These moments right before a long holiday break can be the hardest to fill. You’ve nailed your curriculum, you’ve read all of the books, and everyone is telling time all over the place, but there are still a few days left until the break starts. You can feel it and so can they. With that struggle in mind, here are a few fun tech-based ideas for primary and elementary teachers to keep things fresh and engaging throughout the end of the semester.
(These ideas are all available on some combination of Chromebooks, Windows PCs, Android and iOS devices, and Macs.)
Most of these ideas are not season-related, but this first one is all about Christmas. Recently, Google has put together Santa’s Village (to promote their Santa Tracker app) which has a bunch of fun games and apps that are also good learning tools. They release a new game or app each day leading up to Christmas. For example, today’s addition is an elf jam band. Super fun.
There’s painting and coding and all sorts of other creative stuff. You can use their map to learn about Christmas traditions around the world, and even translate Christmas words into different languages and learn to pronounce them. Every day brings more fun from the geniuses at Google, and it could be a great way to start each day leading up to the holiday break.
Ok, so here’s another holiday idea, but this can really apply to any holiday since Kahoot does a great job of curating their best games and celebrating holidays. There were some great ones around Halloween and Thanksgiving, and Christmas is no different.
Kahoot is having a competition for the best winter-themed games, and they’re choosing one each day to be featured. So far there are a number of winter-themed games chosen including a Christmas picture jumble, one about Christmas carol lyrics, and even a game about the science of Christmas lights. More will be added throughout the month including games about Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the New Year.
This is an online book creator that’s super easy for kids to use. They can draw or import pictures and shapes, take photos, add text, and even record themselves reading the book. This is newly available on Chrome devices, but there is also an iPad app.
The best part is that it’s free for one class. Teacher accounts are free with up to 40 books able to be saved. According to the website, you can archive old books and stay under your capacity.
This is a great way to get kids creating their own books and telling their story. They could even use this in combination with some story-starters later in this blog to get the creative juices flowing.
This is a video of a first grade lesson on using Google Earth to explore and compare sizes of locations. It was uploaded in 2013, so ignore the version of Earth that he’s using because the new web-based version is much better. But it’s a great way to get kids at the primary level to start exploring geography. Look at their school and their parks and watch them make the connections.
The best thing about Google Earth is that it’s available everywhere. You can get to it on iPads, Chromebooks, Android tablets, Windows PCs and Macs. I wrote a blog post about the new version a couple of months ago. It’s really a great tool for exploring.
Storybird is an online story-creation tool that has kids choose an image, and then use it as a prompt to create a poem, picture book or long book. Once they choose their first image, they have a selection of similar images to use to further develop their story.
You can create a free teacher account, and from there you can add students and give them assignments which is a new feature. Each month there are challenges based on a particular starting image and a theme. In December, the theme is “The Do-Over” and the challenge was to write a one-chapter story following this prompt: “It’s New Year’s Eve and you’ve been given the chance to do one thing over—to turn it all around. Choose wisely!”
This is a great tool for easy individual story creation, group projects, or even digital scoots where the whole class creates collaborates to add their own voice to multiple projects. (Thanks to Erin Flanagan for the great digital scoot idea!)
This is a site by the New York Zoos and Aquarium where students can create an image of themselves and then “wild” it adding animal elements. It’s very fun and easy to use for kids of all ages.
Once they’ve created their wild self, they can save the image and import it into any other program like Google Slides or Book Creator to keep the creativity flowing!