Category Archives: Apps

Quiver Education – Planet Earth

The Quiver 3D coloring app was formerly known as ColAR.  It’s available on both Google Play and the iTunes app store as a free app. However, there are some in-app purchases on the free app.  Another option is to purchase the Education version of the app, which includes all of the content.

I published a post about this augmented reality app at the end of last school year, lamenting the fact that I had discovered the free Planet Earth page too late for my 1st graders to experience it.  This year, I knew I wanted to include this page as they learned about the continents, so I made sure to add it to my lesson plans before I forgot.

Yesterday, the students were introduced to the continents with a cute SmartBoard lesson involving a traveling guinea pig.  We also used my handy floor map (best $22 ever spent!) and the huge wall map I made (longest hours of my life) to see the continents in many different ways.

Then I asked the students to label and color Quiver’s Planet Earth page.  With a little instruction on how to use the app, I set them free to explore.

As I predicted, they were completely amazed to see their own writing and drawing come to life in 3D.  The other features (seeing the world at night or during the day, etc…) also fascinated them.

The one challenge of the app is getting the iPad the exact height above the paper to correctly “read” the page.  This meant the page could not be on the table, but needed to be on a chair or the floor for my vertically challenged 1st graders.  They adjusted to this quickly, but it also became a new activity when one of the students (accidentally?) waved her foot over the page.

“Look!  It’s showing my foot!!!!!!”  This, of course, led to a mass migration over to the iPad that suddenly had a shoe-shaped continent.

“What else can we try?”

“Let’s try a pencil!”  I found this suggestion intriguing as it actually appeared that the pencil was pointing at a particular continent. This seemed like it might have educational uses.  Granted, 3D-ness would not be necessary for that image, but it does make it more fun.

The pencil suddenly became less exciting when I found a Lego zombie that had been left behind in my classroom. This, of course, inspired more enthusiastic experimentation.  Because. You know. ZOMBIES. That makes geography so much more fun.

As usual, this lesson did not go the way I expected.  But, if it makes it easier to remember that South America and Africa are two rather large continents separated by an ocean zombie, then I’m not too worried as to whether or not learning took place.

Plus, they rocked the assessment at the end of the lesson.

Want more ideas for augmented reality in the classroom?  Check out this page of resources.

Quiver App - Planet Earth


Code Dread

Last week I gave a presentation called, “Code Dread,” at a tech conference.  I’m not sure who had more dread at the time – the attendees who hadn’t tried coding before, or me, the teacher who can only speak publicly in front of people 10 and younger.

My target audience was people who are interested in using coding in the classroom but have some reservations like:

  • I don’t know how to do this.
  • I don’t have time to learn how to do this.
  • I can’t fit this into my curriculum.

Here are my recommended solutions:

  • Pretend you’re pretending you don’t know how to do this because that’s what’s best for your students; it will make them better problem solvers.  This has the added benefit of being true. (Not the pretending part – the better problem solver part.)  If you don’t know how to do it, you won’t feel tempted to rescue them too quickly.
  • Learn along with your students.  You don’t have to spend time during the weekend learning it.  Just put it in your lesson plans and jump in.  It will be messy and chaotic, but learning will happen.  You’re modeling a growth mindset, and showing students that it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them.
  • Once students know the basics, there are all kinds of ways coding can be used as part of your everyday curriculum.  For example, Sphero provides lessons that connect to math.  With Scratch Jr. you can teach Kinders how to program while they learn their sight words. And I taught my 1st graders geography with Dash and Dot.

Here is the link to my presentation – though it may not make a whole lot of sense without my narration.

Hour of Code will be here soon (12-7 thru 12-13).  The site provides extremely user-friendly resources and tutorials.  They just announced their newest tutorial yesterday – Star Wars!  This is a great way to dip your toes into coding and find out that it really isn’t that intimidating.  Here is a simplified scope and sequence I offered to our faculty last year (with a few updates for 2015).

But don’t stop there!  Your students will love being able to code on a regular basis – especially when they are able to create games or art with their programming.  You can find many resources in my Code Dread presentation.  I also have a “Programming for Kids” Pinterest board.

So, jump on in.  Who cares if you don’t know what you’re doing?

I certainly don’t.  Know what I’m doing, I mean :)

Take a risk, and get rid of your

Code Dread

Let’s Talk Turkey

I’ve gathered a few more ideas this year to add to my Cornucopia of Creative and Critical Thinking Activities for Thanksgiving, which I published a couple of years ago.

  • First, I want to go back to a suggestion in my Cornucopia post, which was, “What are you Thankful For? Ask it Better.” I’ve been using different prompts from this article with each grade level.  For example, my 5th graders brainstormed what they are thankful for that they cannot see.  My 2nd graders brainstormed what teachers might be thankful for, as you can see below.  I really like this twist on giving thanks.

Thankful Teachers

What are teachers thankful for? You might not see it in the picture above, but one of the students wrote, “Other teachers.”  And that is very true.  Thank goodness for all of the awesome educators who are kind enough to share their resources on the web for those of us who aren’t quite as creative!

AR Basketball Math Fun

In one of the sessions I attended during this weekend’s Tech Field Day SA, Cori Coburn-Shiflett spoke about using technology games in the classroom.  As she pointed out, even sites and apps that were not designed for education can be used for learning.  AR Basketball is a good example.  Even though I posted about this app awhile ago, I did not have it listed on my AR Resources page because I felt that some teachers might question its educational value.  However, Cori directed us to a great resource from Charlotte Dolat (one of the fabulous Tech Field Day organizers) that provides free printable worksheets for math integration with this app.  By changing the activity to one that teaches mean, median, and mode, AR Basketball becomes a win/win for the teacher and the students.

Screen Shot from AR Basketball app
Screen Shot from AR Basketball app


This week’s Phun Phriday post is about an iPad app called Hyper. Billed as a video magazine, this free app delivers a new set of hand-picked videos to you every day.  According to the app’s description, film-makers choose the posts for each issue.

This is not an app I would recommend downloading on student iPads (particularly in elementary school).  However, you may discover videos that you will want to share with your students.  For example, my 5th graders are reading The Giver, and the October 28th issue offers a video from Neil deGrasse Tyson called, “Say No to a Dystopian Tomorrow.

You may also find some inspiration in your Hyper video magazine. The 10/29/15 issue featured a story called, “Special Ed Real World Lessons,” that brought happy tears to my eyes.

And then there are the ones that are just plain amusing, like Emeril Lagasse’s explanation of the origin of his trademark “BAM!” in the October 27th edition.

The videos are culled from many places such as National Geographic and Soul Pancake.  Yes, you could find them yourself.  But it sure is nice to have them delivered to you each day :)

Screen Shot from Hyper
Screen Shot from Hyper

Wonder League Robotics Competition

If you have the Dash and Dot robots, you have probably received a few e-mails from Wonder Workshop describing the upcoming Robotics Competition.  I highly recommend that you consider entering a team (deadline for signing up is 11/1/15)!   This set of 7 missions looks like fun and a great opportunity for collaboration and problem solving.

All of the missions must be recorded and submitted together by 12/1/15.  The winning team (which can be 1-6 people, ages 6-11, supervised by an adult) will win an all-expenses-paid “STEM Field Trip” to California!  The top 4 teams will receive a Dash robot for every member of their team!

You need at least one Dash and one Dot robot to participate.  If you don’t have these fabulous robots, the competition page gives you a coupon code for $20 off an order of the pair.

My students love these robots, and there are even more apps to use with them now than when they first debuted.  This summer saw the release of the “Wonder” app, and last year “Tickle” app integrated Dash and Dot into the hardware that you can control with a mobile device and block programming.

For more information and the first 6 missions, which you can start now, visit the website now.  Remember, you must sign your team(s) up by 11/1/15!

My students trying to program Dash.  For more information, click here.
My students trying to program Dash. For more information, click here. For a fun geography lesson with your Dash and Dot robots, take a look at this post. And, to read about our Maker Club Robot Olympics last year, check this out.



CodeArt is an iOS app by Pentaquistic Solutions.  (According to their website, they are working on an Android version.)  For free, you can try to solve 16 puzzles.  An extra 99 cents will get you the premium version with 40 challenges.

According to Pentaquistic’s site, CodeArt was designed for children aged 8-10.  I agree with that – though I am an adult who enjoyed playing the game.  The game could probably be used with younger students fairly easily as long as they are provided guidance.

CodeArt teaches the logic of programming by giving you a design that you must try to replicate with the “code” you are allotted. In the example below (the first puzzle), the target design is on the left.  In the orange box, the user must place the commands to make the oval create the same design on the right.

screen shot from CodeArt app
screen shot from CodeArt app

Of course, the designs get increasingly difficult as you proceed through the game, but I feel like CodeArt scaffolds extremely well.

You might want to add CodeArt to your “Intro to Coding” toolbox for students.  If you would like to see more suggestions, check out my “Programming for Kids” Pinterest Board.