• 15 May
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    ICT is now “Computing” in the 2014 curriculum and there’s been a huge shift in focus toward teaching programming, but knowing where to start isn’t that easy.

    In fact, it’s pretty safe to assume that there’s lots of grown ups out there that need introducing to computing. The changes to what is now the computing curriculum can seem a bit daunting, especially if you don’t have any prior experience.

    With how busy teachers are these days it’s hard to find time in the day to find new resources let alone teach yourself a whole new skill-set which you then need to try and teach!

    So are YOU ready to embrace your inner geek? We are! Let’s do this!


    Thankfully programming isn’t as scary as it looks and, if you’re a native English speaker, the hardest thing you’ll have to do at first is learn to make yourself write in American English (as that’s what most programming languages use). It’s probably best not to have a cup of tea during your first few sessions of programming, so you don’t splutter into it in indignation and cover the keyboard in tea (it takes ages to clean it properly).

    How do I get started?

    It’s best to focus on the basics. Like when you first learned to read or to speak another language getting a solid foundation to build upon will stand you in good stead.

    You didn’t start off in French classes learning how to have a political discourse in classic French, so starting off with the programming equivalent of “Où est la bibliotèque?” while not particularly exciting is definitely wise.

    In terms of programming this means getting an understanding of the basics of:

    • What a programming language is and how it works
    • Programming key terms
    • Basic programming logic

    So what tools can you use to get your head around computer programming?

    First off to get a good idea of what it is and what it’s got to do with the box you mostly watch cat videos on. These 3 BrainPOP videos will give you a grounding in how computers work and the basics of what a programming language is, what it does, and why it’s useful. Just sit back and watch.

    1. Computer Programming

    BrainPOP UK - Computer Programming

    This BrainPOP topic covers what programming languages are, the basics of how they work, and the types of things they can be used for.

    2. Computer

    BrainPOP UK - Computer Topic

    This BrainPOP topic explains all about the hardware in your computer. What the different parts are, as well as the fundamentals of how they work and communicate. Having a basic understanding of the anatomy of your hardware makes it a lot easier to understand programming otherwise it can be a bit like trying to understand how you move your legs without knowing about muscles and bones.

    3. Binary

    BrainPOP UK - Binary Topic

    No, you haven’t fallen into “The Matrix”, this BrainPOP topic introduces you to the “language of computers” and how computers use binary to represent and store data. 

    How can I actually start coding?

    Okay so we have our overview of what a programming language is, the anatomy of a computer, and how a computer communicates, it’s time to actually start programming!

    Probably the easiest way to get started is to solve some puzzles using programming rather than actually try to start writing something from scratch – the equivalent of sounding out phonemes while learning to read rather than trying to write an essay right off the bat.

    There are a few different (free!) programming games on BrainPOP you can get started with for adults the best one to start with is probably Sketch Racer which is very reminiscent of LOGO, but if you’re particularly fond of puppies or sci fi then maybe Tynker: Puppy Adventure or Tynker: Lost in Space might be more your speed.

    Tynker - Lost in Space on BrainPOP

    The fantastic thing about these games is that they’re very beginner-friendly – they start slowly and build on your knowledge incrementally. If you make a mistake you can see almost right away and correct it easily (and, even better, no one will know you made a mistake either.) These games are a really solid way to get an initial grasp on the fundamentals before you get really stuck in.

    Some people just get on better with a more physical approach to learning and adults are no different. This lesson idea to get across how “instructions” work in programming is great in class but also for adults as well, all you need is to grab a friend, spouse, or particularly amenable family dog to get started.

    I’ve done all that so what do I do next?

    There’s a few different resources you can use to deepen your knowledge and really get to grips with programming and what you go for depends on what you want to get out of it. If you’re a Key Stage 1 or 2 teacher wanting to start teaching the basics to their students then resources like Scratch, Tynker, BBC Schools, Code Club, CodeHour of Code, and Raspberry Pi are all great places to explore.

    Key Stage 3 or more precocious students might also enjoy resources like W3 Schools – a platform for coding to build websites, Learn Python – a python programming language learning resource, Khan Academy and Code Academy.

    If you’ve discovered you really like coding and want to get more involved yourself then National Coding Week (coming up in September 2015) is a great place to start. If you can’t wait that long then your local library is a good place to get more intensive programming language books and online resources like Khan Academy and Code Academy have easy to use resources and helpful communities.

    Happy coding!

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  • 05 May
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    This year is a very special year for one of the most important documents in history, the Magna Carta. 2015 marks the 800th anniversary of its first signing on 15th June 1215 at Runnymede.

    The Magna Carta is such an important part of both British and world history we created a BrainPOP UK Magna Carta topic.

    Magna Carta Screenshot

    More than an old piece of paper

    The Magna Carta established for the first time that absolutely everybody, including the king, is subject to the law.

    Although it was heavily changed within ten years and almost all of the document’s clauses (in fact only three class are still part of English law!) have been repealed, it’s still a cornerstone of British law. Because of its use to regulate the power and authority of the sovereign, it’s even sometimes considered the foundation of democracy in England.

    And it’s not just had an influence on British law either. Parts of the Magna Carta are echoed in other important documents from around the world such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the E.U. Convention on Human Rights, and the U.S. Bill of Rights.

    In our ‘Magna Carta’ BrainPOP movie you’ll learn about the origin and impact of one of the most important legal documents in history. See how King John, that infamous, 13th century monarch, pushed his country just too far and how the barons of England finally revolted against his unbearable taxes and extravagant expenses. Tim will explain some of the rules contained in the Articles of the Barons, the origin of the Magna Carta, that King John was forced to sign. The right to a fair trial, freedom of travel, and private property all started here!

    Other useful free resources to bring the Magna Carta to life in your classroom:

    • This website dedicated to the Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary is a great place to start.
    • If you’re a state primary school you should have received your souvenir copy of the Magna Carta and a pupil guide that the Magna Carta Trust sent out at the end of April. They’ve even put together some free activities and lesson plans. You can find the Magna Carta Trust’s other resources for schools here.
    • For lesson ideas on how to tie the Magna Carta into citizenship lessons on democracy and rights the government has put together some good resources that you can find here.
    • The Magna Carta Project brings historical investigation into the 21st century with their digital resources – great for students doing independent research. Alternatively they also have resource packs for Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3.
    • The British Library’s Magna Carta resources put it in its historical context but also looks at rights today and brings up the debate topic of whether we need a Magna Carta of digital rights.
    • The BBC’s “Taking Liberties” history collection collates digital resources on the Magna Carta as well as other politics and liberties topics such as women’s suffrage from all over the BBC so you can find them in one convenient location.
    • The English Speaking Union‘s infographic-style timeline on the Magna Carta is worth a look and their competition for 11-18 year olds is worth an entry – students are invited to create their very own Magna Carta for the 21st century.

    The Magna Carta changed Britain and influenced some of the most important political documents in the world, and it’s just as well it did because otherwise we wouldn’t have the democracy we have today and could have a very different kind of monarch…

    BrainPOP UK - King Moby


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  • 05 Sep
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    Have you noticed an amazing new addition to some of our Topic pages?

    Lesson Ideas button

    New for Autumn term 2013 we’ve started the process of adding BrainPOP Lesson Ideas to each Topic. Look for a “Lesson Ideas” button on a movie page and click it to see the associated lesson support.

    The Lesson Ideas for our Credit Card Topic

    These ideas were provided by teachers from all over the world, based on successful classroom practice. Each one provides one or more lesson frameworks, a way to use our resources to create an engaging learning experience. Some Lesson Ideas will cross over multiple topics but we’ll be adding many more over the coming months.

    The age ranges, ideas and activities are quite broad and intended to be flexible. You could follow a Lesson Idea to the letter or adapt parts of the plans as you see fit.

    We’ll also be looking for NEW Lesson Ideas soon, so if you have any BrainPOP based Lesson Ideas you want to share with us please keep them safe and sound.

    Here are 7 Topics with new Lesson Ideas to get you started:

    Arts: Mozart


    English: Similes and Metaphors


    Humanities: Humans and the Environment


    Maths: Adding and Subtracting Integers

    Adding and Subtracting Integers

    PSHE: Credit Cards


    Science: Human Body


    Tech: Internet Search


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  • 15 Aug
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    Many school websites and blogs will be starting up or getting a refresh this summer. It’s a perfect time to add a POPbox!

    Our “POPbox” is a free embeddable BrainPOP movie player that displays the daily free topics and resources. It’s perfect for a bite size learning opportunity. See the example below.

    It changes every day of the year and often ties into historical or global events.

    A few of the reasons schools have embedded our POPbox into their website…

    • “To promote my kids to watch your videos and encourage them to do the activities related, in a easy way for them to learn english while enjoying.”
    • “To promote safer internet day and for a class assembly.”
    • “For my students. We are studying the structure and function of leaves right now.”
    • “I use brainpop everyday in my room and think it would be fantastic to have it directly on our website!”
    • “We are trialling this in KS2 class and also starting to blog so to combine the two would be cool.”
    • “I want to get our school to subscribe to BrainPOP, and have the featured movie on the main student homepage to encourage students to go on the main website and look up stuff that interests them!”

    And a few examples of where some schools and teachers have placed it…

    Greenfield Primary School blog screenshot

    Use a POPbox as a visual reminder for staff and pupils that the school has access to BrainPOP

    Parkfield 2 Minute ICT Challenges

    Set as a daily 2 minute exercise

    Raff's rant blog

    Incorporate into your teacher blog

    Shinmin Junior High screenshot

    Add as part of a link bank on your website


    Embedded into class and student blogs

    PS: If you run a self hosted WordPress blog you can add our POPbox as a plugin: http://www.brainpop.co.uk/blog/request-a-popbox/popbox-wordpress-plugin/.

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  • 31 Jul
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    We’ve added a new feature to BrainPOP UK’s Activities which makes them even more interactive. You could already type on them and now you can draw on them too!

    To see the new drawing tool in action, take a look at the screencast we’ve made showing how it works below.

    What are the Activities and how might they be used?

    Activities are worksheets related to a topic that extend and reinforce the learning. They can be found underneath every movie.

    Every Activity consists of at least a vocabulary sheet and often extension worksheets such as:

    • Literacy based “Complete the Passage” tasks where students must fill in the gaps in a written passage about the topic
    • Practical design and technology tasks such as “Design It” which include designing logos or building a bottle rocket
    • Graphic Organisers to help students structure their work
    • Higher order thinking tasks such as “Think About It” which can serve as good topics for essays

    Space Flight Activity

    As well as being able to print out the Activities and fill them out by hand students can also type directly into the screen and then print off their completed worksheet to be handed in or glued into their exercise book.

    And a brand new feature of the Activities is the draw and erase tool which allows students to use the mouse to draw straight onto the Activity and erase any of their mistakes with the eraser tool.

    BrainPOP UK Actvities drawing tools

    This means Activities that involve crossing out, circling, drawing etc. no longer have to be printed and done by hand. Students can just use the drawing tool and then print out the finished worksheet!

    BrainPOP UK Adjectives Activity

    To access drawing mode all you have to do is click the pencil at the bottom left of the activity then draw onto the page with the mouse. Click the eraser tool to rub out any mistakes. If you want to switch back to text mode then all you have to do is click on the capital T and click where you want to type as usual.

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  • 27 Mar
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    Adding a shortcut to your computer desktop is a simple way to provide quick access to the BrainPOP UK website. It can be replicated onto every school computer too.

    To help we’ve designed a colourful “Moby” desktop icon set that can be used on any Windows or Apple Mac machine.

    Simply create the desktop shortcut, link it to www.brainpop.co.uk and then replace the icon image with one of our specially designed images.


    Step 1: Download the right icon file for your computer (download the .zip file to your computer and unzip to somewhere the icon file can be permanently stored)

    Step 2: Create the desktop shortcut

    (Subscribers have the option of requesting an “automatic login link” that not only takes you to the BrainPOP UK website but automatically logs you in at the same time. If this is something you’d like please get in touch.)

    Step 3: Change the shortcut picture


    This is pretty easy but there’s so many versions of Windows out there it means there’s probably subtle difference between each method. The following method works on Windows XP and is likely translatable to other versions of Windows:

    1. Right click desktop icon > select “Properties”
    2. On the “Web document” tab click “Change Icon” > click “Browse” > browse to wherever you stored the .ico file from Step 1 and select it.
    3. Click OK, then OK.

    Mac OSX:

    1. Open the “Moby-desktop-icon-Mac.icns” file in the Preview application
    2. Select ALL images (should be 6 in total) and COPY them.
    3. Open the info page for the desktop shortcut by hitting COMMAND-I or right click (hold the control key while clicking) on the item to display the context menu and choose “Get Info”
    4. PASTE over the little icon in the upper left corner by hitting COMMAND-v to paste the image
    5. You should see the icon graphic change to the BrainPOP image




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  • 03 Apr
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    We’ve added a new feature to BrainPOP UK this year which will make using our movies even more interactive – whether you’re in the classroom or at home.

    A sizeable number of topics on the site now include typeable and printable activities. And while we aim to have activities on every single topic by September you can rest assured that all new movies we’ve added from March forward are guaranteed to include activities.

    Here are our 5 top tips for classroom and home use.

    1. Thinking ahead 

    All activities are typeable and printable so, while they’re great for kids to fill out on-screen after watching the movie, they’re also a good tool to keep in mind when you’re planning.

    Because activities can be printed ahead of time students can fill them out as they interact with the movie too.

    Here’s a great effort at a “Complete the passage” page from a mini BrainPOPper:

    Completed activity

    Some activities include recall questions, as well as higher order thinking tasks, e.g. “Think about it”. The History of the UK activity sheet above contains a good example:

    Think about it

    This activity could be completed as a whole class but would probably work best in small groups or as homework.

    2. Get organised

    Some activities include creative graphic organisers such as this one from our new Main Idea movie:

    Inverted Pyramid Graphic Organiser

    We also have blank graphic organisers available on the site which are great for you to use in a variety of lessons, BrainPOP and otherwise.

    3. Vocabulary sheet

    Every single activity has at least a vocabulary sheet. You can use these with students before watching the movie to assess prior knowledge, focus attention, or demonstrate understanding. Using the vocabulary sheet helps familiarise students with key vocabulary they’ll encounter in the movie.

    It can also be used whilst your viewing the movie to practice note-taking skills. Remember to pause so students have time to write down definitions. Helpfully, words are listed in the order in which they appear in the movie.

    Here’s an example of a vocabulary sheet from the History of the UK movie:

    Vocabulary List

    4. Hands-on practical

    As well as activities which work on expanding vocabulary, exercising literacy and numeracy skills, we have included activities with a more “hands-on” practical element. For example, our Space Flight topic challenges the student to design a real rocket launch:

    Design it

    5. Time to spare? 

    In addition to integrating BrainPOP into lesson plans, remember that it only takes a few minutes to show a movie and take advantage of those in-between – unplanned – times by transforming them into teaching moments. Our class discussion page provides helpful tips on how to easily fit a lesson based on a news event into the curriculum you follow but you can also rely on activities to fill a quiet five minutes before lunch.

    For example, the Elvis Presley topic features a word search:

    Word Find

    However you choose to use them, make sure to take advantage of the pedagogical benefits available. A quick summary:

    • Activities are typeable and printable
    • Activity sheets are a helpful note-taking tool while watching the movies
    • Activities can be completed either as a whole class on an interactive whiteboard, individually, or in small groups
    • Return to the activity pages after watching the movie
    • Assign activities for homework

    As ever, if you have any classroom tips for how to use activities in lessons, we’d love to hear from you! Email info@brainpop.co.uk with lesson plans, tips and tricks.


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  • 29 Mar
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    One of our most unassuming (but most visited) pages is the New Movies page.

    It simply does one thing very well: it shows you the latest movies to the site. But we think it can do a little more so we’re having a look at how it can be improved (suggestions below please if you have them!).

    In the meantime, you may not have noticed but we upload at least two fresh topics every Monday (we call it “New Movie Monday”. Yes, we know that’s not exactly the height of originality but at least you know what you’re getting). If you’re so inclined follow @brainpop_uk on Twitter as we often tweet when the new movies are live.

    These are movies brand new to BrainPOP UK and come from all the areas of the curriculum. They are each fully fledged topics and come with the wonderful POPquizzes and FYIs you know and love.

    So banish those Monday blues and check in with the new movies page. You never know what awesome stuff you can learn to kick start the week.

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  • 18 Nov
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    There’s been a discreet but powerful new tool added to BrainPOP UK movies: Subtitles.

    If you look at the movie player bar on any movie you will now see an “S” button.

    Clicking this button will show and hide subtitles for that movie. Like this:

    Why have we added subtitles?

    There’s a range of benefits to transcribing the movie and displaying subtitles.

    1. The most obvious benefit is to students with a hearing impairment, or even students at the back of class who may not be able to hear Tim & Moby as well as those at the front.
    2. Subtitles encourage reading – just having the subtitles showing will make the students read without even knowing they’re doing it (stealth reading?). Be default this will improve reading and spelling skills.
    3. We highlight key vocabulary in the movie directly where we can but the subtitles means that ALL vocabulary is picked up and displayed.
    4. Some schools have headphones in their ICT suite and some do not. Or as a teacher you may not want the noise of a movie playing on one machine to disturb other parts of the class. Subtitles mean the sound can remain off, if needed.
    5. Shared multimedia text – the class will be reading the subtitles, hearing the audio and seeing the animation as as a group. This means that reflection or extension work post playing the movie can be confidently delivered knowing the subtitles will have helped everyone to better understand the concepts Tim & Moby are delivering.
    6. Pausing – stopping the action is a tip we’ve promoted before. But with subtitles on you can stop and focus on key vocabulary too, encourage note taking or allow the class to catch up on specific points.
    7. You can turn the subtitles on and off at any point, without interrupting the movie. This means you remain in control of displaying the text.

    We’re sure you will find other ways to use the subtitles to suit certain teaching experiences. If you have a tip or trick of your own please share it below.

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  • 09 Nov
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    We’ve been busy making some oh so subtle yet brilliant updates to the site. So brilliant, in fact, you might think BrainPOP UK always worked this way.

    We’ve improved your topic journey so that now, when a movie has finished playing, not only can you replay it but you can quickly opt to take the POPQuiz or check out the FYI. Especially handy if you’ve just watched the movie on full screen.

    And, we have added subtitles to every single movie:

    The subtitles button is right next to the full screen button below the movie. You can click on it any time during the movie to see the subtitles then, if you don’t want to see them anymore, just click the same button again.

    These two small, but significant, updates should make your BrainPOP UK experience smoother and more enjoyable.

    Think of us as a swanky sports car, if you will…where you receive the newest model without having to ask or pay any more!

    Remember, we are always open to comments and feedback on our site – as we make it for you! Do you like these changes? Would you like to see any other enhancements to your BrainPOP UK experience?  Let us know, either by emailing info@brainpop.co.uk or comment below.

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