Sunday, February 17, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Freebie: A Comic Strip Template

My Comic Strip Templates for K–12 Writing have been popular so I was inspired to add a couple more. This one is for St. Patrick's Day, shown here with tips about using it:
Click image to go to Preview download page
To get a free sample of the 4-leaf clover template, go to this page in my TeachersPayTeachers shop and download the Preview. 

If you print it on green paper, it will look like this:

If you already have the Comic Strip Templates PDF, be sure to download the file again to get the new templates. 

For a linky party of March-themed teaching resources, please visit The Balanced Classroom.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

These are a few of my favorite pins...

I became a certified (certifiable?) Pinterest groupie from the first day I saw it. Pinterest is pictures + words + links + sharing...finally, a way to organize the Internet! It's such fun to look at the feed and find lots of wonderful stuff to repin and new people to follow. Here are some of my recent pins. This one showing cut cardboard rolls for printing flowers went on my Seeing Symmetry board:
Photo links to original source, Getting Messy with Ms. Jessi
Here is a cloud identifier "weather window" which looks very useful, so I put it on my Kids + STEM board:
Photo links to original source,
This fascinating group of objects are paintings on....
Photo links to original source, Crushed Can Art
...crushed cans, if you can imagine that. Love to pin interesting ideas...or should I say, "pinteresting"? I put this one on my Kids + Arts & Crafts board.

What have you pinned lately? Leave your Pinterest URL in the comments so I can check out your boards. Here is my Pinterest link. 

Here is a Pinterest Linky Party on Diving Into Learning, where you can find posts about more favorite pins!

See you there!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Art + Math = Graph Mystery Pix...and it's FREE!

I've been having tons of fun making art + math mystery pictures on graph paper with clues given in PowerPoint format. Each student gets a printed grid with row letters and column numbers so each square has an "address." It's a precursor to more advanced graphing skills. The PowerPoint is self-running so the clues change every few seconds as the kiddos color in the various squares. Here's a step-by-step graphic which explains it more fully:
This one runs about 7 minutes and is one of the simpler one so it's good to start out with. And it's FREE, so please give it a try at this link. If desired, you can change the timing or turn it off and run it manually.

I've made a couple of these so far and various skills can be highlighted in addition to using number and letter coordinates to locate each square. For example, the LVE Mystery Pix below asks students to figure out the area of each color in square units. 
Click to see the LOVE Mystery Pix in my TPT shop.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Comic Strip Templates and a Freebie for Valentine's Day!

I just finished a set of comic strip templates for students from K-12 to use for writing and art projects. There are so many ways to use summarize, for cause and effect, main idea and key details, using vocabulary words, writing a narrative or informative text, and much more. There are 28 templates plus a page of dialog/thought balloons and a page of comic style words and art elements. Here are half of the pages (you can see the rest of the templates in the Preview):
Look for the template you need on the "page finders" as shown above. The numbers in the yellow circles show which page of the PDF it's on. It's basically a visual index, which should make finding the right one easier. 

The heart freebie is located in the Preview (download it in my TPT store here) and looks like this (minus the usage tips shown here):
The heart template could be used to tell the story of how a student's parents met, a fanciful history of Valentine's Day, tips about how to be a good friend, a love letter in comic form to someone special, or anything else your students can dream up.  



Friday, February 1, 2013

Valentine Mystery Critters: a digital picture book

As a picture book author-illustrator, I've been intrigued by the advancements in digital books, especially features that aren't possible in printed books. After looking into book apps and other technically arduous and expensive ways to add motion, effects such as appear/disappear, and other fun elements to my picture book making toolbox, I recently found a much simpler way. The video shows how adding simple animations can allow a book to exist that would be impossible otherwise. And I made it myself without a lot of unnecessary fuss.

As the video mentions, Valentine Mystery Critters was made in PowerPoint, of all things. I used the built-in vector shapes to keep the file size small and also just to see what could be done with simple circles, triangles, rectangles, and of course, hearts. Optional speaker notes are included in case a teacher or parent wants to extend the book beyond reading and watching it. For example, you can discuss the different kinds of shapes, their colors, their orientation, and so on before proceeding to watch the shapes assemble themselves into a critter.

Naturally this format has advantages and disadvantages, so here goes:

  • PowerPoint is installed on zillions of computers.
  • The book can be read on Mac or Windows computers with or without a projection system.
  • It can be viewed on iPad with the free app's easy to use and even has a built in laser pointer, which is always fun.
  • While it was tedious work to get the animations working right, it was relatively easy and straightforward to make the book in PowerPoint compared to hiring a developer and trying to enter the labyrinth that is the Apple iTunes/App story, for example.
  • You can include printable activity pages.

  • PowerPoints have limited interactivity compared to book apps and the various formats for interactive whiteboards.
  • PowerPoints don't have digital rights management like iPad apps do, so somebody could steal my work and post it online. What can I say except let's hope the pirates have bigger fish to fry than to steal my digital children's books...! Also, people who use pirated versions don't have access to updates.
  • The book won't function properly on old versions of PPT. Someone has tested it for me and it works fine on the Windows 2007 version. Of course, most digital products run into this issue.

There probably are other "cons" but I can't think of more at the moment.

Here's the cover and the link to the book on my TeachersPayTeachers store.

No doubt I've only scratched the surface of what can be done in PowerPoint...the program has been around for a long time, but it's new to me. One thing that is on my list is to make a non-linear something or other, because you can have multiple links on a slide that take you to different slides.

Update: I've also made a version for Mac Keynote. (It won't work on the iPad, but the PowerPoint book will with the SlideShark app. Ironic, I know!)

Have a great Valentine's Day!
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