Wednesday, July 1, 2015


You asked, and we’re delivering ISTE 2015 followers!  As promised during our poster sessions, we are writing this post for YOU.  Below you will find ten of our favorite tools we use almost every week to foster creativity and engagement in our classrooms. Be sure to check through archived posts where these are spoken about at length!

These are also in absolutely NO order whatsoever!

PicCollage (FREE app)
This first grader created a PicCollage with photos
and videos of action verbs. 
Created as an app to allow normal people (let’s face it…teachers aren’t normal) the ability to mash several photos together to share on social media.  Teachers, being the devious sort we are, have pirated this app and made it work for them. Bonus is that students can add video in addition to photos.  Take student PicCollage products and incorporate them into their digital interactive notebooks using BookCreator!

Use it for: (Anything your imagination can dream up!)

  • Scavenger Hunts- Finding real-life examples of abstract concepts. 
  • Skill Sorts- Geometric Shapes, Nouns, Digraphs, short vowels, Types of Seeds/Rocks/Whatever, Fiction vs. Non-Fiction, and on and on.
  • Grammar- Photos and videos of students demonstrating parts of speech. 

ChatterKid, ChatterPics (FREE app)
Whoever created this app is a genius.  Not only is it engaging, but once again teachers have found ways to make this app functional in the classroom.  This app allows kids to take photos of real-life objects or grab photos from the web and make them come to life.  Kids get 30 seconds to record and then have the options to jazz up their creations with a variety of stickers, frames, filters, and text. Pair this app with their digital interactive notebooks to make them more authentic!

This cutie is creating a ChatterPix to share interesting facts
she gleaned from an informational text about Ireland.
Use it for: 

  • Recording facts they’ve learned from informational text.  Ex. A book about elephants…grab a photo of an elephant and make it talk about itself!  Make this part of an animal project where students create a QR zoo for their peers to enjoy!
  • 30 second retellings.  Get them down the main idea of a text in 30 seconds or less!
  • Phonics fun.  30 seconds to name as many words in a phoneme family and more!
  • Spelling shorts.  Have them spell as many words as they can in 30 seconds!

Book Creator (paid app)
 Click Me to Find out How!Yes, this app is paid.  BUT…if you’re going to buy one app that will totally revolutionize your classroom…buy this one!  We're going to link you to our lengthy blog post about how to create interactive notebooks using this favorite.  Some of its best features are its workflow capabilities.  There are many options for sharing out including iBooks, ePub/video/PDF files, and more. You won’t regret it! 

Click the app image to the right to go to that blog post!

GoNoodle (web-based)
Want to cut down on wasteful transitions?  Kids stuck inside for recess for days on end?  Need a solution for PE when you just ran out of creative steam for the week?  Want to just have a little F-U-N? GoNoodle is your solution.  This database will be a kid and teacher favorite in no time as they sing, chant, dance, balance, and otherwise exercise their way through quick, engaging brain break activities.  Have a favorite YouTube educational video you enjoy? Add it to your personal account and never spend precious time searching for it again.  Our personal faves?  Anything by the KooKooKangaroo guys.  

BrainPop & BrainPop Jr. (paid subscription, web-based)
This is our go-to for short, engaging, content-rich videos created solely for kids.  Bump it up by taking the hard or short quizzes, playing the related games, or checking out the Storymapping component.  At this time, story mapping is only available for BrainPop, but GOOD NEWS!  Brittany and I were a part of a focus group at ISTE that got to see and give input on this feature for BrainPop Jr.  Trust us…you’re going to LOVE it!  Even if you can’t snag a paid subscription, students can take advantage of the Movie of the Day! You might just luck out!

Coding for Kids (web-based & app platforms)
Coding and programming continues to be a hot word in the edtech community.  Why? Understanding the process behind and using the critical thinking skills it requires allows kids to expand on not just their tech-savvy, but their creativity as well.  If you’re afraid that you just don’t know enough about coding to teach kids…stop worrying.  These no-fail websites will have your kids from zero to coding in minutes.  We also encourage you to call in the experts on this one, too.  Skype or bring in a coder/programmer.  Let kids see a neat perspective on why knowing computer language is important to them!  

Oh…even the littlest of learners can get into this! 

Try out: (app version as well)
or the HopScotch app

Allowing students voice and choice in what information is important to them is a powerful way to engage.  We like the free app Voice Record Pro, but also check out BossJock or Garage Band for more technical endeavors.  Create digital “newsletters” for your parents through the kids’ perspective.  Tip:  Allow them to listen to several different types of podcasts out there so they can hear what’s out there.  

Toca Builders (paid app)
Warning: Toca Builders is
HIGHLY engaging!
This kid-friendly version of Minecraft allows students a whole world of creation and fun.  We’ve even used it to do spelling, addition/subtraction stories, and more!  Have students build a layout of the school or redesign a playground.  The possibilities for creative play are endless. 

iMovie (paid app)
This is one of those heavy-hitter apps that is so versatile regardless of student age and ability.  This is a great app to smash with others that we’ve mentioned above or ones like keynote, DoodleBuddy (for illustrations), and more, This tool is great for project products or fun. Try out the Trailers option to connect with literacy!   

A step-by-step tutorial “how-to” post is coming soon detailing how to use this app with kids. Student samples will be included. Be sure to check back!

Stop Motion Animation
We certainly don’t do stop motion animation projects every week, but when we do…kids love them!  There are a variety of tutorials available on YouTube that will walk you through the process regardless of the medium or tech tool your kids have access to.  For us, the intermediate ages can handle iMovie (easier if accessing Mac version vs. the app).  The smaller kids use the app MyCreate.  There is a lite version if you want to check it out first.  This is much more kid-friendly.  You may also check out iMotion. 

We hope you found a tip, trick, tool, or two that ignites an idea to use in your classroom.  Connect with us below in the comments or via Twitter if you want more!  We'd love to hear what YOU want to read about!

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