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Story Time for Me: Digital Children’s Books

What it is: Story Time for Me is a beautiful collection of digital children’s books for primary students in kindergarten through second grade.  Each story includes charming illustrations, animation and professional narration with music and sound effects.  Activities accompany every story that encourage imagination and creativity (these are coming soon!).  The stories have been developed to teach important values through positive moral themes.   Story Time for Me currently has a library of over 30 books and growing.  Next Friday (April 22, 2011) Story Time for Me will be launching free personalized activity books where students can become the star of a book. Students can choose to read each story with or without narration, with or without animation and choose to highlight the words as they are read. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with this free digital story site.  It expands your classroom library, encourages a focus on character development and invigorates children to read more. How to integrate Story Time for Me into the classroom: Story Time for Me expands your classroom library with winsome digital stories that your students will love.  Story Time for Me makes a great reading center on classroom computers. Because students have the option to read with narration or independently, it meets the needs of both strong and developing.  Each story reinforces positive character education values often dealing with friendship.  These stories are a wonderful way to begin class discussions about friendship and empathy with students.  If you have an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer, the stories can be used as a whole-class “big book”. When the personalized versions are available, give your students the opportunity to star in their own story.  These personalized stories would make a fun beginning of the year activity as a way to welcome students to a new grade, or end the school year with a personalized story they can enjoy all summer. Tips: I learned about Story Time for Me from @2sparkley’s blog, Bits and Pieces Place.  If it isn’t a blog you subscribe to, it should be! Story Time for Me is completely free, the more visitors they can attract the more stories they will be able to add to the library. You can help them by spreading the word to family and friends on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Story Time for Me in your classroom!

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NASA’s Be a Martian

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 22-02-2010

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What it is: I have always been intrigued by space exploration.  NASA’s Be a Martian feeds this intrigue by giving an up close view of Mars exploration.  Here students can virtually explore and learn about the human-robotic partnership that makes virtual exploration possible.  Students can become citizens (this requires them to create an account) or explore with an “Anonymous Tourist Visa”, which is how I explored.  Students can send virtual postcard messages to the Spirit Rover in her new home.  After composing their own message, students are taken to a virtual Mars where postcards with messages rain down.  Students can click on a postcard to read what others around the world have written.  In the map room, students can watch a video detailing the history of mapping and learn how NASA scientists map today.  Students can become virtual map makers by matching up map image fragments, and counting craters.  In Two Moons Theater, students can watch videos starring NASA scientists, explorers, and Mars.    Students can ask and vote on questions that they would like to see answered in the Polling Place.  In Tourist Mars Atlas, students can explore the surface of Mars and learn that there is more to Mars than a giant expanse of tan.   

How to integrate NASA’s Be a Martian into the classroom: Feed your students curiosity about space exploration and Mars with this great interactive environment.  Students have the opportunity to learn about the work that NASA scientists do, practice their observation skills in map making, and learn some great history about space exploration, and map making.  I really like that NASA has included a place for students to ask and vote on questions that they would like answered.  What a neat way to help students understand that we don’t have all the answers and that scientists ask questions, explore, and experiment to learn more.  I think that younger students (primary elementary) would really enjoy the crater counting activity.  Do this activity as a class using an interactive whiteboard/projector or individually as a center.  This will help students to look for detail and practice counting together.  Older students will enjoy trying their hand at mapping Mars and learning more about the history.  Have students learn about the Spirit Rover and her job on Mars before sending a message.  Some of the postcards include location information, it might be fun to track the locations of the postcards in Google Earth with placemarkers.  Then, explore Mars using Google Earth or Google Space.  The Google tools complement this site nicely.

Tips: There is an impressive contest section on NASA’s Be a Martian site, the deadline for entries is April 16, 2010.  The contest challenges us to come up with videos about Mars, interactive software or games, or write an efficient image processing application.  NASA is including us all in the exploration of Mars.  These challenges would be outstanding for older students to take part in…talk about authentic learning!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using NASA’s Be a Martian in your classroom.

Comments (5)

What an excellent way of teaching and learning about space. Way cool!

This looks like a great site to use in the classroom or at home for kids who enjoy space. In my child’s school, they have a “Project Fair” each year and this would be a great idea to help with a project dealing with space.

Authentic learning indeed! It’s wonderful when entities like NASA encourage kids to become involved. AND acknowledge that we certainly don’t have all the answers.

This looks like so much fun. I’m so annoyed that these tools are available to these kids and I was stuck with poorly copied images from an out of date textbook. Great find and share.

I know, I am always bummed that I didn’t get to learn with these tools when I was a kid. That is probably why I geek out about them so much now…gives me a chance to learn like a kid!

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