Here are twelve Christmas focused iPad activities that you can use with children (one will appear each day to the end of the autumn term). And of course, the ideas and apps can all be adapted for use any time of the year.
Please pass the link on to colleagues, and if you are in a Herefordshire school I have a few spare slots in my diary so if you’d like support with any of them just let me know and I’ll pop along if I can. Happy Christmas!
Day 12: Bring Santa’s reindeer into your classroom (Reception)
FxGuru: Movie FX Director is a free app that allows you to bring a range of special effects into your own environment amongst them are dancing reindeer (most are only available through in-app purchases). You then mix a video you’ve taken yourself with the special overlay effects.
You can do similar things with animals, all year around with the 79p app Zookazam
Day 11: Christmas E-Safety (all year groups)
Children are likely to be receiving new online devices at Christmas; now is a good time to rehearse basic e-safety rules with them. After discussing these, the children could use Comic Life 3 or the new comics templates in Book Creator to record the sorts of e-safety conversations they might have with parents over Christmas. There are many places online that you could direct parents to, via end of term newsletters etc, for help with this. Here’s one from Safer Internet
Day 10: Aldi Christmas Ad – Poetry with Puppet Palls (Y3+4)
The Aldi Christmas ad is a great animation that could easily be copied in a simpler style by using Puppet Pals. It uses Clement Clarke Moore’s poem The Night Before Christmas so great for a link to Literacy by getting the children to rework the poem themselves.
They could choose their own Christmas character (or use the Kevin the Carrot idea from the ad), photograph their main character then design or search for their own backgrounds. Puppet Pals is a really easy way to put the whole thing together once they have written and rehearsed their poem.
Day 9: Use Shadow Puppet Edu to retell the Christmas story (Y1+2)
Shadow Puppet is a great free app. It has nothing to do with shadows, puppets or rabbits (its icon). Very young children can use it to retell a story. Just capture images (these could be sources online, photos of children’s own artwork or produced electronically in other apps), sequence them, press go to record the story in real time as you move through the pictures. There are some nice laser pointer tools that children can move over the pictures to draw attention to different aspects of the story. This app has many uses right across the year, and it’s completely free.
Day 8: Create a Christmas animation (Reception)
If you don’t have Puppet Pals on your iPads you should get it straight away! There is a free version that’s not really worth having – you need to pay for the paid one – Puppet Palls Director’s Pass – (£2.99). One of the great things about the paid for app is that children can take or source their own pictures as puppets and backgrounds; thereby offering massive potential. However, on this occasion we’d like to remind you that there are some good readymade ones that you can download (only if you have the paid for app) for Christmas.
Select you puppets, select backgrounds, narrate your story as you move the puppets around the stage, record and publish. Some examples
Day 7: Using QR codes or augmented reality to bring 2D to life (all year groups)
QR does and augmented reality apps such as Aurasma allow you to bring 2 dimensional printing to life in video, usually on a mobile device (tablet or phone). The advantage of Aurasma is that your video file is automatically uploaded to the cloud from where the app (on any one’s phone or tablet) can access and play it from a trigger image you chose. The device playing your video needs to have “subscribed” to your Aurasma channel or be logged into the same Aurasma account (the easiest option within school)
So in the case of the Christmas card you might have made on Day 4 of these projects you could go on and film the child giving a Christmas wish, song, performance etc. You use the Aurasma app to upload the video, and capture the still image (your card). The recipient of the card needs to subscribe to your Aurasma channel and can then play the video just by holding the device over the card. Similar results can be achieved with a QR code and a QR code reader app.
There’s a great demonstration of augmented reality in this TED talk. You can try it out for yourself by downloading the free Aurasma app to your phone or tablet and showing it a £10 note. This is all great stuff and if you’d like support in taking it further next year then please get in touch.
Day 6: The man on the moon (John Lewis ad) – people in need at Christmas (Y5+6)
There’s great creative potential in the excellent Christmas ads that now seem to create a cult of their own each Christmas. I think there is a whole raft of possibilities with last year’s John Lewis ad But here’s one idea:
- Get the children to snapshot some carefully selected stills of the Man on the moon looking down to earth (press the home button and the power button together to do this).
- Get them to do a bit of research into parts of the world where people don’t have such a great time at Christmas and take some snapshots of the ones that particularly interest them (charity sites might be good, Children in need …)
- Use iMovie (trailer – see day 3, or movie) Book Creator (have you seen the great comic books in the latest version?), Pic Collage, Shadow Puppet, Pupet Pals … or any creative app to make their own piece about looking after people at Christmas.
- See Day 4 for tips on sharing these with parents.
- Of course you will need to talk to the children about making sure that it’s OK to use the images they select.
I did some of this with Year 5 at Holmer last year and on Christmas day afternoon some of the children were blogging to ask for help as they continued it.
There are things you could do with this year’s John Lewis ad too and it’s worth checking out their website
John Lewis’ 2014 add (the penguin one) also has great potential, as does Sainsbury’s World War I ad from 2014.
Day 5: Use Padlet to share the Christmas joy – and the whole year through! (Y3+4)
It’s so important to give children a proper audience and purpose for their work, even if this is only mum and dad. (It’s also a great way to get the message out to parents that iPads offer huge educational and creative potential.)
There are many ways to share things and we’d love to come and take you through some of them in a staff meeting. A really easy gain, however, is to sign up for a FREEE Padlet account (www.padlet.com). You then create “walls” which you can easily share with the children via a QR code (Padlet generates that for you on the share button). Children then upload their finished work to the wall (posting their name as a title). Printed QR codes can be sent home for parents to view their work on their smart phones.
Here’s an example of a Padlet wall from Whitchurch Primary. We created it for the children to share some trailers (see day 4) they’d made with their parents.
You should look into the settings, by default the walls you create are visible only to those who have the link (QR code) so that’s good. You may wish to lock your wall from further editing once it is complete so that when it goes live to parents it’s not possible for further posing to take place. Having said that, it’s cool to ask your children to go home and watch some of their friends’ work and post positive comments as a homework task (great e-safety discussion opportunity…).
Day 4: Promote your Christmas production with an iMovie trailer (Y5+6)
iMovie is an excellent app, full of huge creative potential and free on all newish iPads. A really great way into it is to use the trailer feature.
There is a range of templates to choose from and the children add their own pictures (or very short video) and a number of powerful pieces of text to these to create a thoroughly professional piece with which they will be very proud.
Text style, music and structure are locked into the template so it’s important to get that choice right at the outset. It’s also good to get children to storyboard on paper first before they hit the app; this blog has some splendid printable storyboard planning sheets that you can use with the children first, as well as further notes of explanation about the templates.
They will want to share what they’ve done beyond school. An easy way to spread this joy will follow tomorrow.
Day 3: Personalised green screen Christmas cards (all phases)
Green screening is a great technology that children love. You just need a bright green (or blue) plain background and Do Ink’s Green Screen app to make it work.
Get your children to select a great Christmas backdrop (or photograph their own work), if you have Christmas costumes get them to dress up appropriately then use the Green Screen app to photograph themselves in their chosen Christmas scene. Here’s one of many we made at Blackmarston:
The finished photograph can be turned into a printed Christmas card using whatever software / device you are most comfortable with.
You could go on and create a piece of video in the same scene with the child giving their own Christmas message and attach that to the card with a QR code to bring the card to life. More about that on day 7.
Day 2: Create your own Sainsbury’s Ad (or any animation) (Y1+2)
You will probably have seen this year’s Sainsbury’s ad. The message is that the best gift you can give for Christmas is yourself (scope for PSHE / Values here).
Sainsbury’s have made a free animation app which you can download from the app store. It’s a great app to hang onto for animation at any time of the year. If you pop along to Sainsbury’s you can pick up an animation pack for £5 which includes all sorts of resources you can use to create your own version of their advert.
What’s not to like?
Day 1: Advent Calendar using thinglink (Y3+4)
Thinglink is a website, so no need for any app install (though there is one) and of course you can use it on computers too. Just create an account for yourself or your class (it’s free) and get going.
You add a picture to create your “thinglink” then share it with your class, via a web link or by creating a QR code to display on the whiteboard (children will need a QR code reader on their iPads) they can all add tags to the picture (after research). Take a look at the Settings – you can open it up so that anyone with the link can edit and keep it “private” so only those with the link can see / edit it.
Here’s one I started or scan this QR Code:
More on Monday!