Digital Ways to Celebrate December Holidays

Included in the Digital Ideas Advent Calendar with a new idea each day!

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love. – Hamilton Wright Mabie

Students are excited about the holidays and celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or their school break. Get them learning and celebrating with digital devices, web tools and apps. Students can write digital stories with the resources listed below or  create very meaningful gifts for friends and family members. They can also discover how others around the world celebrate. Discover how in the slide presentation below you can download for free. Keep scrolling to discover my bookmarks with free apps, tools, and ideas.


Host a Google HangOut or Skype Session

  • Connect with another class virtually and teach each other songs, carols, finger chants, or rhymes
  • Host how-to sessions about traditions or recipes
  • Interview experts
  • Have an author read a holiday story. Find available authors at Skype an Author
  • Find classes to connect with on Skype for Education

Create a Game
Students can create personalized learning games for peers or family members. Try game creation tools like Zondle, Stencyl, Scratch, Adventure Games or create a game on the iPad with TinyTap and Game Press.

Celebrate with Music
Students can modernize the lyrics to the 12 days of Christmas or any holiday song, then create a music video. Try Touchcast.

Celebrate a Digital  Book
Students can create digital books. Check out my post, Creating Digital Books as Gifts for Others, to discover lesson ideas, web tools, and mobile apps for making digital books.

Send a Holiday Greeting
Students can send a special greeting either through video, with personalized pictures, or with a holiday e-card. Some are equipped with Christmas and Hanukkah backgrounds and extras!

  • Buncee (Web/iOS)- Students can use this web tool and IOS app to create multimedia presentations, comics, and animated greetings. Buncee has a large library of stickers, backgrounds, audio, images, animation, and videos. Try their new free iPad app to create multimedia digital posters they can add voice recordings and drawings.
  • Animoto  (Web/Android/iOS)- Upload images, pick a template, and choose a holiday soundtrack from their library to make a 30-second video. Sign up for an educator account to create longer videos for free.
  • Magisto (Web/Android/iOS)- Upload images, pick a template, and choose a holiday soundtrack from their library to make a 1 minute video. Sign up for an educator account to create longer videos for free.
  • Fotobabble- (Web/iOS)-Quickly create and easily share talking photos in 3 steps (Snap or select or a photo, speak into the microphone to record audio, share with friends via email, Facebook or Twitter). You do get various holiday themed backgrounds. Example- Here’s Rosco, my pug’s holiday card to you!

  • RedStamp (Web/Android/iOS)- send free e-greeting cards with various free holiday templates in the spirit of Hanukkah and Christmas and upload your photos

Challenge: Have your students celebrate the holidays digitally.

If you enjoyed these ideas, you may want to get your copy of The 30 Goals for Teachers or my $5.99 ebook, Learning to Go, which has digital/mobile activities for any device and editable/printable handouts and rubrics. Subscribe for FREE to receive regular updates!

December Holiday Bookmarks

Included in the Digital Ideas Advent Calendar! Scroll the image below and each day discover free web tools, apps, and resources.

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Making an Impact with Problem / Project Based Learning

Included in the Digital Ideas Advent Calendar with a new idea each day!

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. – Einstein

Our learners are creating, inventing, and problem-solving with digital devices in order to change the world. Unfortunately, too many students who transform the world often do it outside of school, on their own time, and find that their principals and teachers do not support them, because their projects aren’t part of the curriculum. Instructional methods like Genius Hour, the Maker Movement, and STEAM allow teachers to meet high learning standards while supporting innovation. Find an example of students transforming the world in this post, Kids Transforming the World Through Social Media. We have the opportunity to implement problem/project based learning and teach our students how to use web tools and social media to solve real world problems. It’s learning that shows results in a meaningful way. Below, I have included the steps of the process, bookmarks for tools and apps that support PBL, and two presentations to help you get your students transforming their world with digital devices.

Overview of the PBL Process

These are 4 basic parts of a PBL lesson with digital devices. I have highlighted these steps using Valerie Burton’s lesson, Teen Advocates Fight Against the Drop-Out Rate.

  1. Problem
    1. Introduce the problem
      1. Make it a powerful story that engages them or strikes an emotional chord.
      2. Ways to introduce the problem- through a blog post, show a video, take them through a case study, analyze an infographic, or have them play an online game or simulation. Valerie introduces the problem on her blog. In addition, students play a game at to learn about the drop-out rate.
      3. At this point, give students their mission with guidelines. Valerie’s mission is, “Create a website that hosts videos, blog posts, comics, PSAs, etc. to help decrease the dropout rate at our high school.” Keep it short and simple so students understand the task. You can include the solution product or leave that open and allow them to decide how to solve the problem. Most teachers will have a solution in mind, such as develop a safety poster or create a PSA.
    2. Give students time to reflect on the problem in pairs or groups. Find a variety of brainstorming tools here,
  2. Problem Research
    1. Options- Interviews, surveys, wikipedia, web quests
    2. Various online tools-
    3. Teach digital literacy, evaluation of online resources, bookmarking, curation, and annotation
  3. Solution
    1. You can give them the solution and guidelines when you introduce the problem. Examples may include, create a digital campaign or poster, make a Public Service Announcement (PSA), create an online game, create an ebook, organize an online project, create an advertisement, make a video, develop a product, design an app, host an event, create an infographic, or create a social network! Alternatively, you can give them a list of solutions to choose from like Valerie did.
    2. Generating solutions- in pairs/groups, students brainstorm possible solutions and the steps involved in implementing the solution
    3. Implementation
  4. Presentation
    1. Students present the solution, reflect on the process of implementing the solution, and discuss it’s impact
    2. Find various online presentation tools listed here,


Try implementing problem or project based learning using one of these tips.

If you enjoyed these ideas, you may want to get your copy of The 30 Goals for Teachers or my $5.99 ebook, Learning to Go, which has digital/mobile activities for any device and editable/printable handouts and rubrics. Subscribe for FREE to receive regular updates!


Included in the Digital Ideas Advent Calendar! Scroll the image below and each day discover free web tools, apps, and resources.

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Inspire Learners to be Kind: 50+ Resources

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Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change. – Bob Kerrey

This week is Kindness Week. People worldwide are spreading kindness through random acts of kindness. Valentine’s Day is also this week. These events make it an ideal time to inspire our learners to show kindness, compassion, care, love, and gratitude. These skills are important for their development and necessary to be successful in life. I am sharing activities, resources, tips, web tools and mobile apps that  will help your students spread kindness and care. These activities also ignite their creativity and integrate literacy skills.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

Spreading Kindness

We can teach our students how to show kindness in simple ways. Giving a smile or leaving a nice comment on a social media post are quick ways to make someone’s day. Here are more ideas on how to teach kindness:

  • Make an advent calendar in which everyday you suggest a small way for your students to be kind. Here’s a post and template on how to make an advent calendar with Google Docs and ThingLink.
  • Here’s an online Acts of Kindness advent calendar that emails you suggestions or take ideas from a previous version.
  • Better yet, have your students create their own calendars in which they commit to showing kindness for a week. After they complete the act, they should write a short reflection and post a link to it on their Thinglink advent calendar.
  • Here is a lesson plan I created to get your students to keep a Random Acts of Kindness journal that they later pass on to another student. They also give a presentation on the experience.
  • Inspire them with this 6 minute 40 second presentation (Pecha Kucha) about Kindness. A business student shares how performing random acts of kindness transformed her life.
  • You could get students to post videos, images, audio, or posts that exemplify kindness on a sticky wall like Padlet or LinoIt.
  • Show them any of these videos of kids performing acts of kindness and have them brainstorm ways they can be kind to others. They can add these ideas to a class cognitive map with Popplet. Popplet also has a free IOS app.
  • Have students create a school campaign to inspire others to spread kindness. They can create multimedia posters with Buncee, Smore, Biteslide, Glogster, or Blendspace.
  • They can create a podcast about various acts of kindness. They can invite people around the school to share an anecdote then piece these clips together with an audio editor like Garage Band or Audacity. Find lesson templates and more information in this presentation about podcasting.
  • Read to them a story about kindness and have them share when someone was kind to them or when they witnessed kind acts. They can share these stories on Voicethread or make digital stories with StorybirdZooburstFotobabble, orLittle Bird Tales.
  • If you teach older students, have them adopt a younger class. They can pair up with the younger kids and teach them something new, read them books, or play games with them.

Valentine’s Day Resources

Students can create meaningful Valentine’s Day greetings with free web tools and mobile apps. Check out my webinar recording filled with activities and resources or this guest post, 14+ Activities and Resources for Celebrating Valentine’s Day.

  • Students can make their greetings extra special by designing them with origami! Discover how to make hearts, boxes, and more.
  • Students can create coupons that help the recipient in some way, such as help a peer study for a test, make lunch for someone, or do a chore.
  • Students can use mobile and web based apps such as Buncee,  Fotobabble, or Animoto to send Valentine’s Day messages. These are free and have templates related to the holiday.
  • Pic Collage (Android/IOS)- Kids can create photo collages of their best memories with a friend or relative. They have many frames and stickers to choose from that are related to Valentine’s Day.
  • Yakit for Kids (IOS)- This app allows kids to upload or take a picture with their mobile device and animate it with stickers, googly eyes, and other fun props. They draw mouths on their images to narrate them. There are many props for Valentine’s Day. They will love creating these for their friends and family. You can have multiple slides.
  • Chatterpix for Kids- (IOS)- Kids can upload, take a picture, or draw with their mobile device. They draw a mouth and add the voice to make the image speak. They can add text, stickers, filters, props, and frames. They only get one slide. Check out Rosco the Pug’s example here.
  • Kid’s Fingerpainting Valentine’s Day App (IOS)- Kids can choose to color 15 pages or create their own Valentine painting. They can choose frames, up to 15 effects, and personalize their masterpieces with messages. Activity ideas- Use this app to send greetings to family members who love when kids draw and paint.
  • Scrap Pad Valentine-s Day (IOS)- upload your photos to create a digital scrapbook with templates, background, stickers, and more. Activity ideas- students can create a memory book of adventures with friends, relatives, or a pet
  • Valentine Videogram (IOS)- Choose from 3 fun characters and backgrounds and create an animated video message. Activity ideas- Students send a greeting to another classmate with a kind message about what they like about them (make sure all students receive a greeting) or simply send to relatives
  • Cupid Booth Valentine-s Day (IOS)- upload your photos and decorate with speech bubbles, stickers, personalized messages, and more. 
  • RedStamp (IOS)- send free e-greeting cards with various free Valentine’s day templates and upload your photos.
  • Holiday Cards by Sincerely (Android/IOS)- send free e-greeting cards with various free Valentine’s day templates and the ability to personalize
  • Discover more free mobile apps in my post, 15+ Apps and Activities for Valentine’s Day.
  • Valentine’s Day Sites and Activities by Cybraryman
  • Best Sites to Learn About Valentine’s Day by Larry Ferlazzo
  • Reasons for Buying Flowers- Great Lesson Plan by Jamie Keddie

Other Resources


Inspire your students to perform at least 5 simple acts of kindness and reflect on the experience.

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Check out over 50 of my bookmarks on PearlTrees.

Vday Resources in English Language Teaching / Shelly Sanchez Terrell (shellyterrell)

Check out all the apps in my PearlTree.

VDay Apps in Vday Resources / English Language Teaching / Shelly Sanchez Terrell (shellyterrell)

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Colorful Learning with 20+ Web Tools & Apps

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 4.56.09 PMIncluded in the Effective Technology Integration category

Drawing and coloring are great ways to get students to brainstorm about a topic, organize a group project, or contribute scenes to a digital story. For young learners, drawing and coloring offers them a way to learn patterns, symmetry, and develop motor skills. Below is my recent slide presentation with lesson ideas, free web tools and apps. After the presentation, you’ll see the bookmarks. Just click on the title to visit that link. There are over 25 links! Keep scrolling. Here’s a recent article I did on the topic, 25+ Ways to Create Colorful Learning Experiences for Kids.

Drawing & coloring webtools & apps


Try one of these resources with your learners.

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Are Your Students Digitally Safe? 15+ Resources

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Included in the Digital Tips Advent Calendar and part of the Effective Technology Integration category

“We all need someone who inspires us to do better than we know how.” ~ Anonymous

Technology has changed the way we interact with the world and each other. Our students are participating in rituals that are vastly different than our experiences. Being connected and sharing information about their personal lives is a part of their social exchanges and norms. They are expected to be connected and they are expected to share and they are sharing more than in the past. According to a Pew Study, published in 2013, 91% of teens reported posting a photo of themselves on social networks, 71% had posted their school name, and 71% had posted the city or town where they live (Madden, Lenhart, Cortesi, Gasser, et. al., 2013).

Unfortunately, many schools worldwide do not allow learners to bring their devices or participate in social networks. Many schools ban access to Youtube, Facebook, and other social networks. Additionally, most curricula does not include teaching digital literacy or online safety. This means many of our learners have not learned how to properly communicate or behave online, which has lead to cyberbullying, sexting, etc. Below are a few ideas and resources to help you teach your learners about digital safety.

Multimedia & Visual Resources

Online Safety Games

  • Webonauts Academy- As new recruits to the Webonauts Internet Academy‚ on a satellite space station‚ players are sent on a training mission on planet Bambu. While there‚ they encounter a mysterious enemy‚ The Great Static‚ who is set on stealing the Bamdudes’ cookie recipe (they are the best cookie makers in the Universe). During the course of the game‚ players receive on-the-job training and help the Bamdudes and save their cookie recipe!
  • Netsmartz Kids- Various adventure games to teach Internet safety
  • Safety Land- As Captain Broadband you must rid the town of a villain who is spamming people with messages. Seek out the villain, answer quiz questions, and earn points.
  • A list of more cyber-safety games


Get your students to reflect on their online behavior.

31 Days of Digital Tech Integration Tips

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