Thursday, January 5, 2017

How to Build a Snowman Writing App Smash

Do you want to build a snowman?! (Sorry, I can't get that song out of my head!) Today I worked with Mrs. Bishop's amazing firsties to help with part of an extensive writing project they are working on throughout the week. The first graders are writing "how to" stories, telling how to build snowmen. The final project will be a book with the snowman building directions. This is an activity that many of us have done with our primary students, but Mrs. Bishop and I worked together to "tech it up" and make it even better for the students. Read more to see what we did!

Mrs. Bishop had her first graders begin planning out their how to writing project in Seesaw. Using the drawing and text labeling tools, students made quick sketches of their snowmen, and labeled the order in which they would build their snowmen. Here are a couple of examples.

Next, they used their writing journals to write their "how to" stories. Using the plan they made above as a guide, they wrote "first, next, last" sentences to detail their snowman building plans. 

We decided to use the free app PicCollage Kids for the illustrations. Using a method shared by Erin from Erinregration, we knew we could search for png images in PicCollage that would allow students to build their snowmen piece by piece (the "png" image means it doesn't have a background - so no big ugly white square behind each image). Using an app for this part of the project takes away the tedious task of having students draw and redraw each piece of the snowman (i.e. I used to have my students do this on paper so they had to draw the body, then on the next page the body and the face, then on the next page the body and the face and the buttons, etc). 

In PicCollage Kids, students could build the first step, save the collage, then build the next step, save the collage, etc. They didn't have to start over each time. 
Most students' first step was to build a snowman body. We showed students how to open a blank "freestyle" collage in PicCollage, then use the web search tool to search "snowball png". They selected the snowball they wanted to use, then added it to their collage. 

By long tapping on the image, they could duplicate the snowball to make three of them and stack them to make the snowman.
Students then had to save this snowman body to their iPad camera roll by using the share button in the lower righthand corner and selecting "save to library".  Once it was saved, we asked students to raise their hands so we could double check (making sure they saved each step separately was the trickiest part)!
Once it was saved, they could continue adding things step by step. For example, if step 2 was to add a face, we showed students how to search "carrot png" and "coal png" to build the face of their snowman.
Most students also searched: "stick png" (for arms), "hat png", and "scarf png". Some got clever and added more details (they had learned the "png" trick and knew to use it!)
Depending on how many steps they had written, students typically had 3-4 images saved.
Mrs. Bishop then encouraged students to reread their journal writing pages, making sure they had made the correct illustrations and also double checking punctuation and capitalization. She encouraged students to add details to match their pictures (i.e. "pink winter hat", "stick arms", etc).
The next step of this project is publishing the work into books using the app Book Creator. Students inserted the images they created in PicCollage Kids, and type their edited sentences from their writing journals. Students then recorded their voices into the story and shared to Seesaw for classmates and parents to enjoy! If you haven't used Book Creator before, CLICK HERE for a tutorial on creating your first book.

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