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How to create an online Advent calendar

I love this time of year, it comes with such wonderful anticipation of things to come. A time to be mindful.   You can build some of that anticipation into your classroom with a digital advent calendar that reveals something each day in preparation for the holiday season. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, “coming.” In Christian traditions, this refers to God’s coming into our midst. Anastasis is a faith-based school, so the advent calendar I created for our students and families is to be in celebration of this coming.  Your classroom advent calendar doesn’t have to be faith-based. Your advent calendar could be in anticipation of the coming new year, the coming break from school, or just a fun way to surprise your students with something they get to reveal each day.  It would even be fun to reveal some sort of “Mission Impossible” task each day for your students. Be creative! This could be related to something they are learning/working on in your classroom, a kindness challenge, a video of the day, a writing prompt for the day, brain teaser, a book/poem/website for the day, a peek into your classroom for families, inquiry question of the day, song/podcast, 25 days of science experiments, etc.  Even as adults we enjoy moments of anticipation, why not capitalize on that in your classroom? I used Weebly to create our digital advent calendar.  You can follow our calendar here. Weebly is an easy to use, WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) website builder. It makes it simple to quickly put together a site that you can easily edit in preparation for the next day of revealed surprise.  Weebly also lets you include a nice variety of content so that it is flexible enough to meet your needs. I started December first with some text and an image.  My plan is to take a video each day of our students sharing a verse, quote, thought, blessing, song, etc. and embed the video using the YouTube option.  The only thing for me to do each day will be to take the video and upload it to our Anastasis YouTube channel and then copy the url into the Weebly image for the day. SO easy to keep up with each day! How to build your own Weebly Advent Calendar: Sign up for a free Weebly account Choose a template to start with for your calendar. Any of the templates will work, choose the look you like best! Start by dragging some text onto your page. This is a great place for a few sentences about your calendar and what students/families can expect to find each day. Under the “Structure” section, select and drag over the “Columns” onto your page. I chose 5 columns.  Repeat so that you have multiple rows of 5 columns.  I have a total of 5 for 5 rows and 5 columns. Into each row and column, drag over the “Image” option so that you have 25 image place holders. I used Apple’s Pages software to create my daily images with the dates listed on them. I used some digital paper, layered a solid box of color, and two text boxes. I took a screenshot of each date (I just created one image and then changed the text for each screenshot). Back in Weebly, click on the image placeholder to upload the images created (alternately, you can just use the search option to find images to use). Repeat for each image. Create a new page (under the Pages tab a the top of the Weebly screen).  Be sure to check the box so that the page is hidden from navigation.  This is going to be your “come back on the appropriate day” page. Click “Save and Edit.” On your new page, add some text and an image.  Type a greeting message from those who are trying to sneak a peek early. Navigate back to your home page. Click on each image, an edit box for the image will come up.  Select “Link” and choose “Standard Page” and then the page you just created.  Save. Create other pages for your site if you would like to, I created an “About” page for those who are curious about Anastasis.  It might be fun to include a “contact” page where students can submit ideas for the calendar (maybe original writing or other work?) Publish your site. Each day go back and click on the image for the appropriate day. From the edit box, go back to “Link” and change where the image links to.  It can link to another page that you create on the Weebly site, a website or video, a file, or an email address (what if your students got a new email address each day to email an encouraging note to?).  Alternatively, you can delete the image for that day all together and embed a video, html, flash, etc. Don’t forget to re-publish after you’ve added/edited the site! There is something truly wonderful about revealing a surprise each day. Don’t leave the families of your students out, it would be great to give families a glimpse of your classroom so that they can see what there kids are up to each day. This can be photos, original student writing, video, or fun activities to be completed as a family in lieu of homework. Students can also be in charge of creating their own advent calendar. The possibilities for this are endless!   What great ideas do you have for using an advent calendar in your classroom? Share them below!

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Make your own iPad Stylus for less than 10 cents!

Posted by admin | Posted in iPod, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary | Posted on 30-08-2011

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We had an incredible first week at Anastasis Academy.  It was amazing to see all of our hard work come together in the form of a student body.  Walking through the classrooms this week it was obvious: this is a place of learning.

One of our first-week of school activities was creating our own iPad stylus.  Since we are a one-to-one iPad environment, this seemed like a good beginning for everyone.

We learned that to make a stylus, we first had to find some soft, conductive material.  A Google search informed us that we could use conductive foam (the kind that is used to pack electronics), conductive thread, conductive yarn (we thought this would be PERFECT for our pens but couldn’t get any delivered fast enough), or a Scotch Brite sponge.  I was a little skeptical of the Scotch Brite (it just seemed TOO easy) but it worked like a champ!

The kids had fun exploring how the yellow, soft part of the sponge would draw on the iPad when they held it in their hands.  Some of the kiddos were a little baffled when they put the sponge into the plastic pen body and they found out that it no longer worked.  Students added a little wire and soon the pens were working again!  It was a great way for all of the kids to experiment with conductors and insulators.

Below are the steps for making your very own $0.10 or less iPad stylus.

*I bought a pack of Scotch Brite sponges, cheap, penny pens from a local office store, and a small roll of craft wire.  We made about 50 pens for $6.00!

1.  Separate the Scotch Brite sponge from the abrasive green backing.  Cut the yellow sponge remaining into small wedges.

2.  Take the ink out of some cheap plastic pen casing.  Drill a hole near the head of the pen with a small drill bit.

3.  Cut 6 inches of wire.

4. Tightly wrap the wire around the small end of the sponge wedge.

5. Thread the sponge through the head of the pen (our pen head separated from the pen body).

6. Bend the end of the wire farthest from the sponge into a 90* angle.  Thread this into the pen body and through the pre-drilled hole.

7.  Pull the wire through the drilled hole and wrap it several times around the pen body.

8.  Cut the exposed end of the sponge into desired pen-nub shape. 

9.  To use the pen, make sure that your hand is touching the wire at some point. Draw or write with your stylus!

The kids loved making their own stylus.  There was a lot of talk about perseverance (when we tried to thread the wire through the small drilled hole), conductivity and exclamations of “I did it!”.

It was a wonderful exercise in frustration and success.  Every student was proud of their finished product that actually worked!  Students learned about conductivity, perseverance, insulation, and building with every-day materials.

One of our students, Benton, made a short stop motion animation with his pen…you can see it below:


Now for our next trick- working with @ianchia to figure out how we can construct conductive manipulatives that work with the iPad.  Should be fun!

Comments (24)

[…] iLearn Technology » Blog Archive » Make your own iPad Stylus for less than 10 cents! One of our first-week of school activities was creating our own iPad stylus! Source: ilearntechnology.com […]

Fantastic learning opportunity, and very clever too. Can’t wait to try it!

[…] Kelly Tenkely does it again at iLearn Technology. […]

[…] iLearn Technology » Blog Archive » Make your own iPad Stylus for less than 10 cents!: […]

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[…] from: iLearn Technology » Blog Archive » Make your own iPad Stylus for … This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged local-office, penny-pens, scotch, scotch-brite, […]

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[…] they put the health sponge in to the plastic pen body and that they found out that it no…Read more… This entry "iLearn Technological innovation?? Blog Archive?? Make an individual iPad Stylus […]

[…] Make Your Own iPad Stylus for Less than 10 Cents | iLearn Technology This entry was posted in Tech and tagged DIY, Stylus, Tablet by admin. Bookmark the permalink. […]

[…] Make Your Own iPad Stylus for Less than 10 Cents [iLearn Technology] Tagged:clever usesdiystylus […]

[…] Make Your Own iPad Stylus for Less than 10 Cents | iLearn Technology You can reach Alan Henry, the author of this post, at alan@lifehacker.com, or better yet, follow him on Twitter or Google+. Article source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/lifehacker/full/~3/j2uk0-7zPZg/build-your-own-tablet-stylus-on-the-cheap-with-a-ballpoint-pen-and-a-spongePosts Related to Build Your Own Tablet Stylus on the Cheap with a Ballpoint Pen and a Sponge [MacGyver Tip]7notes for iPad Lets You Take Notes On-Screen with Your Finger [Video]iPad: If you've been waiting for a utility that finally lets you take notes on a tablet screen like you would a piece of paper, …Today’s LinksThe Birdy Is a Super Simple Budgeting Site That Records Your Purchases Via Email [Personal Finance] If you appreciate the need for budgeting and tracking …Samsung Galaxy Note May Revive the StylusRecommend: 0 Comments Print By IDG News Service, PCWorld   Sep 1, 2011 2:30 PMBuild Your Own Grid-It Tech Organizer in a Vintage Book [DIY]Grid-It organizers are versatile gadget containers we're really fond of, but this DIY version wraps that modern organizing goodness into a vintage book for a …Report: Amazon 10-Inch Tablet Production Starts Early Next YearAmazon CEO Jeff BezosProduction on a 10-inch Amazon tablet will begin in the first quarter of 2012, while a 7-inch slate from the company will …Did you like this? Share it:Tweet […]

[…] Make Your Own iPad Stylus for Less than 10 Cents | iLearn Technology You can reach Alan Henry, the author of this post, at alan@lifehacker.com, or better yet, follow him on Twitter or Google+. […]

This is great! Are you worried at all about the sponge slipping up into the pen leaving a hard edge that might scratch the surfaces of the iPads? Thanks for sharing your activity and instructions. Sounds like the students enjoyed it. I think I’ll give it a try!

[…] Make your own iPad Stylus for less than 10 cents! via iLearn Technology […]

[…] iLearn Technology » Blog Archive » Make your own iPad Stylus for less than 10 cents! RT @ianchia: Kids at @TeamAnastasis making their own iP*d Stylus for less than 10 cents http://t.co/alKTkUl #mlearning #slide2learn #ipaded #iear #edapp… Source: ilearntechnology.com […]

Not worried about the sponge slipping up because of the way you wrap the wire around the sponge it really isn’t possible for that to happen.

[…] a cheap disposable pen, some wire, and…yellow sponges…don't believe me, check it out here – iLearn Technology – Cheap iOS Stylus Patrick Share this Do you know somebody else who would find this post interesting or useful? […]

[…] this step-by-step tutorial (inspired by iLearn), we’re going to show how to make your own capacitive stylus that you can use with […]

[…] http://ilearntechnology.com/?p=4221 – Using pen, foam and wire – geared to kids […]

Great tutorial guys, we were doing some research into how stylus’ are made for the iPad and found this enlightening article. Definitely going to have a play around with this.

It it is. Super cool but I tryed it a different way I used pen wire and sponge then I took the sponge hooked it on to the pointy part wrapped a wire around and then it was finished way better than anything you should try this. Thanks. Bye

[…] constructing a styles from foam, wire, and an old pen. Students at Anastasis Academy made with own iPad styluses for less than 10 cents using a sponge and […]

[…] community together for some activities.  Our first year, students worked together to create iPad styluses out of sponge and wire for less than 10 cents.  Last year we held an all-school day of play (highly recommend that!) and marshmallow/spaghetti […]

Gummi worms work, too. Really!

Sponges are made without he brillo.

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