Category Archives: Creative Thinking

Using the Aurasma App

Screen Shot 2012-12-11 at 7.49.52 PM

On Monday, I posted a couple of holiday cards that I made using Aurasma Studio.  If you follow the instructions on my post, then you can view “augmented reality” versions of the cards.  I promised that I would give instructions for making the cards shortly.  These are NOT the instructions 🙂

I found that getting familiar with the free Aurasma app on my iPad and iPhone helped me when I ventured into creating my own channel “auras” using the web-based Aurasma Studio.  So, I’m going to start with the app instructions today.

I believe there is an Android app for Aurasma, but I only know how the iOS one works, so those are the instructions you will find below.  *Aurasma recently updated their app, so some of the instructions may be a little “off”.   You may be asked to register at some point in this process.  Registration is free, but I recommend that you use a fairly generic username and i.d. that you won’t mind sharing with your students.  This will make it easy for you to share the auras you create on multiple devices.

1.)  Download the free Aurasma app from iTunes.

2.)  When you first open the app, there will be a short introduction.  Tap on “Launch” to clear the screen.

3.)  To use the app on a single device, you must create an “aura”.  Tap on the Aurasma symbol. (It looks like a purple triangle with a notch in the bottom.)

4.)  The first thing you will see are “Super Auras” that were created by Aurasma partners, mostly for advertising.  Ignore those.

5.)  Tap on the +.

6.)  You will be directed to choose an “Overlay”.  For practice, go ahead and choose the “labrador puppy”.

7.)  Then you will be directed to choose a “Trigger Image”.  From experience with my students trying to create these, I have the following tips:  pick something that will not change how it looks any time soon (so, don’t take a picture of someone’s face) and is not very reflective.  A picture printed on a piece of paper is usually good.

8.)  The updated version of Aurasma now has a nifty little toggle at the bottom that will move toward the green end if it is a good image.  Tap on the camera when the image is good.

9.)  Then you get to “Position the Overlay”.  You can move the labrador puppy around on top of the image, make it larger or smaller, and even rotate it.  When you are happy with it, click on the arrow.

10.) You will be asked if you want to make the aura public or private.  Go ahead and choose public.  (This may be a part where you will be prompted to Log In or register.)

11.)  Once the aura is created, you should then be able to hold your iPhone or iPad over the image you used as  a Trigger Image (staying within the Aurasma app), and the labrador puppy will appear.

12.)  If you chose to make the aura public, then any device that is signed in to the account you used to create the aura will be able to view the labrador puppy overlay as well. (This is a brand new feature in the latest update, and I could not find the exact differentiation on the Aurasma site for “public” and “private” images.  However, in my very scientific home testing, it appeared that other accounts could not view the public aura unless signed in to the same account, and devices other than the one on which it was created could not view the aura at all if it had been labeled as “private”.)

Tomorrow, I will give instructions for adding your own overlays to your Aurasma app, rather than using the ones in their library (although those are quite fun!)

S.C.A.M.P.E.R. the Holidays Redux

UPDATE 12/14/2020: If you are looking for more holiday ideas, here is my new Winter Holidays Wakelet that I will be continually updating throughout December.  I also just posted a S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Through Winter Jamboard that you can access here.

Last week, I posted about one of my creative thinking packs that I like to use around this time of year.  You can learn more here.  I have been using the first two pages (“Substitute” and “Combine”) with my 1st through 5th graders during the last week, and it’s been a kick to see their unique ideas, particularly for the “Substitute” page.  The directions for that one are to design a snowman made out of something other than snow.  I have to share some of their results!

A snowman made of clocks - with watches as the hands!
A snowman made of clocks – with watches as the hands!
How about a snowman made from car parts - with nuts and bolts falling from the sky instead of snow?
How about a snowman made from car parts – with nuts and bolts falling from the sky instead of snow?
Lego Man!
Lego Man!
Soda cans - mine would be all Diet Coke!
Soda cans – mine would be all Diet Coke!
DNA Man!  (Microscopic, of course!)
DNA Man! (Microscopic, of course!)
And one of my personal favorites from a 1st grader - "Frosting the Snowman", made from cake frosting!
And one of my personal favorites from a 1st grader – “Frosting the Snowman”, made from cake frosting!

Paper Airplane Video

image from:  "Paper Airplane" by Michael McMillan
image from: “Paper Airplane” by Michael McMillan

I have posted before about “Pink Bat“, a book by Michael McMillan, as well as the accompanying video.  Recently, I came across another video by Mr. McMillan:  “Paper Airplane: A Lesson for Flying Outside the Box”.  This is a nostalgic look back to a time when innovation was embraced and putting a man on the moon was considered an achievement that could only be acquired by the utilizing the powerful combination of knowledge and creativity.  “Paper Airplane” shows how important it is to let go of our preconceived notions, and to allow our ideas to soar past imagined boundaries.

This is a great video for teachers and parents to watch.  Your students will also find it inspiring.  I do suggest that you preview it before showing it to kids, as there is one small part (a cartoon bare bottom) that some might consider objectionable, depending on your audience.

Here is the link, in case the embedded video below does not show:

Creative Thinking for the Holidays

A student example from "S.C.A.M.P.E.R. the Holidays" in which the 3rd grader designed a snowman made out of globes
A student example from “S.C.A.M.P.E.R. the Holidays” in which the 3rd grader designed a snowman made out of globes

I’m dusting off an old post from last December in which I offered a set of PDF’s that you could use to prompt some divergent thinking amongst your students.  These sheets are based on the thinking tool, S.C.A.M.P.E.R., which I explain in my post, “S.C.A.M.P.E.R. the Holidays“.  My 1st through 5th grade Gifted and Talented classes really enjoyed these last year.  I’m at a new school this year, so I get to use them again!  Also, if you happen to be looking for some other free holiday downloads, you might want to check out my post from last week on “Holiday QR Codes“.

UPDATE:  You can see more student examples from S.C.A.M.P.E.R. the Holidays here.  Also, you can also download some augmented reality holiday cards for your students here.

Shadow Move

Shadow Move is a free app that I hate.  I should probably confess that the apps that I hate are usually the ones that challenge me the most – quite often demanding some kind of spatial acuity that I seem to lack.  Also in this category are the apps that become addictive, that I stay up late at night trying to problem solve my way through to the end.  I have not stayed up late, yet, to work my way through Shadow Move.  But the weekend is quickly approaching, and I foresee an evening spent trying to wrestle some shadows into submission.

The concept of Shadow Move is simple.  Turn the object in the center until you can replicate the shadow pattern in the top left of the screen.  Initially, many of the challenges seem impossible when one first views the object to be turned.  But, rotating it slowly can usually help you to get an idea of what direction is optimal.

I was playing this app on my iPad at my daughter’s dance studio, and had three 10-year-old children watching over my shoulder, giving me advice on which way to turn the object.  They asked me the name of the app several times so they could download it on their own devices when they went home.

Shadow Move is a great app for developing spatial and problem-solving skills, as well as perseverance.  It reminds me a bit of Pictorial, another fun, spatial reasoning app.  For other apps that I have recommended, you can click here for an archive of my posts on apps, or you can also visit my Pinterest boards.

Goldie Blox

image from:

As I was cyber searching for holiday gifts this weekend, I began to arrive at an unattractive conclusion.  Despite all of our efforts to combat sexism, it is alive and well in our toy industry.  My daughter had asked for some Nerf products for Christmas, and I was dismayed to see that, on many of the websites, these were labelled as “Gender: Boy”.  Delving into the matter further, I noticed that many of the building or engineering toys I found were also given this label.  In addition, even if the items were not categorized for a specific gender, the product descriptions often referred to “he” or “him” as the toy recipients, and usually had photos of boys playing with them.

According to this article in Atlantic, 90% of America’s engineers are male.  This is no surprise to me, considering the enormous gender bias that we greet our children with from Day 1 of their infancy.  In order to even the playing field, we need to seriously reconsider the preconceived notion that we, Americans, have about how boys and girls should play.  As teachers and parents, we should offer our children all kinds of toys, despite gender bias, and without prejudicial language.  And toy manufacturers and reviewers need to move on to the 21st century, where girls and boys should not be forced into traditional gender roles.

Debbie Sterling, creator of Goldie Blox, is trying to raise the number of female engineers by offering a new toy which combines a story with a set of pieces for construction.  This unique approach to introducing girls to the joy of building things for a purpose is absolutely ingenious.  According to Sterling, a Stanford graduate, she spent a year researching what features in this toy would appeal to girls.  Then, through Kickstarter, Sterling raised the funding to produce her toy, and her website states that they are estimated to begin delivery in April of 2013.

Although I lament the fact that this toy will be gender-biased, albeit toward the female gender this time, I think that Goldie Blox is definitely taking a step in the right direction.  Before we can completely stop color-coding our playthings for boys and girls, we will need to convince the majority of Americans to rectify our language and our subconscious decisions that lead our children to believe that only certain types of toys are appropriate for each gender.  I hope that the press that Goldie Blox is receiving will begin a conversation in our country that might eventually lead to this toy revolution.