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If It Were My Home: Compare Countries Visually

What it is: We are just heading into a new inquiry block at Anastasis Academy.  The kids are exploring world communities and our interdependence on each other.  If it Were My Home is a fascinating website that asks students to consider what their life would be like if they were born in a different...

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Kids Picture Dictionary App

Posted by admin | Posted in Foreign Language, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain) | Posted on 30-07-2013

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Kids picture dictionary app- iLearn Technology

Kids picture dictionary app-iLearn TechnologyWhat it is: Kids Picture Dictionary is just what you would imagine it to be: a dictionary, for kids, with pictures.  This picture dictionary has something extra special built in, it includes a self record feature so that kids (teachers or parents) can record their own voice to record sentence examples.  Each word includes a picture, an audio recording of the word, and the ability for kids (teachers or parents) to record their own sentence.

How to use the Kids Picture Dictionary App in your classroom: This is a very simple dictionary app for young students.  It is organized well so that they can search words by letter and picture.  The words included are pretty basic, but would be perfect for an emerging reader/writer.  Students could use the dictionary to help them with spelling during writing time.  I’ve often seen kids who can tell a fantastic story, but their writing is limited because they don’t want to spell a word that they aren’t sure of.  Kids Picture Dictionary app could be just the confidence they need to let their ideas soar.

The Kids Picture Dictionary app could also be really helpful for ELL/ESL students who are learning vocabulary.  Each word not only includes a picture, but also a sample sentence.  Students can listen to the word used in context and then practice recording their own sentence using the new vocabulary.  The recording is saved within the app so students can work independently, and teachers can go back through the app to assess understanding later.

Tips: The Kids Picture Dictionary app is free; however, it does include advertisements at the bottom of each page.  For $1.99 you can get the app without the ads.  A strong suggestion for educational app developers: It is RIDICULOUS to put an in-app purchase option on an educational app.  If a school is going to buy your app, they will want to do it through the Volume Purchase program.  In app purchases are NOT education friendly!  (If you are purchasing this for school, the app exists in the app store twice, the free version always comes up first and if you dig, you can find the $1.99 ad free version.)

Price: Free

Device: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad with iOS 4.3 or later.

World Education Games: Registration Now Open!

Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, Foreign Language, Geography, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 01-02-2013

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What it is:   Holy cow, I am SO excited!  Today registration is open for World Education Games!!  If your students have never participated with World Education Games (like World Math Day), this is the year.  They will thank you for including them in this fun world wide contest.  February 1st, that’s today, registration is open and the official warm-up training period for students begins.  On March 5h students can participate in World Literacy Day, March 6 is World Math Day, and March 7 is World Science Day.  March 22nd Global award presentations begin with the Official World Education Games Awards.  The World Education Games is an annual global online olympics to get students from age 4 to 18 excited about learning.  The fun comes in the friendly competition between countries as students compete to represent their country in the games.  There are 3 days of games focused on literacy, math and science.  The games are a great way to help students in speed, accuracy and general fluency in core computation, number and spelling skills.  World Science Day has been designed to encourage curiosity and excitement in science while helping them answer knowledge, application and reasoning questions.  Each game (a competition against other students from around the world) lasts just 1 minute.  Students can go head to head as often as they would like, but only the first 50 games are counted toward the competition point tally.  World Math Day was launched in 2007 and my students have taken part in this fun competition each year.  Since then, Literacy and Science day has been added to the games.  SO much fun!

How to integrate World Education Games into the classroom: World Education Games are such a fantastic way to encourage students to practice foundational skills.  In the past, I have hosted an “opening ceremonies” at my school and done it up like the Olympics with flags, songs, etc.  We go over what the World Education Games are and then make a big deal about the handing out of usernames/passwords (like lighting the torch) and then we kick off our training portion.  Students get excited about participating in this fun day and we get lots of “training” in before the big day.  On the actual day, we wear red, white and blue and play against kids from around the world.  This is great fun in a one-to-one setting or a computer lab where all students can participate simultaneously.  Don’t have that option?  Because the games are 1 minute long, students can play 5 games each on classroom computers in a rotation.

Since your students are competing against students from around the world, why not use the competition to practice using a map and identifying countries?  Since we have a one to one iPad program, we do this digitally with a Google Map.  Each time a student competed against a country, they would come up to the board and put a “pin” in the map.  Don’t have devices for each student? Use an interactive whiteboard or the paper map and actual pins on a class bulletin board, these options are just as fun!

Don’t forget closing ceremonies at the end of World Education Games.  Make up fun medals and give them out to top performers, hardest trainers, etc.  Think outside the box on these.  Not all kids are speedy in their fact recall…find a way to honor their participation and hard work…did they see huge improvement or growth? Honor those achievements!

The World Education Games are available for free on any internet-connected computer and as a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10 app.

Check out the Resource page for teacher and student guide, a world map, a poster, and for School-in-a-box information.

Tips: Schools participating in the World Education Games can also work toward giving other children the opportunity to start school.  World Education Games has partnered with UNICEF to make this happen.  During the games, host a fundraiser to purchase “School-in-a-Box” Each $236 donation is enough to send 80 kids to school!  What a great way to help kids understand what a privilege education is and model compassion and empathy for others.

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using World Education Games in your classroom.

Wordia

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, video, Websites | Posted on 27-02-2012

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What it is: Wordia is a site that has been around for a little while, I recently took a look at it again and was pleasantly surprised with the updates. Wordia is game-based platform that helps expose students to a variety of words and vocabulary.  The Wordia platform uses a dictionary as its foundation and blends learning games with interactive videos that teach vocabulary.  Using Wordia, students build “Word Banks” as they engage in some friendly competition with classmates and other schools.  The games in Wordia focus on spelling, grammar, oracy, auditory and phonics.  This update has included some helpful goodies with schools and classrooms in mind.  Games have been developed for educator led one-to-many scenarios that can be played on an interactive whiteboard or or projector connected computer with the whole class.  One-to-one games are perfect for the classroom, computer lab or home.  Word lists and lesson plans are available with both options for some great ideas for whichever situation best meets the needs of your classroom.

Wordia keeps track of student progress through a series of badges.  Students work to build their own word bank and collect badges.

How to integrate Wordia into the classroom:  Wordia is a great place for students to build and practice vocabulary and word knowledge.  The games are fun to play as a class or individually and beat a vocab worksheet hands down.  Wordia has a pretty impressive search engine.  It would be an excellent site to keep bookmarked on classroom computers as a resource center in the classroom.  Any time students run across an unfamiliar word, they can immediately run a search that brings them the definition, a video, a game, and related words.  If a video doesn’t already exist, your students can record and contribute their own video!  The same option exists for games.  You and your students can easily build a game on Wordia to share.  Just upload a word list, select a game type and voila!
Why not share spelling and vocabulary words every week by building a game from the word list?  Much more fun than the boring word list that gets lost on the way home anyway.
Tips:  You (the teacher) will have to create an account before your students can save their progress in Wordia.  Searching the site and viewing content can be done without a login.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Wordia in  your classroom!

Gudli: learning games for math, language, science, puzzles and fun

Posted by admin | Posted in Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Websites | Posted on 09-06-2011

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What it is: Gudli is a collection of games for kids that makes learning fun.  Students can play these interactive educational games while developing skills in math, logic, memory, words, creativity and more.  Gudli is free to use and a fantastic learning space for students in kindergarten, first and second grade.

Learning games include:

Math

  • Color Addition
  • Learn Shape
  • Color Subtraction
  • Number Series
  • Number Wheel
  • Add Numbers
  • Match Shape
  • Minus
  • How Many
  • Number Writing
  • Spider Counting
  • Color by Number
  • What Number Missing
  • Billing Counter
  • Time Zone
  • Table Memory
  • Mission Subtraction
  • Tick Tock Time
  • Quick Match
  • Math Story
  • Pattern Match
  • Counting Coins
  • Mission Addition

Language

  • Simple Sentences
  • Lead the Way
  • Rhyme Time
  • ABC Words
  • Word Rhyme
  • ABC Jigsaw
  • Word Trail
  • Sight Words
  • Labeling
  • Save Panda
  • Letter Blox
  • Word Hunt
  • The Blank
  • Opposite Adjectives
  • Spellathon
  • Scramble
  • Phonic Train
  • Googly Balloon
  • Alphabet Writing
  • What Letter Missing
  • Word Search
  • English Memory

Puzzle

  • Connect Pipe
  • US Map
  • Jigsaw Wonders
  • Stardoku
  • Shape and Shadow
  • Jigsaw Puzzle
  • Tetris Mania
  • Tricky Shuffler
  • Tic Tac Toe
  • Sliding Puzzle

Science

  • Butterfly Life Cycle
  • Grow Plant
  • Water Cycle
  • Animal Quiz
  • Jigsaw Safari

In the side bar student will learn fun “did you know” facts, Math tricks (like “Multiply by 9: Multiply by 10 and subtract the original number”) and grammar hints.  Each game is labeled with the grade level and has a short description of the game and learning goals.

How to integrate Gudli into the classroom: Gudli is a fun way for kids to practice learning in math, English and science.  These games make great center activities to support learning.  The games are short enough that they can be set up on classroom computers and students can take turns reinforcing learning and skill practice.  Gudli has enough games that students can play several in a lab setting where each student has a computer.  Students can choose the games that best meet their learning needs.

Gudli is a great site to share with parents looking for some ways to reinforce learning over the summer!

Tips: Gudli has a brand new virtual world coming soon!  Students will be able to explore a fun virtual world, “chat” with their friends, play in an interactive environment, challenge friends to games and of course learn!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  Gudli in your classroom!

Pilot Handwriting: Turn Handwriting into a Font

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, collaboration, Create, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Typing, web tools, Websites | Posted on 07-03-2011

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What it is: This is a fun site. Pilot Handwriting let’s students turn their handwriting into a font of their own.  The site is easy to use: print the template for students to fill out, take a picture of the completed template with a webcam (scanner and digital camera options also available), click on individual letters to adjust the look, save the handwriting by creating an account, click “let’s write” to use the font.  Writing completed on the Pilot Handwriting site can be emailed.  Saving the handwriting does require students to create an account. The account has no age limit but asks for an email address.  If you are teaching students who don’t have an email address, they can use a @tempinbox.com or @mailinator.com ending so they don’t have to create an email account.

How to integrate Pilot Handwriting into the classroom: I’ll be honest, I am not a big fan of handwriting worksheets- this is due to my own experience with them. I remember feeling like the practice page was endless and in the end didn’t give me a good feel for handwriting (especially in cursive) because I was writing letters individually; how often do you do that in real life?  The Pilot Handwriting font creator would be a fun way for students to end those handwriting practice sessions.  When they have a letter down, they can write it on the template.  The template could be filled out over several weeks as they learn and practice new letters.  At the end, they can turn all that practice into their very own computer font…as unique as their fingerprint!  The finished font can be used for learning how to write a friendly letter.  Students can compose a letter to a teacher, another student, or a parent using their font and send the finished letter via email.

Pilot Handwriting let’s students create multiple fonts within one account.  Students could create a font at the beginning of the school year and again at the end of the school year (or in subsequent years) to compare their growth.  Handwriting can tell us so much about how students are developing and thinking. This is a great way to record that development digitally.

My students love creating their own font, it makes all writing and practice more fun.  I caught a fifth grader typing out her spelling and vocabulary words just so that she could use her font.  In that one exercise she was practicing her handwriting, typing, and spelling/vocabulary.  Not too shabby :)

Tips: This is a neat site for students to share with their families. I have great handwritten notes from my grandmothers, recipes from my mom, and birthday cards from aunts and uncles.  There is something about a handwritten note that feels so personal and meaningful, it is capturing a piece of who that person is.  Students may want to ask their family members to create a font with their handwriting.  I had one student who was creating a family tree for class, he had each member of his family fill out the template and create a font.  He then asked them to send an email to him with the information needed for his tree using the font.  He cut and paste these onto poster board. It was honestly the coolest family tree I have seen, he had his family get involved and created a keepsake in the process.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Pilot Handwriting in your classroom!

World Spelling Day

Posted by admin | Posted in iPod, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 02-03-2011

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What it is: World Spelling Day is brought to you by the same folks who hold World Math Day. This year (2011) World Spelling Day is taking place on March 3.  Don’t wait, sign your kids up now and they can start practicing!  World Spelling Day is a world-wide competition between students where they engage in live games of spelling.  Each game lasts for 60 seconds and students can play up to 100 games to earn points for their personal tally.  Students can play more than 100 games during the event but only 100 count toward the Spellometer.  Students who answer the most correct question will appear in the World Spelling Day Hall of Fame.  World Spelling Day has 5 levels to play and 20 games at each level.   Just like World Math Day school age students (4-18 years old), individual children, and homeschoolers can register and participate. Register as many or as few students as you want (for free!).  Even better, if you already registered for World Math Day, your login credentials will work on the World Spelling Day website!

How to integrate World Spelling Day into the classroom: It couldn’t be easier to get your students involved, just sign them up by registering, pass out usernames and passwords and away you go.  Students can play in a computer lab setting (they like to try to login at exactly the same time so they can play against each other in games) or on classroom computers in 60 second rotations.  The 60 second time limit on games makes it easy to pass all of your students through a World Spelling Day center on classroom computers.  In addition, students can take their login information home with them to play at home.  World Spelling Day takes place every March, now that you know it is coming, plan to make it an Olympic type event in your classroom.  I have been known to hold opening ceremonies in my classroom prior to the event.

Since your students are competing against students from around the world, why not use the competition to practice using a map and identifying countries?  Since I had a Promethean board, I did this digitally with a Google Map.  Each time a student competed against a country, they would come up to the board and put a “pin” in the map.  Don’t have an interactive whiteboard? The paper map and actual pins are just as fun!

Tips: There is a free World Spelling Day app for the iPad, you can get it here.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using World Spelling Day in your classroom!

Color in Motion- Exploring Color

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Art, Create, Evaluate, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 31-01-2011

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What it is: Amazing really doesn’t do this site justice.  No really, this might be my favorite site of the month…that is saying something!  Regardless of if you teach about color or art, Color in Motion is a must see just for the creativity and brilliance of the site.  Color in motion is a wonderfully animated and interactive experience of color communication and color symbolism.  Have you ever looked at an art website and thought, “really, this is the best they could do? It is a site about art for crying out loud!”  No? Just me? :) Color in Motion is not one of those sites. The minute you begin exploring you know that this isn’t just a site about color, it is a work of art.  There are three activities on  Color in Motion.  The Stars introduces students to the color stars (primary and secondary colors personified).  When students click on a color stars profile they learn about their blood (the color(s) that make them up), what the star is hired to represent (the feelings the color gives), the positive and negative traits, and what the color represents around the world.  In the movies, students can sit back and enjoy the show as they learn about the symbolism of each color in a fun animation.  In the Lab, students have the opportunity to interact with the different stars. Students can direct a scene acting as a movie director based on a word that represents the color choice.  In project 2, students are a color star manager. It is up to them to decide which production their star is going to participate in based on what they learned about color symbolism.  Project 3 is a kaleidoscope where students can just have fun and “play” with color in a virtual kaleidoscope.

How to integrate Color in Motion into the classroom: Color in Motion is a fantastic place for students to learn more about color in a highly interactive, engaging, and fun way.  Students learn about color through story.  They meet each of the colors as a different character being cast for a production.  The site is great for any art or design class but could be equally wonderful for a creative writing project.  After your students have had some time to explore the site and interact with the different characters, ask them to choose a character to write a story about.  Students should write the story based on the character traits they know about the color.

As a getting-to-know-you activity, students could choose a color that they feel best represents them personally.  Students can list all of the color attributes that they feel describe them.  Are they a mix of colors? Have students write down what the mix is and why.

Looking for a way to spice up spelling/vocabulary practice? Have students assign each word a color based on the word meaning and the color character traits that match.  Students can compare and contrast the colors they chose for the words with the colors other students chose for a light persuasive argument.

As students study historical and literary figures, they can assign each a color based on the matching character traits.  It would make a really neat bulletin board to have a color wheel with pictures of historical/literary characters on each color based on the similar character traits.  These types of activities help students draw parallels and think about history and literature in new ways.

Younger students can think about what color an animal would be if it was the color of its color character traits.  The creative possibilities with Color in Motion are endless.

Oh yeah, in addition to all of those “spin-off” ideas, there are great creative activities right on the site many of which would be great for whole class with a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard, for small groups in a center activity, or individually in a one to one computer situation.

Tips: Color in Motion can be viewed in both English and Spanish.  If you have students learning English or Spanish as a second language, the colors and adjectives on this site are wonderful!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Color in Motion in your classroom.

Tag Galaxy: Visual Word Relationships

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Art, Evaluate, Geography, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Spelling, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Web2.0 | Posted on 04-01-2011

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What it is: Tag Galaxy is a neat little tool that helps students to explore relationships between words and ideas as well as view pictures related to that word.  Type in a word to search and immediately you are transferred to a galaxy with the original word at the center and the associated ideas orbiting around it.  When you click on the word in the center, a globe populates with pictures from Flickr that are tagged with that word. Click on one of the orbiting words and tags related to that word start to orbit.  Tag Galaxy is a very neat way to view information!

How to integrate Tag Galaxy into the classroom: Tag Galaxy is a brilliant way to visually  explore word relationships.  Students can use it to type in spelling or vocabulary words and discuss the relationship the related tags have to the original word.   Students can click on the original idea to get a visual understanding of the word in the form of a picture globe.  The connection with Flickr helps students to visualize words, ideas, and concepts by providing a variety of pictures that match the tag.  Tag Galaxy would make for a fun story starter.  Students can type in a word tag to get them started, view related words, and then click on the globe of pictures to spark creative writing ideas.  Tag Galaxy can be set up on classroom computers as a creative writing centers, or used for  whole class inspiration  with a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.

Check out science, math, art, or geography vocabulary on Tag Galaxy, the resulting collection of images will help your students attach meaning to those tricky science concepts like my photosynthesis example above.

As a side note, Tag Galaxy also offers a pretty good visual aid for learning about orbit :)

Tips: ***Very important***  Whenever you are using tools that pull from other sites to populate, it is important to test out the words prior to using with students.  You never know how people will tag an image and the image might not be appropriate for all age groups.  When using Tag Galaxy with elementary students, have them suggest words that you test before using with the class.  In my classroom, whenever students wanted to do an image search, I had them fill out an “image wish list” first.  On the wish list students write down words they would like to search. I would do a quick test of the words and sign off on them.  This worked well as there were a lot of similar requests (i.e. animals!) :)

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Tag Galaxy in your classroom.

Sharendipity

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Blogs, Create, Foreign Language, Fun & Games, Geography, Government, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Spelling, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 05-08-2010

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What it is: Sharendipity is an excellent online tool that lets you easily create your own learning and educational game.  You can do this by using one of the Sharendipity ready-made templates, or you can create a game from scratch.  There just isn’t always a quality game for students to practice with when you need one.  I know I have found myself wishing that I could find a game focusing on the exact phonic skill or a game that used the vocabulary that we were working on in class.  Often those tailor-made games just don’t exist.  Sharendipity is the answer, making it simple to create your own custom games.  Games are a fun way for students to practice a new skill and they make a great quick center activity on classroom computers.

How to integrate Sharendipity into your curriculum: Create games that are tailored to your students learning needs.  Sharendipity makes it easy enough to create fun games, you can create one in the time it would take you to make copies of worksheets.   Use one of the ready-made templates for the easiest game creation, or if you are feeling brave, start from scratch and make your own.  You can upload all of your own images to Sharendipity making customization really easy.  Consider using pictures of your class, school, or students as the background of a game.  Your students are sure to love seeing familiar faces or landmarks as part of the game.  These games are great for fact practice and recall in math, vocabulary, spelling, phonics, or geography where quick recall of the basics is key.  Sharendipity will walk you through each step of the game making process and when you are finished, you can share the url or embed the game in a class website.  If your students are a little older, they can make their own Sharendipity games to practice with.  Students can create games for their classmates to play as a way to study.  I have students who were constantly creating games and practice activities for my classroom; they got really good at it!  If you are teaching in a computer lab, Sharendipity is a fun way for students to create “original” content for their wiki, blog, or website.  At my school, we buddy up older grade level students with younger grade level students.  It was fun for the older kids to create special games for their buddies after learning about their buddies favorite things.  For example, one student found out that their buddy loved basketball and created a basketball themed spelling activity for them.

If you collaborate with another class or another school, it would be neat to swap customized games with them.

Tips: If you are braving creating your own game, be sure to check out Sherendipity’s learning center for a great guide on how to use the tools.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Sharendipity in your classroom!

Storybook Web

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Spelling, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 02-08-2010

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What it is: Storybook Web is “based on popular children’s stories by authors Scoular Anderson, Debi Gliori, Mairi Hedderwick and Frank Rodgers.”  There are a number of fun activities on this site including the ability to listen to the author’s reading excerpts from their stories and answering questions about how they came up with ideas for writing.  Students can choose from one of eight stories, each story has a related game, word bank activity, and videos/audio for reading the story and interacting with the author.

How to integrate Storybook Web into your curriculum: Storybook Web is a fun way for students to interact with stories, making connections to the authors of the stories and the themes that they are reading about.  This site helps students think like an author.  It gives them an inside look at how authors think about writing.  Use this site as an introduction to a writing activity.  Students can watch the author videos and get an inside look at the process that a writer goes through.  This can be done using a projector connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  Storybook Web would also make a nice addition to a writing center on classroom computers.  When I taught second grade, I set up an “editing and publishing” center on my classroom computers.  Here I gave students access to an online dictionary, thesaurus, word processor/publishing program, and Read Write ThinkStorybook Web would be an excellent addition to a writing center.  Students can go to be inspired, encouraged in the writing process, and given a place to practice their own writing.  I like the word bank on Storybook Web, word choice is hard for beginning writers.  By interacting with the word bank activity on Storybook Web, students will begin to think about their own word choice.  You may want students to go through their own writing and pick out words that they would add to their word bank.  I have found that activities like this make students think about the words they are using.  Often, students will self-edit and find richer vocabulary to use in their writing.

Tips: This is an easy website for emergent readers and writers to navigate.  Students can choose to have the site narrated for them or they can turn the audio off and read on their own.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Storybook Web in your classroom!