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More Planet Movies

Here are two more planet movies:

Planet Movies

I wanted to share with you the space activity I did with my students. I had the students create their own planet on Kidspix. I encouraged them to be creative. I had a balloon planet and a planet that only cooked blueberry pancakes. After they were done creating the planet, I printed each child's planet and gave it to them. They then had to write about their planet. I told them I wanted at least 3 sentences but most of my students wrote more. They had a great time coming up with new ideas for their planet.

After they were done writing about their planet, I recorded them reading about their planet using Audacity. Each student had a chance to record. They are now so comfortable recording, it only took 19 students about 20 minutes total to record. I was impressed.

When the student were done recording, I exported their planet pictures out of Kidspix as a JPEG and took the MP3 from Audacity and created a planet movie using Microsoft MovieMaker. Here is one example:

Teaching Space with Bookflix

This week I introduced space with books with Scholastic BookFlix. Bookflix is a book resource that takes a subject and presents it with a fiction and non-fiction book. Each book provides users with additional resources that help students expand their knowledge on the topic.

Since we were learning about space, I had the students begin the day with watching Happy Birthday Moon by Frank Asch. The students enjoyed watching the story on the computer. The story is presented with animation and background music that sets the mood of the story. The students are able to follow along as the narrator reads the story as each word becomes highlighted.

Happy Birthday Moon has follow Puzzlers that help the students build their comprehension questions. I enjoyed the puzzle Which Came First? Here the students place the sequence of events in order. I thought it was clever that Scholastic provided ways for younger users to listen to the direction. The students click on the ear and then are able to listen to what they need to do.

After watching Happy Birthday Moon in the morning, I had the students watch the non-fiction book Updated: The Moon. Here the students were able to physically click through the fiction book on the moon. They could either drag the top corner of the page to switch pages or click the green arrow. Students have the option to read the story on their own or listen as the narrator reads the story. Words are also highlighted through the book. These words are vocabulary words. The reader can roll their mouse over the words and listen to the definition.

There are puzzlers for the non-fiction book as well. One of the puzzles is a word match that follows up with the vocabulary words. There is one more puzzle that compares the two books and asks the students to decide if the statement is fact or fiction. 

I also found that it offers a biography on Frank Asch. I thought it was a great way for the students to relate to the author. Again for young readers, it has the option to listen to the biography or for older readers to read it. For teachers there is also a section to extend the lesson online. Scholastic provides websites that reinforce the lesson on space.

Overall, I was impressed with the product. I will always believe teachers should not let the computer to the teaching but let technology enhance learning. This site does have a free trial that I strongly believe you should check out. There are many stories and many topics to choose from!

100th Day Podcasts

This week, I noticed I haven't done any podcasting with my class in awhile. I decided I wanted to do two podcasts with my students for the 100th day of school. While we were recording our podcasts, I noticed how comfortable they were talking into the microphone compared to the beginning of the school year when they were afraid to talk. Podcasting is just like anything else. The more you do it, the more comfortable you become.

The first podcast we recorded was our class book "If I had $100 I would ______". The students had aIMG_0902   blast coming up with ideas of what they would buy. I had many students ask me what I would buy and when I told them I would buy an IPhone, I had one student tell me that I would need more money because an IPhone cost $200 instead of $100. All I could do was laugh. Below is our podcast. Please be patience as it downloads.

Download If i had $100

Our second podcast was the entire class counting to 100. In the beginning of the school year, I had my students listen to my previous class count to 100. I had many students ask if we could record our class counting. I made a deal with them. I told them when everyone in our class could count to 100 we would record. I had many determine students come to me and count. Before I knew it, my whole class knew how to count to 100. I decided to wait to our 100th day of school to record them. Below is our podcast count to 100. Enjoy!

Download Count to 100

Africa Follow-Up

I wanted to share a website that I found this week while my class was learning about Africa. The website is called WildEarth. This website has a live webcam from Djuma Game Reserve in Africa. Each weekday morning, they have a live bush walk that allows us to follow them as the ride through the African Bush. We had a great time watching the webcam.

Throughout the day, I would have the website on while the students were doing seatwork. When different animals would appear, we would stop and watch. At one point, we watch an elephant eating leaves. I think I was just as excited about the elephant as the students. As a class, we mapped the reserve on Google Earth. We watch as the sun set and the sky became darker in Djuma. We compared the webcam to Google Earth's sun feature.

This website lets Africa come to your classroom. The webcam allows a more meaningful experience because at times, it felt like we were in Africa. We compared Africa's landscape to Florida's landscape. We saw many similarities and many differences. I thought you might enjoy this website. It's free and easy. My favorite :-)

Africa

Africa_googleearth

This week we are learning about Africa. I have to admit, I do not have many books or activities for Africa. I have many activities that involve the animals of Africa, but not many activities about the country. I have always thought back to the activities I have done in the past and thought I could do better. I have been thinking about what I could do Africa for weeks.

I was saved this morning when I received an email from a friend who is enlisted in the Navy. His ship is in Africa! I thought to go along with our map lesson, we could following him as he sails from port to port using Google Earth. I thought we could connect with Africa by having someone we communicate with actually in Africa.

I have done activities with my friend in the past. He would send us pictures of the places he has visited and we send him emails about what we are doing. It's a great way to explore geography and include ways to send letters. In the past, he has visited our class, but unfortunately this year he will be gone till August.

I also thought it would be neat to explain the time difference. I'm sure there is a way I can download a clock on my computer that tells the time in Africa. The kids would see that it was dark in Africa when we were in school. There is a feature on Google Earth that allows the user to see what places are sunny and what places are dark. The button is located near the top and has a sun and cloud on it. You can have your class track the sun throughout the day. I feel the more we relate things we are doing to Africa, the more the students would understand that Africa is different than here. I'll keep you posted on what we are doing and what I find throughout the week on Africa.

Google Earth

Img_0564 This week I am teaching the students about Japan. I always enjoy teaching the students about different cultures. Through the school year, I teach the students about Japan, Australia, the United States, and Florida. For each culture, I use Google Earth as a tool to explore the different places.

In my classroom I have an E-Reader television that allows me to hook up my television to my computer. Everything that I do appears on the television making it easier for the students to see. This week when I introduced Japan, I used Google Earth for the first time with my students. The students were in awe at the world. I showed them where we lived and how you would travel to Japan.

Img_0565_2Once we arrived to Japan, Google Earth provides pictures of the Japanese culture. The students loved seeing pictures of Mount Fuji and the Japanese castles. After exploring Japan with Google Earth, I showed the students a PowerPoint on Japan. In the PowerPoint, I provided pictures of Japanese foods, clothing, money, music, and cherry blossoms. I find it easier to create a PowerPoint to introduce cultures because I can easily find images to introduce the topic.

Luckily for me, I also was given Japanese items to share with my students. The students loved seeing the Mickey and Minnie in the kimono and the chop sticks. I find that my students love learning about geography and different cultures. It's easy for many of my students to relate to the different countries because we live close to Epcot. They have become familiar with the different countries because of Disney.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

After our first podcast was a big hit, I thought we should do another one. The students had fun making "A my name is..." and we had recently made a class book called Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. The class book was based on the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star nursery rhyme. The students were asked to complete the sentence "I wish I had a _______".

With help with our computer lab teacher, Mrs. Paul, the students were taken out of my class two at aTwinkle_twinkle_little_star  time to record their part. After each student recorded their part, as a class they recited the nursery rhyme as the introduction to our podcast. The students also added a short rhyme to the end of our podcast.

Mrs. Paul and I did the recordings out of order. The software we were using allowed us to do that. It was simple to add recordings to the beginning and end of the podcast. The students had fun coming up with different ideas. We had wishes for monster trucks, money, and a seal. After the podcast was complete, we listened to it as a class. There were many laughs and giggles. Some students became shy when they heard themselves and others thought it was very cool! 

Download Twinkle_Twinkle.mp3

Digital Storytelling

I grew up loving Shel Silverstein. His poems and stories provided a great amount of detail for me to imagine Little Peggy Ann McKay laying in bed pleading her case or the silly young king and his peanut-butter sandwich. I can actually remember listening to my teachers reading the poems and getting lost in his world.

Each afternoon, I spend the last few minutes of the day reading from Silverstein's books. I think it's a relaxing way to end our school day. My students have become familiar with his poems and always request their favorites. I was thrilled to hear our third grade friends recorded "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out" on a podcast. After asking their teacher if we could use the recording, my class and I came up with the idea of turning the podcast into a Digital Storytelling activity.

I learned about Digital Storytelling in my graduate classes. Digital Storytelling is a way for the students to use their imagination and provide visuals and audio clips to their favorite stories. I like to use Windows Movie Maker to bring everything together. After having my students listen to the third graders, I broke the story up and gave each student a part to illustrate. After the illustrations were finished, I used my digital camera and took a picture of each illustration using black construction paper to make a solid black background.

As I added the digital pictures and the recording to Windows Movie Maker, I noticed that we needed to add something to the end of our movie but I couldn't think of anything. I decided that since this was the student's project that I would let them decide how to end our movie. I showed the class what I had so far and before I could ask what to do next, I already had students suggesting ideas.

I ended up using their ideas. I took pictures of students picking up trash, throwing in the garbage can, and taking the trash out to the dumpster. It was a perfect way to end our movie! This whole project has opened so many doors for me. I let the students take control of the project. They came up with all the illustrations from listening to the poem. The only job I had was keeping order and taking care of the Windows Movie Maker part. I feel like using the Digital Storytelling, not only was keeping their attention by using technology, but they were also using their comprehension, listening, and visualizing skills.

Download Movie.wmv

Movie Making

I came across this site last year but I was reintroduced a couple of weeks ago in one of my graduate classes. Animoto is a website that creates videos. Animoto is an easy three step process. The first step is to download pictures from your digital camera or computer. Step two is adding music. Animoto provides a music lounge where you can choose a song or you have the option of using your own songs. The final step is finalizing your movie. At this time, Animoto takes your pictures and song choice and publishes your movie.

I saw some videos already made and I wanted to make an Alphabet video with my students. I decided to have the students create the letters using materials that start with the letter. For example, we used acorns to create an A. There were some letters we were stumped on. We could not find anything in our classroom to use so we did the best we could.

The students came up with all the ideas themselves. The only job I had was taking the pictures. I did show the class how to do the letter A and H. I had to give them examples of what I wanted to do. It was a great experience. Before we started, I wrote a list of the letters and as a class we brained stormed ideas for each letter. The students worked together and created each letter. 

Animoto provides everyone free 30 second videos. It also had Animoto for Education. By signing up for Animoto for Education, you have an unlimited account. You can make videos as long as you like. When I signed up for it, they asked for my school email address and it took Animoto one to two days to confirm the account. It was well worth the wait. Now I have another resource for my classroom. 

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Early Childhood Teacher are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.