A “Peeps” Look at Texas History

Marshmallow Peeps (image from Peeps website)

Have you ever wondered what happens to all those boxes of Peeps bunnies after Easter? In Mrs. Malone’s 4th grade Social Studies classes, they became a part of Texas history!

The students were asked to use the Peeps to create dioramas that would illustrate a part of Texas history, symbols/cities of our state, famous people, etc. Mrs. Malone asked me how we could use technology to share the information with others. I suggested Book Creator because this app has the ability to save the project as an ePub book OR as a video.

The 4th graders worked in groups of 3 or 4 to research their topic and then the diorama building began! Blue, yellow, purple, white, pink, orange marshmallow bunnies quickly became soldiers at the Alamo, students, cowboys, and SO MUCH more! Of course you can’t build with Peeps unless you are allowed to nibble, so each child had their very own for that purpose. The next step was using the iPad to take a photo of the finished diorama. The image was brought into the Book Creator app and the group recorded what they had learned. Then, each group emailed their book to me so that all could be merged into one book containing all the topics.

Below is the video version of the book.


Here is a link to the ePub version. (Remember to tap on the link while on an iOS device having the iBooks app installed. Choose Download > Open in iBooks)

A “Peep” at Texas History

What a fun way to learn and share some history of our state!

Amazing Alphabetical Alliterations

“Alliteration is the repetition of the same sound or letter at the beginning of most of the words in a sentence.” (definition from Young Writers’ Free Poetry Glossary)

When I discovered that Mrs. Gramentine’s third graders write alliterations for their spelling words, I asked her if she would like to find a way for the students to share their work. She jumped at the chance and the decision was made to create an ABC book of alliterations.

After brainstorming a variety of apps, we chose Book Creator for this project for two reasons:

  • It is VERY easy to use!
  • The work can be exported as an ePub (for reading in iBooks) and as a video (useful for those that don’t have an iOS device).

The students were assigned a letter (or two) and went to work writing some amazing alliterations! There was quite a bit of research going on in search of words that began with specific letters. Just try coming up with a string of Q words!

alliterationThe next step was to draw a picture that went with their letter. Because the students are very familiar with the Microsoft Paint program and are used to creating incredible illustrations, we chose this over iPad apps. Yes, it would be much easier to use a drawing app because the illustrations are right there on the iPad and therefore, readily available for pulling into Book Creator. But, for us, drawing with a mouse seems to provide much more detail than can be achieved on an iPad. The only extra step involved is gathering the images and uploading to a site students can visit to save their picture. I use Picasa Web Albums.

8Moving on to Book Creator, each student created their “mini” book. Before emailing to me, they were to add their drawing, write their sentence, record the reading of the alliteration, and make their page look “good” (i.e. add a background page color, work with font). If you have an iPad that supports Air Drop, that’s definitely the way to go!

7a

Editing and recording

6

Emailing

Finally, all pages were combined into one class ABC book. The finished product has been uploaded to Google Drive. Below is the link. Be sure to be on an iOS device when you open the link! When prompted, choose Download > Open in iBooks.

ABC Alliterations by Mrs. Gramentine’s Class

If you don’t have an iOS device, the book was also saved as a video.

This was a fun project and the children worked hard to create very clever alliterations. What a great way to learn some new vocabulary too!

Enjoy!

More Fraction Practice

After coming across a post about Fraction Name Art on the Super Sweet Second Grade blog, I decided to incorporate this into a lab activity for our second graders who were beginning their fraction unit.

The students were asked to use the Book Creator app to design a page with the following information:

  • Name in a large, bold font
  • A sentence telling how many letters were in their name
  • 2 “ends” of sentences about consonants and vowels (___ are consonants. ___ are vowels.)

Next, we used the pen function to circle the vowels and underline the consonants. I asked the students what fraction of their name were vowels; what fraction were consonants? The answers were written with the pen.

fractions
The students recorded their information and emailed the book to me. I’ve combined the individual books into class books.

To access the books, remember to tap on the links below while on an iOS device with iBooks installed. Choose download then open in iBooks.

Mrs. Garcia’s Name Fraction

Mrs. Zabriskie’s Name Fraction

For those of you without an iOS device, here are the video versions of the book.

Fantastic Fractions!

Second graders have been busy learning about fractions. To go along with their study, we brought fraction activities into the lab.

Mrs. Shapard, one of our second grade teachers, asked her students to write fraction word problems. We had them illustrate the concept using the fraction bars found in the SchoolKit Math app (free). They took two screenshots – the first showed the total number of pieces.

Fraction Bars (uncropped)

Fraction Bars (uncropped)

The second showed the answer. We had them crop both images before adding to the book.

Answer to word problem (cropped)

Answer to word problem (cropped)

The next step was to move to the Book Creator app ($4.99 for unlimited books and worth every penny!). It is such an easy app for all ages and has some very powerful features! One of the best features is the ability to save as a video, which is extremely helpful in sharing a book with families who don’t have an iOS device.

The students created two pages by adding their name, inserting their fraction bar pictures, writing the story problem on the first page, and writing the answer on the second. Next, they recorded their stories and answers. And, finally, the books were air dropped to me so that I could combine the individual books into one class book.

Here is the link for the ePub version.

Mrs. Shapard’s Class Book of Fraction Word Problems

In downloading the book, be sure to tap on the link while on an iOS device. Choose SAVE and open in iBooks.

Below is the video version of the book:

To make the cover, I decided to experiment with a couple of apps. Here’s a chart showing the apps used.

Shapard_Fraction Book
During the process of writing and illustrating the fraction bars, we were quickly able to check each child’s understanding of fractions. We were able to reteach as needed. The students are eager to share their fraction stories with our other classes to see if they can solve the problems!

Dr. Seuss and App Smashing Fun!

Oh,_the_Thinks_You_Can_Think_cover

For our Seuss week celebrations, I read part of Oh, The Thinks You Can Think and asked the fourth graders to think creatively like Dr. Seuss.

  • What would you invent if you were able to invent anything you wanted?
  • Would it be an interesting animal?
  • Would it be something that would make life easier?
  • What would it look like?
  • What would it do?

The students started by illustrating their invention on the computer using Microsoft’s Paint program. This could be done in an app but the students prefer the tools available in Paint. When they finished, I uploaded their pictures to my Picasa site so that they could save to the iPad.

The next step was to create a page in the Book Creator app. The students were asked to include the following on their page:

  • their name
  • title of their invention
  • picture of their invention
  • a recorded narration of the purpose of their invention (I had them write a script first! This really helps with the recording process; avoids stumbling over what to say!)

Finally, the students air dropped their books to me and I combined all into one class book. I absolutely LOVE that Book Creator offers options for sharing! I exported it in two different formats: one as an ePub book (to be read in iBooks) and the other as a video (a great option for those who don’t have iOS devices).

Click here to download the ePub book. (Remember you’ll need to be on an iOS device with the iBooks app installed. Choose Download then Open in iBooks.)

Here’s the video:

Since video was one format to be shared and since I’ve been wanting to experiment with some AppSmashing (Thank you Greg Kulowiec for creating this great term and for the awesome workshops I’ve been able to attend), I decided to get creative with the intro to the inventions!

Here’s a chart to show the apps used.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

In this case, I was the one who created the video clips to be combined with the student work in iMovie. Students could certainly do this part – perhaps have the early finishers work on some type of introduction.

LOVE the power of AppSmashing!

Making Wishes on St. Patrick’s Day

The Leprechaun's GoldThe Leprechaun’s Gold by Pamela Duncan Edwards is an Irish legend about two harpists who have the same wish but go about earning it in different ways. (Watch a video reading of the book.)

Before reading the book to second graders as a St. Patrick’s Day activity, I asked the children to think about selfish vs. unselfish wishes. We discussed a few examples and then I asked the students to open the Book Creator app and illustrate an unselfish wish of their own while I read the story. Talk about quiet workers! They were engaged in their drawings and enjoying the plot of the book!

After the reading, the students scattered to various corners inside and outside of the lab so that they could record their wish. The books were then air dropped to one iPad to allow me to combine all into one class book.

This activity could easily be done in a variety of apps. I chose Book Creator because it is extremely user-friendly! Drawings can be created within the app and recording narration is super easy.

Enjoy the class books!

Mrs. Garcia’s Book of Wishes

Mrs. Shapard’s Book of Wishes

Mrs. Zabriskie’s Book of Wishes

Directions to download books to your iOS device (iPad, iPhone, etc):

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

Shapes are Everywhere!

Recently the second graders took their iPads and headed outside for a shape hunt. Lots of photos were taken of all kinds of shapes!

The mail van provided all sorts of interesting shapes!

The mail van provided all sorts of interesting shapes!

After collecting photos, the next step was to bring everything together. We used Book Creator for this. The students made a cover page, a page for plane figures, and one for solid shapes. They were to label and record information about their shapes, then export the book as a video.

Working in Book Creator

Working in Book Creator

By the way, the mustaches were worn in celebration of Dr. Seuss and The Lorax!

Next the videos were uploaded to their blogs. (They would love comments!)

Mrs. Garcia’s Class Blog
Mrs. Shapard’s Class Blog
Mrs. Zabriskie’s Class Blog

Enjoy a peek at the students at work:
Reflections:

We were rushed to do this activity since it was done in the computer lab over two 40 minute sessions. The students really didn’t have adequate time to reflect on their learning. Next time we’ll be sure to allow time for that.

Workflow and Book Creator: Sharing the Creations!

Recording in the Book Creator app

Recording in the Book Creator app

One of my very favorite apps is Book Creator. This app allows students and teachers to create interactive ePub books that can be shared with others. Hyperlinks, images, audio, and simple drawings can be added to a book. But, the best part is that it is extremely easy for students of any age to use which is why I use it for all kinds of curricular activities!

The app is available in the App Store ($4.99) as well as on Google Play ($2.49). Both offer a free version but that only allows the creation of one book. Try the free app first, but trust me, you will definitely want the paid version! As we have iPads in school, I don’t have experience with the Android version so the rest of this post will refer to sharing the books so they can be read in the iBooks app.

There are three ways to export a book made in Book Creator.

Book Creator saving options Export as Video – This is a good method to use when sharing with people who do NOT have an iOS device. I save in both the ePub and Video formats and share links with parents. Saving to the camera roll is an option with this method. What I do is save the video to Vimeo (YouTube also works) then embed it in a blog post. Students could use this choice, save to the camera roll, and upload to their blog.

Export as PDF – Any recordings will be lost in this format.

Export as ePub – This is the choice for reading in iBooks. However, the problem is that a person can only read this on the iPad on which the book was created.

The question is:  How do you share the book with others so it can be read on different iPads or iOS devices?

final workflow pic

Here’s what has worked for me:

  • While the book is open in Book Creator, tap on the share button and then choose to open in Dropbox or Google Drive (or whatever cloud storage you prefer).
Choose a cloud-based storage app

Choose a cloud-based storage app

  •  If you choose Drive, make sure in “Who has access?” that the Link Sharing is turned ON so anyone with the link can view it. Then tap on Get Link.
Link sharing on then get link

Link sharing on then get link

  •  The next step is to post this link to your blog. This can be done on either the Edublogs app on the iPad OR using a browser on a computer. Below is a sample of adding the link using the app.

    Adding the ePub link using the Edublogs app

    Adding the ePub link using the Edublogs app

  •  If you are working on your blog in a web browser, just select the word you want to hyperlink and add the link.
Adding hyperlink on blog using web browser

Adding hyperlink on blog using web browser

  • Once the link is posted on your blog, anyone can download the ePub book to their iOS device and open the eBook in iBooks by tapping on the download link. Although the look is different depending on which cloud storage you use, the procedure is the same. Remember – you must be on an iOS device to open the ePub book!
Screen shot of what downloading from Dropbox looks like

Screen shot of what downloading ePub book from Dropbox looks like

Screen shot when downloading ePub book from Drive

Screen shot of what downloading ePub book from Drive looks like

  •  Once the book has downloaded, it can be opened in iBooks or other apps including Book Creator (helpful if you are collaborating with others to create books).
Opening ePub book on iOS device

Opening ePub book on iOS device

Opening the book in other apps

Opening the book in other apps

Although there seems to be several steps to get the ePub link onto the blog, once you’ve done this a couple of times it becomes second nature and really doesn’t take very long! Parents absolutely LOVE to read books that their child either makes on their own or has created as a class.

Have fun posting links to your own books! I enjoy seeing what others create in Book Creator. If you have questions, let me know!

TIPS:

When I link to ePub books, I always add the following information so that visitors know how to download the eBook.

Directions to download books to your iOS device (iPad, iPhone, etc):

  • You will need the iBooks app (free) installed on your iOS device.
  • Click on the book link above (while on your iOS device).
  • Tap on the download button.
  • Choose Open in . . . and then choose Open in iBooks
  • The book is now in iBooks on your iOS device.

As mentioned earlier in the post, I also save the Book Creator book as a video then upload it to Vimeo. I then embed the Vimeo video into the blog. That way, parents without iOS devices are still able to “read” the book!

If you chose to export the book created in Book Creator as a PDF, to upload it to Edublogs, you would click on the ADD MEDIA tab at the top of the post’s toolbar. The PDF would be hyperlinked as below:

Workflow for ePub books

Snow Pals Glyphs

What is a glyph? Well, one definition is where students answer questions and make something according to how they answer those questions.

For the past few years, I’ve had second and third grade students do a fun glyph activity where they create a snowman (or snow person☺). I found this idea several years ago but am so sorry that I don’t remember who it’s from so I’m unable to properly credit the original creator. Questions include:

  • Have you every built a snowman? For yes, draw 3 snowballs for the body; for no, draw 2. (Yes, there really are students living in Texas who have never built a snowman!)
  • What is your favorite sport? Third graders were given 4 choices and then drew a scarf that was decorated according to their answers.
  • What is your favorite season? Second graders colored their scarf according to their answer.

Click here to see the second grade glyph.

Click here to see the third grade glyph.

This year when I presented the activity to the third graders, I heard the following response from a few students:

  • “This is my favorite activity of the whole year!

I can tell you – that makes a teacher feel really good!

Here is the animoto of the third graders’ glyph drawings.

The second graders used their illustrations to make class ePub books. They wrote and recorded haiku poems to go with their drawings. If you don’t have an iOS device to open the eBook, the work has also been saved as a video.

Mrs. Garcia’s Snow Pals Book and Video

Mrs. Shapard’s Snow Pals Book and Video

Mrs. Zabriskie’s Snow Pals Book and Video

Directions to download books to your iOS device (iPad, iPhone, etc):

  • You will need the iBooks app (free) installed on your iOS device.
  • Click on the book link above (while on your iOS device).
  • Tap on the download button.
  • Choose Open in . . . and then choose Open in iBooks
  • The book is now in iBooks on your iOS device.

Directions to read the ePub book on a computer:

Making Predictions with First Graders

could have been worseAn important skill for students to develop as they read is learning how to make predictions. One way I like to practice this is through children’s literature. A perfect book for making predictions is It Could Have Been Worse by A. H. Benjamin. The book is about a mouse on his way home from visiting his town cousin. Mouse runs into all kinds of difficulty as he heads home – slipping, sliding, landing in thorns, . . . After each little episode, Mouse laments that his day isn’t going well at all. However, there is much more going on in the background that Mouse doesn’t know about. As it turns out, several creatures come very close to having Mouse for lunch. Because of Mouse’s “terrible” day, he manages to escape the dangers around him!

I start by reading the first few pages of the book. The students listen as Mouse loses his balance, falls to the ground, and declares, “This isn’t my lucky day.” In the background, the children can see that Cat is just about to pounce on Mouse but misses him as the mouse falls. Cat ends up in a bed of thorns as the narrative reads, “But it could have been worse!” I read the next page but stop before finding out what will happen to Mouse this time.

We talk about what a prediction is and how to use picture clues to help decide what will happen next. Then I tell the students that they will write down their prediction in the Book Creator app and will illustrate that using Drawing Pad. (Book Creator has a drawing feature within the app that is easy to use. For this activity I wanted the teachers to see an app-smashing example that they could use within their own classroom.)

Writing a prediction in the Book Creator app

Writing a prediction in the Book Creator app

The prediction activity took about two 40 minute sessions. Part of the time was spent introducing the drawing features in the Drawing Pad app and showing how to develop their page in Book Creator  (add illustration, write sentence, record narration) – the next time the teachers (or I) use the apps, the students will be able to work more independently.

Illustrating their predictions using the Drawing Pad app

Illustrating their predictions using the Drawing Pad app

As students finished recording, they came to me for guidance in emailing their Book Creator page to me. The pages are then compiled into class books for students to read on their iOS devices. In addition, I also exported the book as a video to offer another way to view the books.

Here are the apps we used:

App Smashing with First Graders

App Smashing with First Graders

Links to the ePub Books and the videos:

  • What will happen to Mouse and Snake?  Mrs. Hutchinson’s Class ePub Book and Video
  • What will happen to Mouse and Fox?  Mrs. Kee’s Class ePub Book and Video
  • What will happen to Mouse and Fish?  Mrs. Orehek’s Class ePub Book and Video

Directions to download books to your iOS device (iPad, iPhone, etc):

  • You will need the iBooks app (free) installed on your iOS device.
  • Click on the book link above (while on your iOS device).
  • Tap on the download button.
  • Choose Open in . . . and then choose Open in iBooks
  • The book is now in iBooks on your iOS device.