25 fun, free and fabulous edtech tools and resources to try in your primary classroom

Each week in our newsletter we highlight a favourite free or low-cost app/tool/resource/piece of software that we think might be useful or fun in your classroom or school. We regularly round them up here on the blog.

We’d love to hear what you think about them if you give them a go, and any others you’d like to share.  Catch up with all the tools in Give it a try, part 1 , part 2, part 3 , part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8part 9, part 10 , part 11,  part 12 ,  part 13, part 14part 15 and part 16

Don’t want to wait for the roundup? Sign up to our newsletter to get a new ‘give it a try’ in your inbox every Thursday lunchtime.

Pet portraits

The latest fun tool from Google’s Arts and Culture is a machine learning algorithm that matches a photo of your dog / cat / tortoise / goldfish with their lookalike from tens of thousands of great artworks (the goldfish might be pushing it…) Then Pet Portraits invites you to tap on your result to learn about the stories and artists behind each artwork. Find out more from Google and the BBC.

Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices

This collection of twelve five-minute Netflix episodes features prominent black celebrities and artists reading children's books from black authors that highlight the black experience. It aims to spark child-friendly conversations about empathy, equality, self-love and antiracism. Bear in mind it’s US focused.

This Climate Does Not Exist

Thanks to Cliff Manning's More Than Robots newsletter for highlighting this visualisation of the climate crisis using Google Streetview. Put in an address – your school, for instance – and the algorithm produces an image of the location affected by flood, wildfire or smog. It’s important to note that this is an exercise in provoking thought (which it certainly does) rather than an exercise in climate prediction. The site notes, “there is no correlation between the consequence chosen and the address entered”.

Is Earth’s inbox full?

How many emails are you hoarding in your inbox? This neat, witty visualisation, Thanks in advance, highlights the impact on a personal, national and global level and suggests ways to take control of your personal data storage to make a real difference to our collective energy consumption.

earth

Continuing our series of ‘give it a try’ resources that shine a light on the climate emergency, earth is a brilliant visualisation of global weather conditions forecast by supercomputers updated every three hours. Move the globe and double click to zoom in. There are more keyboard shortcuts listed, along with more detailed information about the data, in the ‘about’ section.

Appvent

This annual treat from Mark Anderson (@ICTevangelist) offers “a daily dose of edtech inspiration and ideas throughout the month of December”. This year he is joined by guest editors from Global Edtech with their own suggestions of apps, tools, ideas and reviews.  

GCHQ Christmas Challenge

Each year GCHQ’s Christmas card contains a festive brainteaser, and this year it comes with a twist as the seven fiendish puzzles have been specially designed for 11 to 18-year-olds. The card sets a not-so-secret mission through a set of puzzles which increase in difficulty as you move through the challenge. GCHQ director Sir Jeremy Fleming has also recorded a special good luck message for schools.

Wordle

Daily free web-based brainteaser Wordle has been hard to miss on social media since the new year but we’re also hearing stories of teachers using it as a class challenge, which is a nice idea. Here’s some background on what on earth all the fuss is about, an insight into how linguistic theory can help, and spare a thought for its overwhelmed creator.

Emoji Translate

Lots of fun and some great learning to be had with Emoji Translate – type a sentence and see how it looks with emojis! Thanks to @ICTmagic for sharing this.

Test your historical knowledge

Oh my goodness, this is simple but compelling (and educational). Place digital cards on a timeline in date order to test how much you know about when historical events happened. You’ve got three lives – see how long a streak you can get. Try it now

Join the Coldplay dance party

This might seem unlikely but Coldplay has teamed up with Code.org ‘to celebrate the intersection of technology and music’. Code.org is inviting users to code their own dance to Coldplay’s song Higher Power. Code.org and Coldplay will spotlight the most creative projects on social media, and one classroom will be selected to have a video call with the band.

Minecraft’s Active Citizen

The Nobel Prize and Minecraft have teamed up to create a new Minecraft world, Active Citizen, designed to be used in the classroom. Students journey alongside Nobel Peace Prize laureates to solve problems and learn key skills, then bring their vision of a more democratic, peaceful world to life in a final Minecraft build challenge. There’s a curriculum developed with the Nobel Peace Center, including videos and discussion guides on the laureates, and a rather long intro video.

More Minecraft

Last week we highlighted Minecraft’s new Active Citizen project with the Nobel prize, encouraging problem-solving and democratic thought. Now Minecraft has announced a new English Language Arts Pack, created in partnership with the US-based National Writing Project. These 10 lessons for Minecraft: Education Edition focus on world-building and engage students in a game-based learning experience to help them learn about the writing process.

The True Size

Do you know how big the world really is? This useful tool attempts to tackle the distortion introduced by the Mercator projection – the popular projection commonly used to represent our spherical world on a flat piece of paper.  One of the most common criticisms of the Mercator map is that it exaggerates the size of countries nearer the poles (US, Russia, European countries), while downplaying the size of those near the equator (the African continent). Here, you can search for and drag and drop countries to get a sense of their real size. Explore the True Size

Play in the Pandemic

This is a nicely done online exhibition from the Young V&A drawing on the work of the Play Observatory, which collected and researched children's play during Covid-19. The exhibition highlights how children across time have relied on art, design and performance to make meaning out of personal and global crises, and includes a range of creative activities for children and adults to do together. Explore the exhibition

PlayPhrase

Described as ‘the site for cinema archeologists’, this is a fun way to search for specific quotes from thousands of movies and TV shows. Type in a phrase and the site will return five phrases for each search for free (before asking for sponsorship). You can also download the clips. Important to note that some clips may contain swearing! Here’s an explainer and the site itself

Incredibox

We saw Incredibox, a music-making tool, being used at Arnhem CLC in the Netherlands this week and it’s well worth a look. Part game, part tool, it’s an interactive beatbox app that’s addictively fun and easy to use. There’s a free version to try. 

Twitter things

We’ve got a Twitter-themed Give it a try for you this week with a couple of excellent threads to make the most of the site (while we still want to).

The first, from @TessaRDavis offers six advanced search features. Did you know you could search for tweets with a certain level of popularity (such as number of retweets, favourites or replies)? Or filter for specific kinds of tweets, such as those with images or links in them? Nope, us neither.

The second, from the blind activist, freelancer, gamer and history PhD @BlondeHistorian, is an incredibly useful guide to how to add alt text to your images in Twitter and why it matters. Packed full of suggestions and top tips, this is a great intro to a very important topic.

Earth 2050

Explore the future – 2030, 2040 or 2050 – as seen through the eyes of futurologists, scientists and internet users from around the world. Select one of the decades and see what’s predicted  for different cities and countries: what will happen to our planet, what our lives will be like, what jobs we will have, what we will eat, and more. There are also some artist-created 360 views of what they think locations will look like in the future.

Get more from Google Docs

Many of us now regularly use Google Docs for easier working and collaboration but do you know all the features and tools that can help you work more effectively? Wired suggests seven ways to work smarter in Google Docs, from making use of the dictating function to various shortcuts and jumping straight into video calls. 

Handy voice and video tools

Following last week’s Google docs productivity tips, here are a couple of handy tools that may also save some time and offer opportunities for creativity. Revoice uses AI to turn text into audio and has 14 voice ‘skins’ to choose from. Unscreen aims to replace greenscreen with a simple, automated way to remove backgrounds from video. 

Five digital games

With half-term just around the corner, we’re feeling playful so it was great to see this article in the Conversation highlighting research into the benefits of playing digital games for children of all ages, from pre-schoolers to teens. Even better, it suggests five digital games that are not only fun but also support development, from creativity to attention. 

Nrich: pattern and structure

We emphasise pattern finding and making in our approach to computational thinking with young children (check out how it works with songs and gloves in the playground!) and we like this pattern resource from Nrich. It features lots of tasks to help you develop learners' awareness of pattern and explore mathematical structures. 

Where can I go with maths?

This interactive quiz from the children’s commissioner encourages children to think about which areas of maths they enjoy and then matches them with careers suited to their skills and interests via more than 50 career profiles of role models who use maths or maths skills in their work. 

If the World were a Village

We recommended one of Nrich’s pattern resources a few weeks ago and we also really like this suggestion of an activity for Refugee Week, based on data from the book If the World were a Village. It comes with notes for teachers. Thought-provoking. 

Book now

Summer primary school computing conference

14/06/22,
09:15
- 15:30

This event will build upon the Autumn computing conference by inviting subject leaders to reflect on their year in the role, sharing their successes and challenges. It will also introduce new ideas, tools and approaches through talks and practical activities led by members of the CLC team, with opportunities for attendees to share their own expertise and experience. Over the course of the conference activities will touch on the three main areas of the computing curriculum: computer science, digital literacy and information technology. We will also feature advice and examples illustrating the use of technology to support blended learning.

Does your school need a sustained programme in the use of digital technology to underpin your whole school aims and plans?

Our support package covers the following:

Professional learning

Teacher professional development which puts digital at the heart of teaching and learning

Pupil workshops

Engaging, practical workshops for your class, in your school, at our Clapham centre online

Creative technology projects

Engaging, immersive educational experiences with corporate and cultural partners

Consultancy & advice

Get tailored support from our expert team of teachers and technologists

Technology loans

Kit for every classroom

Book a call
with James

Upcoming CPD

Summer primary school computing conference
Summer primary school computing conference

This event will build upon the Autumn computing conference by inviting subject leaders to reflect on their year in the role, sharing their successes and challenges. It will also introduce new ideas, tools and approaches through talks and practical activities led by members of the CLC team, with opportunities for attendees to share their own expertise and experience. Over the course of the conference activities will touch on the three main areas of the computing curriculum: computer science, digital literacy and information technology. We will also feature advice and examples illustrating the use of technology to support blended learning.

14/06/22,
09:15
- 15:30
EYFS, KS1, KS2
Computing subject leaders, Teachers...
Creative Arts, Digital and children – CLC meets More Than Robots online
Creative Arts, Digital and children - CLC meets More Than Robots online

Combining forces for the first time, the Connected Learning Centre and More Than Robots have created a session for teachers, youth organisations, researchers and policymakers interested in the digital provision of creative arts for primary aged pupils.

Presentations

The Play Observatory - Prof. John Potter

“In their own words”: Westminster Abbey & CLC digital projects - Sian Shaw

Building (and maintaining) a city-wide primary arts curriculum to raise attainment - Kate Fellows

More to be added soon

This interactive and inclusive meet up will include inspiring examples of how technology can be used to support learning in music, visual art and drama in person and online at home drawing on our experiences as Tate Exchange associates and our partnership work with a range of cultural institutions.

This informal event is an opportunity to discuss real examples of what does/doesn’t work, meet colleagues from other sectors working on similar challenges and share useful research, news or updates

The morning will include case study presentations (details below) followed by a Q&A. There will also be an opportunity for a rapid sharing round for launches, project updates or requests for help and a short break to avoid zoom brain drain.

24/06/22,
09:30
- 11:30
KS1, KS2
Subject leaders, Teachers...

Upcoming Special projects

The News Project
25/11/21,
09:30
- 14:25
KS2

Special project in collaboration with First News Education

For a third year, building on two successful previous projects, we are once again partnering with the children’s newspaper First News, fellow member of the national Making Sense of Media and News Literacy networks. This special project with a literacy, PSHE and citizenship, as well as computing focus, highlights our specialist interest in this important aspect of digital and critical literacy.

The News Project will enable participating classes from year 5 to immerse themselves in news and current affairs using First News and the Bett award-winning First News iHUB, which will be provided free of charge during the school-based part of the project over a six week period. Under the guidance of their teacher, pupils will be supported in their development as a community of fully informed news readers. Classes will test their new critical skills and knowledge in the culminating virtual celebration event which will include a news competition and team-based critical literacy and editorial activities. After the event, schools will be able to use the resources from the day in their school.

The project will launch with an introductory CPD session for teachers to set the context, demonstrate resources and to plan for the school-based activities. 

Initial CPD session - Thursday 21st October 4pm-5.00pm. 

Project work undertaken in school - October and November.

Special event - Thursday 25th November 9.30am-2.45pm.

The Garden Museum
21/02/22,
-
KS1

The CLC is once again partnering with the Garden Museum to offer a partnership project for KS1 pupils (primarily suited to Yr2). Located next to Lambeth Palace on the bank of the Thames, the museum has an inspiring collection that provides the ideal stimulus for young learners to explore the world around them.

Pupils will use technology alongside the museum’s collection to explore the wonderful world of seeds.

  • How are they planted?
  • How do they spread?
  • What is inside them?

 The Garden Museum has a large collection of seeds and tools that pupils will engage with.

These half-day sessions will take place at the Garden Museum.

There is a limited number of dates available, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

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