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Free Rice…New and Improved!

  What it is: Free Rice is an amazing website that I have posted about two or three times in the past.  It has been a site where students can play a vocabulary game and earn 20 grains of rice for each correct answer.  The grains of rice are distributed to hungry people all over the world through the UN World Food Program.  Two of my students came in this morning with a printout of how many grains of rice they had earned over the weekend on the Free Rice website (we have a contest going each year to see which class and grade can earn the most grains of rice).   They were unusually excited about this bunch of earned rice because they discovered some new features on Free Rice.  Free Rice is now much more than a vocabulary game!  Students can choose the subject they would like to play.  As they increase in all types of knowledge, there is the added bonus of helping people in need.  Free Rice subjects now include art (famous paintings), chemistry (chemical symbols), English grammar, geography (world capitals), language learning (French, German, Italian, Spanish), math (multiplication), and of course…vocabulary!  Free rice is an incredible place for students to practice facts for a wide range of subject areas.  Some additional new features: now students can click on a speaker next to a word to hear it read to them and can change the level of difficulty manually!  I am so impressed with the site and impressed with my students for finding and sharing these new treasures!   How to integrate Free Rice into the classroom:  With all of the new subjects on Free Rice, it is the perfect place to send your students for fact practice.  Whether they are learning a new language, or need some practice with their multiplication facts Free Rice is a great place to practice.  What I love about Free Rice is the added bonus of character education.  Free Rice teaches students compassion and empathy.  My students truly play the game not for the learning taking place, but because it makes them feel good to do something for others.  Kids often feel like there is nothing they can personally do to help a cause…Free Rice gives them a voice and the ability to make a change.  It empowers them.   Tips:  Set up Free Rice on your classroom computers as a place for students to go when they are finished early and need a little something extra.  Free Rice is also excellent in a computer lab setting and for home play.     Leave a comment and share how you are using Free Rice in your classroom.  

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Solar System Scope: See the solar system in 3D

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 20-04-2011

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What it is: Well, yesterday set me off on a space kick.  Today I spent time with the Solar System Scope site, talk about a COOL way to view the solar system!  Solar System Scope (SSS) is a 3D real-time look at celestial positions with planets and constellations in the night sky.  Students can adjust planet and moon settings, star and constellation settings, earth observatory settings and time settings.  View the solar system from a heliocentric, geocentric or panoramic view.

How to integrate Solar System Scope into the classroom: Who would have guessed the day would come when we could take our students on a realistic field trip through space?  That is exactly what the Solar System Scope makes possible.  For young students, it would be fun to plan a class space mission.  Prepare your students as astronauts, load into your classroom spaceship (which may just be chairs and desks specially configured for the day) and prepare for launch.  “Fly” through the universe and solar system using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  This is almost like having a planetarium right in your classroom. Pretty cool!

Of course after traveling through space as a class, students will want to explore more on their own.  They can do this at a classroom computer center or individually in a computer lab setting.

Older students can get more in-depth using the built-in distance meter to measure the distance between planets.  Each star reveals information about how many light years away it is from earth.  Students can adjust the settings to learn more about constellations.  Time and date can be adjusted to view the solar system on a given day. When students click the play button, they will see a 3D animation of the solar system based on the view they chose.  Very neat!

In addition to using Solar System Scope for science, use it as a launching point for a creative writing activity.  Students can write a fictional story about their travels through space, or even pretend to colonize a planet using factual information about the struggles they would have to overcome.

This site is a great one to use in connection with the NASA 50th Anniversary site I shared yesterday!

Tips: Solar System Scope isn’t finished yet, they are still working on some cool features.  Be sure to watch for a planetary journey for kids complete with an animated talking guide named Zyx, desktop clocks that show all planet positions at the moment, a space-flight simulator screen saver (perfect for the interactive whiteboard!) and a space forum.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Solar System Scope in your classroom!


Comments (3)

[...] Solar System Scope shares an interactive 3D view of our solar system. Select the view on the left tab of the screen and choose the telescope to view the stars. Kelly Tenkley shares more about this site on her blog iLearn Technology. [...]

[...] done and dusted, I decided to work on my planning for teaching the solar system. A post by Kelly Tenkley set me off in the right direction. The Nine Planets tour that I mentioned in a previous post shares [...]

After the success of SolarSystemScope we have launched a new Watch & Play model


focused on the Sun and the Moon as they appear from the given location of the Earth surface:
- current position of the Sun, its trajectory, time and azimuth of sunrise and sunset
- moon phases, current position and trajectory of the Moon
- seasons, solstices and equinoxes in chart

But the most interesting part is to drag the model in time and watch changes during a day or year.
(polar day and night, analemma and situations on the equator are our favourite)

Enjoy it :-)

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