I’m not sure if you’re aware but there’s a bit of a shindig on this week. I believe it might be a royal wedding involving a couple called Wills and Kate. Now it occured to me that some of you might be looking for some royal things to do in school (if you’re indeed actually in school – my school is on hols until after the bank holiday!!) so I thought I’d gather together a few ideas of things you might like to do with your classes
I’m really pleased to see (although not at all surprised) that those fantastic people at Purple Mash have put together a small selection of activities for the event. There are some great Publish Projects with beautiful clip art created just for the occasion, including a fabulous newspaper template for reporting the event – some top ideas for pupils from Foundation age upwards. There are also some great apptivities available via Purple Mash that have could also be used to tie in with the celebrations: you could make a crown using 2Design and Make or use the castle or palace available via the Fairy Tales section of the Paint projects to create the perfect royal party venue. If you print off more than one copy of your palace you can get creative and join them together for a bit of small world play – just look here to see what I mean! Of course Purple Mash are not the only online site with some great resources available for you to use. TESiboard has also added a range of royal themed resources: from creating royal wedding outfits to a cake creation sequencing activity. In fact, TESconnect has got a whole list of resources in one convenient list - why not check it out!
There’s also a whole load of great websites you could use with your students if you want to get them to carry out and present research on the British Royal family, including their own official website and Mandy Barrow’s really useful Project Britain site, which has loads of sections just right for researching all sorts of areas of the royal family. If you want pupils to present their work via PowerPoint you might like to download this template of the Union Jack or this one of London. You can even take a tour of Westminster Abbey online if you want to! If you want to go down the design route, or do something completely different, why not get pupil’s to design wedding outfits using the ideas presented here or get them to actually plan a wedding, using spreadsheets to keep track of expenditure? It might just be the thing to get them interested! Other ideas you might try could involved designing place mats, wedding invitations or cards ( 2Publish+ or Microsoft Publisher would be good for this if you want the activities to be ICT based) or designing a menu fit for a princess (although possibly not along the lines of this activity!!!!). Whatever you decide to do I’m sure you’ll have a right old time!
Words. Phrases. Vocabulary. Subject specific language. We want children to use it in the correct way. We want them to try things out…take risks…be adventurous. We want pupils to identify and ‘magpie’ good ideas and extend their use of the English language. But it’s not always easy – how can we get them using language in the way we want them too? Maybe we need to get creative…
Word wheels, particularly with pictures or a subject specific background are a lovely way to develop vocabulary based around a topic. The image shown above was created using a setting included in 2Simple’s online creative space, Purple Mash (it’s included in 2Publish Extra): a product that recently won an ERA award and is really worth checking out! You can add up to eight words on this template (just enough in one go for younger ones or those with ALN) and the clip art library (plus other tools) is available for illustrating the wheel or individual words – it’s really easy to use! Also, in my opinion, pupils are far more likely to use a word wheel if they’ve created something themselves that they can be proud of: get them laminated so pupils can keep them in their trays or include them in their spelling journals, if you use them.
Older pupils might like to create their own calligrams for a working wall or display. You can do this in a number of ways with the pupils. This resource was created by downloading a whole load of appropriate free fonts from a website like Dafont but students could try creating their own calligrams using a combination of Word Art, autoshapes and appropriate fonts on a desktop publishing program like Microsoft Publisher. If you prefer, and you have a suitable art or graphics package available, you could use a program like 2Draw or Revelation Natural Art to create a similar effect and, if you haven’t got something like that installed, look online to web based applications like Sumo Paint – it has a text setting and is absolutely free!
Using a word cloud program to create a vocabulary mat is a pretty cool thing to do, especially as there a number of available word cloud generators to use. Wordle is a usable as ever and I have always loved the way you can customise your palette to reflect or enhance the meaning of the words. The fonts are not always as child friendly as they could be though, so it’s a good job that ABCWordYa has a selection of ‘friendlier’ fonts even if the features are not as extensive. Word it out is another worthy addition to this groups of word cloud generators but top of the tree has to be Tagxedo: allowing you to add shape to your word cloud is an act of pure genius.
Of course there are loads of other great things you can do in your classroom to help your pupils build a great vocabulary and not all of them involve technology. Make a word or sentence tree (although I really do like the one shown here for use on an IWB – it can be different every day and pupils can interact with it), create flash cards with picture or super cool word mats (or save time by searching online to find them already made for you), include key vocab on your working wall…just have fun with it. One free download I want to remind you of before signing off is Textorizer (as seen above in the picture of MLK) : free, cool and allows you to use an image as a background to overlay words on. Why not have a play with it (or any of the other ideas presented here)and see what you can create?
Earlier in the week I took part in an online where I was showing people how to create simple clip art images using autoshapes. The session was very popular and, near the end of the session, I shared some simple alien characters I had created using the same techniques. These were quite popular so tonight I’m posting a short video showing hot you can create your own. I’ve tried to include a few handy tips in the video that I think others might find useful. Here are a few more…
- If you create a shape or character you are particularly happy with save the Publisher or Powerpoint document so you can access it again and make simple changes - it’s much easier than starting things from scratch!
- If you want to save images with a clear background save them as PNGs – Jpegs and bitmaps will save with a white background (which you can remove easily when importing into some programs anyway.
- If you find things really tricky find an image you’d like to replicate and use the curve tool to trace over it carefully: this technique is particularly good for creating clip art images of historical figures and people as it will help you get the proportions right.
- In newer versions of Publisher you can sample fill and outline colours to get an exact match – this can be especially helpful when filling with pale colours and skin tones.
- If you have an idea what sorts of colours you want to use in your image, and you’re using 2010, select a colour scheme from the design tab first – that way you get graduated samples of the colours you want that are easy to access.
I hope you find that helpful – now it’s your turn to get creating :)
Time for another clip art tutorial using Autoshapes: this one showing how to create simple flowers. More on the way soon.
Every child loves having the opportunity to create fantasy stories set in imaginary places but it can sometimes be difficult to inspire pupils and get their creative juices flowing. It’s much easier if they can visualise a setting for their story and some pupils might need a little extra support to do this. So here’s an idea to get them enthused; and it costs nothing and is lots of fun too. It just involves a bit of fun photo editing.
We all know that visual images can be used to stimulate the senses and get pupils writing creatively so this project involves them creating some of their own. Now you could get your pupils to search on the internet for suitable landscape images, or use a site like Deviant art (not a site for children to access but very useful nonetheless)to find them a suitable selection to adapt, but the pictures created here used a set of clip art images I had prepared and created (you can download a few samples, if you want to use them, here). Of course you could extend the activity by getting the pupils to design their own landscape using a suitable art package first (like the ones listed here and here) before they manipulated it using a photo editing package – that’s up to you. It’s just the effect we’re after here: allowing the pupils to customise their image to transform it into something special.
The choice of photo editing software is totally up to you but there are some great online tools out there, many of which I’ve mentioned before, that are great for the job and easy to use. Tuxpi has a number of different photo effects available (although not all would be suitable for this activity). I especially like the way the heat map effect transforms the space scene above and makes it look truly ‘other worldly’. I’m also a big fan of Pixlr, which was used to create the unusual lighthouse image (utilising the water swirl filter followed by the color lookup effect). It also has a fabulous kaleidoscope filter which can look tremendous on some backgrounds – try it and see!
Of course the images don’t have to be a riot of colour (although that’s what I appear to be showcasing here): simple filters that tweak the backgrounds slightly (such as altering the pictures hue and saturation levels) can be just as effective. Different editing suites have slightly different settings and it’s worth investigating a few yourself to see which you prefer. I like to give the pupils a choice so I’ve looked at a number of them including FotoFlexer, MyImager and Picnik (to name just a few). Choice is key and different layouts might suit different pupils in addition to which the pupils may already know of something else that they use at home – and I’m all in favour of finding out something from the pupils.
I’m not saying you have to use online tools though. If you’ve got suitable software installed just go ahead and use that! With younger pupils, and those who need additional support, I like to use Photo Simple as the interface really lends itself for use with that group of pupils and it has two settings (simple and advanced) that you can ‘match up’ the pupil’s abilities. Downloadable items like Fotosketcher and Irfanview could also be used for an activity like this: both are free and have different things to offer so they’re definitely worth exploring.
Finally, I’d like to emphasise that this activity, while providing a useful link to ICT in the classroom and being a lot of fun, is really a way to get pupils engaged in their creative story writing. Once they’ve created the settings pupils could print them out and brainstorm suitable vocabulary (using post it notes), or do the same thing online by importing the picture into Linoit or Dabbleboard and doing it that way. You could even extend the activity into character creation to go with the fantasy backgrounds. How about displaying the finished images onto your IWB and giving the pupils sentence starters? Or using them as a starting point to work on similes? Take it wherever you need it to go – I’m sure the children will love it!
I remember when playing a game involved some sort of foldable board or some odd bits of plastic that somehow linked together (or, in the care of Game of Life, both!!!). But times have changed and electronic games are slowly replacing the cherished games of my childhood, like Kerplunk and, my all time favourite, Cluedo. I, for one, am quite happy with this idea. Families used to gather around and play Monopoly (at least they did in the adverts) – they now gather around the Wii, or some other social gaming platform, and can enjoy themselves playing all sorts of games – and that’s a good thing! Games also have a place in the classroom: they can motivate learners in all sorts of ways and inspire and enhance a range of classroom projects. There’s been plenty written and blogged about this already, especially by Games supremo Dawn Hallybone and the Redbridge Games Network and I have nothing more to add to their comprehensive advise. But I am going to talk about how creating games to support learning can engage pupils!
Now there are a few different things pupils can use to create games and activities for their own use but many are really only suitable for older (Ks2 and up) pupils. I want younger pupils, and those with SEN, to also have an opportunity to develop their skills in this area so I’m going to focus on 2DIY, and on one activity that I think is particularly suited to younger pupils. I’ve spoken before about using 2DIY in the classroom, and it’s a great piece of software to have available. What could be better than getting a child to create a game that links to their current targets so that they could use it to help them reach their goal? Or getting pupils to create games that can be used in class and assessed by their peers? It’s another great way to motivate and engage learners.
I love using 2DIY with younger pupils, especially as it gives them an opportunity to be creative and to think about their own learning. The pairs game may, at first, appear to be a simple idea but there are certain things you can do to tweak it ever so slightly and make it much more than the sum of its parts. The videos included to support you are fabulous and not only act as a way in for more visual learners (I often see pupils checking out the videos for tips) but they only give a snapshot of what can be achieved. Here are some ideas that will make a simple pairs game look really beautiful and well presented (in addition to being useful and engaging). Here are some tips…
- Use the text tool: as seen in the image above, the use of the text tool can make children’s games look really professional and attractive. It also has the additional benefit of making things very clear and easy to read.
- Use the clip art included: some things look beautiful when hand drawn but certain things need to be accurately displayed and using the included clip art (or your own) is great for this.
- Show pupils how to customise their palette by double clicking on individual colours in the toolbar: matching colours are easier on the eye and appealing to look at. This is also good when you might be creating games for pupils with dyslexia or dyscalculia - make the palette match their reading overlay!
- Colour code your activity: by making sure each pair has it’s own clear colour scheme you can give very young pupils an extra prompt towards finding the matching pair. And, finally…
- Get pupils to use the magnifier when hand drawing pictures and remind them that they can alter the pencil size. This is also where you can remind them about using their copying and pasting skills so they don’t have to attempt to draw the same thing twice.
There is, of course, so much more you can do with this fantastic program across a whole range of ages. But I haven’t come across a child yet who hasn’t enjoyed creating this simple sort of activity for themselves or younger pupils. If you haven’t tried it you really should…
Hello all. It’s been a little while since I last blogged and you might have been wondering what I’ve been up to. Well I’ve been busy: gathering some new ideas and reworking some old ones too but my main focus has been trying to develop some ideas to keep lessons interesting and challenging for all pupils. It’s something that needs to be at the front of our minds at all time – we want children to do well and we want our lessons to be as interesting as possible. Some topics generate more interest than others but it’s important to have high expectations of the pupils while giving them every opportunity to shine.
Now something that really interests me is Formula 1 racing. This started when I was just a young girl. At that time Texaco was a big name locally and they arranged for one of the F1 cars they had sponsored to be on display in the town. I think it could have been Mario Andretti’s car (although I could be wrong) and the sight of it parked in the middle of the local supermarket car park was something I remember as quite exciting and other worldly: a definite wow moment for a young girl in a very small town. So it was with great excitement that I went on a fact finding mission about a project that sounds interesting and engaging on so many different levels: the Formula 1 Technology Challenge . What a great project: building and racing cars against pupils from other schools, not just in your own area but possibly on a global scale. What a fantastic idea!! There are so many elements to the project that take it in different directions and call on differing skills. There’s the scientific enquiry aspect: finding out about aerodynamic design. There’s the ICT/DT aspect: using Solidworks , or similar software, to design your vehicle, printing out a 3D model of your design and then constructing it in more traditional manner. Added to this is the opportunity to develop entrepreneurship skills: marketing, developing merchandise and sponsorship are all embedded in the challenge. I think it’s definitely something worth investigating further!
On a more day to day level I have decided to improve and refine the challenge area in the ICT suite. In the past I have had some quick levelled activities on hand (well, actually on my desk) to hand out to those pupils who perhaps finish a task quickly or need to move on to the next step. I’ve decided to now devote an area of the room to this and have duly bought some rather spangly and sparkly gift boxes of different sizes to give the area a bit of pizazz. The smallest box will contain challenges for pupils in Years 1 and 2 and the boxes get progressively bigger as the pupils get older. Within each box I’m planning to put a number of ICT ideas that I’m going to colour code: red for e-safety, yellow for research etc. That way I can offer up a suitable challenge, to any child who is ready for one, and just send them off to the challenge area to collect a suitable activity card. Of course this is going to start after Christmas, so I’ll have to see how it goes, but I am hoping that it’ll help keep things ticking along nicely.
Over the next few days I am sure a number of you will be looking for ways to create firework themed images with your pupils, be it via the use of ICT or not. Here are just a few ideas you could use in your classroom.
My first pick would be to use the Splash tool on 2Paint a Picture – it’s more versatile than you think! Use the brush on a large setting to fill the background with a nice dark night sky and the use a smaller brush setting (getting the children to vary the sizes works best) for the fireworks. There a number of techniques you could show the children: just clicking the mouse once gives a nice explosion effect, but you can also add a second splash, preferably in a different colour, to make it more dynamic and 3D looking. Clicking the mouse while dragging gives a lovely ‘whooshing’ type image and by using variety in the speed of your drag and the size of your brush can give you a range of firework styles that look very effective.
For older children you could use the All Tools setting as this gives pupils the option of developing a background scene and some foreground action or interest. Drawing characters looks nice but a street scene of houses with fireworks overhead can look equally effective. If you wanted to go in a different direction entirely you could also use the Slice tool to create Catherine wheel effect art, which look lovely cut out on a display.
Not everyone, however, has access to 2Paint a Picture so it’s worth looking around for alternatives to use. The best free piece of kit for this that I have found is Brushster: it has a large number of different brush styles and a full colour palette and is easy enough to use. You can set a black background and add colours on top and it looks very pleasing, albeit a bit more muted in tone than the 2Paint a Picture images. You will need to play around with it though – not all the brush styles are suitable and it might take a bit of time and error to get the look you want. It’ll be worth it in the end though.
About a week ago I mentioned a digital art project :trying out different ideas using computer generated art and photo editing packages. There are all sorts of programs available t try out and everyone can create something something different or unusual. Digital art offers a range of different ideas, some of which are more inclusive than others, but it’s truly a ‘something for everyone’ area of ICT.
One technique to look at is tracing over photo images: a lot of clip art is created this way and I’ve already highlighted this method for making textured images in PowerPoint. You could use 2Paint a Picture or Revelation Natural Art (plus any number of other things) to paint over the photo images (the picture above was created this way using 2Paint a Picture). The results can be variable but the impressionist setting on 2Paint a Picture and the watercolour setting on Revelation Natural Art give the most realistic results.
If creating art is not your thing then try making photo collages using Shape Collage, Microsoft AutoCollage or Andrea Mosaic. Microsoft AutoCollage definitely has a big ‘wow factor’ but Shape Collage does offer more control over their finished collage as it allowed them to choose a background colour, border colour, shape and overlap. Andrea Mosaic is a different sort of thing entirely and some might think it needs too much effort as you need a large selection of images to get a good result. The resulting creations have a big impact though.
There’s also plenty of opportunity to use photo editing packages ( online application FotoFlexer is a favourite)Why not collect all the images together and place them in a PowerPoint Notebook template. These look like sketch books used in many art sessions and these are a close approximation of the same thing in a digital format. Why not have a go?
You know, I’m pretty much the ‘out on a limb’ type: I often plan things that are a little bit unusual and have tenuous links to the topics being covered. I like a bit of leeway here and there. I like to take things in an unexpected direction. There are, however, skills to cover and these still need to be included in lessons as it’s an important part ICT. But doing it in a fun and engaging way is also key.
I like unusual activities. There’s the lovely menu project (as outlined on ‘Come Dine With Me) and a whole host of others. Ever thought about designing a theme park around a local area using PowerPoint (skills recapped: word art, text boxes, use of the spellchecker, inserting pictures, using Autoshapes and slide transition)? How about using Audacity and Movie Maker to create small information films and travel guides about our local area? What about linking ICT to Science work, using PowerPoint Autoshapes to design sportswear and logos. If your interested in making sessions challenging how about using my World Cup Challenge where pupils can go in any direction they chose as long as it fits the brief . there’s the Mathematical challenge and a number of others in the set.
Creative ICT can involve looking at different types of computer based art, graphics and photo editing packages. Pupils can try out a whole load of different types of software: some you might have installed at school (2Paint a Picture, Revelation Natural Art, to name a couple of common ones) and some that are web based (Bomomo, Brushster, SumoPaint etc.). Some that are mainly for photo editing and manipulation (Fotoflexer, Tuxpi etc.), photo collage applications (Andrea Mosaic, Shape Collage etc. ) and some that aren’t really art packages at all but have artistic merits (Wordle, PowerPoint, Textorizer etc.).
Pupils can use a Photo Album PowerPoint template or Ript to create digital art scrapbooks showcasing their efforts, writing little comments about their work. By the end of the session get them to decide on a favourite application and what they liked about it. So that everyone is focused on adding content to the scrapbook, add their names to the fruit machine random name generator available via Classtools – and use it to choose pupils to come up front and showcase their work – that way you can carry out some self evaluation and peer evaluation (like 2 stars and a wish) during your plenary.