Category Archives: Apps

ScratchJr

I have been eagerly waiting the release of the ScratchJr app for the iPad this summer.  It became available on Tuesday, and I spent part of Wednesday playing around with it.

ScratchJr is a free iPad app that is designed to introduce programming to kids ages 5-7.  It is, of course, intended to acquaint students with the Scratch programming language – a block type programming that was developed by M.I.T. and is available for free at this link. (You can use it online or download the software.)

As school hasn’t started for me yet, I haven’t been able to put this app in the hands of students to see their reaction.  I am curious to watch my younger students who have not been exposed to Scratch explore the app.  Many of them have used Hopscotch, Daisy the DinosaurKodable, and Robot Turtles, so the concept of programming won’t be completely foreign to them.  However, my plan is to give them as little information as possible to see what they discover on their own.

The interface seems fairly simple.  The question mark allows you to find sample projects and watch an introductory video.  In my opinion, the intro video should be broken into parts.  Even though it’s less than 4 minutes, I think young students will find it too overwhelming to watch the entire video in one sitting – particularly if they have never done any type of block programming.

Clicking on the house icon will take you to the project screen, where you can add new projects or edit others you have saved.  The book icon (back on the home screen) gives you information about the program, including guides to the different icons in the program.

ScratchJr screen shot

For more information, you can visit the ScratchJr website.  There are a few materials available for teachers at the moment, and I’m sure more will be added as the project gains momentum.

So far, there does not seem to be a way to share projects created in ScratchJr with an online community as there is with Scratch and Hopscotch.  However, projects can be viewed full screen, and I am sure that you can project them if you have AirPlay or other means of iPad projection in your classroom.

If you are new to programming, I highly recommend the tutorials on the Hour of Code website.  However, do not let your lack of knowledge keep you from bringing it into the classroom.  I promise you that I know very little, and that is actually a benefit.  It keeps me from helping my students too quickly, and they learn from struggling and solving problems on their own.

Also, even if programming is not in your curriculum, apps like ScratchJr are great as a creation tool.  Students can use it to tell stories, explain math problems, etc…  Not every student will embrace ScratchJr, but once you have introduced it to your class, it could be one of many choices for assessment that allows them to use their creativity.

Here are some more resources for Programming for Kids if you are interested.

 

 

VidRhythm

I found myself in Seattle a few weeks ago, stuck in a 12-person van with my daughter’s synchronized swimming team on a road trip.  The girls were getting a bit stir crazy, and I was trying to think of a game we hadn’t played yet.  I desperately texted a music teacher friend, “What was that fun music app you showed me last month?”

VidRhythm.”

vidrhythm

I quickly downloaded it, and got the girls next to me to give their input on the song and style.  Once you choose a song and style, the app tells you certain sounds to make as you are recorded, then mixes them into a fun video. The video can then be shared to your camera roll or on social media (if you desire).

The team loved it.  Suddenly every girl in the van was downloading the app to her phone and making weird sounds.  In retrospect, maybe it wasn’t a great idea to try it out in an enclosed space…

I was reminded of the app when I saw this article on the Huffington Post about a recent video called, “Schoolhouse Re-mix” by DJ Overeasy. (You should check it out. It’s great!)  I don’t think DJ Overeasy used the app to make his video, but the effects are similar.

VidRhythm is rated for ages 9+, and available on iPhone and iPad.  It’s free.  I’m sharing it today because it’s Phun Phriday, and it’s definitely a lot of fun. Of course, kids will be kids and try to make all kinds of sounds that are not suggested by the app – so be prepared if it’s on a student’s device to hear and see some unique videos that only kids would dream up;)

Sherlock Holmes’ Resume

My daughter is a huge fan of the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes series so when I saw this, I had to show her.  We both had a chuckle over the graph of his interests :)

a portion of Sherlock Holmes' resume from Media Bistro
a portion of Sherlock Holmes’ resume from Media Bistro

You can see the infographic in its entirety by visiting Media Bistro. It’s being used to advertise for a new book on infographic resumes from McGraw-Hill.

Students could do a similar activity to analyze a character in any book or a person in history.  This would go along very well as a companion activity to creating a book trailer using the app I mentioned yesterday, “In a World… Drama.”  To create the infographic, students could design their own free-hand.  Or, you can visit this list of suggested websites to make infographics from Richard Byrne.

This activity not only allows students to show their understanding of a particular person while showcasing their creativity, but may also help them to develop a beneficial skill that they may need down the road.  My husband’s company has been receiving infographic resumes from prospective employees, and they definitely help the job applicants to stand out from the rest of the crowd!  (Of course, you probably would not want to highlight cigars as being your primary interest in life…)

 

In a World…

A couple of weeks ago, Apps Gone Free offered an app called, “In a World… Drama.”  I downloaded it, and then spent the next hour goofing around with it.

Unfortunately, the app is no longer free.  You can get the one I have for $1.99, or you can get plain old “In a World” (not the drama version) for .99.  I’m not sure of the differences – other than the one that I have is rated for ages 12+ and the other one is rated for ages 4+. (If you purchase the .99 version, you can then add the Drama and Comedy ones in-app for .99 each.)

This app allows you to create movie trailers.  The advantage of this app over iMovie and other video creation tools is that it comes with Jonathan Cook voice overs to add to the trailer.  That ubiquitous voice that seems to be behind every movie preview ever produced can now be added to one of your own creation.

Of course, you can’t make the voice say whatever you want.  (But wouldn’t that be great!) However, you do get to choose from many, many phrases.  Each stage of the trailer creation gives you more options.   You can also add your own photos and/or video.  There are several sound track offerings, or you can choose from the music on your iDevice.

screen from "In a World...Drama" app
screen from “In a World…Drama” app

As a teacher, I can see many uses for this, including to create “hooks” in the classroom to introduce a topic.  It would also be great for creative writing.  Students would have a blast with this as well – but be aware of the age recommendations.

This is an app that certainly lends itself to app smashing.  You can smash your completed video with other apps, such as iMovie. Or, you can create content in other apps to be included in your movie trailer.

The videos can be edited after you are finished.  This is helpful because I felt like I needed to determine what was going to be said before I found the images to go along with my project.

Once you are finished, you can upload the video to your camera roll, or even Vine or Instagram.

I was torn between making a parody for you starring my bulldog or an inspirational clip.  You can see for yourself which one I went with…

Zookazam

For my Phun Phriday post this week, I am writing about an augmented reality app called Zookazam.  There are actually 3 downloadable iPhone apps in this series: Zookazam Lite, Zookazam Pro, and Zookazam Zoo Atlanta.  The first and 3rd are free.  Zookazam Pro currently costs 99 cents.  However, I think I got it for free one day through Apps Gone Free – as I somehow have it on my device and don’t remember paying for it.

zookazamlion

All of the apps are iOS only.  They are iPhone apps, but will work on the iPad as well.  To use them, you need to print out the appropriate target page – based on which app you are trying to use.

With the Lite version, you will only be able to view one animal – a deer.  Zoo Atlanta offers you 6 different animals: Lion, African Elephant, Zebra, Giraffe, Giant Panda, and Eastern Black Rhinoceros. The Pro version will give you more options, of course.  It includes bugs.  You can see all of the animals here.

Though I don’t usually offer education integration ideas on Phun Phriday posts, it might be a neat lesson to have students build habitats around a particular Zookazam creature.

Zookazam is a fun novelty.  You can choose the weather conditions for your animal, and take photos of it enduring rain, snow, and cloudy days.  What also distinguishes it from some of the other AR apps is that it gives you the opportunity to take video in the app.  This allowed me to amuse myself by watching a few pandas cavort right in front of my bulldog’s nose…

 

Theme Park Song Winner

Theme Song Padlet This summer, some other GT teachers and I got together to host some free online classes through Edmodo for our 3rd-5th graders.  My class is called, “Make a Theme Park.”  Each week, the students are invited to make something for a theme park that they have imagined. For the 1st week, the challenge was to build a model of a theme park ride, and the fantabulous Joey Hudy judged.  You can see the post I did on the winners here.  During the second week, the students created theme park mascots, and Braeden the Master of Puppetry was our judge.  Here is the link to that post.

Our third week of our online “Make a Theme Park” class invited the students to create songs for their theme parks.  Michael Medvinsky (@), who is an amazing music teacher and Master of Making I connected with through Twitter, was our judge for the week.  As usual, the creativity and variety in the submissions thoroughly impressed me!  Our judge was dazzled as well, and had a very difficult time choosing the winner.  There were songs created with Garage Band, piano, Scratch, and even a muffin tin with wrenches!  My daughter and I tried to create one with Incredibox and iMovie – but somehow lost the sound :( In the end, Mr. Medvinsky chose the Kittyana Jones Theme Song that was created with Scratch.  You can see and hear all of the songs submitted, as well as Mr. Medvinsky’s wonderful comments by going to our Padlet.