Friday, December 19, 2014

Jenga Vocabulary Game Stacks Right Up!

Wooden it be nice to find ways to occupy your kiddos this time of year?  I have the solution to any of your creativity blocks. It's Jenga...and it's knot a problem!

We used Jenga to help us review our vocabulary word of the week.  To do this, I created a game that corresponds with turns taken during a Jenga game.

Here's How it Works!!


  • Provide each team with a Jenga Block Set (or the FREE Jenga App)
  • 3-5 members per team
  • One looseleaf sheet of paper and writing utensil needed  

Round #1:  The Tranquil Round
-Must SILENTLY complete 4 new levels (move 12 blocks) without knocking tower down
-Block penalties WILL be applied if anyone talks

Round #2:  The Synonym Round
-Students must brainstorm synonyms for a key vocabulary word.
-For each synonym they come up with, they may remove a block and stack it.  Record the synonyms on a looseleaf sheet of paper.
-This is a timed round (2 minutes)
-Block penalties may be applied

Round #3:  The Antonym Round
-Students must brainstorm antonyms for a key vocabulary word.
-For each antonym they come up with, they may remove a block.  Record the antonyms on a looseleaf sheet of paper.
-This is a timed round (2 minutes)
-Block penalties may be applied

-Tallest tower wins
-Block penalties will be applied at the end of game.  One block is removed for each block penalty thus reducing tower height
-Teams MAY stop at any time to secure their tower height.
-Team is eliminated if tower falls  (Optional:  Team CAN rebuild and start from scratch)

Optional Round: The Sentence Round
-For each sentence they come up with, they may remove 4 blocks.  Record the sentence on a looseleaf sheet of paper.

In my classroom I DID use actual Jenga block sets, however, there is a FREE app that is also suitable for this game!!  

I promise your students will not be board with this game using YOUR SMARTICLES!!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Making the Most of Osmo

In colorful letters adorning a slick white box, my Osmo arrived a few days ago.  Like thousands of other educators, I pre-ordered Osmo.  My intent was primarily curiosity, as I’m typically a fan of any new technology, and often chase rainbows in an attempt to revolutionize my classroom and jazz up my instruction. This time my 'rainbow' is red, orange, yellow and blue and is called:

Osmo’s mission, “to promote social intelligence and creative thinking” really appears to be accurate!  When my Osmo arrived, I opened it on my kitchen counter with my two teen-aged boys.  We fit it together within 30 seconds and downloaded the Tangram app.  In no time, the three of us were working together, rotating shapes and solving puzzles.  We were working collaboratively, creatively and solving problems.  It was terrific.

Next we opened the Newton app.  The novelty of the experience was the biggest hook.  Seeing our hands projected as scribbled images on the screen was fascinating.  We, admittedly, got a little silly with this one and tried many non-typical ways to encourage the dropping balls to hit the target.

The Words app is, “hands down” my favorite.  A great battle erupted between my son and I as we raced to slide the right letters across the countertop in an effort to decode the hidden words

Experimenting further with Words, I’ve discovered what I believe will be the absolute hook for teachers in the classroom, the ability to customize Word to include your own vocabulary for your curriculum.

Ideas for Osmos's Words

#1.   Character traits word sets!!  Provide students with an image and/or a definition of their targeted character trait vocabulary words. to create an interactive practice station.

#2.  Have students customize the images for vocabulary and create their own word sets….they can take pictures of themselves being melancholy, vivacious, cantankerous, etc.

#3.  Spelling Lists.  Make your images incomplete spelling words using the Osmo tiles that were provided!  Leave out the letters that complete the word.  Students will have to spell the word correctly.  (Powerpoint document with Osmo(like) tiles for screen capturing spelling words)

#4. Latitude/Longitude. Provide students with  this map of latitude and longitude.  On Osmo, provide the latitude and longitude coordinates of a specified location.  Students use map and slide tiles to identify the location.

#5. Create 'cloze' sentences
#6. Customize vocabulary for your units!!   Would work GREAT for foreign language classes!
#7. Create multiple choice questions and students respond with A, B, C, D letter tiles

Create your own Albums 

1.  Create a slide for each image.  I really like Powerpoint, the built in templates make for very attractive slides

This is a slide I formatted to challenge students with their spelling words.  (Template available here!)

These are slides I created for a landform challenge!!

Create math questions:

Provide vocabulary definitions:

2.  After you've created your slides, save them slides as  .jpg images.

3.  Open your my.playosmo  account.  Upload each picture, assign a difficulty and type in the corresponding word for each picture.

Here's a video tutorial!!

Osmo MyWords in action:

Customized curriculum, hands on with Osmo....and Your Smarticles!!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Pretty Pretty Pictures with Pixlr

I like clipart. Each pretty picture that adorns my pages, websites, lesson plans, smart notebook files, powerpoint files, etc. adds a special touch or contributes to the theme in some way. is a great website for you to use to edit/customize/create or otherwise manipulate digital images. Pixlr's free editor shares several features with Photoshop, and for me has worked swimmingly as a free alternative.

Standout features of Pixlr include:

`It's free
`No log-in or plug ins required
`Image importing and exporting
`Supports: .jpg, .png, .gif and even .psd
`Allows you to create, edit, crop, resize and reformat clipart/images

If nothing else, pixlr solved one pesky problem whose solution had always eluded to remove or change a background on a piece of clipart.

For a quick 'how to', please watch this video!!

Image editing with Pixlr and Your Smarticles!!