Saturday, April 5, 2014

Chromville - Augmented Reality in the Classroom

During a recent Twitter chat, I learned about a new augmented reality app called Chromville. A group of very creative people in Spain have come up with an imaginary world that you can bring to life using this FREE iOS and Android app!  
My students enjoyed visiting the website,, to print the coloring sheets and read about the history of the villages. They selected their favorite character to color and experience in 3D. We are now diligently working on stories to go with our characters. This has been a perfect opportunity to work on the writing process by brainstorming ideas and getting creative! 
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The app brings the coloring sheet to life. The animated characters and scenery are inspiring!
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The characters and scenery become animated right on the students' desks!
As an added bonus, the students were able to Skype with the Chromville creators all the way from Spain! We were able to ask questions and learn more about the magical world and how it was created! We learned that artists and programmers must work together to create the 3D animation, come up with the stories, and make the app. Some of the students also shared their ideas for the stories they are working on.

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We were also treated to a demonstration of another one of their projects: Imascono - Augmented Reality Apparel. The t-shirt image triggers different heads. This one is a power ranger, but we also saw a chameleon and a gorilla!

chromville selfie

This good-looking group of geniuses are the creative energy behind Chromville. I can't wait to see what else they have in store for us! 

Chromville Home:
Chromville Instructions:
Download coloring pages:

Imascono Home:
Imascono video:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Creation Apps for the One iPad Classroom

Every elementary school teacher in our district just received an iPad! What fun we have had learning how to use our new devices and finding new apps. Many of the teachers are uncertain about how they will utilze just one iPad in their classroom. They know it will be good for classroom management tasks such as attendance, email, lesson planning, etc...but how will the students benefit? 

As soon as I received my iPad, I treated myself to a $25.00 iTunes gift card and downloaded several apps that I have wanted to try. During our Daily 5 and Math rotations, I meet with students and use the iPad for different activities - mostly content creation. 

My goal is to have a digital portfolio for our class and each student that will showcase their learning throughout the year. To accomplish this, I have a class Edublog and student Kidblogs. Anything they create is permanently documented on their blog. For instance, when we do an exciting Skype session or a fun activity, I will write about it and post pictures on our class blog. The students will also do posts about the experience on their own blogs. 

In addition to writing, the students create content using iPad apps. In order to use the content they have created on their blog, the app needs to have the "save to camera roll" feature. Many apps will only allow you to upload to YouTube, Facebook, or their site. My preference is to be able to embed their work on their blog from the cameral roll. Here are some of my favorites along with examples:

30Hands: Create and Show What You Know
We used this app together a few times, but then the students were able to use it independently. When they are done, they save to the camera roll and the upload it to their Kidblog. So far, my students have only used one slide for their presentations, but more slides can be added.
Here is an example:

Write About This

Write About This
FREE or $3.99
We used the free version of this app quite a bit, but I bought the upgraded version so they would have more options. There are picture prompts with questions and the student writes a response and then records their voice. The paid version gives more picture choices and allows the student to take their own picture. 

Example using the paid version:

Example of student work using the free version:

Tellagami is a wonderful free app that allows the students to create an avatar, choose their appearance and background, and then record their voice. Since the avatars are adults, we used this app when we were studying African American Inventors. The students researched an inventor, wrote about them on their blog, and then created a "gami" for their inventor. 

Sock Puppets

Sock Puppets Complete
Sock Puppets Complete is an adorable app that has many uses. It allows up to 4 puppets and the students have many puppets to choose from, along with backgrounds and props. I used this when we were learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. The students worked in groups or pairs to research and write a script about why we celebrate Martin Luther King Day. I worked with each group to help them record. As each student speaks, you have to touch their puppet so the mouth moves. The free version of this app is good for the students to practice on, but it only records for 30 seconds and must be saved to YouTube or Facebook. The complete version gives an additional minute of recording time, more puppets, backgrounds, and prop choices, and it also allows you to save to the camera roll. 

Puppet Pals 2: All Access
Puppet Pals 2: All Access
This is a great app that gives the students lots of choice for characters, settings, and music. The All Access version offers a lot of flexibility. We used this for our Martin Luther King scripts also. I also helped the students record their presentations because, just like Sock Puppets, you have to touch the puppet so the mouth will move. You can also move them around. Our first attempts could use some improvement, but it was really fun going through the creative process with the students. The students are already coming up with ideas for new productions! 

This is an easy, fun way to make collages out of photos. We used PicCollage to create collections of patterns we found in the school. 

There are so many more great apps out there that I can't wait to try. I will keep you updated! 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Augmented Valentine's Day

Our Valentine's Day party was pretty typical: First we played Valentine Jingo (like bingo), ate too many cookies, and then exchanged our cards. But....Today's party ended like no other! Using the Heart Cam app my students got to take a look at what a real heart looks like. This clever app uses augmented reality to create the illusion of an open chest cavity and a beating heart. Using the printed trigger page, the students were initially shocked at what they saw, but then had fun zooming in and taking a good look at what their own heart might look like.

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Awesome Math App - Count & Grow by Urbn;Pockets

I love Count & Grow! It's a great math app by Urbn;Pockets that my students use during math rotations to help build their math fact fluency. Check out the tutorial I created:

  This app is different because it's not just fact recall. Students must use higher order thinking skills, number decomposition, and fact families to solve the fact. They are given the sum (whole) and it's up to them to come up with the addends (parts).  I also like that there is not just one right answer. Students will discover different ways to make the same number. They will also learn how to use more than two numbers because the more numbers they use, the faster they will win the round! This app is excellent "drill for skill" practice!

*Redemption codes provided by Urbn;Pockets, but opinions are my own.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Fun Maps for Kids and Layar App

I just received my new personalized classroom Interactive Fun Map from Fun Maps for Kids!  I can't wait to hang it in a low spot in the classroom so my students can enjoy learning about the world using Layar - an augmented reality app.
I added a personalized title at no extra cost!
Using the Layar app on our iPads, the students will learn about the world's continents, landmarks, and animals. There are over 80 interactive objects on the map. When they click on an object, audio and video appear right on the screen! This map has arrived just in time for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. We will be talking about the athletes and the different countries they represent. This map will make an excellent companion to our class discussions. 

click on the 3-D images and learn! 
According to the Fun Maps For Kids website, new content will be introduced monthly so the map will constantly evolve and students will continue to learn new and exciting information about the world.

  *This map was purchased. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

iPad Integration That Works!

Back in November my class received 10 iPads from our technology department and we were told to "have fun". Our district has gone 1:1 in the secondary schools, be we are only one of two elementary classrooms that recevied iPads. Of course I was thrilled, but then I realized that I would need to spend some time thinking about how to successfully integrate them in to our daily routine and find apps that would fit our curriculum. 

We spent the first few weeks exploring the camera apps, creating blog posts on Kidblog, and using Tellagami. But I knew that I wanted them to be part of our Daily 5 and math rotations, so I spent some time talking to other teachers to learn how they are using iPads and finding the best apps to use. 

For our Daily 5 rounds, I found apps for Word Work, Work on Writing, and Read to Self. I set up folders on each iPad so when the students are doing a rotation, they know which folder to open. 

The folders help keep the apps organized. When they have free time they know they can use also use the "games" folder, but that one is off limits during our rotations.

To manage all of the apps and 10 iPads, I am using a MacBook Air with the Apple Configurator app. This allows me to search apps at the iTunes Store and then load them to the ipads all at once, using what I call "mission control", a charging device where all of the iPads can be plugged in and managed at one time.

When new apps are added, I simply slide them into the folders. There is a way to set one iPad the way you want it and then duplicate it on the rest, but I have not ventured that far yet.

Our folders and apps


Generally, the students use "real" books for Read to Self and Read to Someone, but I have created this folder to give them some variety.
 National Geographic books are great for Read to Self. I have also added the Augmented Reality App 
IMAG-N-O-TRON (.99 - not free) 
that goes with the book "The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore"

Word Work

There are lots of great apps for spelling, phonics, and grammar. Elephant Feed and Octopus Feed are 4 player games that focus on homophones and synonyms. Spell Sam Spell is also very popular.

Work on Writing

Students use a variety of methods for writing including journaling, the writing process, and blogging. These apps are great for impromptu writing.
Students use Kidblog on our desktops and the iPads. Write About This is a fantastic app that gives a picture and a prompt. Students write and record their voice. It works well for a 15-20 minute rotation. I use the FREE version.


We do one math center per day - 4 days a week for about 20-30 minutes.

We just finished a unit on geometry. There are some fun tangram apps and a geoboard apps. We also used the PBS CyberChase Shape Quest augmented reality app using the printed game board. Math Vs. Zombies and Monster Numbers are also great for fact fluency. 


One of my goals with iPads is for the the students to create content for their digital portfolios. I am still working on the work flow, but there are some really good apps where the students can create and share their learning. Each student has a Kidblog for their content. 
Examples can be found HERE. 

There are many content creation apps that are kid friendly. Generally, when they create something, we save it to the camera roll and then upload it to their blog (with my help). 30 Hands, Educreations, Show Me, Tellagami, Sock Puppets, and Haiku Deck allow students to add photos, videos, text, and voice. 

Games and Hour of Code

These apps are used for free time. We do hour of code in our computer lab as a whole group, but I added the apps for the students who really enjoy it. Mr Crab and Egg Race are the most popular games.  

I have only asked to purchase one app - IMAG-N-0-TRON because you have to buy one license per ipad. So the entire purchase was $10.00. There are some apps, such as Write About This,  that would be nice to have the full version of, but for now the free version works fine.

Rules and Safety

I spend a lot of time reviewing the apps with my kids and showing them how they work. Many of the free apps come with the option to make in-app purchases. They are restricted from doing this, but clicking on the links takes them away from the app. They are learning where to find the little "x" that closes the advertisement. 

Also, the headphones can be an issue. We keep them wrapped up in a tub by the iPads. If they are using an app that has sound, they can use the headphones. Of course, the cords get tangled and sometimes the kids have trouble getting the jack securely in the iPad. We have a few "experts" in the classroom who are really helpful when tech issues arise. 


We keep a bottle of hand gel by the iPads to use before picking one up. Every few days, I wipe the screens down with a very soft, damp cloth. Using cleaners is not recommended on the screens or screen protectors. 

What am I doing?

So now that I have my kids fully engaged, you are probably wondering what I am doing. Having the iPads has created some additional work for me, but using them as part of our Daily 5 and math centers has really freed me up so I can meet REGULARLY with my students! The iPads are not a replacement for good teaching - they are a supplement.

Having Fun and showing our learning

The instructions were to have fun, but more importantly my students are learning how to use the ipad as a learning tool for creating and communicating. It's not a replacement for a book or something to keep them busy. It's a powerful device that turns my classroom into a 21st century learning environment!

I Hope This Helps

There are many, many resources out there for iPads in the classroom which I found very helpful. But, to make them work in my classroom took time and and consideration. What works for me, may not work for you, but I hope I have at least given you some ideas on how to successfully manage and integrate your iPads in the classroom.

Bouncy Bands Review

A few years ago I did a post called "Busy Feet" about active students and a device that my vice-principal came up with to keep the feet busy and the brain attentive.  While this device was helpful, it was noisy and it didn't keep the student engaged for very long. 

Last summer I was contacted by Scott Ertl at Bouncy Bands about reviewing his product.  It's different from the "busy feet" device because it allows the student to not only bounce their feet, but they can also push and pull the stretchy band. The resistance allows for the student to really work their legs and feet and control the energy. 

The original Bouncy Band
I have been using the first set since the beginning of the year. It's made with pvc pipe and the inner tube of a bike tire. The tube is tied tightly to the chair legs and the pvc pipe prevents the tube from slipping. After two days, my active student had loosened the knots and they had to be retied. I pulled them really tight and haven't had a problem since.

New and improved version:
Scott also sent me the new and improved version of Bouncy Bands which uses a heavy rubber rope that has loops on both ends to prevent coming untied. I am very pleased with the results of this product!

The loops on the rubber rope just slide right on the desk legs. If it's too long, just tie a knot in the rope to tighten it up! 

Great for test day!
An elementary principal has ordered Bouncy Bands for all of her 3rd-5th grade students to help them stay focused and attentive during testing! It started with one class where every student had a set, but they were so popular the principal decided to try them for everybody!


Are Bouncy Bands only for students with ADHD?

No. While students with ADHD are extremely appreciative of being able 
to move without getting in trouble, many other students who are not 
diagnosed with ADHD benefit tremendously from Bouncy Bands as well. 
Others who enjoy Bouncy Bands include students with:
  • Test anxiety
  • Learning disabilities
  • Social anxiety
  • Asperger's Syndrome 
  • A need for movement instead of staying sedentary for hours
  • Kinesthetic learning as a primary learning style

For more information please visit