Junior Science: Make a Floating Compass.

I remember seeing this on an old ( very old) English TV show called Why Don’t You, when i was a kid and running off to my mum sewing kit to try to take her needles. I tried to explain it to her that if ever we were lost i was learning how to save us. Luckily she let me get on with it and i set to work making a floating compass.

This little experiment is great for young learners. They really get into the spirit of being lost in the wild and having to get themselves home. I will go through the instructions here but also i have made a full pack of resources you can download for free i have put the link at the bottom of the page.

Not quite like this.

I set this up with a treasure hunt with directions around the school. and they can use their new compass to navigate their way to the treasure and it works really well, but first they have to make it and here and below is how they do that.

Equipment ( things you need)

  • A map
  • Compass
  • tape
  • magnet
  • globe
  • pin, needle or paper clip
  • Water
  • Card, or sponge
  1. First let us look at what is North. A long time ago, before we had phones, we had to use other things to help us find places and so we can know where we are and where are going.  One of these things is a compass. . It looks like a clock, but it is not. You cannot tell the time from it but it can tell you North and South.

2. If you take a look at the globe can you tell me where the North Pole is and where is the South Pole? Which one is at the top, and which one is at the bottom? Well a compass is something that will always point at the North Pole. So if the compass points North can you find Hong Kong? What country is north of Hong Kong, and what country is South?

3. When we look at a compass we can see that even if we turn it around the red needle will always point to the North, this is because it is a magnet. This is a bit of metal that sticks to other metal things. Your teacher has some on the desk.  But why does it point North? Well you have to think of the world as having a kind of big magnet inside it. It goes from North to South. .So the compass will always point to the top of the world. This is because it wants to stick to it.

Now, let’s see if we can make a compass.

Lets take a look at the picture first. This is what you want to make. You can see the compass in the water. It is pointing North

1. So first you need your pin and a magnet. Take the magnet and use the same end to stroke the pin all the way along. Take it off after each stroke. You are magnetizing the pin. This will help it find North.

Pack of 6

2. When you have stroked it 50 times, stick the pin on your little piece of cork or card. You can use tape or blutak. You have a compass.

3. However, the magnet is not strong enough to move on the ground or in your hand so you have to put it somewhere it can move.

4. Take your bowl of water and gently and slowly put you cork in the middle of the bowl, make sure it doesn’t sink.

5. Wait for a little while and you will see the cork turn to take one direction, take a look at your friends to see if it is happening to them as well.

6. Ask your teacher or parent to bring their compass and put it next to your bowl. You will see both are pointing North! Congratulations, you have made a compass!!

7. Now take a closer look at your teachers compass, you can see it is just like yours, a needle floating in water!

Now you can download that ^ in a ready made worksheet and instructions on this link, if you want to do the treasure hunt i cant help you (I don’t know where you work!!) I can give you some tips and advice though.

  • Use a large open space, and make the markers fairly large.
  • Put at least 4 markers for them to find.
  • Have written instructions so they have to read them out loud.
  • try to keep it at just North, East, South and West, the compass works just fine but as you walk around it will disturb the water and simple directions are better.
  • Make sure they know the points of the compass before starting!! if needed give them a paper copy to be sure.
  • Have a little prize or some candy at the end just as a simple reward.

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How To Make Your Own Educational App

I have had a few requests and inquires over the last few weeks about making or how to make apps for education. All of which i have answered as best i can. My journey into this came from a constant search for games to play in my classroom, which is why i have also lists of the ones i use on the site as well. I really struggled to find ones that I thought were suitable for my learners.

Why I started making educational apps.

I understand why, most of these apps are made to teacher either adults or Native Children English. these are all well and good but not always suitable for ESL students, which is my specialty. So i looked into how to make them them, my plan was originally to just make them for use in my school but when i did and showed teachers they asked for them, and their friends asked for them so about two years ago i decided to look into putting them firstly on to the Google PlayStore, then onto Apple and then online. I am still trying to work out a way of getting them actually hosted by my site rather than on someone elses. So if you know how feel free to advise me! These are mine online so far: Online English and phonics games.

Eventually i put them on Huawei and Amazon mainly just because i could and started making paid versions, using adverts etc. Eventually i started letting people know about them, and joining Facebook groups etc, and they started to grow. So now, as of January 2020 i have had over half a million downloads across all platforms, though of course just like any app people download and keep for a while, then uninstall. This is perfectly normal.

Options for making online games or apps.

I will go through some options open to you if you want to delve into the world of app making, but it will have to be briefly as there are way better people giving way better information on each of them out there online. I will just approach it from making educational apps, rather than making the next call of duty etc. Those of you that did stumble upon this article hoping to find how to make complex apps I will leave the YouTube channel of a great guy who gives advice on making way more difficult apps than i do, and all other app related content.

Unity Game Engine:

This is the platform I use. It is a full working game engine that can make games for mobile, PC, web and Facebook, among others. At its most complex it can make full commercial multiplayer games, and at its least complex, well, it can make ones like my early ones. It has the advantage of having templates, if you look at the unity store you might well recognise some of mine from there, that require the user to have only a basic understanding of coding and the platform to make a working game.

Unity Game Engine

Unity Templates:

If you take a look at these templates you can find, quizzes, matching games, platformers, word searches and many more. There are also serious numbers of forums and sources of advice all over. The unique selling point of this platform though, its free if you are a hobbyist or if you have a company making less than 100,000 USD a year. That is a very good deal. It also has its own ads network that can be integrated relatively easily. I did change over from their ads to Adsense but mainly to link YouTube, the site and the apps altogether.

Unity Asset Store

Hire a Developer:

Fiverr Website

This option has the potential to be the most expense option, though there are ways to keep the costs down. If you want something made for you however, without having to get involved this is the better option. How much it will cost can be as little or as much as you want. However, with this kind of service you get what you pay for doesn’t always follow. I have used developers to either help or in one case make a full game. The quotes i got for exactly the same work ranged from 5000 US dollars to 150 US dollars, it is not that difficult to guess which one i went for.

Now just to be clear when i did hire a developer i also have some skills in the platform they used so i knew i could add my own images, data and other less code reliant aspects. This means they could concentrate on just making the frameworks. If you are new to it you might need a little more support from them. There are many sites like Up Work , Freelancer and Fiverr. I have used Fiverr and tend to pick a developer who has more than 10 decent reviews. (in fact i have 2 i use all the time as they know me and how often i change my mind!) So far, and you can judge it from my later apps, I have been very pleased with the work i have gotten back.

With Fiverr they don’t pay the developer until you sing off on the project so it is also worry free.

Smart App Creator 3 – currently unavailable

I would put this in the ground between applications like corona and unity and the drag and drop applications like AppyPie and TinyTap. It is still drag and drop but it is a little more in depth than the previous two and a little easier to use than the first two. There is no coding skill needed, and has been used by students to make applications. You can produce apps for both app stores, which is a whole other article as there are pitfalls and difficulties with that. It seems to have disappeared from the internet but i will leave this here and see if it comes back as its pretty good once you get your head around it. .

AppyPie:

This cloud based app maker does have a free option, but it is for basic apps in HTML5, no option to put on the app stores at this level. The price rises fairly swiftly after that to 36 dollars a month., and even then it still keeps the AppyPie branding, and doesn’t allow you to upload to apple. It is feature rich and the video tutorials have got better, but it is not state of the art and some look a little dated so if your plan is just to make something for the classroom then this might be for you, if you are looking to get something released commercially you might need to look elsewhere.

AppyPie website

Tiny Tap:

This is a multi functional too that can be used by teachers to create applications, and by students for project work. Teachers can use it to make games and online books suited to their specific needs. There are also a huge number of pre-made games and applications. These can be searched by keyword and age to make it easier to find what you need. This is good if you don’t need to put your apps to a wider audience. It is restricted to the templates and features that they provide, and it requires a subscription if you want to monitor student progress. However if you are not a techy teacher this may be worth a few moments to check out. Developers can charge for the content they have made , but there is plenty for free as well. It does offer flexibility, as you can search for a pre-made, make your own or even have students learn by doing and have them make an app for themselves. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube as well. ( i will link one) so you can get access to support pretty easily.

TinyTap Website

Should you do it?

Prob Not

Those are a few options you could consider if you have the creative urge to make an app or a game for your students. I can assure you it is a lot of hard work, especially if you go the Unity direction. However, seeing your app or game being played by students, as you designed and intended is a great feeling, as is your friends and colleagues asking you to use it, and to most people what you just managed to do is one step below wizardry! This is likely the better reward than the monetary one, you might strike it lucky, but the app store is a crowded, crowded place. 3 million apps, the big ones made by multi million ( or billion!) dollar companies tend to top the charts with their teams of developers and huge marketing budgets. You might break through some of those barriers, but its not a quick route and for me to rank in the top 10 for key words like phonics games, or for CVC took the last 2 years, and trust me i don’t make much cash at all from them! Even with those half a million downloads!

Can you make cash from your apps.

In a word, yes, but the question should probably be can you make a lot of cash from them? The answer to that is probably not. I do this as a hobby, its just me, I don’t know personally any other person who does this, though i have met a few through groups or YouTube etc. So for a one person operation i manage to cover costs, cover getting help from a professional developer now and then and maybe get myself a coffee every other day. Be patient and try to improve them and they will get better, but unless you get the next Flappy Bird hit you are not going to be driving that Ferrari for a while yet.

If you get luckier than me please tell me how! If you want anything answered i can try my best, I am a teacher after all, please leave a note in the comments below.

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Free Magic E Online Games list.

Following on from the great response from teachers in having these games in one easy bookmarked place I have made on for Magic or Silent E as well. These games are harder to find it appears so i hope this will be of use as well. I have played them all and as usual they are a mixed bag. I also have one of mine in App and online form and will put the usual links below it. I will be honest though at the time of writing it needs an update in terms of visuals. However it works just fine. I hope they help you to teach this Phonics rule, if you need a board game i have one on my site here as well.

Starfall Magic E Games and Readers.

Star fall have a collection of online readers that target phonics specifically. This game is part of that. It is a simple spelling and word construction game. Students have to spell the short vowel word by dragging and dropping the correct letter, then add an E at the end to make it a Silent E word. The reader that goes with is is called Jake’s Tale and I used it just the other day 🙂 I strongly recommend you to check out all of their website.

Starfall Magic E games

Softschools: Magic E game. Add the missing vowel.

This is actually quite good. It teaches the fact that Magic E makes the short sounds long and focuses the student on that. (which is what we are trying to teach!) it could do with an update, but it is still pretty good. Students have to look at the word and put in the missing vowel. It would be even better if it read the words out as well.

Softschools missing vowel game.

Helpful Games Magic E Match and Wordsearch.

There are collection of very similar games here. Basically they have timed and untimed word searches and matching games all with Magic E. They work, and for a big class they may be of use, but there are more engaging games out there. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder though so let us know what you think as well.

Helpful Games: Magic E games.

Fun for the Brain Magic E Frog Game.

This is a well made game, though it was made with Flash so unless they update you may only have a year or so to play it. You have to rescue the princess who is locked in a tower by solving all the Magic E questions on your way. It is simple but effective and has 4 levels, including recognition, sounds and spelling.

Fun for the brain Frog Magic E game.

SpellZone Magic E Games

There are quite a few games on this page, although all are fairly similar and follow a distinct format. They are there to test spelling. Some are easier to control and i couldn’t work out the shark one, though i get the idea. Students have to spell the Magic E word. It seems to be more for native speakers as some of the words are a little beyond ESL students. However it does allow them to practice reading sentences as well as spelling words. The best one i found was the Against the Clock game, but you might like one of the others. Let us know which one below.

Spell Zone Magic E games

Magic E Mix and Match.

No ads online!

This is one made by us. It has 3 games included to try to diversify the experience. A matching game with words to pictures, a scrambled word game, similar to the CVC games, where the student has to arrange the word into the correct order and a sound quiz where four options are displayed and the word is read out.

It is one of the first i made, and it was made for me to use in the classroom, so it could do with a visual update. However it works fine and I will get round to updating it in the next month or so. Feel free to try it, there are App versions for free as well if you wanted it in tablet or phone form. I will also reduce the number of ads as it is a little over the top at the moment! There are no ads in the online version of course!

Magic E Mix and Match: Apple and Android versions

Magic E Mix and Match: Online versions.

Do you have any online games you can recommend to us all. If so please mention then in the comments at the bottom. Sharing is Caring!

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7 Free Short Vowel and CVC Online Games for Desktop and Classroom…

…That are working!

Following on from the selection of rhyming games post a few weeks ago I have put together a list of short vowels and phonic CVC online games for teachers to be able to easily access in lessons. There are three of mine on there, mainly because, I hope not arrogantly, it seems there are a lot of older games out there that are starting to look very dated. I will let you judge that for yourselves. It has however inspired me to make some more to try to get some better ones out there.

Also as something to note depending when you access this page, the majority of games online like this use Flash, which will cease to work at the end of this year (2020). Mine are built in HTML5 (that doesn’t have to mean anything to you) but it does mean they will work beyond this year. I will revisit this page at the end of this year and double check links. However if you discover one has disappeared just leave a note in the comments and I will get it. If we can keep this up to date it can be a useful resource for all of us!

Short Vowels from Turtle Diary

https://www.turtlediary.com/game/short-vowels.html

This is both a pretty and pretty useful game. It asks students to listen and then find the medial vowel to complete the word. It has pictorial clues as well as the spoken word, however the voice could certainly be clearer. It is big enough to be played with a projector and a white board. It also has two levels the first asking you to listen and put the vowel in and the second asking which vowel completes the word. It is one of the better ones out there for CVC, Vowels and Phonics. It is not just CVC though, it uses words like clock, cash and dust. Just as a heads up.

Word / Phonics Hop and Pop – Making English Fun

Its mine, all mine 😛

https://making-english-fun.itch.io/word-hop-and-pop

Well this is mine so of course its fantastic, at least in my mind. I made it originally as a mobile app, which it still is on both Apple and Android. However i have made an online version with out those pesky ads and uploaded to itch.io. At some point when I work out how I will host it here. You have two games in this, Panda Pop and Birdy Hop ( excuse the names) but before you get to play both you have the choice of what kind of words you would like. I have made 9 different categories, ABC, CVC, Blends, WhChSh, Syllables, Sight Words 1 and 2, Magic E and Vowels. You click on that and then you can go to the game with just those words

Panda pop is easier, it is pop the floating words that are displayed so it can help to build confidence with young learners. Birdy Hop is a little more complex. They have to listen to the word and jump to the correct cloud. I have made a video at the top of this with strummy guitar music so you can check that out as well. I think it works well and i do use it in my school, the online version is well received.

CVC Maker – Crickweb

http://www.crickweb.co.uk/ks1literacy.html#cvcmaker

This is a useful tool for changing the onset and rime of words and to teach rhyming words as well. It allows teachers to change the letters and ask the students to decode the word. It is a flash game so may disappear later in the year, so i am looking to make something similar but a little more updated. Once i have done i will post it here. It has some functionality but i use it mainly as a CVC generator.

CVC Games – Fun Phonics.

https://www.funfonix.com/games/book1menu.php

This is a basic but functional set of games. It has a spelling test, with nice sounding out of the sounds. Students have to spell the word to progress, it also has a matching game with word to picture which words pretty well. It is basic looking and on flash however so it remains to be seen if it is around next year.

CVC Blitz – Making English Fun

I have actually made it prettier since this video.

https://making-english-fun.itch.io/3-cvc-games

Is it bad to put my own games in these type of lists? I don’t know actually, what i do know is that i did actually make them as i couldn’t find ones that suited by purpose and what i needed as a teacher. I put that down to, with no research at all though, the fact that there were not very many Teachers who could make mobile apps or HTML games. Now I’m no expert but i can put together something simple. Which is exactly what i have done here. Three games, a matching picture to words, a quiz that has some long vowel in it but it mostly CVC, and a scrambled CVC game. This is very popular in the USA as an app, i guess for Kindergarten so I’m grateful for that. but it is simple, which in a classroom is a plus point. Again, i have a video of the game play so you can check it out and at some point i will host it on my site, rather than someone elses. I also use this in my year one classes. This again is on both Apple and Android for free.

CVC Scramble – Making English Fun.

Last one in here i promise.

https://making-english-fun.itch.io/cvc-word-scramble

SO this is the last one of mine, and it is a remake of a sentence game i have but with three letter words. Students can have a text hint, a picture hint or a timed mode. They have to rearrange the letters to spell the correct CVC word. It is helpful, in a classroom setting the students watching will shout out the word and be actively engaged while a student plays. Just to be clear though all my phonics games are actually free on Android ( with ads cos you know I gotta eat!) For the life of me i can’t actually remember why it is not on Apple! So if you want a more personal experience for them you can get it for free on Android at least as well. This is the simplest game i have made.

Starfall – Learn to Read.

https://www.starfall.com/h/ltr-classic/

This app is awesome, it has online big board readers for students ( the app is paid) but online its free. So you can run a reading session with Short Vowel Phonics and they also incorporate games that use words from the stories. They go all the way through from AEIOU to the longer vowels and r controlled vowels as well. It really is a good resource for emerging readers and phonics instruction. I use this more than i use my own! As i said the app is paid and has more to it than the online version but the online version is just great as well. The video is from the app, I will make a website screen one later.

If you know of any other decent games please leave a not in the comments and i can add them up here. I aim for this to be a resource so we don’t have to wade through Google every time.

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