It’s getting to be closer and closer to the start of the new year and being back in the classroom so I’m starting to be in planning mode. If you need a decent and FREE art program, I’ve mentioned this one before – Tux Paint. I’ve used it so much in the past with all grades. Even the older kids liked using it. One of my first projects with my 1st graders this year will be a Tux Paint project to help them get used to our computers again. They’ll use the text option to type their name in the middle and add stamps around it showing things they like or things that tell about them. It’s a good get to know you project and you can see how well your kids can use the keyboard for their name. I’m showing a sample using my name. What can you tell about me?
If you do decide to use Tux Paint I’d advise you to find the config file – I do this in our lab each year after reimaging – and change some of the options. I like to save to an alternative directory which ends up being a saved folder on the desktop. It ends up being saved as a png which is easily used in different programs. (I often have kids drag Tux Paint pictures into Comic Life. ) I also change some of the printing options, the blank screen check box and even the size the program opens as. You can set the options that work the best for your computers.
I’ve had to temporarily move out of the lab for my classes using one of our mobile laptop labs for my classes. We have online testing going on that just doesn’t work well on a lap top. Well, I found out that what I wanted to do with 5th graders – introducing them to Google SketchUp did not work well on the laptops. Even though they are less than 2 years old they were extremely sluggish and slow to work with. Thank goodness my other grade level plans were just fine! My back up which was an art activity also wouldn’t work because they really needed a mouse for details. So….plan 3! I found a site called Launchball which they will think of as a game but will be asking them to think about physics, electrical circuits, and movement to get balls to a goal. This is a site from a Science Museum in the UK and has 30 levels to work through as well as the opportunity to create your own. I’ve got my fingers crossed that all will work the way I have planned!
I’ve been trying to do some end of year things with 5th graders that would be good or creative alternatives to what they may normally do on the computer or during their free time. I think this is especially important now that the year is drawing to a close. A week or so ago they loved using BeFunky for all its photo effects so now here’s another site that they seem to enjoy. In fact the lab has been so quiet for the two classes I used it with that you could have heard the proverbial pin drop. Knowing what a class of 5th graders during the last 50 minutes of the day is usually like it was actually quite relaxing! Zimmer Twins is a web site that allows you to create cartoon “movies”. The site can be used without registration but movies can’t be saved. Registration would be perfect for kids at home however, allowing them to save their projects. They also state on the site that they monitor daily for appropriate content. Today I dug a bit deeper in and found a short teacher section. They give ideas for teacher use including suggesting that the teacher can register with their email address and then allow all the kids to use the nickname and password. I’ll probably do this next year now that we have a district policy for kids putting work up on non-district sites. Check out Zimmer Twins . It’s an interesting and enjoyable site for all ages.
My 4 5th grade classes had a ball with the photo efects available for free on BeFunky. We spent one class session doing crazy things with pictures! First they took one regular picture of themselves using Photo Booth. They uploaded the picture to BeFunky, played around with the effects, and then saved it back to a folder I’d set up on the server. The next class session I wanted them to learn about using the Publishing layout view in word, not terribly exciting of course but with the opportunity to add the pictures they’d created they loved it and practiced using text boxes, inserting pictures and using Word Art to create a page layout. So….what do you think of my new portrait?
I’ve had the link to Morning Sunshine for a while but haven’t done anything with it. It’s a site with at least 57 charming little games that don’t have any real educational value but are cute and fun. A few do really test coordination though and all promote good mouse skills. They would be fun for kids and a good alternative to the shooting games and violent action that is in so many video games. Haven’t tested these for use on a Smartboard but I’m sure there are many that would be very adaptable. Go ahead and visit the site but be prepared to spend some time trying one game after another. You might try bouncing a star on a bubble or clicking on cows to fill your milk bottle. As I said a little fluff but very charming and good fun!