App Smashing 


We’ve been working on our save sharks projects now for about 2 weeks. Projects like the ones we are putting together take a lot of time. I only see most students once or twice a week for about an hour or 90 minutes. 

This week we decided to try something a little different. Using Toontastic my students wanted to create news reports about sharks. However, they wanted to add some real video of sharks as well. However, Toontastic does not allow users to add their own videos. So we had to get a little creative.

As you can see from the above photo, we drew a TV in Paper 53 (Our favorite drawing app), then after importing the clip into Toontastic we added a bright green background. After the students finished adding their actions and dialogue we exported the videos to the camera roll. 

We then download a short video clip of a shark swimming.( I did this using a Youtube downloading program on my MacBook) From there is was very easy to import both clips into Green Screen by Do-Ink

With a little clipping here and a little adjusting there our videos were finished. (To get the vidoes from my MacBook to the iPads we use Dropbox)

If you can’t download a video from Youtube you could always make your own using Toontastic or stopmotion.


Toontastic a Story Telling Masterpiece 


Two years ago I purchased my first iPad. I fought back the urge to buy the iPad 1 knowing that the iPad 2 was right around the corner. Immediately, I saw the educational value in the iPad 2. Moreover, at that time I was in the middle of my doctorate course work and I had to choose a topic for my EdD project study. After downloading a few apps and trying them out with my classes I knew I had to spend more time researching and studying this device and how it could impact my teacher beliefs and instructional practices.

Story telling is a bit part of my classroom instruction. English as a foreign language students (EFL) respond more to stories than teacher centered lectures. Therefore, I asked myself how could the iPad be used to enhance story telling in an EFL classroom? I looked at interactive storybooks, simple story telling apps, and other educational apps that were available. However, it wasn’t until I discovered Toontastic from Launch Pad Toys that I knew I had found something special. There is a free version and an all access pass. The free version gives you enough to get to know the great features of the app. However, the all access pass is the way to go. Purchasing the all access pass unlocks all the great features of the app as well as any new updates for life!! With so many app companies trying to strike it rich with in-app-purchases it was refreshing to see a company that was more concerned about putting out a quality product.


Toontastic is a storytelling app which allows children to create cartoons or Toons on the iPad. With a few swipes and taps students select their settings and characters (Toys). Once the characters are selected students can manipulate the characters easily on the screen to tell their story. The app allows children to record their voices as well as the movements of the characters to tell a story. My daughter was four when she started playing with Toontastic. As a multicultural child (Korean and Canadian) living in Korea she struggled with reading and writing in both languages. However, she was very creative and showed this often during play. Toontastic gave her a tool that allowed her to share her wonderful stories with her parents, grandparents, and friends. She didn’t have to worry about writing or reading. All she had to do was put her fingers on the screen and start telling her story.

After seeing the benefits of this app for my daughter, I began to incorporate Toontastic into my primary classes. With only one iPad at the time, I had to work on managing my students’ excitement and teaching them the importance of working together and sharing. This wasn’t a problem because Toontastic is designed in a way that collaborating on story is easy and fun. For example, I usually had two students work on one story. Students would begin by planning their story with a traditional storyboard. Once the planning was completed they would take turns choosing settings and characters for their story. When it was time to record, other students would help my moving the characters as the students read. It would take a few classes to finish one story but the response from students was amazing. In the past it was difficult to get struggling students to tell stories. With limited vocabulary and writing skills tell a story was torture. However, with Toontastic and a little help they could easily create wonderful stories and proudly show them to friends and family.

Sharing Toons created with Toontastic is easy. You have two options. First, you can upload your Toon to the Launchpad website where it is stored in a Youtube like fashion. Students can share links to the stories with friends or they can showcase them from the iPad. In addition, students from all over the world can view the stories from their iPads. The second option, is to export the Toons to the camera roll. This is a new feature that I love. It allows students to edit their Toons and add them to other apps. For example, we often edit our Toons in iMovie, or create screencasts with Explain Everything. Recently we’ve been experimenting with Toontastic and a green screen. With a green screen students can create stories where they can interact with Toontastic characters. With my first grade students we wrote stories in Book Creator and added videos to enhance our stories.


Overall, Toontastic is an amazingly versatile iPad app that is only limited to a child’s imagination. Whether you are teaching children about story telling or creating a movie. Toontastic is a tool that every teacher should have in their classroom!



Shark4Kids is a non-for-profit organization dedicated to “creating a new generation of shark advocates” through a creative and dynamic educational experience. Sharks4Kids is located in the Bahamas. Jillian and the team at Sharks4Kids promote their message through Skype Calls, classroom visits and other out-reach programs.

I found Jillian’s lesson on Skype in the classroom. However, I was worried that because of the 13 hour time difference it would be difficult to arrange a time to talk. I was pleasantly surprised when Jillian agreed to stay up a little later than usual to talk to us on a Friday night her time, Saturday morning our time.

Pre-Skype Call

About 2 weeks before our Skype call with Sharks4Kids I started reviewing information about sharks with my classes. The Sharks4Kids website provided some great videos and even a PowerPoint. Using the PowerPoint and other resources we learned about how much trouble sharks are in and ways we could help them. My students suggested that we should create projects to raise awareness about sharks. I thought this was a great idea and I suggested a few ideas. We are currently working on our projects and I’ve posted a few examples at the bottom of this post.

Skype Call


On August 23, 2014 my students spoke with Jillian Morris a marine biologist and cofounder of sharks4kids. For about an hour Jillian captivated my students with cool shark facts and information about how and why we should protect sharks. My students had plenty of questions for Jillian and she was happy to answer all of them. Even some of the more stranger questions like would sharks eat a bowl of salad? Despite a few technical difficulties my students enjoyed speaking with Jillian. Several parents called and wanted me to thank Jillian for taking the time to speak to their children. As I had hoped, our talk with Jillian inspired my students to work hard on their Save Shark projects.

Shark Projects 

I will continue to update this blog post when more projects come in!


Night Zoo Keeper


On Wednesday July 23, my fourth and fifth grade students participated in a Skype call with the Night Zoo Keeper. Over the course of the 30 minute lesson the Night Zoo Keeper engaged my students with a magical tale of mythical animals that lived in the Night Zoo. In addition, the Night Zoo Keeper instructed my students to draw their own magical creatures based on the key words and phrases we brainstormed together. 

Student Engagment 

I was quite surprised in the amount of student engagement. Originally I had planned to have my first graders participate in the Skype call with the Night Zoo Keeper because I had thought my fourth and fifth graders would find it too childish. However, I was completely wrong. My fourth and fifth grade students were very engaged and eager to show the Night Zoo Keeper their work. Also I believe that because my older class’s have a better command of English, that led to them enjoying the call even more. At the end of the lessons all of my students asked when we would participate in similar lesson!  

Active Listening 

As an English teacher in South Korea, parents depend on me to help students develop their speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. Unfortunately, many English schools still follow a more traditional form of education, which focuses on rote memory and drill and practice activities. In our school we try to make learning English engaging and fun. The Night Zoo Keeper lesson was an activity that not only engaged my students but it also helped them work on their active listening skills. Like I mentioned earlier, the Night Zoo Keeper told the students a story. While listening to the story the students had to listen for descriptive words to guide their drawings. I was quite impressed with my students listening abilities as well as their drawings. 

Overall, I felt this Skype Lesson was fantastic and I would highly recommend it to elementary teachers. I would advise teachers to first introduce the Night Zoo Keeper through their website as well as their two iPad apps. I felt that my students would have enjoyed the lesson more if they knew a little more about the Zoo keeper.