Bev's adventures in ICT

Archive for the ‘2Simple software’ Category

That time of year again…

…so much happening. Lots to do. A constant emery go round of events, or so it seems. Anyway, I thought it might be time to remind you of a few art based, ICT ideas that I’ve highlighted previously. You might be creating firework images using a suitable software package, or looking for ideas based around Children in Need, but I’m going to focus on poppy based  ideas you could link to November 11th. So here we go…

You might like to create some mosaic style images: poppies (any sort of flower really) are a particularly good subject for this – you just need to find the right images. Andrea mosaic would be my tool of choice and there’s a bit more information about that here (including a poppy themed example). You could also try your hand at one of the art activities here or maybe create a stained glass or texture style image: all fabulous ideas in their own way. But what I really thought you might like was another quick clip art tutorial showing how to make simple poppy images using Autoshapes. So that’s what you’re getting…

 

Are you an Angry Bird (addict)?

So…here goes with my second post of the day – I must be mad. I did, however, promise a few people I would share a few of my bonkers ideas for using Angry Birds as a basis for learning in the classroom. I’m sure many of you have some ideas of your own to go with this topic and I have a few friends who have already been using Angry Birds activities as a way of engaging pupils in the classroom. Now not all of these ideas are ICT based but I promised I would share them so…here we go…

First the mad part. I was sitting on the train the other day with my ipad and I saw a mum bring out some home made toys for her little one. Simple felt balls, about 6 cms across, (created as shown above) with little eyes and extras on. I thought how that would make a lovely idea for a school fete or similar and made a note of it.  Then she brought out a blue one that looked just like an Angry Bird – my mind went into overdrive. My initial idea was to get pupils to create them (or, possibly a friendly adult) and stuff them with a set weight of kapok so they could be used in maths for weighing/comparing/measuring. Maybe sort them so that the black one weighs twice as much as the red one which weights twice as much as the blue ones (if you know what I mean). After this, mind still in overdrive mode, I thought about creating a separate set of blue ones which had three mini blue ones inside – for times tables work or counting (but  I realise this might be pushing things a little too far…). Of course, if money is no object, you could always purchase a complete set of Angry Birds plush toys but I doubt many school budgets would stretch to them!

Let’s move onto my next batch of mad ideas then. After maths I moved onto science. How about using the little blighters you’ve just made for maths in a lesson on forces, complete with giant catapult. Too dangerous? Well it’s just an idea. Coming back down to earth with a bump (!!!! – sorry, couldn’t resist) why not use autoshapes, or another shape drawing program, to create your own Angry Birds? They could be as simple or complicated as you like. The one above is fairly straightforward – I bet the pupils could come up with something better. Another ICT idea I came up with involved the use of 2DIY (or maybe even 2DIY 3D if you have access to Purple Mash): creating games based on the Angry Birds story and characters. Maybe a journey game where the birds have to sneak past the pigs. Or a collection game for finding golden eggs. Again – the children are bound to come up with much better ideas.

And so to my final few ideas for today (and, I’m warning you, I have loads more): let’s link to literacy. If there are pupils who are really familiar with the game they could hone their instruction writing skills by creating walkthroughs for other children to follow. I think this would be a lovely exercise that could involve some really obvious peer assessment. I also think that the initial introduction to the game would make an interesting story starter and, if you want to get really into it, why not get pupils to storyboard and create their own game trailers, similar to the one seen here? I bet they come up with some corkers!

Getting Better All the Time

Well done to the bods at 2simple! They’ve just revamped their fantastic creative online space, Purple Mash, and, I have to say, it looks rather spiffing and works very well. New graphics, new menus, a lovely clear layout and an amazing array of content. If you haven’t tried it you really should: it’s inclusive, adaptable, cross curricular and a whole lot of fun. Pupils can have their own logins and save work in their own online space or to their own computer: meaning they can be creative at school and at home. Of course I’ve been a fan of Purple Mash for quite a while but, for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, let’s have a look at some of the new developments.

Well, firstly, there are some nice little changes to the main menu and subsequent areas. For a start there’s the addition of links for the different educational phases, making it easier for teachers to see what content might be age and skills appropriate. As you hover over each icon a lovely, unobtrusive pop up menu explains what to expect when you click through. They’ve also included a link to the most seasonal activities, the most popular activities and their latest content. All these features make it far simpler to get find what you want which, for busy teachers or impatient pupils has to be a good thing.

One of the most anticipated developments in Purple Mash (especially among some of the pupils I know) has been the inclusion of 2DIY 3D – a fantastic maze game creator that has a cross curricular purpose while, at the same time, being a whole lot of fun. I’m not going to wax lyrical on this now (although I think it’s absolutely fantastic) as there is a fantastic post available for you to read right here that will pretty much tell you all you need to know. I will, however, say that I think this activity lends itself you finding interesting textures that can be used to create the stunning 3D landscape (as seen above). I quite like to use a site I’ve mentioned before called CG Textures and, in the above screenshot, I used a tiled sky texture to create the ‘roof’ of the activity. The walls of the maze were created using a tree image I created especially. I think I’ll probably make more elements like this and post them as a bundle at a later date. Finally, I used a picture of the grass in my garden on the floor: I was trying to get a foresty feel as the game I’m creating is linked to the fabulous children’s book ‘The Gruffalo’ and I will be posting about this some time soon. Of course games are to be played and need to be shared and 2Simple have even got this covered. Once games created with 2DIY 3D have been completed and saved there’s a ‘share’ option allowing you to link to the game or embed it in a blog post/school website. Genius!

Going back to the main menu, another addition which I think teachers will find really helpful is the new Themes section which can be accessed from the tabs across the right of the page. As more schools go down a creative curriculum route they need to be able to find resources on a given theme quickly and efficiently. This section is just the job: I counted over 30 themes available at the moment and, when you consider how often the team at 2Simple are adding new and relevant content, that’s only going to blossom and grow even more.

So there you have it: quick, initial thoughts on the revamped Purple Mash. I think it’s getting better all the time: have a look and see what you think.

World in Union

Well, the 2011 rugby World Cup has started and I, for one, am pretty excited about it. Maybe it’s because I’m Welsh but I’m pretty sure others feel the same so I thought I’d share some resources and ideas you could use with your class. And I’m going to start with those super people at Purple Mash who are yet again ‘on the ball’ (excuse the pun) when it comes to current and relevant content to use in the classroom. There are a few resources to choose from here, including a great template for writing a match report , and all of the activities include fantastic themed clip art in addition to word banks or writing prompts. There are also other resources that would fit into this theme. There’s a Welsh Celebrity Profile writing frame which includes rugby themed clip art (great for writing about Shane Williams or your favourite Welsh player) and a Sports Star Profile (no rugby themed clip art but you could use the drawing tools). There’s a writing frame for describing the rules of a sport (rugby clip art included) and, if you visit the creative tools section, there are some useful writing frame templates available via 2Publish and 2PublishExtra. Make a rugby themed word wheel! Or a poster! Or a leaflet about one of the counties involved! Loads of lovely possibilities all in one handy online space. You could even use 2Investigate to create a graph about the top players. If you’ve not used PurpleMash before and would like to know more then get in touch with the bods at 2Simple or send them a message online (via Facebook or Twitter).

Of course the statistical information involved in any sporting event makes it obvious to link this topic to Maths and there are lots of possibilities. There is plenty of statistical information available on the official site but it might be nice to follow the event and come up with activities of your own. During the last Rugby World Cup a friend of mine used the pools as a sort of mini competition between the groups in his class. 4 pools – 4 groups. Pupils were in charge of keeping a note of all the scores recorded by teams in their pool and using little numbered rugby balls to keep their total updated every day. A bit of a competition with a smattering of basic number skills and place value thrown in – the winner being the table with the most points scored. There are also plenty of investigations that could be done based on the rugby field itself: area, perimeter, measuring etc. and a bit of fun to be had with angles (linked to goal kicking). There are also fantastic opportunities to link the topic to DT/Art (flag, kit or mascot design, build a stadium), Science (investigations of fabrics used in sports kits, forces), Geography (pick any of the countries involved) – you name it!

So what about activities linked to ICT? Well, in addition to the great stuff available via Purple Mash it would also be worth searching through resources available via TES Connect (there is bound to be something useful) and seeing what the teaching resource section on the official site has to offer. You could get pupils to make adverts, publicising the games ,using Windows Movie Maker, Photo Story or iMovie or use Pivot Stick Figure to make some rugby themed animations  I’ve put together made an ICT challenge pack aimed at KS2 (but you could adapt the idea) if you want to have a go. I’ve also added a selection of clip art to my posterous blog (it’s already included in the challenge pack) if you felt like creating top trump cards or something similar – in fact, why not get the children to do it. That’s far much more fun!

 

Shiver me Timbers!

This week I’ve had a lovely time using 2Create a Super Story  (or 2CASS) with pupils in Year 2. As I’ve said before, it’s a fantastic program to use with pupils as it’s so inclusive, lots of fun and can be used across age groups for all sorts of projects. This week the focus was a little different: Year 2 were recapping copying and pasting skills. I wanted to make this as much fun as possible so decided to link to their current pirate topic and use a program that they’re familiar with. As it happened I also wanted to improve their knowledge and usage of 2CASS as they move towards year 3: we’ve recently invested in a community license project with 2Simple and 2CASS is one of the programs pupils are now accessing at home. A perfect opportunity then to cover quite a few bases with one program.

Now one of my golden rules (in life generally) is to be as creative as possible and I have to say I’ve taken a few liberties with some of the tools and items in 2CASS as I’m using them in a different way to how they’re presented in the program. I don’t think it matters – if you can find more than one use for something then go for it! Here’s what we did…

  • Firstly we choose the scroll setting: I felt this was pretty much perfect for the topic we were covering as it gave it a pirate map feel. We did discuss the other options available but the children agreed that the scroll was our best choice.

  • We filled the picture area with a nice blue colour for the sky. We wanted a similar colour for the water as the other blues were a bit too dark (although some children were happy with them and were able to choose them). By double right clicking the one of the blue colours we brought up the full palette  – this gave us much more choice.

  • We chose the boat animation template from the transport section. We filled it with our base colour (brown) and then removed parts of it with the clear (or, as the children like to call it, magic) pen. This makes a huge difference to the look of the boat. We use the filled rectangle to colour the sail and used it again with the clear setting to give the ship three sails. We added a simple animation of the sails flapping and we used the path follow tool to draw the route of the ship on our background.

  • We then used the fire animation template to create seaweed. The fire movement was perfect for making the seaweed move under the water. We right clicked to select copy and then right clicked to paste the seaweed up to three times .

  • Choosing the shapes option from the animated templates; we used the square to add clip art. I always suggest using this square shape to the children to add any extras to their backgrounds: it means they can reposition and resize things and animate them if they want to – far better than something static on a background. We added suitable weather clip art which some of the children choose to animate. We again used copying and pasting skills to add additional clouds.

  • To add more interest some of the children added some fish, using the filled circle and the pens to make their little creatures as realistic as possible. There is more information on creating underwater animations that is worth checking out  on Simon Haughton’s blog . I also showed the pupils how to move things to the front or send them backwards: this gave them the option of having the fish swimming in front of or behind the seaweed and is a skill they will use in a number of other programs as they go through school.

  • To save pupils having to draw out their backgrounds a second time I showed them how to duplicate a page. This meant they could use the same page, complete with animations, for the next part of the story too – the example included at the end of this post shows how an island could be added with very little effort while making a big difference to the overall look.

  • We created pirates using the same tools as we used on the pirate ship – this time on the human template. When one pirate was complete (animations included) we copied and pasted to create a second and then just edited the outfit. Using the clear pen allowed pupils to add things like peg legs and hooked hands – very effective!
Of course these projects are not finished yet and there are other things I’d like to mention. We talked during the session about which fonts might be appropriate, which led to many children using old fashioned looking fonts they felt were in keeping with the theme. We also had a nice long session to carry out the first part of the project: these things take time and if you want a piece of work to be worthwhile pupils have to be given time to try things out. An unfinished example of our work so far can be seen here and I’m hoping to add a few examples to the fantastic 2CASS Archive soon – a site well worth investigating if you’re using this software in school. Next week we’re going to be adding even more detail to our stories and I can hardly wait!

 

 

More Music Matters

It’s time for part two of my posts about music and technology. Today I’m focussing on stuff that isn’t free but is still great to use in your classroom. Some of these items you might have already but it’s always worth investigating what is available so….here we go. I’m going to start with one that I’ve been using for quite a few years and is always popular with the older pupils, and that’s Dance EJay. One of the reasons I think it’s so popular is that it’s really easy to use. There are loads of sound samples available, all colour coded. At a glance it’s pretty easy to see how many beats each sample lasts and is very helpful when putting together sequences and loops. In fact, until the pupils in Years 5 and 6 discovered Incredibox, Isle of Tune and DJGames, Dance EJay was easily the most popular piece of music software chosen during Golden Time sessions in the ICT suite. Like the ideas posted yesterday, this is something that non musicians can use quite easily to create something cool and rhythmic although, in my opinion, despite the huge amount of samples included the sequences that are generated can sound a bit samey. Maybe that’s because the pupils find something they like, share it around with each other and then replicate it. Also, there is a temptation to fill every layer with a ‘wall’ of samples; leaving few gaps or breathers. But those are just quibbles and, when used as part of a structured music based session, the software can be very effective.

Now, Dance EJay might be popular with the older pupils but it is certainly not as accessible or versatile as the next program on my list: the amazing Music Toolkit from 2Simple. It spans a whole load of age ranges and abilities with a selection of levelled activities that work equally when used with a group using an IWB or on individual PCs. Pupils in Early Years(and those with SEN) can enjoy and  participate in using 2Explore while those with a little more know-how can start building melody with 2Compose. The package also contains 2Beat, 2Play (which I really enjoy having a bit of fun with), 2Sequence and 2 Synthesize: all of which are great stand alone activities in their own right that can be used in a number of different ways. I’ve had great fun linking 2Beat to Maths and building soundscapes for stories using 2Sequence (which is also available via Purple Mash if you’re a subscriber) in the past so it’s well worth investigating in detail what each individual program does and how you can fit it into your classroom sessions.

Some software developers, of course, specialise in music. EPS Music is one such company and is the creator of the popular Compose World series. To be honest, I haven’t used this software in school for a while, mainly because there are so many alternatives out there that I feel are more complete or competitively priced, but it would be totally remiss if I didn’t mention the software here. Obviously, being music specialists, the individual programs are very good quality and easily slot in to music sessions and activities. The downside is that all the products have to be bought separately, although EPS have launched an online subscription service which includes free demos of their products to try out first. Have a look and see what you think.

To finish off today I’m going to share some apps that are available for use on ipod touches and ipads, making them great for music on the move. The holy grail of these, at least as far as I am concerned, is Garageband. It’s been around a long time and is constantly being updated and added to. It has great instrumentation and features and is equally at home in a primary school as it is in a secondary (or beyond) setting. You can have fun with it or use it in a very structured way. There are help sites and tutorial videos dotted all over the place to help you come up with ideas of how to use it. If you’re in a setting that has access to Apple technology then you seriously need to check out its potential and give it a go. For fans of ambient music I’d suggest you try out Bloom, a simple yet effective little app which, again, might be useful for creating soundscapes to link in with class themes or story writing. More apps worth looking at include the surreal but fabulous Magic Piano (a current favourite among my grandchildren) and the equally strange but lovely Shapemix. Both are intuitive and fun: let’s face it; if my grandchildren (aged from 18mths up) are fans already they have to be easy to use! Another musical app I’m pleased to see arriving is JamStudio as it’s been available as a web based subscription site for quite a while (in fact the site is free for creative purposes – you just have to subscribe to be able to download your creations). For those people who find it easier to compose using chord progressions it really is a fantastic find. There are, in addition to the apps listed, none of which are ridiculously expensive, a number of free apps which I should have mentioned yesterday. Some of my favourites include JamPad, Beatwave (quite similar to the previously mentioned iNudge) and, for very young children, Cutie Melody. Truly – as far as music and tech is concerned – there is something available for everyone.

 

 

Little Children…

Little people…they’re a bit different to big people aren’t they? Always busy, always curious and they say what they think too (Miss…I like your dress, miss. It’s all swirly…). Trying to get them interested in ICT though – that’s pretty easy, especially as there’s lots of stuff available that’s just for them (it definitely helps). Recently I’ve had some very young children in the ICT suite: we’ve had fun with BeeBots (as we always do) and Easi-Speak Microphones. We’ve checked out some pretty cool websites and checked into Purple Mash’s online creative space (more of that on another day). We even did a little work and printed it out. But mostly we’ve been having fun – here’s just a few things we’ve been trying out.

Poisson Rouge is one of my favourite websites: it’s packed with great stuff, there are no instructions, it’s suitable to use with all sorts of pupils (especially great for pupils with SEN  – even the older pupils like to pop in occasionally) and it’s totally intuitive to use. Although I’ve only mentioned it in passing before it is a website I like to return to. For a start; it’s just great for mouse skills and screen scanning as it has lots of interactive dot to dot or follow on type activities. It’s also got some nice musical activities on it and some lovely simple language activities which could also be useful for EAL pupils. Best feature, by far, is just the sheer variety of things available via the website: I’ve seen pupils (and adults – yes I’m talking about you, Ian Addison) get lost in the activities. Definitely worth checking out.

Here’s a nice ‘(2)simple’ idea, that’s a little different from just playing keyboard games to get pupils familiar with the keys. The picture above was created using the ABC setting on 2Paint a Picture: pupils have to type in their name using the keyboard (voilà: keyboard skills) then alter the style of font and decorate it using the selection of pens (developing mouse skills and using tools). The printed out images make a nice colourful display and parents coming into the classroom can see exactly what their child created – lovely! This idea could be adapted to make a keywords or topic based vocab display, which could be extra special if you hunted around for some interesting fonts.

When I’m looking for ideas to use with younger pupils I often test things out on my grandchildren. Recently they’ve enjoyed a number of apps on the ipad which I think could be just as useful in a school setting, especially at this time of year, With a number of pupils looking at life cycles this term there is an obvious link available in Eric Carle’s My Very First App. As you would expect the graphics are gorgeous and it was definitely a hit with my younger grandchildren. They also enjoyed Rumble in the Jungle: an interactive version of the famous book; read by Hugh Laurie and, one for the boys, Misty Island Rescue: it’s a must have app for all young Thomas the Tank Engine Fans! The final app I’m going to share with you is not really aimed at the children – although it did allow them to access and use Purple Mash and a few other child centred websites over the Easter break. This app is called Puffin and it’s just a great browser if you want to access websites which have Flash content on your ipad – great stuff!

Moving on…if you want to undertake some animation projects with young children there’s a great program available called Anithings. Using a selection of shapes, that can be combined together to make different shapes, pupils can make simple moving pictures that are really cute and engaging. It’s not stop motion – it’s far easier than that! Pupils can record motion or use the timeline slider to get their images moving. Pupils can make adjustments to the size of objects to make it seem as though they’re are moving closer, or further away, with just a few mouse clicks, Different backgrounds can be imported, it allows pupils to use storyboard techniques and it’s good for cross curricular activities. But for those of us of a certain age (okay… me) there’s untold pleasure in the mere fact that the click of a mouse can make it look like it’s made of Fuzzy Felts. Makes me wish I was a little person all over again.