Category Archives: Augmented Reality

Augmented Calendars

October Mystery Calendar

If you have not used Aurasma before, you might want to visit the Aurasma Tutorials page of Two Guys and Some iPads.  Also, you might want to visit my Flipboard magazine on Augmented Reality in Education or these other posts I have done in the past.

One thing that I have been meaning to do is to take advantage of the “Time Restrictions” setting in Aurasma Studio.  When creating an aura, you can set when the aura goes “live” and when the aura will no longer work.  I thought it would be fun to create a calendar that uses that feature. (Yes, I am fully aware that I have an odd idea of “fun.”)

I made a “Mystery Calendar” for October.  I found a list of historical people and events from October here, and chose 4 of them.  Then, I used iMovie to create short videos that gave clues about each one.  Because I have a Mac at home, I had a bit of trouble finding a good calendar template for the iWorks suite, but I finally landed on a good template for Numbers here.

Then, I searched for clip art on Pixabay.  Because I knew that I would be printing the calendars in black and white, I looked for symbols rather than color pictures.  This is where trial and error really came into play.  I finally found that the best trigger images included the number from the calendar cell.  So, I would insert an image in a cell, take a screen shot of the cell (command+shift+4 on a Mac), and use the screen shot as my trigger image in Aurasma Studio.

Once I had the trigger images and overlays uploaded, I added the auras.  You can see from the screen shot below that there is a “Time Restrictions” setting that is optional.

Aurasma Studio Time Restriction

Once you click on the arrow in that box, you can then set the aura to begin on a certain date and time, as well as to end on a certain date and time.  Both are optional.  I set each aura to start on the day that it is placed on the calendar, and did not set an end time.

Aurasma Time Restrictions

What are some other ways that you can use the Time Restrictions setting?  If you are using Aurasma for center directions that might change weekly, you can set a trigger image to have different overlays for each week of the year, if you like.  Or, you might be like me and have different grade levels each day of the week, so I can set my auras according to the day of the week.   If your students are making a holiday gift for their parents, they could set a photo to trigger an overlay beginning only on that special day. Or, how about making a countdown calendar (similar to the QR code one that I posted) that only needs one image – which changes overlays every day?  Schools could have one trigger image that parents scan every month when they enter building (or even from home) that offers new information each month.

I would love to hear any other ideas you may have.  In the meantime, here is the PDF of my October Mystery Calendar.  Be sure you are following the Hidden Forest Elementary channel if you decide to use it.  (The answers are:  Poe, Sullivan, Edison, and Houdini.)

UPDATE:  If you test your auras when creating them, they will be cached in your account.  This means that the time restrictions will not work on any device logged into the account you used to test them.  If you are a teacher, I recommend using a different account on your student devices than the one you use for Aurasma studio.  They can all follow the same channel, just not be logged into the same account.

The Benefits of Intentional Ignorance

I would not recommend undertaking this project.

But you should totally do it.

I’ll be honest.  I think  a lot of my “pioneering spirit” has something to do with my complete lack of foresight.  If you ask me to do something and outline all of the obstacles, there is a large chance I am going to find something else to do.  But, if I jump into something without any thought about the potential problems, I just force myself to wade through them to get to the other side.  It’s not bravery; it’s intentional ignorance.

That’s what happened with the “You Matter” augmented reality project I dove into a couple of weeks ago.

To summarize briefly, I thought it would be a meaningful way for my students to start their school year with me by scanning a photo of their parents with the iPad (using the Aurasma app), that would trigger a video message from their parents telling the students how much they mean to them.  The students would keep the photo all year in their class folder, and be able to scan it any time or even just look at the picture to remind them of this message.

You can see the first two posts that I did on this project here and here.  (But if you are like me, and find the knowledge of a bunch of hurdles at the outset too daunting, then you might not want to click on the 2nd link…)

As an elementary GT teacher, I currently have 40 students (2nd-5th), with more to come in November when I add 1st.  Of course, I didn’t decide to try this with just one grade level.  Instead, I asked all of the parents to contribute.

But I’m not going to spend this post complaining about my own lack of vision.

In the end, I got videos for every student from at least one parent.  In some cases I got two videos.  In some cases, family pets got in on the action.  In one case, a beaver costume was used.

They were funny, touching, loving, and creative.

Just like my students.

I have never done anything so completely exhausting and so completely rewarding in my life.

Through this project, I learned a lot about my students that I never knew, and I learned a lot about their parents.  Many of these parents I have never seen or spoken to, even though this may be the second year I have their child.  But now I have had contact with each and every one.  And they know that I would do anything to make their child feel special, even if it means I have to call every number on their contact list or text message them at 9:00 at night on a Saturday.

And then I added one more piece to the project.

I videotaped the reactions of the students to the videos.  (Each student watched his or her video with me privately.)  The kid who thought his parents were speaking to him live through FaceTime and started talking back to them?  I got it.  The big smiles, the tears in the corners of the eyes, the guffaws of laughter?  I got it.  And I sent it to the parents (after getting their permission).

Because I wanted them to see how much they mattered, too.

I have a daughter.  I tell her, “I love you” every day, and I chauffeur her to all of her extracurricular activities.  I spend time with her playing games and doing fun projects – and all of those things are vitally important.

But I’m going to make a video for her, too.  Because there is something about someone saying those words, taking the time to immortalize them, verbally acknowledging the important part that a person plays in your life, that makes an impact.

No, I wouldn’t recommend this project to anyone.  It’s time-consuming, nail-biting, throw-your-computer-at-the-wall-because-it’s-too-slow frustrating.

But you should really do it.

(If you would like to learn about “You Matter,” Angela Maiers is the amazing speaker and writer who inspired me to incorporate this into my classroom.  She will be the guest on the Two Guys Show next Tuesday, October 1st, at 9 PM EST.)



screenshot from Educade
screenshot from Educade

According to the article on PR Web, “Educade provides a one-stop shop for K-12 teachers and parents seeking to understand how to effectively use 21st century teaching tools, such as apps and games, as well as low and no tech tools that focus on hands-on making.”  It is a site that is in Beta right now, but looks very promising as a resource for educators who are looking for ways to engage learners with non-traditional methods.

As you can see from the screen shot, the lessons include all sorts of tools, including augmented reality ( I am definitely going to add some of these to my Flipboard magazine!), games, apps, etc…  It also includes one that I hadn’t heard of, “Embodied Learning,” which I had to look up!  (Here is a link to an explanation of “Embodied Learning” just in case you are wondering…)

I also am thrilled that one of the subjects is “Design and Engineering,” which has a subtopic of “Game Design.”  Coding, along with augmented reality, are two of the trending topics in Education for this school year, and I am excited to find another resource for trying to integrate both of these.

Educade also gives you the option to choose the platform that you are using, such as an iPad, Tablet, PC, or Mac.

As a relatively new site, Educade, does not have an endless supply of lessons, yet.  Hopefully, that will change quickly.  If you are interested in contributing to the site, you can register for free, and then add your own lesson plan, teaching tool, or post.  But even if you don’t feel comfortable adding to the site, I definitely recommend checking it out for ideas if you are interested in 21st century learning tools – and don’t forget to check out their blog while you are there!

Rock Launcher!

image from:
image from:

Since every post this week has mentioned Augmented Reality (yes, even “Level Up” briefly touched on it), I thought it only fitting that my Phun Phriday Post (you guys never suggested a better name, so we’re stuck with that for now) would involve AR, too.

Rock Launcher is a free AR game that you can play if you download the “Rocks in My Socks” app from iTunes (sorry, Android folks – doesn’t look like there is a version for you, yet).  The app is actually meant to accompany the Rocks in My Socks book ($24.99 – also available on Amazon), but gives you this fun bonus that does not require the book in order to play.

Basically, download the app and print out the free grayscale PDF here.  (Here is the link to the color PDF, which is linked incorrectly on their main page, but I discovered by using my superior web detection skills.)  Open the app on your iDevice, and scan the printed picture.  Then, fire away!  Try to aim your animated rock dudes towards the sock openings.  Be sure you have your sound turned up, because those little guys make some fun noises as they get launched.

It does keep score, but I’m not certain what the criteria are for the points.   For some of them, I was certain I got the little guys right in, but didn’t see the scoreboard change.

There are other free printables on the page, but they will only work, apparently, in coordination with the book.

If you feel obligated to make this activity educational, I suppose you could integrate some math skills into the scoring.  Or, you could just let loose and play with reckless abandon for no other purpose except entertainment 🙂

Happy Phun Phriday!

You Matter – with a bit of Aurasmatazz (Part 2)

Never Forget that You Matter!

After getting a bit of a “Two Guys Bump” on their AR 101 video Tuesday, I thought I should give a progress update on the “You Matter – with a bit of Aurasmatazz” project (inspired by the work of Angela Maiers – who will be on the “Two Guys Show” in 2 weeks!).

Here are some obstacles I’ve encountered so far, along with possible solutions:

Videos sent in different file formats – I don’t know what other video formats work on the Aurasma app when using the iPad, but .mov is the one I’ve used for everything so far.  Solution:  If you get a file in a different format, which I have, and your computer does not have software to convert it, then Zamzar is a great online file converter.

Rotated videos – The weird thing is that several of the videos have played fine when I checked them on my school computer, but they rotated once I uploaded them in Aurasma Studio.  Some are sideways; some are upside-down.  I could not find a way to rotate the overlay (video) once it was in Aurasma.  Solution:  Go back and rotate the Trigger image outside of Aurasma, then re-upload it.  To avoid this happening, I would upload all of your overlays (videos) first, so you know which Trigger images you need to fix before you waste time uploading them. (UPDATE:  Here is another possible solution to rotated videos.)

Speaking of Trigger images…

Trigger images are not ideal – To get the Trigger images, I took screen shots from the videos the parents sent.  The picture quality is not great, so when I upload them to Aurasma, I get a warning.  So far, I’ve dismissed all of the warnings, and the Trigger images have worked fine.  So, you don’t need a solution to this one – hopefully. (The reason I used screen shots instead of pictures sent by the parents is that it looks more “Harry Potter-ish” if you use an actual image from the video instead of a photo taken out of context for your trigger image.)

Difficulty reaching parents which is causing me to hyperventilate – I finally got my last e-mail address today for a parent, and sent out the request.  So far, I have 7 videos (2 are from divorced parents for the same student) out of 47 students – and the deadline is Friday.  Solution:  Put it on the class blog, e-mail everyone again, and start getting out the phone numbers.  If I were to start my year over again:  Give the parents more time and/or invite them to an early parent meeting with the room set up next door and a volunteer to videotape them on the spot.  (That would actually have solved all of the above problems, too – wrong file format, rotated videos and bad trigger images.  Now I really wish I would have thought of that!)

Every video makes you cry – No solution for this except to stop being such a softy.  Seriously.  And, while we’re discussing that, stop bawling at that new Cheerios commercial, too…

One surprise that I’ve gotten so far – one parent, instead of just talking to the camera, did a short skit involving a stuffed animal with a whiteboard, and concluded the video in a costume.  It was very creative!

If I haven’t scared you off from trying this, here is a link to a PDF file or an MS Word file that I created for printing the screen shots/Trigger images (I used a Pages poster template to make this.)

Update:  See my conclusions about this project here.

Level Up!


After seeing Jane McGonigal up close and personal with thousands of other people at ISTE this summer, I was more inspired than ever to integrate some gaming elements into my classroom.

I lamely attempted last year to implement a “Level Up” system with my 5th graders, where we would use Class Dojo points, and they would earn badges for certain things, and certain numbers of points in particular categories would give them new privileges.  It was one of those ideas that sounded so-o good in my head…

It flopped.  Not because the kids weren’t motivated – but mostly because I made the system far too complex to track.

So, I’m trying again this year, and I have simplified it immensely (though I am now adding my 3rd and 4th grade GT classes to the mix).

The picture shows a chart I created on a part of my magnetic dry-erase board that I never use because of the interactive board.  This is a “faux” chart since I haven’t started classes yet.  I want the students to have some input on the jobs and privileges at each level.  I brainstormed some of my own for now.  I bought a bunch of sticky magnets at the craft store so everything can be moved around.  I also purchased some printable magnet sheets that I will be using to print out the kids’ Class Dojo avatars (I made some paper examples for the purposes of this post).  I used Scotch Expressions removable tape to make the table borders.

The students will be helping me to decide how many points are necessary to achieve each level.  Part of their Genius Hour time will include “challenge cards” that will enable them to earn more points (or lose them).  They also earn points in class for displaying the 7 Habits, saying or doing something that makes me go, “Wow!”, or doing optional homework assignments.

And just to add a tad of technology to the mix, I am going to have the kids help me add some “heARt” to the jobs and privileges by using Aurasma to explain each one.  Then, when someone gets the job of “Class Photographer,” all he or she has to do is scan the sign to see and hear the job description.

Seems simple, right?

I hope I’m not writing another post a year from now bewailing everything I did wrong…

Here are some more gamification resources if you are interested: (sign up for their beta if you want to go all out!), Class Realm, Education Levels Up!  (kind of what I was trying to do last year – but I was way over my head) or my very measly 7-pin Pinterest board for Gamification of the Classroom.

The "Genius Bar" privilege is explained more here.
The “Genius Bar” privilege is explained more here.