Tag Archives: writing

Thing Explainer

Randall Munroe was first brought to my attention when a parent directed to me to his fun website, xkcd.com.  One of my favorite Randall Munroe comics is “Up Goer Five,” a diagram of the Saturn V explained in simple language.  The best part, in my opinion, is at the bottom where it says, “This end should point toward the ground if you want to go to space.  If it starts pointing toward space, you are having a bad problem and you will not go to space today.”  I feel like this is the perfect metaphor for some of my lessons ;)

To my delight, I noticed on one of my “Lists That Can’t Be Missed,” that the author of The Kid Should See This, has recommended Munroe’s new book, Thing Explainer, as a great gift.  I’m one of those geeky teachers who asks for things for her classroom as gifts, and my husband kindly indulged me by putting it under the tree.

The book’s Table of Contents is called, “Things in this Book by Page.” Munroe is kind enough to put the more formal names of each explained thing underneath the titles, which you may find more necessary in some cases than others.  For example, “Boat that goes under the sea,” is a submarine.

Of course.  What do you think “The pieces everything is made of,” refers to?

Periodic table.  Maybe you got that one, but I have a feeling that, “Shape checker” won’t come so easily to you.

You’ll have to buy the book to find the answer to that one ;)

I see a lot of uses for this book in the classroom.  Have students pick a page and do research to find the actual names for each part on the diagram, for example.  Or, don’t show them a picture at first, and have them try to guess what it is as you read the descriptions. Another idea is to, once the students see some examples, have them create their own “Thing Explainer” diagram for something that is not in the book.  (Challenge them to use only the words on Munroe’s list of the “Ten Hundred Words People Use the Most.”  They can check sentences with his simplewriter tool online.)

Included in the book is a nice poster of a “Sky Toucher” which I intend to laminate for my classroom.  If you’re interested in other xkcd merchandise, here is a link to the store (which includes a poster of the Up Goer Five).

thingexplainer
Buy Thing Explainer here!

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!

Kids Philosophy Slam 2016

The annual Kids Philosophy Slam has announced its new topic for 2016 – Imagination or Knowledge: Which has a Greater Impact on Society?

I’m determined to have my students enter this year, as I think that they will have a lot to say about this topic!  For more information about the rules for the Philosophy Slam, check out this page.

If you think your students are too young to think philosophically, read about how Joelle Trayers handles philosophy with her Kinder class!

Philosophy Slam

EngineerGirl

EngineerGirl has been literally rated, “A Great Website for Kids” by the Association for Library Service to Children.  After visiting the site, I have to agree with ALSC that it is an awesome site for young students who would like to know about engineering.

Obviously, the site is aimed at girls.  However, there is a lot of information that will appeal to both genders.  The “Try on a Career” page allows you to click on different types of engineering occupations to learn more.  The site also includes interviews with engineers, resources,  and information on “How to Get There.”

EngineerGirl is currently sponsoring an essay contest for girls and boys in grades 3-12.  Students must propose a new technology that they think would help in at least one of these areas:

  • Safety
  • Health
  • Well-being, and
  • Environmental sustainability

Entries are due by 2/1/16.  For more information, go to this page.

I’m definitely adding EngineerGirl to my “STEM Inspiration” Pinterest Board!

EngineerGirl

Typatone

Typatone comes from the makers of Patatap.  In the latter, you are basically able to create visual fireworks by typing on a keyboard, as each key corresponds to a shape and sound.  Typatone is similar, but it allows you to create music with a sentence.

The website is free to use.  There is an app available for .99, but I think free works pretty well for me;)

How can you use this in class?  We discuss synesthesia in my 4th grade GT class, so Typatone can definitely augment that discussion. Also, I think the students would enjoy writing poetry or sentences with figurative language to see how they sound.  How about a spelling test?  Allow students to listen to the sounds of different letters, and then have them guess what word you just spelled.  Music teachers can probably think of a few applications also.

Creations can be shared through e-mail or embedding (although the embedding option apparently does not work in this blog).  You can click here to listen to the short tune I composed.

Typatone

Litographs

One of my fabulous colleagues, Suzanne Horan, shared the Litograph website earlier this week, and I’ve been trying to narrow down my wish list ever since!  (My birthday is coming up so – Perfect. Timing.)

The Litograph website sells t-shirts, posters, and totes that are based on famous literary works.  If you look at them closely (their website allows you to zoom in), you will see that the artwork is actually created by text from the book – kind of like word clouds taken to a whole new level!

Some of the products have illustrations on the front and back, so be sure to scroll over them to reveal both sides.

Don’t see your favorite book represented?  You can make a request and vote on other suggestions here.  (I voted for The Giver and The Princess Bride.)

Thanks to Suzanne for the tip (and the flour she brought me to save me from a Squishy Circuits disaster earlier this week)!  Happy Phun Phriday!

from Litographs.com
from Litographs.com

Makey Makey Lesson Plans – Beyond the Piano

Many of you, like me, may have found the Makey Makey to be quite fun and a great way to inspire creativity.  But where to go from there?   Makey Makey now offers a Lesson Plans section with suggestions for integrating the Makey Makey into your classroom. The current list is fairly short, but I’m guessing there will be more added as time goes by.  I like the ideas, particularly since they are way more creative than anything I would dream up.  My favorite is the Candid Camera one, which would be a great way to spark writing in the classroom.

from Makey Makey Lessons
from Makey Makey Lessons