Jun 30, 2010

Exploratorium Snacks

Exploratorium Science Snacks are different science experiments that are similar to exhibits at the Exploratorium Museum.  They can be used to explore many different science topics such as convection currents, momentum, circuits, and molecules. 
The Exploratorium Museum website also has over 500 online activities, exhibits, photo essays, and videos to explore.  These resources are divided into different categories - astronomy and space, culture, earth, everyday science, human body, listening, living things, material world, mind, and seeing. 

Book Reviews, Author Info, and More

Jun 29, 2010


Storybird is a free website where users can create their own stories or read stories that other authors create.  Users can start a Storybird by looking through the gallery of artwork or by themes.  If you choose to begin a story based on artwork, you choose which gallery to begin with and add selected images to your book.  Themes are keywords associated with the different artwork.  Adding artwork to your story is easy with the drag and drop tool.  Images can be placed in various positions on the page.  Text can be added by clicking on the textbox.  Users can also collaborate with others to create a story.

Click on the video below for more information about how to set up a Storybird account and how to begin a story.

Storybird Quick Tour from Storybird on Vimeo.

Jun 28, 2010

Visual Thesaurus Word Lists

The Visual Thesaurus site also has various word lists created by users.  The lists cover a variety of topics including sports, food, books, movies, and historical documents.  For each word in a list there are links to other lists that the word can be found in. 

These word lists can be used for spelling words, vocabulary units, alongside a novel study, as writing prompts, or during social studies units.  Students could also make lists of their own or make changes to current lists to make them better.  Here are a few of the interesting lists on the site:

Jun 27, 2010

Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus & VocabGrabber.

Visual Thesaurus is another web tool that shows dictionary and thesaurus entries graphically in a web format.  Visual Thesaurus is a paid service, however users can try it out for free.  After you type in a word into the search box, results will show up in a web.  Words are color coded by part of speech.  If you click on one of the words in the web, search results for that word will be shown.  Synonyms are connected to the searched word by gray lines and antonyms are connected by red dotted lines.  The search results for the word "find" is shown to the left.

VocabGrabber a free tool on the Visual Thesaurus website.  This tool analyzes a piece of text shows the results as a word cloud.  Users can then sort the text by relevance, alphabetically, number of occurrences, or familiarity.  You can also show words in certain subject areas such as geography, people, math, science, etc. If you click on any of the resuts, you can see related words in a web format.  The image below shows the results for Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.


Visuwords is a free online graphical dictionary that shows relationships between words in a web.  After you type a word into the search box, and a web will be created to show connected words.  The words are color coded to show the part of speech and type of connection each word has.  If you put the cursor over a word, the definition of that word will appear.  You can also zoom out to see more of the web or zoom in to see it in more detail.  The web below is for the word "smile."

Jun 26, 2010

Make Beliefs Comix

Make Beliefs Comix allows users to create simple comic strips.  Users can create 2-4 frame comics.  There are 20 characters to choose from and 25 different objects that can be added to the comic strips.  When the comics are finished, they can be printed or emailed to others.  Make Beliefs Comix can be used in a variety of ways including for vocabulary instruction, writing, social studies, math, or reflections.  A few possible ideas are listed below.

Student-created comics:
  • To illustrate their understanding of spelling/vocabulary word
  • Illustrate the importance or details of a historical event
  • Reflection about a lesson or field trip
  • Describing the character traits of characters from a novel
Teacher-created comics:
  • To introduce vocabulary words
  • Morning message
  • Instructions for an activity
  • Writing prompts

Jun 25, 2010


Bubbl.us is free flash-based collaborative mind-mapping tool.  Users create webs of any size.  Users can use the drag and drop feature or use their keyboard to add and delete elements to their map.  Once a mind-map is created, it can be exported as a .jpg or .png file, embedded into a website/blog/wiki, or sent via a link.  Possible uses for Bubbl.us include
  • Creating mind-maps with your class to discuss a topic
  • Brainstorming writing ideas
  • Making connections between different historical events or people
  • Development and organization of ideas for a project

Jun 19, 2010

Six-Word Memoirs

Six-word memoirs would be an interesting way for students to introduce themselves at the beginning of the school year, teachers to introduce themselves as a team for Open House, discussions about characters in novel groups, or for discussing historical figures.  There is an article by NPR about six-word memoirs with several examples.  Not all of the examples on the site are appropriate for school.  The video below includes several six-word memoirs by a high school creative writing class.

A good free online tool for editing and modifying photos is Picnik.

Jun 6, 2010

More Writing Prompts

Earlier in the year I posted links for different writing inspirations.  Here are a few more ideas.