Dear Photograph is not an educational site. It is a collection of photographs of pictures. In each photograph, the photographer is holding up a picture from the past in front of a scene from the present. The juxtaposition is striking, and the submissions are accompanied by moving letters to the subjects of the older photos. The emotions that you find on this site are varied and deep, from nostalgia to regret. I like the idea of using this concept in the classroom because I think that it could help students to better understand their families. And if you have some really creative photo editors, they could develop their own versions for historical settings that they are currently studying or for literature. Using Dear Photograph for a project would be a neat way to encourage empathy and perspective.
PicLits is a website that basically offers a catalogue of pictures for which you can make captions. The captions can be created from a word bank underneath that changes based on the selected picture, and variations of the chosen words are offered (such as plurals). This is one of those sites where the user can differentiate for him or her self. Single words can be selected for beginning English speakers – or entire sentences and paragraphs can be added. Some users offer famous quotations for the pictures, while other users lend a sense of humor to the image with a quip, as you can see below. There are links to several blog sites that give recommendations for using PicLits in the classroom. As always, though, it is important for the teacher to preview images before recommending the site to your students.
Silver Sphere is one of many addictive, web-based “brain” games provided by Brain Metrix. In Silver Sphere, you must beat the clock to move a silver ball to its goal. Although this sounds simple, there are obstacles and other inconveniences that make this difficult. According to Brain Metrix, “Being creative is a good thing; in fact it’s essential if we want to make our life better. Stimulating areas of your brain is a healthy process, in this page we will try to wake up (if dormant) the brain creativity potential, SilverSphere has 25 levels, let’s see how far you could go.” And, as the warning states on the Silver Sphere page, it is addicting!
Bembo’s Zoo is a book available at Amazon. But it is also an amazing website (UPDATE: 7/13/2023 — Because this site used Flash, it is no longer available, but you can see the animations that used to be on the site in this YouTube Video) that uses flash animation to delight the viewer with animals created from the letters that spell their names. Visually, it is very appealing, and especially great for use on interactive white boards. To use it for a learning activity, you might want to try showing it to your students, and then challenging them to create their own animals out of letters. Extending further, some students might want to draw other objects using letters, or even create their own alphabet book with a different theme – such as inventions. The app for iDevices, TypeDrawing, could be used for a similar activity.
I have used The Artist’s Toolkit for several years now to introduce my elementary Gifted and Talented students to the elements and principles of art. Each element or principle gives the user the opportunity to “Watch, Find, and Create”. There are also a couple of videos of artists in action. This is a very simple, but effective site. I like how it teaches, but also allows for the students to apply what they have learned and to create artwork based on this.
Word Search Creator, Jr. is one of the many interactives available on ABCya.com. This particular game allows the user to type in ten words that are eight letters or less. It then generates one-line horizontal word searches for each word. This would be a great way to differentiate for those younger students who know their spelling words backwards and forwards, or who might want to do a little independent research and create a list of their own. This game has a dragon, who guides the user through the steps, including the creation step which allows the student to decide if the activity will be done on the computer or printed out.
While you are visiting Word Search Creator, Jr., check out the other activities available on ABCya.com. They offer fun, educational games for K-5, and they even have apps for iDevices.