Celebrating Presidents’ Day

What would a second grader do if he or she happened to be president for a day? The students were able to write their thoughts using a template available in Kidspiration.

The students uploaded their self-portrait that they had previously drawn in Microsoft’s Paint program. They really enjoyed labeling their pictures as “President ___________” with their name filling in the blank. Then the children typed in three statements of what they would do if they were president. Young children really do have a grasp of what is going on the world!

 Once the work had been printed, a couple of the teachers put them on bulletin boards.

The students also conducted research to learn more about presidential pets.

Did you know . . .

  • Calvin Coolidge had a pygmy hippo, lion cubs, and a wallaby?
  • John Quincy Adams raised silkworms?
  • Theodore Roosevelt had a badger named Josiah?

The students discovered lots of new, little-known facts about our presidents!


Gifts of the Heart: Creating an eBook with Second Graders

I so enjoy sharing what our teachers do with technology and, although I’m a bit late in posting this, it’s too good NOT to share!

Before the winter holidays, Mrs. Cooper, one of our second grade teachers, wanted to build on her lesson of “Holiday Traditions Around the World.” Each year she reads the book, The Legend of the Poinsettia, by Tomie dePaola. The class discusses traditions of Las Posados in Mexico but this year she took it a step further. During the rereading of the book, Mrs. Cooper asked her students to draw a scene or a picture that came to mind as they were inspired by the simple gift that Lucida was able to give to the Baby Jesus in lieu of the beautiful blanket she intended to give.

Mrs. Cooper chose to have the students do this on the iPads.  Each student picked one of the drawing apps (Drawing Box, Art Set, or Color Box HD) and worked on their drawing as they listened to the story. When the drawings were complete, the students emailed the illustration to me (new experience and they did extremely well!).

The next step was to write a statement about the meaning of a “gift from the heart” – this was done in their journals.

I pulled everything together in the Book Creator app and then had the students record their voice as they read their statement. Book Creator is a wonderfully easy, yet powerful way to make an ebook to share with parents. This was a class book made on a single iPad but it’s easy enough for students to do on their own!

Here is a short video showing how Mrs. Cooper and her students went through the bookmaking process.

The Making of an eBook from Trinity Valley School on Vimeo.

This was a fun and meaningful way to share student work with parents. It took a bit longer than planned – but only because the days before a long holiday are extremely busy! We weren’t able to finish the book till January but that’s alright! The students enjoyed the project and are thrilled that they have a book that they can read on their iOS devices.

Link to Mrs. Cooper’s class book: The Book Creator app only allows you to open the ePub book on an iOS device that has the iBooks app (i.e. iPad, iPhone, iTouch); not on a PC. Downloading instructions are below the book link. We hope you enjoy their book!

Mrs. Cooper’s Class Book: Gifts of the Heart

Directions to download to your iOS device:

  • You will need the iBooks app installed on your iOS device.
  • Click on the book link above.
  • Tap on the download button.
  • Choose Open in iBooks
  • The book is now in iBooks.

If you do not have an iOS device, click below for the PDF version. This is the print copy of the ebook. You will not be able to hear the recordings or view the video from this but you will be able to read the story.
Gifts of the Heart pdf


Second Grade Celebrates Dot Day

Our second graders are now finished with their dot creations, also drawn in Microsoft’s Paint program. Again, we had a wide variety of illustrations. Some chose a more abstract approach while others decided to make their dot into an animal, etc. Ren drew a skunk thinking about M&Ms!

Ava drew her dog inside a picture frame.

Raegan used bright colors as she created her picture with a big dot and a little dot.

Now, enjoy the ALL the second grade dot pictures. We have a grade filled with creative students!

“There’s No Right or Wrong?”

Are students so conditioned to giving a correct answer that they get “stuck” if there’s not a “right” one?

I read The Dot by Peter Reynolds to our second graders when they came to the lab yesterday. My statement to the children was, “Raise your hand if you are an artist.” I was delighted to see every hand waving in the air; a few were a bit more tentative than others! We talked about being an artist in different areas – music, lego builder, photographer, athlete, etc.

We then brainstormed what you could do with a dot made on Microsoft Paint program. Answers ranged from animals to planets to solar systems to flowers and more.

As the students returned to their computers to get started on their dot picture, I heard a small questioning voice, “There’s no right or wrong?” He seemed as if he was confirming to himself that, yes, it was okay to explore.

“Yes,” I announced, “You are the artist. You decide what to draw and share!”

Dr. Seuss Week eBooks

For our Parents:

In celebration of Seuss week, we have done a variety of activities in the computer lab. First graders read Wacky Wednesday, by Dr. Seuss and created a “wacky” self-portrait in MS Paint. For silly sock day, the 2nd graders illustrated their colorful socks or their sock monkey. After reading My Many Colored Days, the 3rd graders wrote their own color poems and added clip art.

The 1st and 2nd grade pictures have been combined and converted to ePub books which can be opened in iBooks (free app from iTunes store) or Adobe Digital Editions software (free download for PC and MacOS). If you have a Nook reader and Adobe Digital Editions, you can transfer the books to the Nook (the formatting isn’t perfect but it still works). The ePub books will not work on a Kindle.

The 3rd grade poems have been saved in PDF files which should be able to be opened on any computer.

You will need to have either iBooks or Adobe Digital Editions on your iPad (or other iOS device)/computer in order to open and read the ePub books. If you have an iPad or iTouch with the iBook app, you should get a message asking if you want to open in iBooks. If you are on a PC with Adobe Digital Editions, the ePub book will open in that software and you can then plug your Nook into the computer’s USB port and drag the book to the Nook. You can also read the book straight from Adobe Digital Editions software.

Click on the following links to open in iBooks or with Adobe Digital Editions.

Cantrell Wacky Self-Portraits

Kee Wacky Self-Portraits

Orehek Wacky Self-Portraits

Cooper Silly Socks

Garcia Silly Socks

Shapard Silly Socks

The third grade poems are in PDFs and can be opened on any computer. You should also be able to open the files in iBooks or Adobe Digital Editions.

Gramentine Color Poems

Prescott Color Poems

Weth Color Poems

Dr. Seuss Projects

The 1st graders finished their self-portraits this week and I added their faces to the drawings. Here are a few samples:



 Second graders drew their silly sock (or sock monkeys) pictures using MS Paint. Photoscape was used to combine the illustrations into a paper quilt.


One 4th grade class met with me during Seuss week. It was Crazy Hat day and the students certainly enjoyed drawing the very interesting hats that adorned their heads!

It was a fun week!


Playing or Learning?

One of our techno savvy 2nd grade teachers, Mrs. Cooper, offered to host a group of TCU students wanting to observe technology integration in the classroom. She thought about presenting a new lesson but eventually decided to have the students share and teach the college visitors using iPads. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been working on creating VoiceThreads based on the water cycle (a topic studied by the younger students). Since VoiceThread is a collaborative tool, the students wanted to share their work with the visitors and then invite them to leave comments. It was a fabulous way for the children to “teach” others about how this application worked! The college students were wonderful – leaving comments on as many VoiceThreads as possible. Some left written comments while others recorded theirs.

The next activity was to share Mrs. Cooper’s blog with our visitors. Mrs. Cooper had written a post inviting student comments on an opera we saw this morning. The 2nd graders went right to work – opened the blog, logged in, and entered their comment. Several also shared a biopoem that had been written earlier in the year. Of course, they encouraged the college students to leave comments on their posts!

The only problem we encountered was that a handful of iPads weren’t able to connect to the wifi so we had a few disappointed students. However, with others quickly offering to share an iPad, all turned out well.

It was very exciting to watch the learning that was occurring. There was a busy buzz within the room, lots of talking but not one person was off-task. One of our faculty members happened to walk by and asked, “Are they playing games?” Hence the title of the post! Why do some folks think that iPads + happy interaction = playing games? These students were so focused on sharing, teaching, and learning. They didn’t need games to be actively involved!

Here are a few pictures from today’s events.

2nd Grade Success!

We have ALL of the 2nd graders recorded in VoiceThread. After a rough start a couple of weeks ago, the iPad app worked just as planned when the students created their own VoiceThread. It’s so much fun to watch the students as they quickly grasp the technology (and help their teachers learn how to do it!). We had student photographers taking pictures of the process (they loved that job!) and hopefully this weekend, I’ll create an animoto to share.

Here are a few examples.








How Much Can be Accomplished in 40 Minutes?

Not much if technology doesn’t work as expected!

Our second graders have been involved in some wonderful learning activities in which the students rotated through each classroom to learn about whales, the water cycle, and poetry. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to take what had been learned and use VoiceThread to share their thoughts.

Each student illustrated a picture in MS Paint and I compiled the drawings into class VoiceThreads. That seems to be where my problems began! For whatever reason, the first class was unable to record their comments using the iPads. Since the VoiceThread app had worked perfectly a few days earlier, I wonder if trying to have 5 or 6 students logged onto the same VoiceThread prevents this. Who knows? But, with another class coming into the lab, I had to make some quick adjustments! I went back to what has been working for the 4th graders – individual VoiceThreads. The students created theirs and then we started recording – no problems at all! We didn’t get everyone recorded but we’re off to a good start.

Lessons learned: Try to think of and test every possible situation and ALWAYS have a back up plan!!

Learning About Snow

Since we generally don’t get much snow in Texas (with the exception of the past 2 years!), our students enjoy learning about this topic.

from Microsoft Clip Art gallery

Second graders learn about the water cycle at this time of year so snow is always fun and interesting to discuss (not to mention wishful thinking). The teachers start by reading Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and learn about his amazing work photographing snowflakes. When the students come to the lab we begin the “Snow Quest.” I have them work in pairs as they learn to search for information and write answers to a few questions.

Besides learning about Wilson Bentley, the students explore other winter topics including hibernation, conditions needed for snow, and more. Here are some of the websites we use.

The following site does not contribute to the educational value of the lesson but it’s always a favorite! (It does help develop fine motor and visualization skills!) Make-a-Flake allows viewers to vitually cut a snowflake. Take a look at the gallery to see what other people create.

If our Texas winters don’t always bring snow, at least we have some fun, interactive ways to learn about it!