Teaching Tools, Videos

Thursday Appointment

Thursday Appointment is an Iranian short film by a 20 year old director that won an award at the Luxor Film Festival.  Though many of us may not understand the language, we can certainly comprehend the messages of kindness and forgiveness.  I am adding this to my Inspirational Videos for Students Pinterest Board.  Once you’ve watched it, you may want to click here to better understand the tradition that makes this film so beautiful.  This could also lead to a classroom discussion regarding customs in different cultures. I am including the original and a dubbed version here.


3-5, Education, Social Studies, Teaching Tools, Websites


Empatico is a new site that is being developed to match students with other classrooms around the world.  Because the site is beta testing, you will need to give them your contact information in order to gain early access (expected launch in September, 2017). It is designed for students 8-10 years old, and includes two types of activities: “Sparks” – short activities meant to last 3-5 hours, and “Fires” – experiences that last 2-3 weeks.  You can see some examples of activities on this page.  I’m already excited about the “Ways We Play” activity, in which students share the different ways they entertain themselves with a class from another part of the world.  I am always looking for opportunities for my students to connect globally (see our Valentine Project from earlier this year and my Skype resource post), and Empatico looks like a promising free resource that we can utilize!

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Screen Shot from Empatico
Education, Games, Interactive White Board, K-5, Social Studies, Teaching Tools, Websites

Don’t Gross Out the World

Creator of ClassTools.net, @RusselTarr, tweeted this site the other day.  My 1st graders have been studying countries around the world, and we have recently been discussing foods.  They really enjoyed “Don’t Gross Out the World,” from FunBrain because they thought many of the cultural traditions were unbelievable.  For example, how can it be true that some people think that it’s a compliment to burp loudly after a meal? Or, that asking for catsup could possibly be an insult in some countries?  I learned a few new things myself by playing this game with the class 🙂

UPDATE 5/8/18:  This site does not seem to be available any longer.  However, I found a screencast that someone made of the game that is a decent substitute.

UPDATE 3/31/21: Thanks to a comment from FunBrain, I found out the site has been brought back!  I’ve updated the link above to take you there.

Don't Gross Out the World game from FunBrain
Don’t Gross Out the World game from FunBrain
Education, Geography, K-12, Research, Social Studies, Teaching Tools, Websites

Mystery Skype

Tammy Egesdal's 4th grade, Forest City, Iowa
Tammy Egesdal’s 4th grade, Forest City, Iowa

Here is a great site that gives an awesome description of how to conduct a “Mystery Skype” session with another class, preferably in a very different part of the world.  Why would you want to plan a “Mystery Skype”?  Here are the goals as listed on the site:

  • Students will use map skills to find the location of the mystery classroom
  • Students will use communication and critical thinking skills to ask questions to help them find the mystery location.
  • Classes communicate with other classrooms via Skype or Google+ Hangouts.
  • Students will learn to respect and appreciate the cultures and customs of others.
  • Students will be able to see the differences and similarities between themselves and others around the world.

This fabulous resource offers suggestions for student roles, questions to ask, and clues to give to the other class. Mystery Skype also gives links to: a spreadsheet of teachers interested in participating in this project, a meeting planner so you can figure out the best time for your Skype call, and some other helpful links.

I can’t wait to sign my class up!

Education, Geography, Independent Study, K-12, Social Studies, Teaching Tools, Websites

Kids Web Japan

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I like to publish “fun” posts on Fridays, so today’s site, Kids Web Japan, is an oldie-but-goodie that I’ve been using with my students for about 15 years.  I had the great opportunity to travel to Japan in the year 1998 due to the wonderful generosity of the Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program.  Unfortunately, that program ended in 2008.  However, I still have many artifacts that I brought home from my trip, as well as plenty of photos.  I enjoy introducing my 1st grade gifted students to the unique culture of Japan each year.  Kids Web Japan has a lot of information, and it is presented in a very “kid-friendly” way.  My students particularly enjoy the “Virtual Culture” activities.

By the way, I recently started a class blog at http://blogs.neisd.net/teichh/.  If you are interested in reading about some of our current activities, including the 1st grade adventures in Japan, please feel free to visit!