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Toy Theater

  What it is: Toy Theater is a fun place for students to practice math, reading, art, and music through puzzle type games.  Toy Theater encourages students in k-4 to get their problem solving brain cells working as they explore and discover the games in Toy Theater.  In the art section, students can animate their own cartoon character, put on a puppet show, or make a Matisse.  In the music section, students can make music with the Composer, interact with notes with The Music Maker, or go on a pounding mission with the Drum Beats, you will have miniature maestros in no time.  In Math students can practice math facts with flippy flashcards, or feeding Freddy, and take a math practice test to put those math skills to the test.  In the reading section students can enjoy a good joke, play with words with a sliding crossword puzzle (highly entertaining for teachers too), write their own road sign, or practice their typing skills.  In the puzzle section students brains gt put to the limit with tic tac toe and memory games.  In the playset section, students can create their very own virtual diorama about cars, sea creatures, plant, insects, ships, characters, aircraft, blocks, dinosaurs, and buildings. How to integrate Toy Theater into the classroom: Toy Theater is a great website to use as a learning center in your classroom.  The short, easy to play games are perfect for short center activities.  I love the puzzle type environment that encourages problem solving and bends the brain a little.  The playset universe would be a great section to use with an interactive whiteboard, students could take turns creating a ‘universe’ to showcase learning on a topic such as ocean, plants, insects, dinosaurs, geometry, etc.  Students can work together to show what they know together.  After students create a playset, have them pull out a writing journal and journal about the playset the class created.  Being a computer teacher I am constantly looking for fun ways to let students practice typing skills.  In the read section you will find a game called letter fall, letter blocks fall from the sky, students have to type the letter before 5 blocks can stack up. There are multiple speeds to make the game a challenge for your different typing levels.  In the computer lab setting, see who can last the longest before 5 letter blocks stack up (there is a timer at the bottom of the screen).     Tips:  This is a great site to send your students to when they finish work early and are asking “what can I do now?”     Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Toy Theater  in your classroom.

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History for Music Lovers: Brilliance

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Create, Evaluate, History, inspiration, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Music, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, video, Websites | Posted on 08-02-2011

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What it is: Thanks to a tip from Jan, an iLearn Technology reader, I learned about the History for Music Lover’s YouTube channel yesterday.  Oh. My. Goodness. Instant love. Seriously, if I had learned history this way, I would have rocked it!  As it turns out, I actually met @amyburvall, the genius history teacher behind History for Music Lover’s at ISTE 10 in Denver and didn’t make the connection (feeling like a jerk for not figuring that out!).  I starred in a video with one of the stars of the MansaMusa video “Magnus” the fashion police guy at ISTE.  Small world.  You MUST check out this YouTube channel, even if YouTube is blocked in your building. (As a side note…someone remind me WHY we block students from learning opportunities??)

History for Music Lovers is a collection of music videos (high quality I tell ya!) centered around events and people in history set to popular songs.  Amy Burvall, IB high school history teacher, is the creator and star of the videos.  Coolest history teacher ever. My high school history teacher sang one song to us: I’ve Been Working on the Railroad. True story.  It was not engaging, inspiring, or helpful in my learning of history.

On the History for Music Lovers YouTube channel you’ll find:

I think it is awesome that the 80’s is so well represented in this list :)  that Amy Burvall is one talented girl!

How to integrate History for Music Lovers into the classroom: This is my new favorite way to introduce a history topic.  If this doesn’t grab student attention and leave them wanting to learn more, I don’t know what will.  The collection of videos is a fantastic place to start learning.  The lyrics give students just enough information that when they begin fleshing out the period or figure in history with additional reading or research they will have a solid base to build from.  The lyrics are catchy, students will forever associate William the Conqueror with Sexyback.

Students can embed these videos in their own history Web 2.0 creations and presentations.  I’m currently using Capzles with a group of 8th graders and imagine them embedding these videos in their timelines along with images, and their blogged reflections.

Are your students as inspired by music as Ms. Burvall is? Encourage students to tackle a figure or historical time that hasn’t been done yet and create their own historical song parody.

Tips: For those of you who don’t have access to YouTube in your building (again I have to ask why?) you can still use these awesome videos in your classrooms with a little bit of pre-planning.  Download and save YouTube videos so that you can show them at school without accessing the YouTube site. Use KeepVid, YouTube DownloaderHD, Kick YouTube, SaveVid, or Zamzar.  Some of these tools will even let you download at school if you know the YouTube url.  The downloaded video should have no trouble playing at school!

Follow History For Music Lovers, historyteacherz on Facebook and Twitter.

Also, did you know you can become a fan of iLearn Technology on Facebook? It’s true! I don’t have a fancy dancy Twitter account especially for iLearn Tech but feel free to follow me on Twitter. I like talking education, technology, and am in general a geek :)

** This is the LONGEST it has ever taken me to write a blog post, I got sucked right in and watched each and every video.  On the bright side my knowledge of history has increased substantially today.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using History for Music Lovers videos in your classroom!

Comments (7)

WOW! Thanks for the lovely comments and encouragement! And the student project idea is a good one- I’ve been doing that for a few years and the results are amazing!
More to come!
-Amy Burvall of the historyteachers

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shelly S Terrell, ktenkely, Kyle B. Pace, nancyrubin, Helen S T and others. Helen S T said: RT @ShellTerrell: History for Music Lovers: Brilliance http://bit.ly/eNA27M by @ktenkely #edtech […]

Thank YOU Amy for such an awesome resource!

I am so thoroughly impressed by all of these videos! I never knew they existed before. I teach 6th grade Social Studies and we work with the Ancient Civilizations. I can’t wait to put some of these up on my Smartboard. Thank you so much for giving directions to download them for schools who can’t use youtube. (I am at one of those schools, sadly)

Aloha from the waves in Hawaii. Great post. How you can be so fashion forward, beautiful and a total geek is a mystery. ;) “Twitter, like our lives, is neither stagnant nor
stream of conciousness. Neither rehearsed nor improv.
Rather, it is the ever-shifting life in the now,
the creative spawn of the consantly evolving present
moment, fresh and exciting, combined with the steady,
calming presence of our knowledge of the past.” — Mr J aka Magnus Von Magnussen

Magnus all I can say is…it is a gift- ha!

You and me both Stacy! Hope that the download option means that you can share them with your students!

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