TeachersFirst's Special Occasion Ideas: TeachersFirst Editors' Choices

Other TeachersFirst Special Topics Collections

Special occasions give students a chance to recognize special people: moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, secretaries, school custodians, librarians, and more. Stretch your students' creative thinking, writing skills, and problem solving skills as they create projects to honor special people on special occasions or just as a surprise “thank you.” Check out this collection for classroom ideas and custom-made gifts (both "hard copy" and electronic). Create memories for special people as your learners show what they know and how much they care.

These resources are also great for families to try at home for events such as TV Turn-off Week or holidays.

 

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Post It - Labeling Tool - Class Tools

Grades
K to 12
1 Favorites 0  Comments
 
The Post-It Labeling Tool allows you to annotate images. Upload an image from your computer and add labels to the image. Place the Post-it where needed by dragging and dropping ...more
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The Post-It Labeling Tool allows you to annotate images. Upload an image from your computer and add labels to the image. Place the Post-it where needed by dragging and dropping and extending the connecting line. Change the background color of the Post-it from the default yellow to color code items in the image. Find the tools to upload the image, and work with it, in the bottom left corner. Scrolling over the icons will tell you what they are. Save your finished product as a webpage, embed in your blog or wiki, or print. Clicking the green question mark will show you samples. See the example made by a TeachersFirst reviewer here. The Post-It labeling tool is FREE, you can annotate your image and save it without even registering.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): digital storytelling (142), images (265), posters (36)

In the Classroom

Share the Post-It labeling site on your interactive whiteboard or projector to show students how to use the tools. Have students label and identify objects in an image. Label parts of a plant, continents, landforms, etc. Practice new words in world language classes by asking students to label and identify objects in that language. This would make an excellent ESL/ELL formative assessment tool. Create a storyboard using several annotated images as a story starter. Art students can annotate images to point out design elements or annotate images of their work to talk about the creative decisions they made. Share annotated Post-It images on your class website or blog to tell about a field trip or class event.

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Trading Card Creator - ReadWriteThink

Grades
2 to 9
2 Favorites 1  Comments
 
Follow the step by step directions to create a photo trading card using this tool. Create real or fictional Trading Cards about people, places, events, objects, or abstract concepts....more
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Follow the step by step directions to create a photo trading card using this tool. Create real or fictional Trading Cards about people, places, events, objects, or abstract concepts. Follow the prompts to complete the information and choose whether to save as a draft or final. You can share via email or print.

tag(s): back to school (58), biographies (86), book reports (36), characterization (16)

In the Classroom

Use the main character in a story your class recently read and demonstrate this tool using your projector or interactive whiteboard. Social studies classes can portray a famous person or event in history. Science classes can develop trading cards for plants, planets, cells, or just about anything else you study. In a geography class, use cards to describe a place. Students can use trading cards to help them remember facts and vocabulary from any class. Teacher-librarians can encourage students to make trading cards about books or authors. Use cards at the beginning of the year for students to create a trading card about themselves. After sharing with classmates, post them on a bulletin board for back-to-school night.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Sal, , Grades: 0 - 12

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Postcard FM - David Hoffman

Grades
K to 12
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Send audio postcards to friends and family with Postcard FM. Choose a photo and MP3 from your computer and preview your postcard. Click to add a message while in the ...more
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Send audio postcards to friends and family with Postcard FM. Choose a photo and MP3 from your computer and preview your postcard. Click to add a message while in the preview. Enter the email addresses and send. No registration is necessary to use this fabulously simply tool.

tag(s): digital storytelling (142), images (265)

In the Classroom

Use Postcard FM to send quick reminders to students or parents of upcoming events. Have students send you a postcard as a simple book reports or preview of a class presentation. Send parents a weekly audio postcard with a summary of class events. (Better yet - have students create the weekly summary!) Have students create audio postcards to practice speech/language skills or ESL/ELL vocabulary. Use it in world language class for students to practice oral language and pronunciation as they send cards to each other. Create audio postcards as a thank you to school staff or a simple gift for Mothers or Fathers Day. Make postcards to announce events in the school library or sponsored by school clubs.

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Eventbrite - Kevin and Julia Hartz

Grades
K to 12
2 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Eventbrite is an all-in-one event planning solution. Create your event page including logos, images, and other pertinent information using the templates provided. Take advantage of...more
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Eventbrite is an all-in-one event planning solution. Create your event page including logos, images, and other pertinent information using the templates provided. Take advantage of the option for creating bar coded tickets to send to participants (choose free tickets for the free account, paid tickets have a small charge to cover credit card costs). Once your event page is ready, get the word out using Eventbrite tools such as emailing personalized invitations or various social media options. Use the mobile features to check attendees in at your event and scan bar coded invitations.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): calendars (44)

In the Classroom

Use Eventbrite to increase excitement for any classroom event. Be creative and have students attend an "event" to review for exams (with bar coded tickets they can earn by sharing a student-made review activity). Offer tickets to in class enrichment "events" for those who test out of a unit. Have student groups design "events" instead of giving class presentations. The "event" could be a quiz show or game session that teaches a curriculum topic, such as "World War Wonders." Have your class work together to plan a culminating "event" such as a tea for famous Americans, and issue invitations and tickets to students who play the parts of the people they researched. Invite parents to Open Houses and Conferences. (Perhaps provide a small door prize for those using the Eventbrite app as their admission ticket!) Use Eventbrite to manage events with limited seating or a limited number of participants. If you provide professional development sessions, this is an excellent way to spread the word and manage participation. If you are an advisor for a school club, this tool would make club-sponsored events easier to organize.

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Szoter - szoter.com

Grades
K to 12
7 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Szoter is an online tool for annotating images stored on your computer or screenshots from your computer. Use this site directly on the web or download the Adobe Air version ...more
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Szoter is an online tool for annotating images stored on your computer or screenshots from your computer. Use this site directly on the web or download the Adobe Air version that runs on your desktop. Launch then choose from options to annotate such as load local image, capture camera image, make screenshot, or load image url. After your image loads, choose from editing options such as scaling image, drawing tools such as lines, arrows, and circles, and add text. When finished, save to your computer or publish and share to Twitter, Facebook, or copy the url provided.

tag(s): digital storytelling (142), images (265)

In the Classroom

Capture a screenshot of websites or software and annotate with directions for student use. Have students label and identify objects in an image. Label parts of a plant, continents, landforms, etc. Practice new words in a different language by asking students to label and identify objects in that language. Create a storyboard using several annotated images as a story starter. Art students can annotate images to point out design elements or annotate images of their own work to talk about the creative decisions they made. Share annotated Szoter images on your class website or blog to tell about a field trip or class event.

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GroupCard - Interactive Gift Corporation

Grades
K to 8
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Create and send e-cards with this online card creator: birthdays, holidays, thank you cards, and countless other events. Each topic includes several choices of cards. After choosing...more
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Create and send e-cards with this online card creator: birthdays, holidays, thank you cards, and countless other events. Each topic includes several choices of cards. After choosing a card, enter the recipient's name, a message, and sign. Cards can be "signed" by multiple members of a group. There is even an option to upload a picture next to the sender's signature. Once finished, cards can be sent via email or posted to Facebook.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): fathers day (12), holidays (147), mothers day (13)

In the Classroom

Students can create and send birthday cards to historical figures, sympathy cards to widows of slain leaders, thank you cards to persons that have had a big impact in our world, famous scientists, good luck to presidential candidates, etc. After creating cards, students can send them to your email account to be printed and included as part of bigger classroom projects. Teach how to write a friendly note, then post the results on a class bulletin board.

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Flipsnack - Smartketer LLC

Grades
5 to 12
12 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Use FlipSnack to create a free, online flip book from PDF documents. Create a Flip book when you want to embed a book, magazine, catalog, newspaper, portfolio, or other kind ...more
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Use FlipSnack to create a free, online flip book from PDF documents. Create a Flip book when you want to embed a book, magazine, catalog, newspaper, portfolio, or other kind of document into a website, wiki, or blog and have viewers flip through the pages interactively. Upload your pdf document and choose a title. (Choose carefully, since it is the title of the book.) Choose a template and customize by dragging elements and changing colors and then Publish. Now any content can become an online "book."

In the Classroom

Make a flipbook of a presentation as an engaging alternative to a web page or PowerPoint. Share classroom information such as rules and expectations in an easy to read format. Use for a great way to bring digital storytelling up front in your classroom. Make photosynthesis a story instead of bits of equations and information. Portray a time period in history or create books of different political or societal opinions. Create a flipbook with the viewpoints and personalities of characters in a story. Practice a different language by creating a themed flipbook. Lower grades can combine writing into a class flipbook to be shared online or read aloud. Any written assignment can easily be re-visioned as a flipbook! Make your literary magazone a flipbook or build new poetry collections during poetry month. Share all your flipbooks on individual laptops, or the interactive whiteboard or projector. Create simple flipbooks of Dolch words for beginning readers.

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VoiceThread - VoiceThread

Grades
K to 12
19 Favorites 0  Comments
  
Voicethread allows you to upload images (from your digital camera, scanner, or even paint program). You can also upoad PowerPoint slides. Then students can record or write their own...more
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Voicethread allows you to upload images (from your digital camera, scanner, or even paint program). You can also upoad PowerPoint slides. Then students can record or write their own comments and/or narration about the images/slides. Other listeners can "comment" back, as well. Access to the ed.voicethread site (as opposed to www.voicethread) is restricted to grades K-12 students, educators, and administrators. VoiceThread explains how to set up a classroom account and has some ideas for classroom use, as well. Ideas from the TeachersFirst Edge review team are listed below, under "In the classroom."

Voicethread also offers a free iOS app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. It is free through the iTunes app store. Projects work seamlessly on both computer and mobile iOS devices, so projects started on one machine can be edited and/or viewed on another. Your ed.Voicethread account works in both places.

tag(s): digital storytelling (142), speech (92)

In the Classroom

You will be logged into your account immediately after you fill in the registration form. You must "apply" to designate your account as an educator account once it is set up. Click on "browse" to see many examples, including tutorials. Watch the "One Minute Voicethread" to get a very quick overview of how easy it is to create a digital story. Set up student identities. Use first names only. You need to know how to locate and upload saved pictures or PowerPoint files. If you want to use audio, the COOL tool, you WILL need a microphone, either plugged into your computer or built in. Once you create a Voicethread, it can be shared by clicking "share" from the menu or at the end of viewing it and copying the URL to send via email or other means, inviting others to comment back. Ed voicethreads have comment moderation turned on by default and are private by default. As the teacher, you can change these settings.

Invite parents to share in the results (The VoiceThread classroom page tells you more about this). TeachersFirst does not recommend using actual, identifiable pictures of children. Let them draw a picture or take a digital picture of an object that somehow represents them (middle schoolers will love that idea!). If you allow others to "comment" on student Voicethreads, the experience can be both wonderful and a bit intimidating. Use this opportunity to promote ethical and kind interaction with other students and their projects.

Of course, you should be sure that you have the RIGHTS to any images you upload. Fair Use does not apply when you put an image on the web! Elementary classes can create or take pictures, then ask each child to talk about the images. Each child can comment on the SAME pictures, creating a collaborative collection of responses. After a field trip or special class event, you can assign groups of students to explain each of the digital pictures you took and how they relate to curriculum topics. In art class, students can critique works of their own or of fellow students. In language arts classes, students can scan and comment on writing pieces as part of a reflective phase of the writing process. Or post an image as a prewriting activity and allow students to respond orally in an idea-generating phase. In social studies, have students provide a picture of a grandparent then narrate what they learned about that grandparent from interviewing him/her. Have students create narrated pictures as gifts (for parents or other care givers) for special occasions, winter holidays, Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, etc.. During a science experiment or demo, have a student take pictures of the steps. Then ask students to "narrate" them by commenting on what is happening. The narration assignment could even be a center activity or an assignment on a few classroom computers for students to rotate through. What a great way to review and apply key vocabulary! Be sure they identify their voices if you are using a single class account and want to be able to assess understanding. Other ideas: narrated local history projects (pictures of local sites), audio "museum tours" of artifacts (photos) or war veterans telling their stories along with images of their uniforms or old photos. Speech/language, ESL/ELL or early childhood teachers could use this tool to promote vocabulary development and oral expression.

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Fold Play - Alfa, Superspy, and Octave

Grades
1 to 10
11 Favorites 1  Comments
    
Turn your photographs into a three-dimensional wonder. Fold Play lets users upload their own photographs into existing templates, print, and then fold them into Kaleidocycles, books,...more
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Turn your photographs into a three-dimensional wonder. Fold Play lets users upload their own photographs into existing templates, print, and then fold them into Kaleidocycles, books, double-sided poly puzzles, or invertible cubes. The clear instructional tutorials and directions make the process painless. Some projects even include video instructions.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): crafts (40), creative writing (166), geometric shapes (163), origami (17), paper folding (5), photography (160), puzzles (208)

In the Classroom

Create clever "All About Me" projects while teaching mathematical principals about 2D and 3D figures, line, area, perimeter, and planes. Have students try out this site on individual computers, or as a learning center. The most effective way to use this site is to allow students to work on it in pairs so they can easily assist each other. The tutorials are ideal for an interactive whiteboard or projector because students can follow (and fold) along with the presentation. Have cooperative learning groups create podcasts demonstrating how to create 3D shapes with sites such as PodOmatic (reviewed here (reviewed here). Ask students to explain the folding process with geometric terms such as fractional parts, symmetry, faces, edges, rotations, lines, triangles, angles, and shapes. Foldplay turns math instruction into an art. Younger students may find some folding tasks a challenge, so be sure to provide a buddy for those with poor fine motor skills.

Make gifts for special occasions, such as to thank the school principal or cafeteria workers. Create unique ornaments using student photos. Decorate a "physics tree" or "author tree" using Fold Play ornaments made from images of the concepts or of books by that author.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

Comments

I was about to bookmark this site and use it for my Intermediate students. I would consider this to have inappropriate content for students. The site talks about unhealthy attraction to pornographic haiku and lesbianism.

Editor's Note: We investigated this comment and looked through all the Foldplay activities/templates. ALL areas are safe and school appropriate EXCEPT under "Links and Stuff." The value of the activities in the other areas makes this site worth keeping, even if you must monitor to avoid the "links" area. We have also contacted FoldPlay to explain teacher concerns.
Nina, TX, Grades: 3 - 5

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Fotobabble - Fotobabble

Grades
K to 12
1 Favorites 0  Comments
  
Add voice to your pictures easily and effortlessly with this free site. Add your picture easily to Twitter, Facebook, and an unbelievable number of other sites. Don't see your site?...more
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Add voice to your pictures easily and effortlessly with this free site. Add your picture easily to Twitter, Facebook, and an unbelievable number of other sites. Don't see your site? Use the URL link or embed code to add your Fotobabble where you see fit. How easy is it? Upload your picture (you can choose whether it is public or remains private.) Add your voice and review quality. Share by clicking on the option you require or copy the embed code or URL to share.

tag(s): images (265), photography (160)

In the Classroom

Users need to be able to locate and upload pictures. Use an attached or internal microphone to add voice to the picture. Manage the final product by email, adding to the vast array of services listed, or using the embed code.

Consider the use of a class account that is shared by all instead of using individual accounts.

Be sure that students understand to use appropriate and copyright free pictures. Check with your district policies about using pictures of or by students as well as using this service.

Use in any curriculum area. Use to show and tell about a favorite animal, historical figure, place, or event, artists or musicians, scientists or technologies, characters from fiction, or how to play a specific sport (as told by the ball!) to name a few. Take pictures during a science demo and have students upload and speak as the science concept - or as Sir Isaac Newton or Louis Pasteur! Have students write stories and upload a photo of their story's setting, reading their story aloud as viewers take in the setting. Try different options of storytelling: first person as an inanimate object, flashback, etc. Art teachers can have students upload a photo of recent artworks and narrate their technique or thoughts in creating the work. Speech/language teachers and ESL/ELL teachers will find that photos can promote oral language practice (and preserve a recording to demonstrate progress). A picture can SPEAK a thousand (or more) words!

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Box Templates - Paperandmore

Grades
1 to 8
3 Favorites 0  Comments
This site offers nine templates to make a variety of shaped boxes from folded card stock or paper. Create a pyramid, hexagonal, matchbox, takeout, trapezoid, flap, candy, bon-bon, or...more
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This site offers nine templates to make a variety of shaped boxes from folded card stock or paper. Create a pyramid, hexagonal, matchbox, takeout, trapezoid, flap, candy, bon-bon, or puffy box with these printable templates and directions.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): angles (88), area (66), crafts (40), geometric shapes (163), holidays (147), perimeter (32), printables (38), volume (45)

In the Classroom

Teach volume, area and perimeter while also creating useful gift boxes for holiday presents. This site will provide opportunities for visual spatial learners to learn mathematical principles about 2D and 3D figures, lines, angles, and planes. Download and print out the free templates onto vellum or card stock paper. Take advantage of the site's online directions and allow students to work on it in pairs so they can easily assist each other. Save this site in your favorites on classroom computers so students can practice paper folding independently. As a clever review activity for almost any curriculum topic, have students make and decorate a box, such as "secrets of the solar system" or "favorite vocabulary words" box, filling it with slips of paper with terms to define or explain. The decorations can be hints or images to fit the topic. Have student trade boxes to review.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Bookemon - Bookemon, Inc.

Grades
K to 12
42 Favorites 1  Comments
 
Write your own original books, add images and artwork as illustrations, and read your published books in interactive, online form. There is no fee for the online publication and sharing....more
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Write your own original books, add images and artwork as illustrations, and read your published books in interactive, online form. There is no fee for the online publication and sharing. This is the ultimate in "digital storytelling." Click "Explore" to browse many "public" examples on the templates page of books created by others. Take advantage of the free apps that make Bookemon even easier to use with any device! Use Bookemon Reader to READ books you created in Bookemon or Bookemon edCenter (available for both iOS and Android). BookPress for iOS devices only allows you to CREATE books from scratch, including using photos from your iPad/iPhone. InstaPress (for iOS only) offers options to make books from documents, pdfs, etc. to be shared on mobile devices as eBooks. Here is an example of a book created by the TeachersFirst Edge editors. Once you set up free membership in this site, students (or teachers) can select to create from a blank start or using templates provided. You can also create a book starter of your own as an example so students can follow the prompts you have created. The book creator allows you to upload your own images and to create books from a Word document or PowerPoint file you have already made. EdCenter users can collaborate on books.

After you save and publish the work, share the URL so people can read the entire thing online, either among an audience of "just my friends" or publicly. They also offer the embed code to place your books in a class or school web page, wiki, or blog. The easiest option is to copy the address of the new window displaying the interactive book. There is an option to have the book printed for a fee, but this is not required. You can also read books created by others (if they make them public). Use the fully-public option to create learning materials for classes to access year to year for at-home review or reading practice.

This site requires a simple registration. Teachers can set up an edCenter for their school or class in accordance with school policies. See more detailed suggestions "In the Classroom" below and in our sample book! Newer mobile device options include players to view your books on iPads and more.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): creative writing (166), digital storytelling (142), writing (358)

In the Classroom

SKIP the profile and friends areas to get to the book creator to play with the tools a bit. Before you get too involved, create an edCenter to minimize advertising and create books in your own teacher-friendly class environment. Use the edCenter to register students and establish privacy settings for your class. No student emails are required.

On the Create Books page, choose from using a blank book, starting from a file, or using a template. Choose "school" to see projects from other classes or a sample created by you or a student team working in advance along with you. Explore ready-made themes (seasonal, topical, etc.) or use "open theme." Choose book dimensions (match layout shape to any uploaded files, such as PowerPoint slides). Enter settings and description of your book (editable later), including who is allowed to "see" it: everyone, just friends, or private. Again choose a "theme" - more of a category where Bookemon will list your completed book. A logical option is "school." Experiment with tools to upload files (within file limits), add images, add text, etc. Written help is offered as you go, but there is no video demo. SAVE often. Turn margins on to avoid chopping content. To share the book, you must "publish" it (i.e. finalize).

Once published, locate the book under "My Books" and use options to share (by email--and see the URL to copy from there), "Make a new edition" to create a new version--also useful for treating the original as a template for later books), Post to Other Sites offers embed codes. The BEST option is to click the book COVER which opens a new window without ads or "stuff," and copy the ADDRESS of that window to paste into email, etc. You can also mark that clean window view as a Favorite on a classroom computer!

Use your edCenter settings to manage social networking features. This will avoid the "public" Bookemon features such as opportunities to share address books, use social tools such as Facebook to share your books, etc. Teacher-controlled edCenter accounts are probably the easiest option for managing within school policies.

With younger students, have them begin their work in PowerPoint then upload for whole-class books. See an example, created by the TeachersFirst Edge editors . The example is full of ideas for classroom use from Kindergarten to high school, including science concept tales, poetry books, general writing, math problem solve-its, and more. ANY grade can use this tool, depending on the amount of direction by the teacher. (By the way, the correct answer to the problem in the sample book is c. 27.) Another idea: have students create personalized books for their parents or grandparents for special occasions (Mother's Day, Father's Day, or Grandparent's Day).

Use the mobile device features offered in your BYOD classroom to make and share books, PDF's, and more. Tip: Use this site for a guided introduction to social networking as a class, an excellent teaching opportunity for digital citizenship in the context of a project.

This is one of the best creative tools for gifted students to go above and beyond regular curriculum. Don't let the "juvenile" appearance fool you. Even older students can write and include images to create and share books of any length. Any independent research or writing project can become an interactive book. Even advanced science experiments and lab reports can be shared online using this tool. Once you have one book, you can use that as a template for others. Inspire your gifted students to create literary magazine or even a personal online "portfolio" of writing, artwork, or photography presented in interactive book form.

Comments

This is one of my all time favorite creative tools. Very versatile. Great for making "buddy books" or for teacher-created learning "books." Make one as a whole class to summarize a science unit in primary grades. I even use it personally to make fee online "gifts" for children I know. I did purchase one print version, and it looked great. Thinking, PA, Grades: 5 - 10

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podOmatic - podOmatic

Grades
1 to 12
17 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Create simple audio podcasts using this online tool and the free space they provide. Simply put, this tool lets you create and place sound recordings online for people to listen ...more
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Create simple audio podcasts using this online tool and the free space they provide. Simply put, this tool lets you create and place sound recordings online for people to listen to and/or download from the web. There are MANY free podcasts in a variety of subject areas (art, health, technology, music, business, and more.) We have linked this review directly to the K-12 area within the site. The site includes some social networking tools, so some schools may have it blocked. The site is a "general public" site, so the home page has links to recent podcasts that may not be appropriate for young people. Attach a mike or use your built-in computer mike; create the podcast by clicking a record button, (you may have to tell your computer to "allow" the site to access your mike). Choose a background for your podcast page. Share it with others using one of several sharing options on the "My Podcast" tab, including copying the link. Listeners can listen to it online or download to their MP3 player. See and hear a sample we made for you.. You can also create a "minicast" with a simple upload of images and audio that turns your images into a short video. Transitions are also available for your minicast. Share through a blog, twitter, a link or directly to Facebook. There are limits to the amount of file storage for free accounts. The site will tell you how much space each podcast takes and how much you have left. Podomatic does not allow memberships for those under 13. Podomatic now has a free iOS and Android apps.

tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (196), podcasts (52)

In the Classroom

Podomatic does not allow memberships for those under 13. Teachers using this tool with younger students should do so under supervision and with a teacher-controlled account. You will want to supervise or establish consequences so students do not spend time on the public areas of the site and instead proceed to creating their podcasts. This is an opportunity to teach about digital citizenship and safety, such as steering clear of interaction and avoiding sharing any identifiable information about yourself in a podcast. You may want to share the links to class podcasts only with your students and parents. If you have students record podcasts as assignments, you may need multiple accounts because the free accounts have limited file space. An elementary teacher might have enough space for 25 students to keep a limited number of products on his/her own account, depending upon length.

Create regular or special podcasts to share on your class web page or wiki. Create a minicast of images taken during a lab or a portfolio of images from a photography, art, or any other class. Add music and share as part of a digital portfolio. More ideas: record class assignments or directions; record story time or a reading excerpt for younger ones to listen to at a computer center AND from home! Have readers (perhaps older buddies) build fluency by recording selected passages for your non-readers. Launch a service project for your fifth or sixth graders to record stories for the kindergarten to use in their reading and listening center. Have students create "you are there" recordings as "eyewitnesses" to historical or current events; make a weekly class podcast, with students taking turns writing and sharing the "Class News;" have students create radio advertisements for concepts studied in class (Buy Dynamic DNA!); have students write and record their own stories or poetry in dramatic readings; language students or beginning readers could record their fluency by reading passages; allow parents to hear their child's progress reading aloud, etc. Compare world language, speech articulation, or reading fluency at two points during the year. Have your Shakespeare students record a soliloquy. Write and record a poem for Father's or Mother's Day (or other special events) and send the URL as a gift to that special person.

If you have gifted students who lean toward the dramatic, this tool is simple enough for them to create dramatic minicasts without needing a video camera. They can collect images (think Compfight) and write a drama to accompany them, showing what they have learned in independent learning beyond the regular curriculum.

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Word Hearts - Neoformix.com

Grades
6 to 12
2 Favorites 0  Comments
This is a simple tool that automatically fills a heart shape with any words you choose. Simply type the words separated by commas in the text box and press "Enter." ...more
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This is a simple tool that automatically fills a heart shape with any words you choose. Simply type the words separated by commas in the text box and press "Enter." You have the option to choose one of three fonts and change the colors of the text, background, and shape. There is no built-in method to save or print your image, however you can capture it by using print screen, explained by clicking on one of the links available right on the Word Heart page, that will guide you on how to capture your screen on both Windows and Mac. You can then paste it into any image editing program to crop it, save it, or print it.

tag(s): images (265)

In the Classroom

This is a handy, fun tool to make available to your class. Provide a direct link from your web page or wiki and bookmark it in your favorites. The uses are endless! Students can generate words related to any of the literary themes or character traits related to love, family, or friendship, or write a poem. When studying grammar, have students fill the heart with verbs, or nouns. Use it to generate synonyms or antonyms. Another idea, have students "capture" the picture and save. Then have the students narrate their word heart using a site such as Slidestory, reviewed here. This tool allows you to narrate the slides and images.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Kaboose - Walt Disney Internet Group

Grades
K to 6
2 Favorites 0  Comments
  
Kaboose is a potpourri chock full of new ideas for gifts to make for special occasions, holiday crafts and recipes with easy-to-follow directions, slide shows, puzzles, games,...more
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Kaboose is a potpourri chock full of new ideas for gifts to make for special occasions, holiday crafts and recipes with easy-to-follow directions, slide shows, puzzles, games, and more all based on seasonal activities and celebrations. The page is "busy" with lots of links to related resources and advertisements, but with very little exploration you will find entertaining, creative ideas for projects that can be done in the classroom. Be sure to check the copyright restrictions on the bottom of the web page.

tag(s): crafts (40), holidays (147)

In the Classroom

How many times have you taught the siblings of your current students and are now looking for a new project or gift for them to bring home? Bookmark this site in your favorites or in your folder for holiday/seasonal arts and craft ideas. Invite parents in to work with small groups to give you plenty of extra pairs of hands. During classroom celebrations, project a selection of the related interactives on your classroom whiteboard to keep students educationally engaged and prevent them from "wandering" too far from the holiday theme.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Smilebox - Smilebox, Inc.

Grades
5 to 12
1 Favorites 0  Comments
   
This resource allows you to create slide shows, greetings, scrapbooks, invitations, collages, and more. The download is free, but there are paid upgrades available if desired. For educational...more
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This resource allows you to create slide shows, greetings, scrapbooks, invitations, collages, and more. The download is free, but there are paid upgrades available if desired. For educational purposes, the upgrades are not needed. Photos, videos, and music can all be added to your creations. A Smilebox template must be used to make your creations. Products made with this program can be shared to web pages and blogs, social networking sites, emailed, saved, or printed for free. All themes are free. This is a free download, so make sure you have computers that have the capability to download before creating a lesson with this tool. See the reviewer's sample here.

tag(s): blogs (88), images (265), movies (64), photography (160), slides (63)

In the Classroom

You will need to be able to download this program, and you will need 4 MB of space on your computer to do so. The program will automatically pull some photos from Windows Media or iPhoto depending on what your computer uses for photos. You can save web images or use screen shots, as well, to be used in your creations. Watch copyright! Check out the review of Jing reviewed here for details and a down-loadable screen shot taker. (It is what our reviewer used to capture extra images for the sample!) From here, it is easy to simply click and follow the on screen instructions. The program is simple to navigate and very user friendly for those who are accustomed to web tools.

With the variety of formats, this program has a wide variety of applications in any type of classroom! Use in history class to have students create collages of different periods of time such as the American Civil War. Create topics such as the Lincoln's Election, the Gettysburg Address, Battle of Antietam, Emancipation Proclamation, Battle of Gettysburg, and Lee's Surrender. Have pairs or groups of three select topics at random, and then have them create a collage or "scrapbook" of the event. Try having students choose a role from which to create their assignment such as a Rebel soldier, a Union Soldier, a volunteer nurse, a mother or father of children fighting on different sides of the war, etc. Have students collect copyright free images online for their use or create their own by reenacting and creating visuals to take pictures for their productions. Unleash student creativity by showing them this tool as resource in creating presentations and projects for your class and others. What a fabulous tool to use on the first day of school (as a welcome), beginning of a new unit, or back to school night with the parents! Elementary classes could create whole-class scrapbooks of curriculum projects, such as their science garden or Colonial Days celebration.

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Mix Book - Andrew Laffoon

Grades
K to 12
2 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Enhance digital storytelling and classroom-publishing techniques with Mixbook. This web 2.0 creating tool lets students collaboratively create beautiful books. Users can simultaneously...more
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Enhance digital storytelling and classroom-publishing techniques with Mixbook. This web 2.0 creating tool lets students collaboratively create beautiful books. Users can simultaneously insert photos, text, and edit from separate computers. Authors can select from a wide variety of thematic designs, layout options, stickers, and backgrounds or design their own. Upload personal photos, scanned illustrations, or free public domain images directly into the image library. Inserting photos is a simple, intuitive process that requires a click and drag. The text comes in a variety of font options, and sizes. A complete transcript of the writing appears below the book. Viewers can enjoy the reading the book without needless advertising or redirection to another site. It is also possible to copy a book and easily create a customized edition for individual students. There is always the option to purchase books directly from the Mixbook. Go directly to this site and immediately create your masterpiece.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): digital storytelling (142), ebooks (41)

In the Classroom

Use Mixbook to create collaborative projects, yearbooks, or to give writers workshop publishing a professional flare. History teachers may enjoy letting students photograph a re-enactment of a scene from the past and then write accompanying text. Combine yearly research reports with this multimedia option. Have students create collaborative projects that access fantastic photography collections from sites such as the Library of Congress . Primary school teachers can photograph student illustrations of familiar songs, poems, or rhymes and create "class" books. Project these books onto an interactive whiteboard or projector and revolutionize shared reading. Create parent education books that communicate how to help with their student's reading at home, or explain the stages of project-based learning. Students can also author books in a foreign language. Mixbook is useful for all areas of the school curriculum. Remember to embed student books into the school website for family and friends at home to enjoy.

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Tagxedo - Hardy Leung

Grades
K to 12
14 Favorites 1  Comments
 
Want a word Cloud with Style? Create one here! A word cloud is an image of words that show the most frequent word in a larger font than the others. ...more
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Want a word Cloud with Style? Create one here! A word cloud is an image of words that show the most frequent word in a larger font than the others. Create a visual representation of a passage to pull out and identify important words or show the text in an interactive, visually appealing way. The resulting cloud pops out the words as you roll over them, so viewers can "see" each word separately. See a sample, created by the TF Edge review team. Explore the gallery for many inspiring examples, including some that use the customizable image shapes uploaded from your own computer (premium feature). Some features may change slightly after the beta phase, but developer Hardy Leung assures TeachersFirst users, "Even after beta you'll be able to save the animated version of the Tagxedo for free to your computer or to the web without the paid version. I may require a membership, though unlikely, but even then I'll make sure there is a free version for teachers and students."

Tagxedo requires Silverlight. The site will appear as a blank page with the "Install Silverlight Plugin" button if your computer does not have it installed. See your tech folks to allow download and installation of this plug-in if school computers do not have it and/or are "locked down."

tag(s): vocabulary (324), word choice (26), word clouds (10)

In the Classroom

NO membership required to create a cloud, though saving may require a (free) membership in the future, according to developer Hardy Leung. Click "Create" and then "Words." Paste URL to "cloud" words from a web page or copy/paste (or type) a passage of words into the given field. (Repeat words to make them larger). Experiment with various settings and "themes" to create the different colors and shapes of the word cloud. Change the theme, shape, direction, layout, and other parameters easily. Click SAVE to easily download a static image of various sizes or take a screenshot using shortcut keys. Saved images do not have the cool "pop-out" feature (rats!), though the developer tells TeachersFirst that users will be able to download animated versions in the future. You can also save and obtain the direct URL to your animated cloud. Be sure to bookmark it or copy/paste the URL for safe keeping in a document, wiki, etc. During beta, the tool allows you to save and copy embed code, but this feature will cost money later.

In the classroom: This is a terrific visual tool to share on an interactive whiteboard or projector. In primary grades. Enter a group of related words into the text box, such as sight words, words with the same spelling cluster, or vocabulary terms. Then have students roll over the words to read them aloud as they pop out (only works in the ONLINE version of the clouds). Paste in a passage or URL for a political speech to visualize the politician's "message." Analyze advertising propaganda by visualizing the language used in TV or print ads. Create word clouds of historical texts of inauguration speeches as time capsules of the issues of the day. Use this site as a way to help students see and memorize terms and important vocabulary, especially visual learners. Use it also when writing poetry or reading passages of great literature to "see" themes and motifs of repeated words and images. Have students paste in their own writing to spot repeated (and monotonous) language when teaching lessons on word choice. Students will be surprised to see what words appear to be dominant. ESL and ELL students will eagerly use this site since word order will no longer be a problem for them. Have students work in groups to create word posters of vocabulary words with related meanings, such as different ways to say "walk" or "said" and decorate your classroom with these visual reminders of the richness of language. Use themes and shapes that coordinate with the word cloud (for example, use a bird shape when creating a cloud about flight or a heart when interpreting a love poem. Consider using a word cloud as a first week of school activity where students discuss summer vacation or what they did over the summer. As a first day activity, students could also make a cloud with words about themselves, then have classmates guess which cloud matches which person.

For a free gift for special occasions, make word clouds about mom for Mother's Day or Thanksgiving "I am thankful" visual poems. Share them by emailing the URL or in printed form.

Comments

Very versatile, creates word clouds in specific shapes. Adds another dimension. Frances, CT, Grades: 6 - 8

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Magazine Cover Maker - Big Huge Labs

Grades
3 to 12
16 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Create authentic-looking magazine covers sure to attract double-takes. Simply upload a photo to create your cover. If you do not need to SAVE the photo for online access later, you...more
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Create authentic-looking magazine covers sure to attract double-takes. Simply upload a photo to create your cover. If you do not need to SAVE the photo for online access later, you do not even need to join the site. Covers you create can be downloaded as completed images or sent via email and other sharing tools (Facebook, etc). Photos can be uploaded from your files, Flickr, your website, or other photosharing sites. Fill in your desired text for the titles and sub-titles and choose colors for them. It's that simple. Click 'Create' at the bottom and you have a magazine cover that will leave others in awe. For more creative ideas using Big Huge Labs, go to the top of the page and click on Big Huge Labs Blog or Forum. Big Huge Labs offers MANY similar tools, such as Mapmaker, reviewed here. Of course, this site offers advanced options for a fee or with free registration, but neither is necessary.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): bulletin boards (16), collages (17), flickr (7), images (265)

In the Classroom

You need to know how to locate your photos on your computer or photo sharing site. Click the little white boxes to change text colors, etc. as you enter desired text. SAVE your completed cover when done. Be sure to give it a meaningful name if you are creating several covers on the same computer!

Check out the Big Huge Labs educator account. Easily pre-register students to avoid creating logins, view and download their creations, and view the site advertisement free. You will find information about the Educator Account here. If you and your students simply use the tool without joining the site, there are no problems with email, profiles, etc. You do need to demonstrate the tool and specifically explain which links students should NOT use, including ads and links to social networking sites that are prohibited in your school. These may be blocked, anyway. Make sure you watch and teach copyright issues in snatching photos from the web.

Have students create magazine covers of themselves as a getting to know you activity and classroom bulletin board. Print and laminate magazine covers to make them appear even more authentic. Or share the images (WITHOUT student names) on your class wiki or web page. When doing reports for any subject, have students create magazine covers that mimic the real thing instead of boring plain covers. Make covers about famous Americans, scientists, or historic figures. Make covers about objects, as well. Assign students to research a vegetable and create a cover about its nutrients, recipes, and more as part of your nutrition unit! Guidance teachers or principals can feature exemplary students using this tool. Bulletin board creativity will skyrocket using Big Huge Labs Magazine Cover. Why not offer a rotating PowerPoint slide show of student-made magazine covers for parents to view as they wait in the hallway for conferences?

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Armored Penguin - Armored Penguin

Grades
K to 12
4 Favorites 0  Comments
Create puzzles and other word games using this resource. Puzzle types include Word Search, Crossword, Word Scramble, Bagels (Interactive Logic Game,) and Math worksheets among others....more
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Create puzzles and other word games using this resource. Puzzle types include Word Search, Crossword, Word Scramble, Bagels (Interactive Logic Game,) and Math worksheets among others. There are also quotes, illusions, and more. Creating a log in is not required. Puzzles created remain for two months and can be saved as a pdf file on your computer. Many puzzles are already permanently archived and can be found by looking through the categories. Don't miss many holiday and calendar-event puzzles! Search puzzles of the day to find new and interesting puzzles to use. Printable puzzle versions from this site require Adobe Reader. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): holidays (147), logic (235), puzzles (208), vocabulary (324)

In the Classroom

Need a puzzle to reinforce the words in a particular unit? You may find one already created. If not, it is simple to create and save to your computer or share by URL (remember the online version is saved for two months). Use the "Quotes" page for great quotes of the day, the "Illusions" page for optical illusions, or the "Fresh Words" page to see what words can be made from a word, phrase, or collection of letters. Have cooperative learning groups create their own puzzle pages for a topic that they are researching or learning about in class and use them to challenge their classmates or another section of the course. Have students create puzzles as a cost-free, printable gift for families on special occasions such as Mother's Day.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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