Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Interactive Dinosaur Websites for Kids

Smithsonian's Virtual Dinosaur Dig is the perfect way to introduce kids to Paleobiology and fossils! Once you launch the game, students begin by unearthing the fossils by chiseling them from the ground. After carefully packaging the bones, they get shipped back to the museum for assembly. Kids put the bones together like a giant puzzle to see what they have found. Then you can read all about your dinosaur! Very cool. Fun, fun!

Discovery Channel's Dinosaur Central has many different interactive dinosaur sections that would be motivating for children. Besides an extensive video clip selection, Discovery also features different areas that let kids explore dinosaurs on their own. For example, there is a place to "explore a dinosaur mummy" where the fossils are on display and the student can zoom into different areas of the skeleton for more information. The "dinosaur viewer" is a definite place to investigate since there are several dinosaurs to choose from to learn about how they looked (3D 360 degree view!), how they moved (animated!), how big they are compared to an average person, and when they lived. There is a Prehistoric Beast Quiz and a Cretaceous Quiz to test your knowledge. Last, check out their dinosaur puzzles!


Science Videos on Vimeo

Visit Planet Science!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Interactive Art Sites for Kids

smART Kids

smART Kids is a site by the David and Alfred Smart Museum at the Univserity of Chicago. There are sections for kids, parents, and teachers. For the kids, they can choose to learn art vocabulary, be an art detective, learn to view art in different ways, and go to an artist's studio.

The Artist's Studio

The Artist's Studio is sponsored by the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts. The toolkit is an interactive experience that teaches students about line, color, shape, balance, space and movement. In addition to short video tutorials, there are sections where kids can practice what they learned and create their own art.

Inside Art

Inside Art is like an interactive story about a person who "falls" into art and experiences it firsthand. It's similar to a choose-your-own-adventure story.

Art Express

Art Express is sponsored by Harcourt Express and appears to have been created to correspond with an art textbook. There are different units to click on (see numbers in picture above) where the student and teacher can then choose a variety of different art concepts that are interactive. There is a lot to this site and is worth exploring.

Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock is a site dedicated to the artist of the same name. It is an interactive page that will let you create art in Jackson Pollock style without the mess of really throwing paint around a canvas. Simply click your mouse and shake it around to make your art!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Image Blender Software by Tech4Learning

Image Blender is one of many programs offered through Tech4Learning. Image Blender is a digital photo editor that allows you to combine layers and different photos, text objects, shapes, and special effects to create new images. By utilizing their "cool word" feature, students can place an image in the background and type text over it. The result is the image shows through the text, creating a "cool word" (see example in slideshow). Cool words would be great for visual learners studying vocabulary. For example, if a child is learning the differences between sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rock, why not put images behind the vocab words to help the student make a visual connection?

Teachers who work on their school yearbook also find Image Blender helpful for editing pictures and creating interesting effects before publication.
BubbleShare: Share photos - Easy Photo Sharing

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Primary Resources: Historical Documents for Classroom Use

I found two different websites that are perfect for using primary documents for history class.

The first one is Footnote. As described on their website, "Footnote.com is a place where original historical documents are combined with social networking in order to create a truly unique experience involving the stories of our past." Users can upload their own primary sources that they may have in their family history, and post accounts of different historical events as it happened from their point of view. The site includes teacher resources and print resources for using it with your classroom lessons. I found one particular section to be very interesting on the USS Arizona. Footnote provides an interactive monument where you can click on the names of the deceased, and insert information about that individual (photo, personal info, etc.) to make it a more personal experience. Even though Footnote is a paid site, there are many free sections that are worth checking out. However, if you are a history teacher, it may be worth your money to invest in this site.

The second site is called 100 Milestone Documents, which posts copies of 100 primary sources important to U.S. History such as: The Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, Bill of Rights, and all the way to The Voting Rights Act of 1965. The site has print resources and teacher resources for using these documents in the classroom. I was a little disappointed that some of the primary documents were difficult or impossible to read online. However, there is an option to download a hi-res copy of the document you want to view. Nice touch!

Related Posts:

Interactive Social Studies Websites

Fun Educational Websites for Kids

Statetris: Geography Fun

Thanksgiving Sites for Kids

The Interactive Constitution

Egypt Websites for Kids

The Interactive Constitution

The Interactive Constitution is a website based on on The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution by Linda R. Monk.

The Interactive Constitution has three sections: Keyword search (search the constitution for keywords in the text of the constitution for in-depth explanations), Explore by topic (discover how the constitution is linked to more than 300 indexed topics), and Supreme Court Cases (search the text of the constitution by supreme court cases).

I looked at one of the articles in this site, and was impressed that it is broken into a split window. The actual text from the constitution is on the top, and the explanation for what it means is on the bottom.

This is a very in-depth site to help students understand basic fundamentals of our government.

Related Posts:

Interactive Social Studies Websites
Fun Educational Websites for Kids
Statetris: Geography Fun
Thanksgiving Sites for Kids

Friday, January 16, 2009

Egypt Websites for Kids

The Tomb of the Unknown Mummy by National Geographic Kids

The Tomb of the Unknown Mummy is geared more for primary kids than the second site. The user is given 5 lanterns to explore in the tomb. Every time the user finds a sparkle of light, click on it for a clue. By collecting all of the artifacts, the user should be able to conclude who is in the tomb.

Egypt's Golden Empire by PBS

Egypt's Golden Empire by PBS is designed for middle and high school students. The site is based on the corresponding series, which is available on DVD, but there are many sections that are worth exploring such as:

  • A Timeline: explore 500 years of the new kingdom with artifacts, video, and images
  • Virtual Egypt: explore key sites in the new kingdom in 360 degree panoramas
  • A Day in the Life: what was it like to be different members of society at this time? Take a look!
  • A Virtual Library: View primary sources related to the new kingdom


Interactive Social Studies Websites

Fun Educational Websites for Kids

Statetris: Geography Fun

Thanksgiving Sites for Kids

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Text-To-Speech Readers

Special education teachers will be happy to know there are several FREE text-to-speech readers on the Internet that they can use for their students.
The first one is called ReadPlease. It allows you to copy and paste the text into the window, choose a voice, and then sit back and listen. There is a free version as well as paid version, but I have found the free version to be adequate.

The second one is called NaturalReader. This program also has a free and paid version, but it has more flexibility than ReadPlease. The voices in NaturalReader sound more natural as well. You do not need to copy and paste text into a window to use NaturalReader.

The last one is PowerTalk. Be sure to scroll down the page when you click the link to find the download button for PowerTalk. PowerTalk is free, and different from the first two programs because it has the ability to read text from a PowerPoint slide.


Create Picture Cards Fast and Easy

Mrs. Riley's site called "It's in the cards" is a new online program still in Beta that lets users create picture cards. For special education teachers who are familar with Boardmaker, Mrs. Riley's site is easy and free. You can try the program without an account, but you'll need to register if you want to save or print the cards. In addition, you can keep the cards that you have saved as "public" or "private". Why reinvent the wheel if you can use someone else's cards that are stored on the site, right? For now, this site is free, but in the future it may be a paid site once they have a faithful following. However, if they keep their prices lower than Boardmaker, they may be able to keep their followers.

The History of the Internet

The blogs are abuzz today with a new video that came out on Vimeo on the "History of the Internet". I first saw this video mentioned in Learning and Teaching in the 21st Century and then again in Free Technology for Teachers. As part of the National Student Technology Standards, one of the objectives that students are expected to know is all about the history of the Internet. As a teacher, I would have a difficult time explaining this concept to my class. Not anymore! The video below was created by Melih Bilgil, a graphic designer in Germany.

History of the Internet from PICOL on Vimeo.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Astronomy Sites

Wiki Sky is a site that shows outer space with incredibly beautiful photographs. Zoom in and out of constellations, nebulas, galaxies, and more. While I don't think this is as useful or detailed as Google Sky, it is another good tool for teachers and students to use as reference.

Also, hop on over to The Tech Museum's Satellite Builder sponsored by Lockheed Martin. The site answers questions such as, "What is a satellite and what do they do?" Furthermore, there is an interactive section where you can build your own satellite or learn about the anatomy of a satellite.


Science Videos on Vimeo

Astronomy Sites for Classroom Use

Visit Mars with Google Mars

Visit Planet Science!

Earth Guide

Welcome Google Sky!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

More Contests for Teachers and Students

Thanks to the wonderful writers at Instructify, I learned of a contest for teachers sponsored by Inspiration software called the Inspired Visual Learning Award. Basically, if you are a teacher who has used Inspiration, Kidspiration, or Inspire Data software with your students, you are eligible to apply for this contest. Just send in a teacher and student sample of a lesson you created, and you may win fabulous prizes! Click here for more details from Instructify or click here for guidelines or click here to see the application. Deadline: Feb. 27, 2009

Are you a high school teacher? Encourage your students to apply for the BrainyFlix Vocabulary Video Contest! The contest, sponsored by the Alumni Association, wants to help students learn SAT vocabulary words by posting vocabulary videos made by students. The video that receives the most votes in the contest will receive $600 in prize money. $200 goes to the creator of the video and $400 goes to the class or school club of his/her choice. The site will also give out one free download from iTunes for every five videos that are submitted (for the first 1,000 videos uploaded to the site). Deadline: March 16, 2009. See example video entry hosted on YouTube:

Science Videos on Vimeo

Vimeo is a video sharing community that allows you to upload videos and control who sees them. Users can comment on videos much like youtube or teachertube. As with any video, it's strongly encouraged that teachers preview videos on vimeo before using any of them with their classes. Having said this, there is a section of simple science videos on vimeo that are worth checking out. I watched one on the Water Cycle and on Teeth (see below). It's one more site that can be a valuable resource for teachers. However, wouldn't it be great to have your students create a video for your science class and upload it to this site? As you might notice, none of these videos use students in the films. Instead, they use other images and footage to create the videos.

3A Teeth Video from Simple Science on Vimeo.

Lookybook: Preview Children's Books Before You Buy

Lookybook is a site that allows parents and teachers to preview kids' books before they buy them. Ever wonder about this as you look at books on Amazon.com? Granted, Lookybook does not have the same vast quantity of books as Amazon does, but the site is adding more and more books with time. Lookybook also allows you to embed the book into your blog or website so kids can get a feel of the story. Finally, if you like the book, you can click the link to buy it. You can browse Lookybook without a username and password, but if you create an account, you can add books to your "shelf" to flag your favorites. See example below: