Bev's adventures in ICT

Posts tagged ‘internet tools’

I Wanna Tell You a Story…

There are a whole host of online tools, downloads and websites around that are really useful when you want children to get creative with their story writing. Some are very simple and others are absolutely astounding but, as the spotlight seems to always be one the literacy (and numeracy) skills of pupils I thought it was about time I shared a whole bunch of them on here. Many of them you may have come across or used before but I’m hoping there might be a few tools here that you can use in your classroom to inspire both you and your pupils. So, here we go…

Getting Inspired…

  1. We Tell Stories: A site well worth mentioning if you haven’t come across it before; We Tell Stories includes six different stories told in six different ways. Each has something to offer, depending on the age of your pupils, but the one I really like for primary school use is the Fairy Tales one. The child needs to make a number of choices to complete the story and, if they don’t agree with how the story turns out, can write their own epilogue at the end. Every class I have shared this with has loved it – including the boys, which you wouldn’t necessarily expect given the genre.
  2. Lightning Bug: This is an Australian website, full of  ideas to help with the story writing process. It includes a Teacher Resource section and numerous links to useful online content; including author sites and things like a plot bank.
  3. The Story Starter: This is very simple – it does exactly what you think it would do. You click a link and it generates a sentence to get your story started. Could work in conjunction with a story mountain or a ‘BME’ story plan structure. There is also a version available for younger children but be warned – some of the sentences (on both versions) are not what I would choose to use!

Creating Story Books Online

  1. Zooburst: Zooburst is a really unusual 3D Story book creator that I’m sure pupils will find really cool and (hopefully) inspiring. The 3D pop-up really brings a story to life and gives this site an extra something when compared to other book creating sites. You can rotate around the book in 3D, add your voice to the characters and use a webcam to introduce a bit of augmented reality. You can register on the site for free and there are a number of stories in the gallery you can check out before you get started. I would suggest you have a few goes yourself with it before unleashing it on a class but it certainly has the ‘wow’ factor and could get a few of your reluctant writers interested .
  2. Storybird: If you haven’t checked out Storybird before you need to visit it sometime soon. Again, it’s free to register and they have accounts specifically for classes. What sets Storybird apart from some other sites is the inclusion of beautiful and breathtaking original art – enough to inspire pupils to create wonderful things.  Whatever their age or level, students (well – everyone really) can create something that looks beautiful and can easily be shared with others. Check out the About Us section of the website and get inspired
  3. ArtisanCam Picture Book Maker: This picture book maker is a very simple online book creator that is both unique and beautiful. There are not many options here but the artwork is homely and childlike and it could be useful with younger children.
  4. E2BN Myths and Legends: Free and cool to use, the Storymaker tool available here has loads of options (recorded speech, added sound effects etc.) and you can register for a whole school account. Completed stories can be downloaded and can be short and sweet or far reaching epics. I think the style of clip art included here would really appeal to the boys but girls would enjoy it too.
  5. British Council Storymaker: A fabulous little tool that could be used to inspire older  pupils with SEN or used with younger pupils. It is not quite the same as the other activities listed here but deserved inclusion nonetheless.  This is an activity that guides you through the story writing process by giving you choices, starting with the three different types of story you could write (fairy, horror or science fiction). It’s simple but effective.
  6. Picture a Story: This activity might look a little twee, with it’s old fashioned styling, but it still allows pupils to use the items at their disposal (backgrounds, characters, props) to create a story. Stories can be written or recorded using a microphone (making it suitable for inclusion purposes in a class of pupils with differing abilities) and can then be shared with others via email.
  7. Little Bird Tales: This site is fairly new and was brought to my attention by the fabulous Tim Rylands. All I can say is it looks fabulous and is worth finding out about – check out Tim’s blog for more information (as there’s no point me repeating it!)!
  8. Kerpoof Storybook: Beautifully presented and appealing story creating activity with six themes of story included. Similar to the Myths and Legends site, but a little more modern in appearance, I like this one for a few reasons. Firstly, you can fill the pages with a background colour if you want to, possibly making it a suitable tool for pupils with dyslexia. Secondly, it has really been designed with children in mind and is pretty intuitive to use. You can easily change the size of your font and there are three fonts included. Story characters are included in a range of positions, there are loads of backgrounds and it also has speech bubbles you can add. To access the site fully, so you can save work, you have to register (again – it’s free) and there are lots of other great activities available via the site.
I hope you find something that will inspire your learners in that group of tools. Tomorrow I’m going to share a whole load of online animation tools and comic book creators! There will be something for everyone!

 

Something for Everyone!

It all helps when we pull together as a team so let’s share some ideas! Here’s one called ‘The Magic Chair’, an activity I have seen many times over the years but that you might be unaware of. This activity involves sitting a child on the teacher’s comfy computer chair (or any chair with wheels) and sticking a number on the back of the chair so the child cannot see it. The teacher then wheels the child around the circle of children so all but the child can see the number (you could recite a little poem along the lines of ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ only it’s more like ‘We’re going on a number hunt, will it be a big one? will it be a small one? we’re not scared…’). When the chair comes to a stand still the child has to ask his friends for three clues about the number: e.g. it’s one more than seven, it looks like a snowman, it’s an even number…should lead the child to the correct answer of number 8! Why not adapt  this activity to different themes (e.g. if the class theme is space she might change the rhyme to ‘We’re blasting into space today, we need to find a number…) and ideas (animals, words, letters,shape)?

Another good idea for maths has recently been shared with me – number towers. There were 2 different types of tower: Number tower 1 and Number tower 2 . The first had four columns of numbers and should be folded into a square tower, held together with paper clips. This number tower is used by an adult with the children, either as a mental maths exercise with a large group, where the teacher points to a number and asks a question with the number as a starting point (e.g. what is four more than this number?  for young children, or what is the answer when you multiply this number by 9, for older/more able ones), or for small group work  at a table. By laminating the towers you can write on mathematical symbols or focus on negative numbers – just make changes every day. The second tower should be folder into a triangular tower with each side having 2 columns of numbers with a clear space in between. These could be used for anything from number bonds to quick calculations – there are lots of possibilities!

My ICT tip today involves the use of Google Maps: something I blogged about a while ago but I’ve now found more uses for, like using the distance measuring tool to find out which child in the class lives closest or farthest away from the school, drawing on a route or using the street view to look at places pupils are going to be visiting. You could also use the photos included to inspire story telling (I could pretty much retell Pie Corbett’s ‘Chalie’s story’ using photos around the our area). Why not have a go?

Celtic Times

Not all schools cover work on the Celts and there is very little out there on the internet for this topic. Now, as luck would have it, I do know a fair bit about the Celts having covered it in the past.. Luckily there are some great resources available via the BBC: the BBC Celts site (for schools in Wales) and a fabulous animation showing how roundhouses were constructed. These are a good starting point for a number of activities: you could plan a literacy one based around instruction writing and time connectives using the roundhouse reconstruction and an internet research and post it challenge on based on using the other site and comparing our life to that of the Celts. If your not going to be working with ICT, or even if you are, then it’s worth exploring a Celtic design theme, which could be loosely based around maths and symmetry, where pupils have to  design, sketch and paint their own Celtic style designs. You could use the internet (and books to) research designs: there are plenty of Celtic arts and crafts on display, many of them really beautiful and inspiring. But what if you want to tie all these activities together at the end of your session? Here’s a plenary idea…

Why not introduce an online post it too for recording facts? Now, you could go with Wallwisher, which is a fantastic tool and I’ve it used before, but I’ve recently come across something that is a little bit ‘friendlier’ looking called Lino it. Lino is definitely a crowd pleaser – everyone can engage with it at their own level and you can import images and other file types in addition to adding written content. And, the best thing, it’s free. So why not try it as a way of finding out and recording how much your children have got out of a lesson!