• 06 Oct
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    We’ve uploaded 21 BrainPOP movies from our 7 subjects to our popular Youtube channel.

    This means you are free to embed any of them into your school website, VLE, or blog. Here’s our ‘Space Flight’ video as an example:

    There are many different ways to embed Youtube videos into webpages, but try the ‘Share’ section just underneath each video first.

    Share a Youtube video

    You can see them all on our ‘BrainPOP UK free movies’ playlist.

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  • 30 Sep
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    Join BrainPOP in celebrating the accomplishments of this truly remarkable woman and Nobel laureate. 

    Wangari Maathai Screenshot

    Wangari Maathai made a huge impact on her home country in a myriad of ways.

    In this topic Tim and Moby explore how Maathai used her knowledge as a trained botanist and her passion for women’s rights and environmental conservation to effect positive change in Kenya – even putting her own life at risk to do so!

    Maathai’s achievements through her lifetime are numerous and she started early.

    She was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree and was the first woman to become earn the positions of chair of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy and an associate professorship in that region.

    Maathai’s work championing for women and for poor and rural Kenyans, her conservation efforts with the Green Belt Movement, and her work towards political freedom (including successfully running for office herself) earned her the Nobel Peace Prize making her both the first African woman and the first environmentalist to ever receive the award.

    Wangari Maathai Topic Screenshot

    Learn more about Kenya’s history to put Maathai’s work in an historical context and learn about pressing ecological issues like climate change and ‘greenwashing’ in this topic’s FYI.

    In the topic’s activities students must think about Maathai’s work in a political context and consider in what aways she was appealing to her electorate.

    In the graphic organiser students must design a tribute to Maathai in the form of a monument or a statue to commemorate her work on one theme from the following options: the environment, women’s rights, and democracy.

    Wangari Maathai topic screenshot

    Maathai is an inspirational figure and a testament to the difference even one person can make to the world. Explore her accomplishments and the effect she had on both Kenya and the world, what conservation problems are still plague the modern world, and consider how best to honour her legacy.

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  • 13 Sep
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    “A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men.” ― Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

    Roald Dahl 100th birthday

    This year is Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday, and we made a short phizz-whizzing “Moby & the Giant Peach” stop motion animation tribute. We hope you like it!

    And if any of you make a video tribute to any of his books, send us a link and we’ll share them on here.

    If you’d like to know more about the author and his stories take a look at our Roald Dahl video, which also has activities, lesson ideas, and much more.

    Have a jumpsquiffling Roald Dahl day, everyone!

     

     

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  • 05 Sep
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    All writers need a creative jump start every once in awhile.

    Writer’s block can be as prevalent in the classroom as it is in front of an author’s typewriter.

    Sometimes you need to shake things up and encourage students to write something out of their usual comfort zone.

    With that in mind we’ve made some handy and fun writing prompts called Story Cubes to help out. Getting creative with story cubes is easy but first of all you need to make them.

    How to make Story Cubes:

    BrainPOP Story Cubes

    Click the image to start download.

    • Use scissors to cut them out (watch those fingers!)
    • Fold along all the edges and flaps
    • Stick them together using tape or glue on the tabs until you make a cube shape.

    How to use Story Cubes:

    Now you get to roll your new cubes!

    Roll all three (or just one if you like) and use whatever three three images that land face up to build your story. If you don’t like the images you get you can always re-roll!

    All the images are from BrainPOP movies, but you can interpret them how you like.

    Once you’ve made your cubes you can keep them for whenever you want to help creativity strike – they make a pretty nice decoration too!

    The Legacy by Sophie Millward-Sadler is a fantastic example of a student’s story that used BrainPOP’s story cubes for inspiration.

    And finally, don’t forget to use BrainPOP’s Creative Writing Spotlight to help students write their inspired story the best they can.

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  • 26 Aug
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    The summer holidays are drawing to a close and it’s time for a new school year.

    The end of August is always a bit bittersweet.

    The idea of being back at school after a long break, especially for children who’ve just finished primary school and are making the transition to secondary school, can feel intimidating.

    NoteTakingSkillsFYIImage2

    Adjusting back into a learning routine can be difficult, so with that in mind we’ve updated and improved our Back to School movie to help.

    Being nervous is normal

    Being nervous is completely normal and children aren’t alone in feeling that way, especially when moving to a new school.

    For those that are anxious Tim and Moby show a range of appropriate strategies to feel more confident, like asking questions on things you don’t understand and packing your school bag the night before.

    They also discuss techniques to get the most out of school, which can help students focus on what they can do be proactive and make going back to school something to look forward to.

    Set good habits early on

    The movie covers ways to get the most out of the school year like staying on top of your homework, clearing up your desk, and making sure you get the right amount of sleep.

    The importance of friendship

    There are also some ideas to help students make new friends and exploring their interests or discovering new ones, like joining a school club.

    Back to school clubs

    Healthy body, healthy mind

    The Back to School FYI covers often overlooked but key information like preventing back injuries while still carrying around everything you need and interesting facts like Jamie Oliver’s school dinners campaign.

    back to school activity

    Stay positive!

    Finally, the Activities helps students focus on the positives of going back to school and organise their thoughts on how they should properly prepare for going back to school.

    Don’t let back-to-school blues get you down and have a great new school year!

    PS: Don’t forget to be nice to your teachers! They might have back to school blues too! 😉

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  • 16 Aug
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    Reading for pleasure is not just fun it’s also fantastic for literacy and has a plethora of benefits, but it can be difficult to cultivate in some children.

    LiteraryGenresScreenshot3

    An emphasis on reading for pleasure is something the 2014 curriculum for England and Wales and the Curriculum for Excellence Studies both focus on and for good reason. After all, studies have suggested that reading for pleasure has a greater impact on children’s educational achievement than their social class or their family’s wealth and literacy skills in general have a huge impact on social mobility and quality of life.

    It can be difficult to get kids reading beyond what they have to. There’s a few things that can help:

    • Access to libraries
    • Supporting parents and carers to help with their children’s reading
    • Encouraging all kinds of reading (including non-fiction)
    • Children’s book clubs
    • Shared reading initiatives

    LiteraryGenresScreenshot1

    One of the top obstacles to getting kids reading is helping them find things they’ll like – no one likes to read books they’re not enjoying but when you read something you liked but are having difficulty finding other books like it or just you’re not sure what to look for at all it can get really frustrating.

    With the Literary Genres BrainPOP topic students can learn the different kinds of genres and what defines them, why genres are helpful ,and different conventions they’ll find in different genres as well as different techniques writers use to appeal to their target audiences.

    LiteraryGenresScreenshot2

    But it doesn’t just help students talk about literature in their writing and analysis of what they’ve been reading in class it can also help students identify different kinds of genre so they can more easily identify types of books they might want to give a try. Or maybe help them work out that the book they read recently that they really loved was actually science fiction or a thriller – so they know where to look for the next one.

    Students can explore different genres and various well known examples that help define that genre in this topic’s FYI section(and even check out a few in more detail that have their own topics like J.R.R. Tolkien.)

    literarygenres_activity

    And the activities encourage students to think about what they like and why as well as breaking down story conventions from particular conventions into categories – which can help them analyse different books or even to more easily write in that genre themselves!

    I hope you’re ready for the beginning of a literary adventure of epic proportions!

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  • 28 Jul
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    It’s no secret that the Pokemon Go craze has swept the world but did you know that there’s plenty of ways Pokemon Go can generate learning opportunities in the classroom (and out of it!)?

    Pokemon banner 3

    How do you play Pokemon Go?

    Pokemon Go is an augmented reality app (that means the game elements are overlaid onto the real world).

    So when you’re capturing Pokemon you can see them as though they were in the real world through your phone or tablet camera.

    Pokemon - Ratata

    Players walk around looking for Pokemon trying to “catch ’em all” and visit pokestops which are local areas of interest to get items like pokeballs (what you throw at Pokemon to capture them).

    In our home town of Oxford places like Martyrs’ Memorial in St Giles, the Ashmolean Museum in Beaumont Street, and the Bodleian Library are all Pokestops.

    Players also pick a team to be on (red = Valor, yellow = Instinct, and blue = Mystic) and can compete for control of pokegyms for their team.

    The aim is to discover and capture as many of these creatures as you can, and add them to your Pokedex.

    pokemongoteams

    But how can Pokemon Go be useful for learning?

    We took a deeper look and discovered there’s a lot of beneficial ways that it can be adapted for learning.

    Let’s catch ’em all!


    Pokemon Go lesson ideas by subject

    There are many different ways Pokemon Go can be used as a way to spark interest so jump to a subject:

    Maths and Data Literacy

    Science

    English

    PSHE

    Geography and Local History


    Maths and data literacy lesson ideas using Pokemon Go:

    There’s a lot of data in the Pokemon Go app. From the journal tracking game play to data on individual pokemon’s height and weight there’s a variety of data available to players (and it’s data that they’re interested in). It’s a great opportunity to practice data literacy skills.

    • Students could track the height and weight of different pokemon and compare them within species and type. Students could even work out different pokemon’s BMI.
    • Students can track their ‘seen’ and ‘caught’ statistics for use in data handling activities.
    • Students could track on Google maps where they’ve caught pokemon and look for patterns. Different types of pokemon spawn in particular kinds of areas. For example water type pokemon spawn near bodies of water. By tracking this data and looking for patterns they could check the veracity of this.
    • Students can track their pokemon data in apps like Airtable to practice their database and spreadsheet skills.
    • Students could track their routes and distances and work out the most efficient routes to different pokestops.

    Some example BrainPOP topics to improve their data literacy skills:


    Science lesson ideas using Pokemon Go:

    While Pokemon themselves aren’t real creatures (physically, at least) they can be an excellent segue into talking about ecosystems in the real world.

    • Where students have encountered Pokemon they could think about different biomes and ecosystems. If these pokemon existed in the real world where would they be most likely to be found?
    • Pokemon Go uses GPS to track players location. Interest in the game creates the opportunity to discuss how GPS and satellites work.
    • Pokemon “evolve” as a form of levelling up. How does evolution in Pokemon differ from real evolution?
    • While playing the game, have students look around, ask them what kinds of animals and plants can they see in the area and explore local habitats.
    • Bioethics – Pokemon are captured and removed from their habitats and most are then transferred to Professor Willow (the character who asks players to capture Pokemon to begin with). Students could investigate the ethics of this practice and whether it would be allowable in the real world.

    Some example BrainPOP topics:


    English lessons ideas using Pokemon Go:

    Pokemon Go encourages imagination and adventure and this spirit can be easily harnessed for creative writing and information writing.

    • Encourage students to write stories about their adventures catching Pokemon. Students could employ digital storytelling by using video editing software and apps such as Thinglink as way to extend the mobile learning experience.
    • Students could write a newspaper article about the Pokemon Go phenomenon.
    • Students could write a manual explaining how to play Pokemon Go.
    • Students could write a diary entry using information from the app’s journal feature to chronicle their game avatar’s experiences.
    • Create a comic strip about Pokemon – either by hand or digitally using a variety of comic making apps like Strip Designer.

    Some example BrainPOP topics:


    PSHE lessons ideas using Pokemon Go:

    • Create a poster showing what online safety and information privacy issues related to the game and what guidelines players should follow to stay safe.

    Some example BrainPOP topics:


    Geography and local history lesson ideas using Pokemon Go:

    • Use Pokestops to discover your local area. Examine and research local areas of interest that have been designated as Pokestops and use them as a way to discover your local area.
    • Create a guide to the locations of different Pokestops and include why it’s an area of interest to local history.
    • Write a proposal for a new Pokestop in your local area and justify why you think it should be a Pokestop.

    Some example BrainPOP topics:

    Good luck catching them all!

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  • 21 Jul
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    We love the BrainPOP UK app and we’re humbled that other people do too.

    But did you know that it’s fantastic for app smashing as well?

    App smashing with BrainPOP

    PS: For general tips on using our app check out ICT subject leader (and seasoned BrainPOP educator) Dawn Hallybone’s guest post Why you need to go mobile with BrainPOP and take a look at our ‘Get Mobile’ page to learn about the app and how to get it.

    Anyway, shall we get smashing?

    apps-image

    What is app smashing?

    App smashing is imaginatively combining multiple apps in a creative way – or “smashing” apps together.

    Instead of using one app to deliver a learning experience, app smashers use the best elements of multiple apps and combine them.

    A good example of app smashing would be combining a camera app, a collage making app, and an interactive image sharing app like thinglink (that lets you add things notes and music to photos) to create a presentation on a topic.

    A key to app smashing is the camera roll – taking photos and screenshots from other apps and then using those images to create something new is often the basis for successful app smashing combinations.

    Using the BrainPOP UK app in class

    What kind of apps can I smash with BrainPOP?

    One of the favourite ways I’ve seen the BrainPOP app smashed with another app is with an ebook creator app.

    Step 1: Students use the BrainPOP app to research a topic and take notes in a notepad app, like Evernote

    Step 2: Then combine their research notes and screenshots to make an ebook on the topic.

    Step 3: Publish the ebook and share it with classmates and parents.

    Not only have they made an ebook that can be used for summative assessment, the act of creating the book helps with information retention, and has the added bonus of being a great revision tool as well!

    Check out this guest post by John Quinn from Hilton Primary Academy for details on how he used BrainPOP and Book Creator app together in his class.

    moby_mobile

    Here are some other great ideas we’ve come across:

    • Creating your own RSA animate type video using this tutorial and research students have done on BrainPOP (including screenshots!) Don’t forget to check out our concept mapping and digital animation topics to help you get started.
    • Creating concept maps with apps like MindMeister using BrainPOP for research and screenshots.
    • Using enhanced note taking apps like Evernote and Notability are great for recording students’ thoughts while using BrainPOP (and for practising their note-taking skills).
    • Students making their own Tim and Moby style videos using Explain Everything. They can even use this Tim and Moby letter graphic organiser to get started.
    • File sharing apps like Dropbox are essential for collaborative projects so students can share notes, images and screenshots to use in their projects.

    For more great examples of different ways you can app smash take a look at Why app smash? by Richard Wells.

    Lastly, don’t forget to experiment and to think about apps that you and people you know use frequently – there’s usually a good reason for their popularity which could be incredibly useful in class once you start to explore ideas.

    Have a smashing time, everyone!

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  • 08 Jul
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    This week is a big week for NASA and for Jupiter as the Juno mission has arrived at Jupiter after five years of travel!

    NASA’s pretty busy and has a lot of cool projects so you might be wondering why this particular mission is a big deal – after all it’s no robot on Mars right?

    Juno_in_front_of_Jupiter (1)

    Juno is only the second spacecraft to orbit Jupiter. Because Jupiter has no solid surface and because of the immense pressures any craft that descends into the atmosphere would be crushed.

    The giant planet also has hugely destructive radiation belts that wreak havoc with sensitive scientific equipment and one of the main ways NASA is dealing with this problem is to use a unique “polar orbit”.

    This means that to get close to Jupiter, Juno entered orbit from near the poles – where the radiation is weakest to begin its 37 orbits of Jupiter. This is a actually really difficult manoeuvre as they had to be incredibly precise as the opening they were aiming for is only tens of kilometres wide so it’s an amazing achievement!

    output_Wt8iOH

    What is Juno Looking for?

    “Juno is not only going to help us better understand Jupiter, it’s going to help us better understand the universe around us and our place in it,”

    – Barry Maulk, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

    Jupiter is primarily composed of hydrogen and helium, gases created when the solar system was very young, which means Jupiter was most likely one the first of the planets to form in our solar system.

    Because Jupiter is made up of the same material as the solar nebula that was leftover from the formation of our sun it could hold clues about the early history of our solar system and give insight into how planetary systems develop.

    Jupiter is pretty mysterious so NASA is also hoping to investigate its atmosphere, magnetosphere, and what it’s like inside Jupiter.

    Juno Fun Facts

    • Juno will collide into Jupiter at the end of its mission as part of NASA’s planetary protection principle to make sure there’s no accidental contamination of organisms from Earth to another celestial body. In this case they’re worried about contaminating nearby Europa which is theorised to potentially contain life!
    • You can get involved with the Juno mission by voting on where Juno’s camera should point during its science orbits!
    • Juno has a crew of custom Lego minifigures made of space-grade aluminium. The minifigures are of Galileo, and of Jupiter and Juno from Roman myth.

    LEGO-space-minifigs

    • Juno is also looking for water – this will help scientists work out whether Jupiter formed close to where it is now or whether it moved outward over time.
    • Why is it called “Juno”? Juno was Jupiter’s wife, who also had the ability to see through clouds which is exactly what the probe is going to do!
    • Juno has a plaque dedicated to Galileo that is inscribed with some of his writings from 1610.
    • The total distance Juno has travelled from launch to entering Jupiter’s orbit is 2,800 million kilometres.
    • Juno is the first mission to fly 3D printed titanium parts
    • Juno is the farthest solar powered spacecraft from Earth
    • When arriving at Jupiter Juno was travelling at over 150,000 kilometres per hour making it one of the fastest human-made objects ever.
    • Juno will cover 2.8 billion kilometres over its voyage – if it were a commercial jet than it would take Juno 342 years to complete its journey!

    Talking about Juno in the classroom

    NASA is great at providing fantastic resources to help students and the public engage with their missions and Juno is no exception. Here’s a few highlights that are worth a look:

    For background on Galileo, Jupiter and other information to help students understand the Juno mission these BrainPOP UK topics are really helpful:

     

    You can find BrainPOP’s space related topics here and experiment with launching your own spacecraft in class with GameUp’s Fly to Mars game here.

    Finally, one of the most inspiring things I’ve seen NASA do was the travel posters they made for various celestial bodies in our solar system. All of them were fantastic but the Jupiter one below was just jaw dropping.

    Having students make their own Jupiter travel posters based on what scientists predict Juno might find out about Jupiter is a great way of getting them to think deeper about the information with the added bonus of some extra fun and creativity!

    Jupiter_nasa_space_poster

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  • 28 Jun
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    Sun protection is incredibly important.

    Summer is here (well, sort of) and it’s time for sun screen to make its annual appearance in our kids’ school routines.

    SunProtectionQuestion6Image

    Show children why sunscreen is so important

    Different schools have different policies for sunscreen use but parents and the children themselves are often responsible for sun protection during school hours.

    So, unless parents can pop into school to reapply sunscreen at lunchtime, it’s imperative to explain to students (and sometimes parents) how important it is.

    This is why we made a Sun Protection movie, to explain why it’s vital and what students can do to protect themselves.

    Sun Protection

    Moby’s top tips for school compatible sun care!

    • Just because it’s cloudy or rainy doesn’t mean you’re safe from the sun’s rays! UV can penetrate cloud cover so you may still need to use sunscreen. It’s worth checking the UV index for the day, perhaps using an app like World UV which was created by the British Association of Dermatologists and the Met Office. It even tells you when the rating is high enough that they recommend applying sunscreen.
    • Try different sunscreens to find the best fit. Light, hypoallergenic sunscreens are usually the best choice for kids but there are different application choices like sprays and wipes. Wipes in particular are great to use for school as they’re quick and easy plus you don’t have to worry about them being heavy or spilling in their bags.
    • You need to apply more sunscreen than you might think – you should apply two teaspoons of sunscreen to cover your head arms and neck for an adult! For children obviously this depends on age and size but it’s usually best to apply more than the bare minimum.

    SunProtectionScreenshot1

    • Encouraging students to have sun screen buddies to help make sure sun screen has been applied properly. This helps speed things up and makes sure it’s applied properly. We’ve all forgotten to put it on our nose before!
    • The best practice for applying sunscreen according to dermatologists is to actually apply two layers – one 30 minutes before going outside and once again just before. Applying it twice might take some extra convincing but as students are less likely to do a thorough application first time it can really boost their protection.
    • Covering up helps protect you from the sun but it doesn’t help protect you as much as you might think – UV rays are really good at getting through to your skin. For kids that are out in the sun a lot or are particularly sensitive to the sun UV protected clothing can be a good idea.
    • Sun protection is important regardless of where you fall on the Fitzpatrick scale for skin tone! Sun screen is important for everybody.
    • Hats are more than just stylish – they’re useful for protecting heads and necks from the sun.

    dna

    So, enjoy what sunshine we have this year but enjoy it safely! (And with the right hat, stylishly!)

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