Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Importing and Exporting -- Fun with Photobooth

My students love the PhotoBooth app.  Who doesn't?  An application that allows you to take endless "selfies" and twist, twirl, and warp your face so that you look like something out of a fantasy movie?  PERFECT for a kid of any age!  

Most of the time, my kiddos use the app when they earn some free time after finishing projects -- but we also use it to learn the art of exporting and importing files.  

My Second Graders have recently been working on creating Kid Pix documents that involve them importing 4 images and adding text as captions.  Simple and easy fun for them -- and a project that allows me to assess their skill at exporting/importing as well as text editing (font, color, and size).

First -- we take four selfies showing four different emotions.  I use a word bank on the whiteboard to give ideas of emotions and we do a couple of practice "snaps" to get our face loosened up.  

Second -- we export our four images to the desktop by dragging and dropping them out of the Photo bin and onto the desktop.  I've also had them drag them to a folder with their name on it inside the Student document folder (our local save file) on the hard drive if I want them to keep the images for another use.  

Third -- I provide a simple template in Kid Pix Deluxe that has the screen divided into four quadrants.  Student use the Import-Graphic option in the menu bar and bring in each of the images.  It's a challenge at first -- because Kid Pix brings in the images really big.  Like REALLY big -- and they have to carefully resize and relocate the pictures so that they are inside each of the four areas.  

Fourth -- Once all the pictures are imported, they start adding text boxes with simple captions that state the emotion being shown. 

I ask that each caption be typed grammatically correct and that punctuation is used.  I also ask that they modify the text in at least two ways using the font, color, and size options.  

Yes -- it's an easy activity -- but the kids love it and they are fun to hang up at conference time.

What activities do you do with PhotoBooth?

NOTE:  Apologies for subjecting you all to my images and not sharing some student work.  I figured it would be best to keep their images off a public blog.  You'll have to trust me that their work is much cuter than mine!  :-)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Get clicking with KidsMouse 3

Kindergarteners -- or as I call them, my "Littles" -- come to the Computer Lab with big, open eyes and excited smiles ready to see what we are going to do each day.  I love hearing the sounds of excitement escape from them as they listen to directions and watch me demonstrate what the new activities look like.  I chuckle to myself as I watch them practically knock each other over as they bolt to their computers, ready to try out the program or website for themselves --- and then sigh in exasperation as many of them start poking at the computer screens with their fingers.   Many of the kids don't think about using the mouse or track pad since they are so used to using an iPad or other touch screen device.

The Curse of the Tablet has struck again.  Dun dun dunnnnn........

Because of this, I'm always on the lookout for fun and exciting activities to teach mousing skills to the Littles.  I've found some great ones over the years, but one of my favorite finds is the KidsMouse application.  This easy-to-use program reinforces the click and drag concept with fun activities that also strengthen language arts, math, and other skills.  You can download and sample the program using their Free Trial.  You can only play about 8 of the 22 activities in the free trial -- but you will at least get a taste of how easy and fun it will be for your students.  If you like what you see, you can buy it for individual computers at $15.00 per device.  I chose to use part of my yearly budget and paid for school-wide license for $150.00!  That is an amazing deal for the number of activities you get in this one program.

Page one of three Kidsmouse activity pages
One of the best things about this is the positive reward of a happy dog wagging its tail when the Little solves a puzzle or completes a task.  They learn that if they don't see this, they have something to fix.

Activities like the ABC Puzzle help with alphabet recognition and order.  The activity focuses on both upper case and lower case letters.  I love that there is an easy level (figure 1) and a challenge level (figure 2).   The Littles always tell me that the easy level is super easy -- but they have a "woah" moment when they try the challenge level.  When they get to this level, I start hearing the ABC song start to be sung by 23 different kids -- each one starting at a different time.

figure 1 - ABC Puzzle (easy)
figure 2 - ABC Puzzle (challenge)

As the school year progresses and more and more Sight Words are learned, I like to introduce the Missing Word (figure 3) activity.  This puzzle provides each Little with a picture of an easily recognized animal or non-living item.  They then have to drag missing letters to spell out the word.

figure 3 (Missing Word)

Other favorites are the math activities that strengthen counting and sorting.  In Color Ball (figure 4), the Littles drag colored balls into the appropriate area focusing on the number of balls required to move on to the next level.

figure 4 - Color Ball

In Number Puzzle, there is an easy level and challenge levels.  In the easy level students click and drag numbers to their matching shadow -- much like the ABC puzzle.  The challenge activity (figure 5) requires the Little to count items and find the number that matches.  

figure 5 - Number Puzzle

In version 3.2 of KidsMouse there are 22 activities that help strengthen mousing skills while focusing on core learning abilities.  Geography, Geometry, Patterns, and Drawing --- all of them fun and engaging.  

Check them out for yourself!!

Monday, September 8, 2014

International Dot Day - coming September 15ish

I love Peter Reynold's book, "The Dot".  (In fact, I love ALL his books.)  I'm a proud member of the Dot Club.  If you aren't familiar with "The Dot", it's a wonderfully empowering story about a little girl named Vashti, who felt she couldn't draw.  With a little nudge from her Art teacher, she not only becomes an artist who is unafraid to "make her mark" -- but helps to motivate others to find the creativity within themselves.

Each year, on September 15-ish, students at my school, along with countless others around the world, celebrate International Dot Day.  We wear dots on our clothes and we paint dots with watercolors, draw them with crayons, and color dots with markers -- but we also create using our computers.  For my "littles" it's a great way to introduce our drawing program, Kid Pix Deluxe.

I love using this book as an introduction to Kid Pix Deluxe for my "littles" because, many times they have trouble clicking and dragging to create the lines on the page.  They get frustrated.  They don't believe that what they are drawing is good enough.  I remind them that Vashti kept trying -- she experimented with color and size.  She was BRAVE (see my Brave post from August 20)!!

We talk about the drawing tools and the different options to create dots.  We explore what the pencil lines look like compared to the chalk, crayon, and marker lines.  We learn how to change the color.  We experiment with the size tool.  We draw dots freehand.  We practice clicking and dragging to use the Circle Tool.

LARGE DOTS, little dots, overlapping dots, see-through dots....ALL kinds of dots.

After the kiddos have created their masterpiece, we print them out and they sign them.  These masterpieces join the countless others lining the hallways of my school in celebration of Dot Day.  My kids learn early that they have the power within to MAKE THEIR MARK!

What will you do to make your mark in the world?