How to Have a Screaming Great Time

One of the more enlightening activities I’ve done with my students in the past is to have them brainstorm things that “make them scream” whether from fear or exasperation, and use those words and phrases to reproduce the Edvard Munch masterpiece, “The Scream.” You can read in this post how I learned a valuable lesson about making assumptions one year when we did this. For our products, we used iPads, WordFoto, and the Green Screen app by DoInk. There are other ways to do Green Screen on different devices, but I haven’t found something as good as the WordFoto app, which is a paid app only on iOS. However, the absolute genius on projects like this is Tricia Fuglestad (@TriciaFuglestad), who has done quite a few Scream projects with her art students. You can get a preview of one of them here, or purchase one of her TPT packs that compile the ideas and instructions that she has created over the years (see the top of her haunted blog post for links to those).

Here is an excellent lesson on how to analyze “The Scream.” This video gives a short history, and directions for making your own Scream painting. I also like these instructions for creating a yarn version.

As it was World Mental Health Day on October 10th, and that is a topic near and dear to my heart, I also want to include a link to this article about the artist and his own struggles with insecurity and depression. Also, here is a list of children’s books that deal with fears and phobias.

I’ll be adding this to my Halloween/October Wakelet collection. You can check out the rest of those resources here!

Read this post to learn more about this pic!

Microbe Art

I have long been fascinated with the intersection of math, nature, and art. From Fibonacci to fractals, I find it intriguing to recognize patterns and similarities in natural objects and animals that also appear in those created by humans, and that we can imagine wildly creative innovations from very logical, patterned, or symmetrical visions. When I came across this video of the “Art of the Microcosmos” by Emily Graslie, I had a feeling that it would lead me down a rabbit hole of Fibonaccian proportions, and I was correct. Her interview with James Weiss made me wish I had him as a Biology teacher in high school, or that I had even once gotten the chance to observe the incredible microscopic animals shown in the video. Of course, I’ve known about the tardigrade (also known affectionately as “water bear”) for a few years, so I definitely have no problem imagining it or any other of the strangely beautiful creatures in this video as artistic inspiration.

Following Emily’s film, I had to look up Klaus Kemp, who creates diatomic art, and then I made the mistake of Googling “art made with microbes” and found an entirely different branch of scientific art grown in petri dishes.

After a couple of hours of being transfixed by so many things I had never seen or even known about before watching Graslie’s video, I finally had the wherewithal to drag myself away and try to do something somewhat productive (though not even minutely creative). I started a new Wakelet of “Math, Art, and Nature,” and I even used Wakelet’s new layout option of columns to attempt to organize it a bit. (You may need to scroll horizontally to see all of the columns, and scroll vertically within a column to see all of the links.) This is, of course, separate from my “Math Sites That Won’t Make You Fall Asleep,” collection, but I went ahead and added a link to it in that one, too.

Just a reminder that, even though fancy microscopes might be nice, you can always get your students started with observations of that microscopic world with an inexpensive Foldscope. You might be surprised at the incredible images you can view with this simple tool.

Photo by CDC on

The Rich Potential of International Dot Day

As some of you may know, I updated my Dot Day resources in August. Depending on your cup half empty/half full point of view, you could see that post as a little late (since I was updating a post from 2014) or a little early (since Dot Day is every year on September 15-ish). I will be adding this e-book link to that post. The Rich Potential of International Dot Day is a free e-book available from Apple Books. Created for this year through a collaboration by Apple Distinguished Educators, the book begins with a quote from The Dot author Peter H. Reynolds, “When the going gets tough, the creative get going! Cheering on educators and parents — everyone who will help kids make the most of this school year!” There are 5 sections of activities in the book: Drawing, Sound & Music, Photo, Film, and AR (Augmented Reality). The creative suggestions are designed to be used with iPads, though there are ways many of them can be adapted using different devices. For example, there is a “Your thoughts in dot” time lapse activity suggested by ADE Miriam Walsh using the Pages app that could also be done with Google Slides and Screen-Cast-o-Matic, and “The Ripple of Your Actions” from ADE Simon Pile merely requires milk and food coloring. Altogether, there are over 30 innovative suggestions in the book for ways to celebrate International Dot Day this year. Whether you are at home or at school, take advantage of one of these opportunities to make your mark on the world.

Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric on

Rob’s Tinkercad Classroom

Rob Morrill is a Innovation Lab teacher who was invited by Tinkercad this summer to write regular blog posts about projects he has done with students. You can read more about Rob’s experience and expertise in his introductory post. One way to keep track of the projects he adds is to visit this page, which is a “roundup” of all of the posts he has published so far. You can also visit Rob’s website. I’ve been wanting to try a lithophane project, and now I’m even more inspired after seeing his instructions and examples.

In case you’ve missed it, Tinkercad is one of my absolute favorite entry-level design programs (and it’s free!) that I discovered when our school got its first 3d printer. It keeps improving, and you can move from simple designs to really complex ones to accommodate all abilities. Here is a post I did at the end of last year about Tinkercad Design Slams. It’s also one of my recommended online tools to help students develop their spatial reasoning. You can integrate so many parts of your curriculum (especially math) into Tinkercad projects, as well as develop creativity and that Design Thinking mindset. Even if you don’t have a 3d printer (see my post on questions to consider if you are thinking of acquiring one), students love to show off their Tinkercad designs virtually, and they can be exported into other programs. For more ideas on using Tinkercad with Design Thinking, see this post on the City X book.

By the way, Tinkercad has a teacher dashboard that you can use, where you can add classes, students, and assignments. And, did I mention it’s free?!!! Don’t worry if you haven’t used it before. They’ve got you covered with their tutorials, and your students will help each other out. (Mine invariably discovered something I didn’t know about the program every time they used it.)

Thanks to Rob for sharing his innovative ideas!

Dot Day 2021

Sometimes I look at my blog stats and notice that a particular post has suddenly become popular and I have no idea why. Then I re-visit the post (usually one that is years old) and realize that half of the links don’t work anymore. So, I try to update it just in case more people end up reading it for whatever obscure reason. However, since the post I noticed today is from 2014, and Dot Day is actually an annual event, I thought it might be about time to write a new Dot Day post.

International Dot Day began in 2009, and was inspired by The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. Similar to the Global Cardboard Challenge, Dot Day is a celebration of creativity and innovation. You can learn more about its origins and download free resources here. As the website states, Dot Day is generally celebrated “September 15-ish.”

Most of my links from 2014 and other past posts do not work any longer, but here are some that still exist:

And here are some new ones I found with a bit of digging today:

I should note for new readers that it’s unusual for me to be nearly a month ahead when it comes to blogging about special events, so it’s best not to expect this to become a habit!

Photo by Scott Webb on

Scan the World

One of the fabulous things about 3d printing is that so many files are open source and freely available on the internet. You can download the .stl, put it through whatever your preferred slicing software is (such as Cura or the one that came with your 3d printer), and you have your own version. Now, you have access to 18,000 .stl files for ancient sculptures and artifacts through the “Scan the World” project. This was no small task. “Scan the World” partnered with Google Arts and Culture and museums around the world to get scans of their treasures – sometimes using drones to take pictures of larger sculptures on exhibit. You can read more about the project here. View the extensive archive hosted by MiniFactory here.

Roman Marble Head – one of the many artifacts you can now 3d print, thanks to Scan the World