Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Using a green screen to make classroom videos

A couple of weeks ago I had the awesome opportunity to attend the ASB Unplugged tech conference at the American School of Bombay.  One of my favorite sessions was run by the kindergarten teachers there who showed us how they use a green screen to make videos with their classes.  If you aren't familiar with what a green screen is, check out this video to get a better idea:

Obviously I am not yet making Hollywood quality movies with my four year old students, but we have been having some fun with this technology.  Here are a couple of the videos we made:

The first thing you need to do to be ready to make your own green screen videos is to go download an app.  I used Green Screen Mobile Effects  from the iTunes store (it's an iPhone app, not an iPad app, so if you're searching for it on your ipad just make sure you click the iphone apps tab.  It's a free app, but I would suggest paying the money to upgrade to be able to use your own backgrounds.   http://bit.ly/1ezji83

Then, you need to set up a green screen in your classroom.  I just used some green bulletin board paper, but you could paint cardboard or buy a big piece of green fabric too.

Now you're ready!  Just open the app, choose video then select a picture from your ipad that you want for your background.  Have students stand in front of the green screen and record.

You can export the videos into your photo folder on your ipad and then transfer them to your computer so you can edit several videos together using a program like Windows Movie Maker, imovie or Animoto.

If you have any fun ideas for how you can use a green screen video with your class please comment!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Math wall cards

I saw something similar to this on Pinterest a while ago that was geared towards older students.  I wanted to modify it to meet the needs of my students, so if you'd like to use the one I created, go HERE to download it for free.

I printed and laminated the cards and then we played a game where I put the cards face up on the classroom rug and students had to sort the cards into ways of representing each number.  After the game I hung the cards up on the classroom wall.  My students have been having fun with the pointers using the cards to count.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Engineering...for girls

I just came across this commercial that a company called Goldie Blox put out to sell engineering kits to little girls.  I love teaching STEM, and certainly hope to see more girls go into those fields in the future. The video reminds me of the FOSS Balance and Motion unit, which is one of my favorite units to teach, but it was sad to me that already in first grade, a few of the girls in my class sat back and let the boys take charge and share their ideas.  Hopefully this will usher in a new generation of girls who are eager to build things, test predictions and experiment.

Maybe I'll get my niece one of their kits for Christmas this year :)

Watch the video here:

Model Magic Fun!

It has been raining in Bahrain! Not just the 30 seconds of rain we get a couple of times a year, but steady, sustained rain.  It has rained more in the last three days than in the last few years combined, so in a country with no sewer or drainage system, there have been a lot of flooded roads and buildings (including the top floor of my house).  A lot of schools were closed today, but ours remained open.  Good thing it did, because I had an amazing day with my kiddos!

 Our wet early childhood garden

We used Model Magic for the first time this year.  The kids loved it so much, they said it felt like playing with marshmallows and they kept thanking me for giving it them.  We've been working on our Health and Nutrition theme, so they picked their favorite fruit or vegetable to mold their Model Magic into and then they used pencil tips and marker lids to make indentations to make it look more like the actual fruit and vegetable looks.

We made them in the morning and then in the afternoon we used watercolor paints to paint them.  I think they came out looking great, and the kids were so excited for me to put them out in the hallway for their parents to look at during conferences tomorrow. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fun technology activity for pre-k

We are just wrapping up our Body and Senses theme this week.  One of the activities that we usually do after learning the names of the parts of the body is to have the students talk about how a time when they hurt a part of their body and then label the parts of the body to create a class boo-boo book. 

I am always looking for ways to meaningfully integrate technology into the curriculum in a way that engages the students, so it occurred to me that rather that just scribe what the students are saying for their boo boo stories, I could record their stories.  I used the app croak it, which is a free iphone app in the itunes store.  It's a simple, easy to use app that records up to 30 seconds of voice recording and stores it online.  I then used the links from croak it to go the website QR Code Generator to create individual QR codes linked to each students voice recording.  I printed the QR codes and attached it to their work so that students and their parents can scan the code and hear the child actually telling the story.  The students were so excited to hear themselves!  It was great too because a couple of students were able to identify the fact that they speak too soft or too fast or are too wordy (croak.it only records up to 30 seconds), so it was great for them to notice that and work on self-correcting.

Here's how the final product came out.  It was great to see parents scanning their child's work at dismissal today and hearing the stories they tell at school!

Scan this QR code to hear a sample story:
If you have any great suggestions for how to use technology in the early childhood classroom, leave a comment!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

O is for octopus fine motor skills craft

I love when I find simple activities I can do with my class that kill two birds with one stone...or in this case three birds with one stone.

We just started learning about patterns this week in math, so I've been trying to think of some fun patterning activities to do with my kids.  I was straightening up my classroom this afternoon when it occurred to me that since we're also learning about the letter O this week, we could use pipe cleaners twisted into the shape of an octopus and put beads on them to practice making patterns.  The O shape in the octopuses head is a good visual reminder that octopus begins with O.  The patterns on the tentacles can easily be differentiated to allow students who have mastered A-B patterns to move on to more challenging patterns.  I asked the students to make their patterns 10 beads long so they could practice counting with one to one correspondence.  On top of that, putting the beads on the pipe cleaners is great fine motor skills practice, which is ALWAYS needed in pre-k.  Viola! Math, Literacy, and fine motor skills practice all in one.

To make it just take four pipe cleaners bend them in half and create a small circle at the top by looping the pipe cleaners around your thumb and twisting the pipe cleaners around.  Spread out the tentacles, glue on googly eyes and then put beads onto the tentacles.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Synonyms with Fancy Nancy

I have been getting a lot of re-pins from this picture I put up on Pinterest a couple of years ago:

When I taught first grade we did a lot work with synonyms and antonyms.  I wanted to encourage the students to use more interesting vocabulary in their writing.  We read a few Fancy Nancy books and discussed how Nancy was able to use fancier versions of ordinary, over-used words.  I made this poster and as students discovered words that were synonyms for these words, they could write the synonym on a popsicle stick and put it in the pocket.  I hung the poster low enough that students could reach it.  I was pleasantly surprised how much they used the popsicle sticks during writer's workshop, going through the pockets until they found a word that would make their writing sound more interesting. 

Here's a copy of the heading paper and the words from the poster.  Just cut and attach the words to sticky backed library pockets.  Have fun with it!