Lockdown lessons to keep you inspired

We are in Lockdown 2.0 and although there is talk of dropping levels again it is important to make sure that our online/digital learning is up to spec. The trend that I saw last year was the increase in digital learning increases after lockdown. Teaching online was great, I ran a lot of online classes on how to use apps and programmes and a lot of teachers and students found this very beneficial, both for their learning and for keeping students on task with their learning at home. During this second lockdown I'm sure that most of you have some kind of learning happening for your students, but here are some extra ideas just in case. Book Creator can be downloaded for free on all tablets - Apple and Android (anything that is not at iPad). The free version only lets you make one book but once that book is complete the student can save it as a PDF/Video and then delete and start again. As a teacher you can also create an account at Book Creator Online and that enables your students to work on a chromebook or laptop as well as on a tablet. In this library you also have access to all of your students' books to edit if necessary. Again, if you hit the 40 book free limit, just downlad the completed books to make room for more. A lot of children are already used to using this app so just choose a topic and let them go! I've included a rubric below to help guide your students.


When teaching your student's how to make a book, here are some tips:

  • Do all of your typing first! Book content is the most important part of the book and if a student runs out of time to make it look pretty it is not as bad as having no content. Also, if you start changing the size, colour and font at the beginning then all other text defaults to the chosen design when continuing to type.

  • No hideous backgrounds - it makes the text hard to read. If a student decides to use a subtle background then make sure it is the same one used throughout the book for continuity.

  • Photos and illustrations obviously have to be relevant to the text on that page.

  • Text inside the book should generally be easy to read - use a 'boring' type font and keep the colour consistent, usually black unless there is a dark background.

  • Creating a book is the perfect time to teach paragraphs, you can have a paragraph to a page.

  • When adding audio make sure that you don't have your hand over the microphone - easy on a computer but sometimes tricky on a tablet (the mic is at the top by the forward camera)

  • The front/title page should have a big sized heading and of course the author's name. Colour and fancy font are totally acceptable on the front cover and the author's name should be smaller than the title.

Many teachers already use Epic for their students to read. If you haven't used this yet then lockdown is the perfect time. The only catch is that the children can only use Epic during school hours - 9.00am-4.00pm. If you would like parents to be able to access this for your children then get them to click on this link. The free account enables the child to read one book a day, at any time. Coding is always in style and a great way to get your students' brain working! ScratchJr is also free and works on both Apple and Android tablets (no computers sorry). Student's love to have a play around with the coding and that is fine, but if you want to encourage that problem solving, creative thinking and finding mistakes (bugs) then set them a specific task. This website is an awesome resource for ideas, but please don't take any notice of the Year 0-2 age limit. ScratchJr can be used effectively up until Year 8. Ideas for using ScratchJr at home:

  • How many people are in your bubble? Create a project showing the people your bubble doing your favourite thing in lockdown.

  • Just read a book? Create a four slide project showing the main points of the story in sequence.

  • Want some maths practice? Junior children can use ScratchJr to reinforce numeracy. How many steps does it take to move the cat/character across the screen? What number to I have to use on the rotating block to make the cat go upside down or turn to fly? I want my cat to move across 16 steps, if I use an arrow block with the number four on it, what number would I need to put on the repeat block (great times table practice).

  • Create 2/3/4 block project showing..... a circus, swimming at the pool, going shopping, climbing a mountain, a car race, anything!

Scratch online is the step up from ScratchJr. It is free to register and you can use either a computer or tablet to access it. There are some tutorials that you can follow here, and you can also explore projects and games that other people have made. Play the game, look at the code used to create the game, adapt to your own game, or you can find a game you like, choose 'remix' and you will get a copy of that game to edit and add your own flair. Here are some more ideas to help you get going with Scratch online. Photography - Don't forget that your phone or tablet has a camera. I have created a slide show explaining (in kid's speak) how to take a good photo and some photography rules that make the photos more interesting. Have a look and practise taking photos. Once you have the photos you can also create a digital book (Book Creator) with them, with labels saying which photography rule they used. Ideas for photography at home:

  • Take a photo of three bugs in the garden.

  • If you are baking, take photos of each stage and present them with the recipe.

  • How close can you get while still keeping focus?

  • Can you take a good photo if it's darkish outside? What about if it is really bright and sunny? Does it matter which direction you face to the sun?

  • Take a outdoor photo at the same time everyday, sunset, sunrise etc

  • Practice your colours - take photos of at least five things that are red.

  • Practice phonics - take photos of at least five things that start with the letter M.

  • Create a photo book of your favourite things.

  • Take a photo and make up a story around it.

There are some great free apps that let you collate and present your photos, Pic Collage is an easy one to navigate and you can also add crazy stickers and items to your photos.

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