be perfect for this activity. Hmmm. . . perhaps I’ll do that!

Can’t Stay Away from Emojis!

I’m not really fond of emojis (except for texting) because I think words are much more effective. Does that show my age?? My rule to students when writing online is, “No emojis!”

Recently, I came across an activity from a teacher using Seesaw and the Note feature where young students wrote an “All About Me” story using words along with emojis. Since we are in the process of implementing Seesaw for Schools, I’m working with all classes to introduce them to the many features of the program. Knowing that ALL children desperately want to use emojis in any kind of work that requires typing on an iPad, I thought this would be the perfect way to incorporate writing using the Note choice.

Oh my! Were they excited! I wrote some sentence starters on the board along with a word bank that we added to as needed and off they went.

I learned a lot more about the students and their families just by reading their stories.

Was it hard for first graders to find letters on the keyboard? Yes, but because they were going back and forth between the emojis and letters, no one was frustrated.

Could they have used more time than we had? Of course! Kids can always think of more ways to use emojis in their stories.

This activity was also done with grades 2, 3, and 4 and was a HUGE success. It’s a great way to get “emoji fever” out of the way as students share more about themselves.

We Love Dot Hunts!

I LOVE International Dot Day! The celebration is based on Peter H. Reynold’s book, The Dot, about a little girl who learns to “make her mark” to see where it takes her.

Mrs. Crumley’s first graders once again gathered for a dot hunt around campus. What fun to see the energy of little first graders as they scampered around searching for anything that resembled a dot! Enjoy this short video.

Mrs. Crumley’s Class Looks for Dots from Trinity Valley School on Vimeo.

The Uplifting Words of Children

For the last technology lab of the year, I provided the first graders with several options:  Ozobots, Osmo Coding, and links on my website (TVS TechnoWizards).

As I walked around the room interacting with the kids, I came upon two students who were working on creating paths for their Ozobots. They were each working on their own paper so I asked, “What do you think might happen if you joined the papers?”

The reaction was great! One of those “wow” moments as they scooted their papers together! Then came the sweet words of children . . .

Child 1:  “Wow! You’re really smart!”

Child 2:  “Yeah, you are REALLY smart!”

Child 1:  “I wish I could have you as my computer teacher in college.”

Teaching doesn’t get much better than that!

Little Bo Peep’s Sheep: “Why are they always lost?”

Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep
and doesn’t know where to find them.
Leave them alone and they’ll come home
wagging their tails behind them.

I love nursery rhymes and fairy tales and, after doing a couple of design thinking activities with second grade with the fairy tale theme, decided to try something with first grade. While searching on the Teachers Pay Teachers site, I discovered STEM and Mother Goose: Nursery Rhymes with Engineering. After sharing the idea with the first grade teachers, I found that they had just finished a unit on nursery rhymes. Perfect timing! We chose “Little Bo Peep” primarily because we already had several of the materials.

However, when I asked the students who knew the Little Bo Peep rhyme, I was shocked that very few had heard of it! My boys grew up with nursery rhymes and fairy tales, but they are now in their thirties. I guess these aren’t as popular as in the past! Oh well, that didn’t stop the activity – I read the rhyme a couple of times and talked about poor Little Bo Peep who just couldn’t keep up with her sheep! We discussed what prototype meant and said that they’d be using straws, popsicle sticks, and/or coffee stirs to construct their model. Playdoh would be used to hold it together. The prototype would need to hold at least 6 cotton balls (which represented the sheep).

We used the The Launch Cycle model, developed by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani as our design thinking guide. I asked the students to first think what Little Bo Peep needed to keep her sheep in one spot. This was so hard because the children wanted to draw and discuss immediately. Think time was short; less than a minute for this age. Next, I asked the children to draw their ideas on paper; again without talking.

Finally, students were allowed to discuss and improve on their ideas. Lots of talking and hand motions occurred as they really got into the planning stage! Then, the materials were chosen and the building began.

As we walked around the room, listening to the conversations, we heard fantastic collaboration and encouragement.

“Don’t lose confidence,” said one child to another when frustration was expressed.

Another group was asked by their teacher if the sheep could hop out of the low pen. In an exasperated voice, the makers replied, “No! It’s a protype!” She almost got the new vocabulary word – prototype!

Another group was describing their structure and the girl started with, “Well, Mary Bo Peep needs a pen because she keeps losing all her sheep.” Love the combination of nursery rhymes!

We didn’t finish the first week but that was fine. The following week, the children were SO excited to return to the lab to get their pen built. In the second session, I also asked the kids to take a photo in the Seesaw app and record something about their design.

Sometimes we’re hesitant to try design thinking activities with our younger students. After watching the collaboration and listening to the conversations, I’m convinced this is a vital part of learning. These children AMAZED me! Is it messy? Oh, yes! Is it worth it? Definitely!!

Links for other class videos:

Mrs. Crumley’s video

Mrs. Hutchinson’s video

Ozobots Having Fun with Dr. Seuss!

Ozobots, Ozoeasy sticker codes, and Dr. Seuss!! How much fun is that??

Ozobots are fantastic tiny robots that can be programmed by either drawing in a color code combination or by using the drag and drop Ozoblockly online program. I love these little robots because all ages can use them; they grow with the child.

However, what we’ve discovered with the younger children is that it can be difficult to draw the codes “just right” so that the Ozobot can read them. That’s why I was thrilled to discover the Ozoeasy sticker codes this year. These small round stickers were created by an 8 year old – always fun to tell students that even young children can become an entrepreneur!

Enter the Dr. Seuss theme! Using PowerPoint (Only because I wanted precise lines!), I created a couple of “hats” to go with The Cat and the Hat.

The first hat the children worked with had only one place to draw a connecting line – at the top. The students were asked to choose a color other than black to connect the lines. After demonstrating how the code stickers worked, we talked about best places to add those. For example, the codes have to have black lines on either side and they can’t be too close to a corner. Students were also encouraged to draw colored lines across the hat.

After exploring the triangular hat, we moved onto the other template. This one had breaks in the black lines. The children could draw their own code, place a code sticker on a line, or add a connecting line of a color other than black.

What fun observing as the children discovered how the Ozobot reacted to the colored lines and the codes!

As our time together drew to a close, we regrouped to talk about our observations.

What happened when Ozobot rolled over a line that was a color other than black? What did you discover about Ozobot moving in opposite directions as it traveled over a code sticker? What did you learn about drawing your own codes?

Here are the templates of the hats. There are a couple of options included for each design.

hat template