In the last few weeks of school before Christmas, it is often challenging to find quality resources that are engaging enough to keep over-excited students involved, and yet of educational value. This time of year is also extremely busy for teachers, who are writing reports, devising class groupings for next year, meeting with parents, directing Christmas concerts and more.
To meet the needs of time-poor teachers, I’ve devised a list of apps and digital tools that might be useful for keeping students challenged and engaged right up until the last day of school and even perhaps beyond into the Christmas break; please feel free to share your own ‘lifesavers’ in the comments below!
1. Caritas Advent Calendar
This beautiful Advent Calendar is available as a mobile app for iPad or Android tablets, or as a PowerPoint for those without a mobile device. Beginning December 1st, users are able to click each day on the marked button, and read reflections, consider social justice issues and pray about different causes and concepts. Go to http://www.caritas.org.au/advent or click on the image to learn more.
2. Holiday Time Machine
This app is amazing, and at 99c, will provide hours of entertainment and learning for students of all ages. This app has over 2500 videos including holiday specials, commercials, music and movie trailers dating from 1896 to 2013. This means students can view anything from original footage of a snowball fight filmed in 1896 to 2013 Christmas television commercial – and so much in between. Needless to say, having this much historical footage at one’s fingertips lends itself to fascinating historical inquiries, awesome visual literacy and critical literacy learning opportunities, comprehension activities, cultural literacy investigations; the list goes on. It also provides wonderful discussion starters for considering how our views of Christmas have changed, whether Christmas has become more commercialised, and how advertising reflects societal mores. Overall, a wonderful tool with many uses, and also entertainment on Christmas day – prompting memories and conversations across the generations! Download the app here.
3. Norad tracks Santa
Broaden student’s geographic knowledge using the Norad (North American Aerospace Defence Command) Santa tracker, which goes live on December 1st. Each day there is a countdown, different games and activities, videos, music and more. The site has been updated for 2013, and will feature a 3D globe and new interactive games. Available as an app in the Windows, Apple and Android stores, it is also online at http://www.noradsanta.org/ . Tracking opportunities are also available on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+ by typing “@noradsanta” into each social media tool to begin.
4. Yummy Christmas
This free app presents very simple recipes to encourage young students to get involved in cooking this Christmas. Cooking offers many learning opportunities, not the least measurement skills and the chance to discuss healthy eating and the importance of a balanced diet during the holidays! The recipes are beautifully presented in a visual format, and feature easily obtained ingredients as well as a focus on healthy choices.
5. Christmas Nativity Scene
Another free app, this one would be useful when teaching about the different versions of the Infancy narrative in Luke and Matthew’s Gospels. Students choose from a range of scenes and characters to create a Nativity scene; what they choose to include could be used to determine the differences in the different Gospel versions. Images can be saved to the photo roll on the iPad for easy sharing with others, or to be imported into a different app to be added to further.
On behalf of the ResourceLink team, I would like to thank all of our readers and followers, and wish you all a very happy Christmas and a refreshing holiday break. I look forward to sharing more interesting information with you in 2014!