Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category


Here’s my first project using conductive thread. Using the Sew Electric kit, I made a bookmark out of crafting felt, sewing a battery inside that lights up an led. Instructions for this project and others are available on the Sew Electric website. For this particular project, you don’t actually need the kit. You could just head to your nearest electronics store for a few bits. Lee’s Electronics in Vancouver is my favourite. The staff at Lee’s helped me order my Makey Makey kits and pull together enough very basic supplies to do a little project with coin batteries and mini LEDs. The staff were not only patient with my lack of understanding, but they were excited to hear teachers wanted to experiment with circuits in classrooms.




The Sew Electric Kit has very fun projects, including ones where you use a Lilypad arduino board that you need to program, and comes with all the supplies you need for the circuitry.




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The Tech Club meets each Thursday at lunch in the library to play, learn, and explore technology in various forms. Annie Simard, grade 4/5 French Immersion teacher and previous Tech Mentor, and I have talked about Tech Club for awhile and finally launched it this year. Tech Club is a great way to engage keen and curious students with hands-on, experiential learning. The kids love to play and so do we!

But in a school so big and diverse, where did we start? We decided to invite teachers with students grade 4 and up to submit the names of two kids who would be interested in playing with technology one lunch hour a week. We mentioned that the club was a good opportunity for many learners, not just the ones who excelled at everything. So we called our first meeting and started off easy – with coding.

Many classes having just completed Hour of Code the week before, we keen to try their skills again using this fantastic site. Free, easy to use, and usable on iPads, Hour of Code offers video game style coding activities based on pop culture, such as Star Wars, Minecraft, and Frozen.



From there we jumped to Scratch Jr., the lite app version of Scratch, a free drag-and-drop coding platform from MIT.







And from there we started to play with Annie’s Ozobots, super fun little robots that ‘read’ colour combinations and perform various actions.










Last week we pulled out the Makey Makeys and started experimenting. Makey Makeys are these great little circuit boards that you plug in the the USB port of a computer. Using alligator clips, you can then make all kinds of things into keyboard functions.









Watch the video for inspiration:

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Hour of Code

hour of code

Have you done Hour of Code yet? Hour of Code a great way to introduce coding to kids. Using command blocks instead of javascript, students instruct their character to perform certain tasks, working their way through the levels. Using popular characters, such as Elsa from Frozen and Steve from Minecraft, students of all ages are highly engaged in the activities. As a teacher, you can register your class and have them sign in. This way you are able to keep track of their work and when the wifi fails, the kids can log back in without losing any of their work. On the other hand, logging in is a bit of a pain, so with some classes, we did not bother to do this.

Above, you can see two kids playing with the Frozen game using the library Smartboard. Not only great for demoinstrating and watching the instructional videos, the Smartboard was also fun to code on. Such a big screen and easy to move the blocks around. Most of the kids used iPad minis in pairs and individually. You can also use desktops, other mobile devices, and even paper.

People in my generation grew up learning to code our Commodore 64’s, using Logo at school, and trying to get our games to work using DOS. As such, our generation had experience with coding, but kids these days, well with slick operating systems, they often have no exposure to coding at all. This is the second year I’ve participated in Hour of Code at Strathcona, having first heard about it from our fabulous Tech Mentor Annie Simard. I can’t wait to try it again. Hour of Code is a great introduction and a fabulous thing to do with your kids at home or in class.


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The Maker Movement hits Lord Strathcona, a K-7 elementary school in Vancouver, with Makey Makey, the perfect little tool for inspiring creative young minds.

20140530-142324-51804486.jpg Here, a primary student makes a game controller out of Playdoh for an independent Challenge Project.

20140530-142412-51852196.jpgAbove, a few members of my intermediate literacy group are drawn like moths to light, and join in, solving the problem of grounding to make the project work.

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