Sunday, January 22, 2012

Penguins! Penguins!

I am obsessed with my newest app. It's like reality TV with animals! Pocket Penguins is a FREE iPhone app, but works just fine on my iPad as well.  The California Academy of Sciences streams the Africa penguin exhibit in real time, and the user has the ability to switch between 3 live webcams. These penguins immediately captivated my son and me! We had fun predicting which penguin would jump in the water next or wondering why two penguins started fighting.

The iTunes description mentioned live feedings at 10:30 am and 3:00 pm, California time. Sure enough, just a minute or two after 5:00 pm in the Midwest, live sound came on and two employees started talking to the crowd and answering questions. We could see one biologist get in the water and hand feed the penguins. This Q & A show lasted about 15 minutes and the penguins were very active at this time! We checked in the next day at the earlier time, saw and heard different trainers and learned even more facts about penguins. I am not sure this is a 24/7 app, though. The underwater camera seems to be dark later at night. I assume the lights are off in the exhibit then.

I started investigating, trying to find other apps like this.

I took a chance and downloaded the Pocket Zoo HD app for $1.99 I was excited because it has 17 animals webcams from around the world. It seems some are just still shots, though. Due to time zone differences, all 17 webcams are not all on at once. The meerkats were fun to watch, though, running around, quite active. The camera quality was not the best on some these web cams. But since Japan is pretty far away, I will cut them some slack! I was a little disappointed, especially since it was a PAID app, but my son was not. We are definitely going to give it another try at a different time tomorrow!

I found the San Diego Zoo app, and downloaded it because it was FREE. In the Media section, there are 3 webcams to choose from: Panda, Ape (which is an orangutan) & Polar Bear.  The camera quality was pretty good.  I haven't spent too much time with this app yet (cute penguins taking all my time!), but I'll let you know how it compares.

This reminded me of a super duper Livebinder I saw once over at this awesome blog: Check out all these resources for webcams in the classroom!

Now, here comes the fun part - integrating these apps of webcams in your classroom! Where are they a natural fit? Science, and the study of animals, is an obvious answer. Can we be creative and bring them in other ways as well? One idea I am toying with comes from the Visible Thinking website mentioned on the Tech Transformation blog . I am new to these strategies, but I think I could incorporate it in this open-ended way: After watching the animal(s), students would discuss/write/draw:

   • What do you see?
   • What do you think about that?
   • What does it make you wonder?

Any ideas out there for other webcam uses? Any other resources, websites or apps you would recommend?


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Thank You for the Award!

I am so excited that another blogger found my little blog and liked it enough to give me a Liebster Award for up and coming blogs with less than 200 followers! (I'd say 3 is definitely less, tee hee!)

Thank you Betsey Dixon over at
Be sure to check out her blog, I think it looks like another fabulous resource!

Here are the rules for the Liebster Awards:

1. Copy and Paste the award on your blog.
2. Thank the giver(s) and link back to them.
3. Reveal your Top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

Now, I get to pass the award on to 5 deserving "baby" is getting late now, so I don't have 5 yet...but so far...

1. Marcie at 2nd Grade Learning Safari

2. Heather at Swinging Through Second Grade
Swinging Through Second Grade

3. Mrs. Lirette's Learning Detectives


I Tried Sqworl!

Have you heard of Sqworl? is one place you can go to organize your favorite websites in one place. What I like about Sqworl is that it includes a visual of the home page of the website you marked. I think for our little students, who might not be able to read as well, this would be helpful. I bet those student would likely remember what their favorite web page looked like. I also like that this set of websites is then given a short URL. You only need to bookmark this ONE website address in your lab or computers in your room, or share this ONE website address with your parents.

Check out my Sqworl for storybooks on-line! I think it could be used during a literacy block, in a listening center or during the Daily 5!

Hope you find this helpful!