Sunday, July 1, 2018

Qball Marble Maze

In our adventure with "makerspace" areas this year, we stumbled on a product that looked super fun. Qball Marble Maze
See the source image
We purchased ours from Demco. In looking at Demco's site, there are now several different Q-Ba kits for mazes! I loved the idea of a vertical maze rather than a flat horizontal maze. Students loved building with these blocks. They did have some trouble connecting them together as each block does not fit directly on top of each other. Some connect on the sides.

We did establish a few ground rules before students started on their mazes.
1. Your maze must stand on it's own.
2. Your maze must be more than 3 blocks high and not drop straight down.
3. You can work together or on your own. Your choice.

Check out these awesome towers students built!

Were all of the mazes a success? No. But the conversations and problem-solving that was taking place was so awesome. Hearing students say things like "I need more support at my base", discussing gravity and trajectory, or using marker boards and markers to sketch their towers was where the true learning takes place. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Maker Stations-Snake Art

For the last quarter of our school year, we have decided to open permanent Maker Stations in the library. We wanted to create stations that not only included making, but also technology, literacy, and research. Our arts and crafts station has centered around a book from our listening station.

Because we live in the south, I wanted to incorporate some safety tips for summer, particularly with snakes. We have had a few in the hallways, on the playground, and in our own yards. Because kids are kids, they sometimes act before thinking. Not all snakes are bad. I have three that I regularly see in my yard. They're beautiful ribbon garter snakes.

But...back to the arts and crafts center. Thanks to Pinterest, I found a super easy craft for students to create a snake from pipe cleaners, beads, and some googly eyes.




I created a Snake Safety Tips coloring page for the center, as well. Students create their snakes independently. I add the eyes and tongue since the eyes are glued with hot clue. 

In the computer station, students are using Encyclopedia Britannica to research and read about animals. I've even had some students use the books at the station for inspiration or ask to go to a computer to look up snakes on Britannica!

Aren't they so adorable!!!


Monday, April 9, 2018

Creating Graphics on the Go

I often need to create an image on the go and don't have enough time to sit down and design something While I love Canva, I have found an app that is super easy to use. I sent this image out on April 4 for National School Librarian Day. It was created with CTDesign.

The ease of use and available backgrounds, fonts, stickers, and options to upload photos to make the graphics are what make this app my go-to for creating images.

Check out my Happy Friday image.

 My mantra...
(Soon to be on some t-shirts!)

How easy and fun is this app!?

P.S. I used another fave app, Mobizen, to record a tutorial of how to use CTDesign!

Curation: Professional Reading-School Librarian Edition

I love when my awesome PLN friends come together to curate resources. After it was posted on the Future Ready Librarians Facebook page, I couldn't keep up with the comments. Someone asked for professional reading book suggestions.

I love having great professional reading mixed in with my for fun reading.

I wanted to be able to view everyone's suggestions, but sometimes I get lost in the threat or feel overwhelmed wading through all of the comments.

I started this Google Sheet for my PLN friends to curate our professional reading.

Please add your favorite school librarian professional materials to the list. Share, save, and copy!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Coding with Colby

As a new adventurer in MakerSpace and learning stations, I used my year-end budget for some cool toys I saw. One purchase was a coding set designed for early coding learners. One product that I noticed right away was the Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set. I purchased mine from The Library Store; however, the set is actually made by Learning Resources and can be purchased directly from their site.

When we begin teaching coding, we start unplugged. Here's our lesson using The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Please excuse my super, ultra, very Southern accent. I'm from the south, y'all. Each image from the story was laid on the carpet. Students "programmed" me through the story by telling me which steps I needed to take to get to the next item. This particular lesson focuses on sequencing.

When coding with Colby, students must use the same concept. In order for the mouse to make it's way through the maze, it must be programmed with the correct algorithm (set of steps). Our students lay out the steps on a grid before entering their code. I also made a cheat sheet for each action button.

Students are loving the challenge of problem-solving through the mazes. They are required to work with their partner to solve two mazes before being able to build their own.

By solving two mazes, students are able to take turns, and it provides the opportunity for me or Ms. Denise to check their work.

Also, be sure to check out CodeSpark Academy for more beginning coding games. They just added a new game (Crocodile Catch) that focuses on conditionals, variables, and inequalities.

Google EarthCam: Discovering Your World

Tonight as I was preparing a different blog post, I stumbled into (got sidetracked) Google EarthCam. It is a webcam network of live-feed cameras around the world.

One click into it, and you'll see...

Countries are tagged with their flag. Zoom in to a country by clicking it's flag.

Continue to zoom in to the country. You'll see the number of live webcams in each location. A closer look will allow you to see a snapshot of the camera's location and a summary of information for the camera.

Notice the two rectangular mini-views of the cams.

Click to view the LIVE webcam! I watched the tides roll in in Florida, people pass through Times Square, the mountains in the French Alps. 

Be aware that some of the cams are personally owned or are hosted on a website. I had to go through a hotel's website to access one particular cam. This is definitely a guided activity.

You also have the option to view popular areas such as zoos, landmarks, and tourist attractions on EarthCam Network. Being a bit of a music geek, I had to check out the Abbey Road Cam. 

Friday, March 30, 2018

Writing Rules with Ragweed's Farm Dog Handbook

A big part of our instructional strategy is to incorporate tech F.U.N. into our lessons.

Each year, with our Arkansas Diamond nominees, we plan lessons that incorporate Tech F.U.N. for our students. The lessons are scaffolded for our K-3 students.


With Ragweed's Farm Dog Handbook, we focused on creation with Google Draw. Google Draw is awesome for creative lessons because students can add images, text art, and clip art to create a poster. In the book, Ragweed repeats the same idea to the new dog....

You will want to _______, but don't do it. That's not your job. If you do, ______.

Image result for ragweed's farm dog handbook

Third grade students created a poster that illustrated a rule at school that they wished they didn't have. They had to tell what would happen if they actually broke the rule.

Some of the students got so creative. And, some wrote some very hilarious rules.

I can totally relate to this! Sometimes I really, really want to put a beanbag underneath my desk and take a nap.

This rule cracked me up! 

This tech F.U.N. lesson focused on inserting word art and inserting an image using the search feature within Google Apps. I love that that *generally* keeps the images fairly PG and school-appropriate. If students could not find an image to use for their rule, they were allowed to use ImageQuest from Britannica. With a purchased subscription, ImageQuest provides rights free images.

What would your rule be? Would it be worth sneaking while the principal was away?