GradesK to 8
Be aware: recently, this site started to offer certain features of the Teacher's Lounge to "members only." Membership is FREE, but does require an email address. The link for students does NOT require membership to access the interactives, information, or printables. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.
In the ClassroomThere is SO much to look at and explore, so browse through the offerings, create a plan for your students based on their age and ability level, then mark the site as a favorite on classroom computers. Upper elementary students can use it as an independent learning center. Younger children may need help with some of the text, so consider using an interactive whiteboard or projector and exploring the activities as a class. Click on "Downloads" on the bottom left to find printables, including coloring sheets of Canadian wildlife and various ecology-related worksheets and lesson plans. Click on the 'games and activities' tab and use the interactive whiteboard or projector for whole class eco-minded fun. ESL and ELL teachers, don't miss the 'teacher' section for a cache of activities written for your ELL/ESL students. Interested students will use this one for hours, so some directions will be important for classroom use.
Grades3 to 12
In the ClassroomNavigation of the site is rather simple. Once you put in your own name, there are buttons on the bottom right and left side of your "name box" to "add" an additional family member or "edit" the current name. Once you click to "add" a member, you are able to put in their name, birth date, death date, marital status, and email address (see safety concerns). One tip: to scroll UP use the DOWN arrow, to scroll DOWN use the UP arrow.
This site allows users to set-up their family tree as PRIVATE. It allows you to control who can and can't view your profile, family tree, and other information. For more information about this feature, visit the Privacy link (on the bottom bar). Before you plan your family tree project, be sure to get parental permission. You may want to use this tool with first names and last initials and keep email addresses out of it for safety's sake.
Use this site to create family tree projects in elementary or middle school classes. Have high school students create family trees as part of a unit studying immigration patterns in social studies classes. In science class, have students create fictitious "people" as they study genetics. With younger students, create a class "family" sharing important dates for individuals (i.e. birthdays) or to teach vocabulary and spelling of family terms, such as "grandmother" and "uncle." Have students share their family trees on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Be sure to "advertise" this project on your class website (and newsletter, if applicable) so students have time to gather names, birthdates, and other information about family members. In world language classes, have students create a family tree using the correct vocabulary for relatives and talk about it (in their new language!) as they share it on the interactive whiteboard. When researching famous people, reading biographies, or even reading literature, have students create a family tree illustrating their discoveries about their famous person, writer, artist, musician, explorer, literary character, etc.
Parent permission advised before posting student work created using this tool
Includes Interaction w general public/ public galleries with unmoderated content
Includes social features, such as "friends," comments, ratings by others
Requires registration/log-in (WITH email)
Products can be embedded
Products can be shared by URL
Grades1 to 6
In the ClassroomTake advantage of this free site. Share the interactive games (which are called "games," but are highly educational) on your projector or interactive whiteboard. Have students work with a partner and explore the "games" that relate to your current science unit. Why not save the site in your favorites on classroom computers or your class web page, so students can easily access the site. You could use these interactives as a learning station. Use the PDF activities in your class. They are easy to follow, offer step-by-step instructions, materials lists, and more. You could set up science centers focused on each of the activities.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomFCS and health teachers can use this site for student research or scavenger hunts about the heart. The recipe section would be great for FCS classes learning to plan healthy menus. Health/PE classes studying life habits and disease will find lots of information on cardiac conditions and prevention.
GradesK to 2
In the ClassroomThe possibilities at this site are endless. Make your first stop at the Parents and Teachers link. You may find a lesson plan or even short video to share with your class. Be sure to save this site in your favorites. Explore this site with your students on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Set-up learning centers using this website. Students may want to explore this site during independent time when other work is complete. You may also want to list this site on your class website (or on your class newsletter, if applicable).
Grades4 to 12
tag(s): dinosaurs (57)
In the ClassroomUse an interactive whiteboard or projector to effectively show and discuss the dinosaur dig and museum to your class. This Smithsonian website also features a fossil lab slide show if your students crave to learn about this branch of science. Have your students research different types of lesser known dinosaurs and create interactive presentations to share with the class. Rather than a presentation about the research, have students write a fictitious blog post from their researched dinosaur to a large animal of today (such as the elephant). What characteristics do they share? What makes them different?
Teachers of gifted students-- even younger ones-- will want to steer their dinosaur-obsessed students to this site for independent projects.
Grades8 to 12
There are some advertisements on the site, and students should be cautioned not to click on these. Many of the activities at this site require Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.
In the ClassroomHave groups of students view different topics through the periodic table to view the trends and offer explanations why. Teams of students can then present to the class and provide practical examples for understanding. Include this link along with other online periodic tables and ask students to decide which is the best tool to help them understand major chemical concepts.
GradesK to 7
In the ClassroomView the movies to gain background information and learn basics. Share the interactives and video clips on your projector or interactive whiteboard. Use related lab activities or research to to reinforce the topics with hands-on experiences.
Grades2 to 8
In the ClassroomUse the information on the site as background information for additional research. The glossary feature will allow students to create individual dictionaries of new vocabulary as they read! The pronunciations allow ESL students to learn new vocabulary as they follow current events. Students can divide into groups to take an area of the world and use the site to gather information about that region for presentation to the class. Have the groups create a multimedia presentation (video, PowerPoint, or blog) to share their findings. Use this site to determine issues that seem to be affecting more than one area of the world. Use the question of the week to research possible solutions and debate or vote as a class.
Grades5 to 10
In the ClassroomUse portions of this site as an anticipatory set in your science or math class. The information is simple to understand and would be useful for students struggling with a topic. Use the site for research about specific topics. Have teams of students explore each of the "sub-topics" within the main topic and then create an interactive presentation (Powerpoint, video, or wiki) to share the information with their class. Why not list this link on your class website, so students can access the page both in and out of the classroom.
Grades2 to 6
tag(s): insects (69)
In the ClassroomUse this site for research projects as you study insects, arthropods, and more. Share the interactives on your projector or interactive whiteboard. Have students use the Putting it Together option to create a Powerpoint to share with the class. Create a class wiki to correspond with the Backyard Science activities completed at home. Have students share their experiments and findings on the class wiki.
Grades6 to 12
Membership is free and has many perks. You are able to comment and/or grade the video clips or even submit your own video. Registration does require some personal information: a username, password, email address, and date of birth. ALL USERS MUST BE OVER 13-years of age! Check with your administrator about allowing the students to register for this site using fictitious names. You may wish to set up a class registration instead of entering true data into the registration site. Another option is to create a free Gmail account to use for memberships. If you plan to have students register individually, you may want to create your own Gmail account with up to 20 subaccounts for each group of students (by code name or number) within your classes. Here is a blog post that tells how to set up GMail subaccounts to use for any online membership service.
Warning: not all videos are suitable for the classroom. Be sure to preview what you wish to share. If you choose to allow your older students to navigate this site on their own (for research or a class project), be sure to set boundaries on which videos to watch, consequences for going elsewhere, and WATCH CAREFULLY! Some videos explain "how to" do things that are unsafe or inappropriate for school-ages audiences. Wonder How To does include unobtrusive advertisements. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.
In the ClassroomUse these fabulous "how to" videos for informative writing projects in speech, science, or even with your gifted students. The site does provide excellent research. You may want to link directly to the specific videos you want students to see in order to avoid other, less-desirable options. Share the "how to" videos on an interactive whiteboard or projector as an anticipatory set for a new lesson. For a final project, have students create and submit their own "how to" video using YouTube or using a tool such as SchoolTube (reviewed here).
Grades1 to 5
To post or comment on the message boards, you must register. Registration does NOT require an email address. They do ask for your first name and last initial, but students could create fictitious names. Or you could simply direct students to stay away from the message boards. At the time of this review, the message boards were all relevant and appropriate. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.
tag(s): halloween (40)
In the ClassroomThis is a fantastic addition to your unit on food chains, animals in general, bats, or even Halloween or Fall fun! Have students work on investigate teams to read through the information at the website. Project the interactives with your interactive whiteboard or projector, if individual computers aren't available. Create a class wiki to discuss various types of bats, what each team learns about bats, and other research that is conducted.
Grades2 to 6
In the ClassroomThere are five possible topics to explore at this site: if you are learning about the layers of the earth, plants, fish, respiratory system, or the atmosphere, use this site to review the terms learned during your unit. This site could also be used as an introduction to a new unit. During science class, have students explore this site on individual computers. Allow students to choose which topic they wish to "label." Don't forget the headsets.
GradesK to 6
tag(s): birds (50)
In the ClassroomInclude these photos when discussing or introducing a life cycle unit or as a story prompt for students to tell the tale. These photos also provide helpful examples for measurement. Have primary students locate items within the classroom that would equate to the same size as the birds. Have students compare various measurements with those of the tiny birds.
Make your own class wiki, telling the tale of a bird's nest on your window sill or a classroom animal in photos and writing. After seeing this site, students will know how to show sequence through photographs and can add their own paragraphs to explain what they see.
Grades3 to 9
tag(s): agriculture (54)
In the ClassroomExtend simple instruction on plant growth and needs with this easy to use game. Use the game to discuss the importance of the Food and Fiber system to our way of life and agricultural concerns of today. Students can identify various points in the game to use as a springboard for further investigation and discussion. Visit a farm or invite an agricultural cooperative extension agent to speak to the class.
Grades1 to 12
Once registered, you click to create a quiz. Then you are asked to choose between a personality quiz or a scored quiz. This site offers extraordinary details. At the scored quiz, you are able to provide a title, tags, description, and choose the type of questions (multiple choice, essay, or fill in the blank). It is simple to insert images, change font styles, insert links, and even score the online quiz. You can create a pass/fail quiz, a graded quiz (with YOU determining what qualifies as an A, B, etc..). You are also able to set a time limit, issue a certificate of achievement, and fill in the possible total score.
Once students have taken the quiz, immediate feedback is provided (including a scale of all participants, the correct answers, final score, and grade). This is a fantastic tool to use to create online quizzes!
Caution: this site does include some minor advertisements. At the time of this review, all advertisements were appropriate. But it would be wise to advise students NOT to click off of the quiz onto any of the advertisements or links.
This site includes advertising.
tag(s): quiz (84)
In the ClassroomUse this site to create online quizzes. Create a quiz as a review to share on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Have students take the quiz independently or in cooperative learning groups. Have students create their own quizzes to use for review or as a final project. Embed your quiz (or provide a link to it) on your class website.
Grades1 to 4
In the ClassroomShare this site on an interactive whiteboard or projector to introduce the activity to your class. Then have students work with a partner to build a caterpillar. Have groups write about their choices as they work through the activity and print their results to discuss with the class or post on a bulletin board (there is a print button at the end of the activity).
Grades2 to 5
In the ClassroomBring your students up-close to the food web by using this website and your interactive whiteboard or projector. Have students research each animal ahead of time (a quick study of their eating habits). Then have students work on teams (or as a class) to connect the correct animals to create the food web. Extend the activity by having students create a web of their own from scratch using clip art or free images from Flickr or PowerPoint.
Grades4 to 6
This site offers a variety of interactive elements (online quizzes, interactive maps and diagrams, and other learning exercises). Some of the pages do have advertisements, but they are not distractive. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.