3-12, Careers, Creative Thinking, Education, Fun Friday, Independent Study, Research, Science, Student Products, Teaching Tools

Scientist Paper Dolls

from the Albert Einstein paper doll designed by Maggie McFee for Mad Art Lab
from the Albert Einstein paper doll designed by Maggie McFee for Mad Art Lab

For this week’s Fun Friday post, I thought you might like these links to Scientist Paper Dolls, offered by Mad Art Lab. ¬†All are free to print out, color, and “re-mix” at home ūüôā

Albert Einstein

Jane Goodall

Ada Lovelace

Nikola Tesla

I think it would be neat for the kids to be assigned one to research – or to create some of their own!

You can find additional paper dolls and the commentary from the artists here.  However, not all, especially the commentary, is appropriate for young children, so please screen first.

3-12, Education, Independent Study, Motivation, QR Codes, Research, Teaching Tools, Websites

Genius Hour Bookmarks

Genius Hour Bookmarks

IMPORTANT UPDATE РThe previous Genius Hour Bookmark QR Codes stopped working, as the host site does not appear to be online any longer.  I have updated the bookmarks as of 1/1/14.  Please let me know if you have any problems!

2nd IMPORTANT UPDATE:  *As of 1/2/14, you can now download all of my current Genius Hour resources in a bundle on Teachers Pay Teachers for $5.  Or, you can still download them separately (for free) by clicking on the links below.

One of the things that is difficult about getting kids started on a Genius Hour project is getting them started on a Genius Hour project!  Giving them the freedom to choose anything under the sun to study seems to be a little overwhelming.  Even when you try to start with brainstorming their interests, they tend to be stymied by the concept of developing their own projects and not being assigned particular topics.

I’ve tasked myself this summer with my own Genius Hour project, in a way – to freshen up my resources for Genius Hour. ¬†Yesterday, I spent awhile collecting the “go to” websites I’ve been offering my students in the last year for jumpstarting their engines. ¬†Rather than give them a list, however, I decided to make the bookmarks that I have linked below. ¬†The bookmarks have QR codes to each of the sites.

My vision is to print them out in color, laminate them, and cut them out.  (I will need to do a test run to make sure the codes still scan once laminated.)  I might have the students choose one based on the title (Investigate, Create, Test, Make), or just put them all in a cup and have them select blindly the first time.  Then they can scan each code and look at the sites for ideas.

This is, by no means, an exhaustive list of resources.  And, if a student has an idea that is not on one of the websites, I will probably jump for joy, but it will hopefully show them some of the possibilities.

I am sharing links to the QR code page as well as one that has the links printed on it so you can see the website addresses (just in case scanning does not work).

By the way, my daughter just asked me for the distinction between “Create” and “Make.” ¬†I got the idea for the titles from this excellent post on how to introduce Genius Hour (H/T to Donna L. for the link!), though I modified them a bit, and my answer to her was that “Create” means to make something original such as artwork, and “Make” means to construct something according to directions.

Genius Hour Bookmarks With Links

QR Code Genius Hour Bookmarks

Need more Genius Hour ideas?  Check out my Genius Hour Resources page or the other posts from this week.

3-12, Apps, Education, Motivation, Teaching Tools, Videos

Genius Hour Flyer


Update:  *As of 1/2/14, you can now download all of my current Genius Hour resources in a bundle on Teachers Pay Teachers for $5.  Or, you can still download them separately (for free) by clicking on the links below.

I suppose you can tell that I am on a Genius Hour kick this week. ¬†I am trying to take advantage of my time off to create some of the materials I wish I had last year. ¬†Last night, I worked on creating a flyer for Genius Hour using Smore. ¬†My initial intent was to stop there, but then I thought, “Wow, wouldn’t it be neat if I could print this out, and add an “Aura” to it so kids could scan it, and see the video?

So, three hours later, this is what I have.  You can still view the flyer online here.

Or, you can download the PDF I made of the flyer below. ¬†Be sure to print it out in color. ¬†To make the Aura work, you will need to have the Aurasma app on a device. ¬†Make you sure you have added the Hidden Forest Elementary channel. ¬†Then, when you use the app to scan the image of “The Quest” the movie should start playing on your device.

If you are not familiar with using the Aurasma app, you might want to check out this post (be sure to read the “Update” as the app did change right after I published that post.)

I also have other posts on Aurasma, including how to make your own Auras. ¬†Just type in “Aurasma” in the search box on the right.

And, here are more resources on Genius Hour in case you are new to the blog.

Here is the link to the flyer: ¬†“The Quest” Genius Hour Flyer

3-12, Creative Thinking, Education, Motivation, Research, Student Products, Teaching Tools, Videos

Genius Hour Trailers


At ISTE last week, Jane McGonigal showed a fascinating trailer that had been designed for a project she was doing with the New York Public Library.  You can see it here.

I was intrigued by the concept, and thought it would be a great way to introduce Genius Hour to my students this coming school year. ¬†I found an excellent Genius Hour trailer online that had been created by Ryan O’Shea, but I wanted to make one that was a bit more generic so anyone could use it.

Plus, I wanted to play around with iMovie.

So, with a little help from my daughter, who shares billing with me, here is what is probably the first draft of my version of a Genius Hour Trailer.

And if you are interested in more Genius Hour resources, don’t forget to visit my special page devoted to this topic. (Update: ¬†*As of 1/2/14, you can now download all of my current Genius Hour resources in a bundle on¬†Teachers Pay Teachers for $5. ¬†Or, you can still download them separately (for free) by clicking on the links on the Genius Hour Resource Page.)

Fair warning – the music is a bit spooky, so you would probably not want to use this with K-2.

3-12, Apps, Critical Thinking, Education, Games, Problem Solving

FlipPix Art

FlipPix Art - Kids
FlipPix Art – Kids

Well, I finally did it.  I finally found an app that is free, happens to be available on both Android and iOS, is engaging, and is educational.

FlipPixArt is based on an old Japanese logic puzzle that offers a matrix and clues about which boxes should be colored in each row and column. ¬†By using the numbers at the top of each column and the beginning of each row, one must deduce the correct boxes to “paint” and which ones to “hammer” out of the picture.

Once the puzzle is solved, an object or animal is added to the scene at the beginning of the game. ¬†In the free “Zoo” version, there is one scene with 36 puzzles needed to complete it. ¬†Recently, the “Holiday” version went free (though I don’t know for how long), and it has 6 holiday scenes with 74 puzzles. ¬†However, one of the scenes in the “Holiday” version is a bar scene, so I would not recommend it for educational purposes. ¬†There are many other versions – including the¬†Kids one – some are for free, and some cost. ¬†So far, my favorite free one is the Model Plane version. ¬†There is also a Jurassic one that is sure to appeal to some of those dinosaur enthusiasts.

This is a good app for the classroom because it allows for different players on the same device, so they can each play at their own level.  It also offers a great tutorial.  I would say that this is a good app for 3rd grade and up, though younger children can probably enjoy it with a bit of guidance.

Click here to access FlipPix Art – Zoo for Android.

The 5x5 puzzles are good to start with.  The 10x10 puzzles will give more interesting picture results.  Some of the apps also have 15x15.
The 5×5 puzzles are good to start with. The 10×10 puzzles will give more interesting picture results. Some of the apps also have 15×15.
3-12, Depth and Complexity, Education, Math, Philosophy, Science, Teaching Tools, Videos, Websites

Here is Today

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 8.44.07 PM

Please don’t ask me the name of this website if you ever meet me in person because I think I’ve found almost as many ways to garble the title as there are years in an epoch. ¬†I don’t know why I can’t remember it as it is quite simple and makes perfect sense, but for some reason my inner Jeff Foxworthy keeps coming out and trying to re-name it, “This Here Day”.

As I said, this site is quite simple, and it is a great visualization of our place in time and in the universe. ¬†I happened to be about to do a Systems Thinking unit based on the book, Zoom, by Istvan Banyai, when I came across “Here is Today“, and it really added to our discussion about perspectives, big picture thinking, and connectedness. ¬†I was afraid the concept of “Here is Today” might escape my third graders, but the comparisons included on this website seemed to make quite an impact on them. ¬†They made great observations about the “Big Idea”, and how this related to practically everything we have learned this year, including our recent field trip to the Toyota Factory. ¬†This was also a great lead-in to our Old Faithful, the Powers of Ten video.

Remember, Here is Today.  Better yet, just click on the link!