Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More Summer Ideas

OK, so your children (and maybe you, too) are home for the summer and you hear the first, "I'm bored." They are home from summer camp, family vacation trips, or wherever and need something to occupy them. My husband and I were in the same frame of mind last summer when our 11 year old granddaughter came to stay with us for a month. Luckily, we had lots of ideas and events from the local community and pulled a few more fun things to do from our technology backgrounds.

So when swimming all day, every day loses its appeal, you could check with the local YMCA and Chamber of Commerce to see what activities are on the schedule. I've included some websites below that have tons of ideas; everything from puzzles to making crafts and even some cooking.
July activities from Activity Directory Today
Enchanted Learning Crafts and Activities
The Teachers Corner
July Calendar Events
Activity Ideas That Work

Summer Activites from Barbara Feldman / Surfnetkids
International Joke Day is July 1st : submit your joke
National Ice Cream Day is July 17th - make it, take it, definitely eat it!
Newest Coloring Pages - free downloads, print out and color

Thinkfinity ideas for creating Comics, book/CD/DVD covers, trading cards, stories and more

These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg (or putting one toe into the water since it is summer). What are some of your summer activity suggestions and how do you keep the boredom out of their time off?

images courtesy of Glitterfly, 123Greetings, Authentic History, and Carvel

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Words in the Clouds

 I have been having fun using Wordle to create word clouds for about everything and adding the created  image to blog posts, wiki pages, handouts, and more. While working on a presentation I was going to do at the AIG conference, I found a very similar resource called "WordItOut."  It also allowed me to create a cloud of words from my own text but with some additional features.

My presentation included different ways to teach vocabulary and use words from any subject area. What fun we had taking a paragraph written on a given topic and pasting it into WordItOut. We tried Math terms, Science vocabulary, Social Studies events . . The ideas were flowing. Instantly the words were put into a design that showed the most often used words in larger and bolder print. We could change the colors, the layout and even the target area where the word cloud would show on the page.

WordItOut is another free, online resource and you don't even have to register to use it. The Create tab is where you can start your own word cloud. Just type in the words you want to use or copy the words from a story, blog post, or list and paste it into the box. The word cloud can be changed to fit the mood or style needed - the possibilities are almost endless with all the colors, shapes, angles and more. The Discover tab lets you view page after page of creations created by others. Wondering about a special topic - just type in a keyword search to get an idea and see what has been done. It doesn't show you how many word clouds go with the search, but I don't mind clicking on the Next button to see more.

To find out the latest news or maybe need to report a problem, just click on the Community tab. You can read and share comments or check out the FAQs. If you have an idea for a feature that might make WordItOut even better, send in your suggestion under the Ideas button. I really like the fact that they are open to suggestions that might make their program work better for the end user.

A fun, end-of-the-year project would be to have the students help design a word cloud of things they have learned and then put it on a t-shirt or bag. WordItOut has a great feature to create and purchase customized gift items. What a way to share what is going on in your classroom! Check it out in the Community section.

Here are some other resources and links for ideas and uses of WordItOut and word clouds:
    I suggest giving WordItOut a try with your next lesson and see how your words look in the clouds.