Global Cardboard Challenge 2014


This year our third grade students participated in the annual Global Cardboard Challenge, inspired by the documentary Caine’s Arcade. Coinciding perfectly with our school-wide theme Think, Create, Innovate, our technology team has been busy transforming our traditional lab into an innovation studio and maker space. The Global Cardboard Challenge was our first “maker” project and the kids could not be more excited about it! We started by watching Caine’s Arcade 2 for some inspiration. Students then decided if they wanted to work with a partner or independently and sketched their design ideas on a brainstorming sheet. We spent 4 weeks building, tinkering, sawing and gluing. The final results are creative and most importantly the students have been saying things like, “I want to come to technology everyday!” We love the enthusiasm and will be inviting teachers to bring their students to check out all of the 3rd grader’s hard work. We can’t wait to do this every year!

IMG_0904 IMG_0888

IMG_0886 IMG_0897


Summer Minecraft Edu Club

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 12.20.45 PM

I am just wrapping up a 5 week summer Minecraft club and this was my first time teaching with Minecraft Edu. Obviously Minecraft has been around for a while and I kept hearing about the excitement that always centers around it, but I had yet to experience it for myself. The beauty of starting with a summer club was that I did not necessarily have to worry about standards, just creativity and fun. I assumed that my students would really be into building and creating, but what I did not expect was how much I personally enjoyed it too! We all had such a good time in the class and built some amazing things together. 

Here are some things I learned along the way:

  • The first day is chaotic! I used the tutorial world for the first day even though most of the kids already knew what they were doing. I just let them navigate it for themselves which was tricky at times. Next time I am going to do a better job of letting them know what to expect in the tutorial world. I may even have them follow me through it.
  • Establish “Community Rules”. Being respectful of property, each other and helping anyone in need is a good place to start.
  • Start each class with a “Challenge” or “Mission” such as Build a shelter, Place a beacon, Design a ride, etc.
  • Save weather and day/night for later in the class.
  • There will always be a student that is amazing and knows way more than I do. Use them wisely! 🙂
  • The fewer the guidelines the better (depending on your goal for the class). I gave students some guidelines for building their shelter and found them ignoring some of them. I realized that they were doing something better than I could have asked. Kids are amazing… don’t restrict them by trying to “help”.
  • Watch out for the student that is completely lost. I asked many times throughout the class on Day 1 if anyone was having trouble and no hands were raised. In the last 5 minutes one of my students said, “I just have no idea how to play this or what I am supposed to do.” She had been doing such a good job of fooling me. I assured her we would sit down together the next day and I would show her everything.
  • Build with the kids. They love seeing their teacher play too.
  • Instead of requiring students to do something, start doing it yourself to attract their interest and you will find they will ask to help you. I started building a World Cup Stadium and by the end my students had figured out how to play a game with a slime ball. They wrote a book of rules and we played a world cup match together. The creativity was unbelievable!
  • Highlight of the class for me- kids leaving me gifts and surprises in my house!Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 12.13.37 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 12.14.24 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 12.16.33 PM

Joy and the Maker Movement


I recently read and article about fostering joy in students and the positive effect it has on their learning. Not surprisingly students experience joy when they are able to meet a challenge after given a series of lessons that involve active and engaged effort. Likewise, joy in learning occurs when students are given the freedom to work at their own pace, to determine how they want to learn, participate in play through their learning and finally collaborate and share what they learned with their peers. Most teachers know that if their students feel safe and happy in the classroom then they are more likely to be motivated and learn from not only their teacher, but each other. As I was reading the article I could not help but think of the maker movement and how it promotes all of these things (and more!). My colleagues and I are in the middle of transforming our traditional tech lab into an innovation space and even the small changes that we have made so far have elicited enthusiasm from our students. I can’t wait until next school year when it is officially complete and ready for tinkering!

The Hour of Code

After a 3 month hiatus while I was on maternity leave I came back to work just in time to celebrate Computer Science Education Week by participating in the Hour of Code. At our school we had every grade level participate in a coding activity of some sort. We made use of the resources that sent out in addition to some of our own. I mentioned my feelings about coding in a previous post and could not be more thrilled that the Hour of Code has received so much support and attention.

How Village School students are celebrating the Hour of Code:

  • TK – Introduction to Bee-Bots
  • K – Play Robot Turtles board game
  • 1st & 2nd Grades – Light-Bot Basics and Procedures
  • 3rd Grade – Tynker Puppy Adventure & Lost in Space
  • 4th & 5th Grades – mazes #1-20
  • 6th Grade – Continuing our ongoing Lego Robotics Unit


Robot Turtles

Robot Turtles


Even President Obama has joined the movement!

I love watching our students leave the technology lab proudly wearing these stickers


For more coding resources visit our Symbaloo page and click the code button. Happy coding!

Making for Educators Week 2: Makey-Makey

This week was Makey-Makey week and I have to admit that this is one I have been looking forward to the most. I have not used Makey-Makey with my students yet, but my colleague did a week long summer camp class and it was a great success. Our challenge this week was to combine Makey-Makey with Scratch and design a project that we could incorporate into our curriculum. I started thinking about my second grade students and their fractured fairy tale unit that they do mid school year. Normally they come to the tech lab and illustrate their covers and pages for their stories. I would love to expand on it and have them design a story or game using Scratch that uses the characters from their fractured fairy tales. They can then use Makey-Makey to navigate through their Scratch programs. I designed a very simple version of what this could look like using the theme of Dusty Locks and the Three Horses.



I then hooked up Makey-Makey with a few bananas and before I knew it with the click of a banana Dusty Locks was having a conversation with the three horses.



As I was brainstorming and reflecting on the different projects I do with my students throughout the year I started thinking about my first graders when they participate in International Dot Day. We would create dots in Pixie and then import them into Scratch so that we can use Makey-Makey with them. The students could even make “squishy” dots to connect to their Scratch projects. Stay tuned for more Makey-Makey photos as I will be using it in one of my summer school classes this week and I look forward to the ideas my students will come up with!

For more Makey-Makey inspiration and resources please visit


Making for Educators Week 1: Squishy Circuits

I just started a 6 week Making for Educators symposium and it is off to a great start. They introduced squishy circuits and we spent the week making homemade conductive and insulating dough and experimenting using the dough to connect components such as: battery packs, LED lights, buzzers and motors. The best part about the project was that my 7 year old son was immediately drawn to what I was doing and all but took over the design and creation of the different squishy circuit projects. We had so much fun together!

Here is what my son and I learned:

First we made the conductive and insulating dough. Big decision- what color should we make our dough?!


Now that we have our dough ready what should we make first?

A Flower

A Flower

We quickly discovered that we could not make all of lights work with our first design so we went back to the drawing board.

These lights worked- hurray!

These lights worked- hurray!

Next up- what animal should we make?

A horse of course

A horse of course

And we all know that a horse is not complete without a tail that lights up.

Finally we made a squishy pig:


We had so much fun and I can’t wait to introduce this to my students next year!

Squishy face

Squishy face


For those of you that are not familiar with squishy circuits check out these two resources:

Squishy Circuits at University of St. Thomas

Super Awesome Sylvia Show

Augmented Reality in the Classroom


I am spending my first day at ISTE 2013 in an augmented reality full day workshop. Wow the possibilities for using it in a classroom seem endless. We are using the Aurasma app as well as Aurasma Studio which are both free. We started by creating simple “Auras” with trigger images and animated overlays that were already in the Aurasma library. We then moved on to creating an Aura with a video overlay that we uploaded from our devices. I now have a public channel in Aurasma that can be followed by anyone that has downloaded the app to their mobile device. There are plenty of tutorials available within the app as well as on our instructor Dr. Scott Garrigan’s website. Happy creating!

Aurasma channel link

Follow my Aurasma channel