My 4th grade gifted class is learning about mathematical masterpieces, talking about the symbolism of the circle, and discussing immortality as we read Tuck Everlasting. I usually integrate a short project on mandalas as a culminating activity during this time of year, since their symbolism fits so well with the other facets of our study. With a new 3d printer in our classroom, and students anxious to design, I gave them the option of creating their own mandalas in Tinkercad to print on our Polar 3d. The one you see below is our first successful printed mandala. We are still working on how we want to fill in the holes. Traditional mandalas are made with colored sand, so we want to find a way to simulate that, yet retain the printed outline. I will keep you posted on our journey to the final product! (Here is an interesting time-lapse video of the creation and destruction of a traditional mandala.)
One of the interesting new resources I discovered at SXSWedu this year is the Smithsonian Learning Lab. This ambitious project spearheaded by The Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access aims to give unprecedented access to the massive collections that have been digitized at the Smithsonian’s network of museums and research centers. You can learn more about the Learning Lab’s intended mission here.
The Learning Lab offers images, recordings, and texts that you can, as a free registered member, curate into your own collections. You can then annotate and make notes in your collection. Adding your own files to the collection is another noteworthy feature. Collections can be shared, and teachers can assign collections to students in their rosters (similar to Google Classroom). Here is a link to how teachers can use the Learning Lab.
Students under 13 need special permission to create collections of their own. However, an elementary teacher could certainly benefit from using the images and other resources to supplement lessons. In a way, this Learning Lab is another type of virtual field trip, allowing students to see high resolution images of objects that might not even be on display at the museum any longer.
Here is a picture I found to place in my “Inventions” collection. Any guesses as to the purpose of this object?
This is my St. Patrick’s Day post from last year. I’m trying to post it in plenty of time so you can use it for the holiday if you like.
A couple of years ago I posted about the cute idea that I’d found on several websites of having students build leprechaun traps. Since my Kinders were learning about Inventor Thinking around that time, we tried it out. They were very earnest about creating efficient traps, and I’m pretty sure at least one of the students was disappointed that he didn’t catch his prey. You can see our class blog posts from that year here and here.
Here is an updated list of St. Patrick’s Day links in case you want to try to capture your own leprechaun this year – or, better yet, his pot of gold:
- For a Pinterest Board with over 200 Leprechaun Trap ideas, click here.
- You can try this “Trap the Leprechaun Game” on your interactive white board.
- Highlights Kids has a clever story called, “The Leprechaun Trap.”
- Steve Spangler Science has a page of St. Patrick’s Day Science that includes turning your water green.
- And if you’re feeling really ambitious, here is a Leprechaun Trap Cake.
Not enough? Technology Rocks. Seriously has way more St. Patrick’s Day links.
It’s always fun to see the progress of Kickstarter projects you’ve backed. I got one of the first batch of 3Doodlers way back when, and things have really changed: new filament colors, tons of project ideas, a 2.0 version, and accessories.
3Doodler is a 3D printing pen that requires no programming – just patience and imagination. I’ve had students who have loved using my original, and some who have given up quickly in frustration. After using it for awhile, I developed a wish list of features that would be ideal for a 3D printing pen – and it’s quite possible that my wishes have been granted.
The 3Doodler Start is designed with younger kids in mind. It’s wireless (HUGE plus – fully charged 3Doodler Starts can supposedly last up to 60 minutes), completely safe with no hot parts, eco-friendly plastic, and suitable for children 8 years and up.
You can pre-order a 3Doodler Start to be delivered in May. They are offering it at a slightly lower price than intended retail for 13 more days. Currently, it is $39.99 for one 3Doodler Start, and $79.99 for a starter pack that includes 8 packs of filament and 8 “starter blocks.” (You need to look at the web site to see what “starter blocks” are.) One warning: you will not be able to use current 3Doodler plastic or accessories with the 3Doodler Start.
I’m probably going to order one. Because that’s my not-so-secret vice, ordering things that are fun and aren’t available anywhere else🙂 When they start offering class packs, I could definitely see this being utilized in a Maker Space, art room, or any other place that creativity is encouraged!
Assembly is an iOS app that is particularly suited for those who like to design with shapes. This is ideal for me because I never took a drawing class in my life. In addition, my students have been working with Tinkercad (which is all about combining shapes to create) so I am kind of in that frame of mind.
I decided to try Assembly when I saw a blurb that mentioned it is good for creating logos. I am even less practiced in graphic design than I am in drawing, but I have been looking for a new “Engage Their Minds” logo, and decided to give it a try.
Assembly is fairly intuitive if you’ve used other design programs. You drag shapes onto the screen, and you can then resize, rotate, move, and change their colors. Put some shapes forward and others back, reverse the image and/or even group them if you so desire.
The free app includes 180 shapes – but I soon realized I needed more. After about 5 minutes of using the app I decided to invest in the $11.99-never-have-to-buy-another-pack-of shapes-again option because I hate wondering if I could find the perfect shape if I just purchase one more pack, and then discovering that wasn’t the right pack at all. I’m probably the company’s ideal customer, a non-artist with Delusions of Dazzling Design skills.
Here is my first attempt at designing a logo. I created all of the letters in “Engage” and “Minds” using shapes in the Assembly app. Then I imported the image to Type Drawing so I could stamp the “their” part where I wanted. My husband, who has some experience with graphic design, actually seemed slightly impressed by my first try.
I have to admit that I had a blast making the logo, even if I don’t end up using it!
Happy New Year! I’m going to start off 2016 with a Fun Friday post about bubble wrap. Although it’s not used quite as often to cushion packages, you might have acquired some during recent gift exchanges. Here are some alternatives to adding it to the landfills.
- Michael Fischler demonstrates his artistic process of creating bubble wrap art in this video. The completed portrait is of musician Beth Thornley, whose music accompanies the video. Georges Seurat would be impressed!
- To create a more edible work of art, this video demonstrates the use of bubble wrap and chocolate for creating a cake decoration that is beautiful and impressive.
- New to the world of bubble wrap art? You might want to start out by combining your bubble wrap with a rolling pin and paint for your first project.
One of the apps that I recommend frequently is Hopscotch. This free iOS app has been one of my all-time favorite creation tools ever since we tried it a few years ago during Hour of Code. Using block programming that is similar to Scratch, Hopscotch allows users to create works of art, games, and even presentations. (One of my 5th graders chose to use Hopscotch to present his Genius Hour information last year – much more interesting than PowerPoint!)
Hopscotch offers many tutorials, which are a great way to introduce students to the different coding possibilities in the app. Earlier this school year, I mentioned that the company just released lesson plans for educators.
If you want to take your students beyond this year’s Hour of Code, you might want to try a Hopscotch tutorial, and then see how they can “remix” it to make it their own. One that is great for this time of year is the Snowflake Tutorial. Students can learn about symmetry, angles, and many other mathematical skills while they also obtain basic programming skills. To top it all off, they can create digital works of art, and every single one will be different.
Hopscotch is an app that my students often mention they use at home on their own, a great example of using technology to create rather than merely to consume.
I would advise walking through any Hopscotch tutorial you assign so you can familiarize yourself with the tools. Also, beware that earlier tutorials (before 2015) may look a bit different as the app has been updated since then.
For more ideas for using using coding in the classroom, check out my Programming for Kids Pinterest Board here.