I am not a big fan of the term digital native. Just because kids are growing up in a time where technology surrounds them, doesn’t mean they can effectively use it. I see this all the time with my kindergarten and first graders. Many are not able to use a mouse effectively. They don’t hold it correctly, they have trouble clicking and dragging, and are still developing their hand eye coordination. In the lab, I try to work on this skill by finding activities that will help them with their mouse skills.
This week, the kindergarteners had assistance from Sam the Snowman. Sam the Snowman is picture book about a snowman who tries to bring snow to some children. He has trouble at first, but with the magic of giving, he is finally able to make snowflakes for the children. We haven’t had a lot of snow in our area compared to previous years so we decided to make some snow in the computer lab, just like Sam. In the process, we’d be working on improving the mouse skills of kindergarten students. Using the Make-a-Flake website, students created digital snowflakes. I love this site because students can create awesome paper snowflakes without all of the little scraps of paper on the floor.In addition, students can make their snowflake, preview it, and then go back and make more cuts to improve it. The site allows users to save the pictures, download them, or print them out. We weren’t planning on printing any of these out, but instead the students were able to save their favorite snowflakes. When students felt they created a neat snowflake, they let me know and I took a picture of it. I turned those pics into a couple of Vines you can see below. They had a blast with this and created many fantastic snowflakes, they practiced their mouse skills, and we didn’t waste a lot of paper or have to clean up any scraps. I’d call that a win win win.
This week, I took iPads into the classrooms due to standardized testing in the computer lab. I wanted the students to create something related to their knowledge of reading strategies. I decided to try using ChatterPixKids as the app of choice. Chatterpix Kids is an app that can make anything talk — pets, friends, doodles, and more. Users take a photo, draw a line to make the mouth, and record their voice. My idea was to have students find a picture of an animal and then use the app to create a short video sharing the reading strategy We had the app, we needed the pictures.
I don’t believe it’s ever a good idea to just let students search Google for images, especially elementary aged students. I decided to use photosforclass.com, one of my favorite sites to get copyright free or Creative Commons pictures. Using the site was extremely easy for the students to use, they simply went to Safari on the iPads, went to photosforclass.com, and searched for their animal. I reminded the students they needed to make sure their animal’s face was looking forward so it worked well with the app. They had little trouble doing this and with a brief demonstration of how to save the pictures to the iPad camera roll, they were often running. The students had a great time with this and created some fun videos, some of which can be found below. I think this was a neat way for students to share reading strategies with their classmates. I saw joy in their faces and heard a lot of laughter as students continued experimenting with the app, trying out different voices and creating other videos they shared with their classmates.
Saving the videos to the devices was simple. I only wish sharing the videos from the app to social media was possible. I would have loved to tweet out the videos easily. Instead, I had to upload the videos to YouTube and share that way. It worked, but it wasn’t very efficient.
This link will take you to a folder with more videos the students created.