New Challenges!

Hi everyone!  Just popping by on this lovely spring day to bring you some updates!

March has been a month of challenges!  Like many teacher-authors, I have a ton of 'work in progress' folders, but something always distracts me and I get behind on my plans!

This month I got distracted by PowerPoint games!  I think this has probably been my biggest challenge - technically - in a long time, mainly because I have never made one before, had no clue what I was doing and was too impatient to watch tutorials - I just wanted to get started!  
This was a huge mistake!  Lol!  I managed to make a simple game - 'thousands' of hours later with a lot of trial and error, hand wringing, tearing hair out etc - you get the picture!  It definitely was not my finest hour!  However, I am pleased to say I was happy with the finished result, plus amendments via a buyer suggestion.  I have now set aside some time to actually watch video tutorials before I try this again - I have some ideas that I would like to expand on.

Anyhow - this was a simple idea but it appealed to my child-like mind and I hope you will love it too!  This is by no means a unique idea - it has probably been done tons of times, but it was unique to me!

Basically it is a fun, engaging, interactive letter recognition game - what a mouthful!  I have made three games - one for lower, one for mixed, one for upper cases!  
Below is a little video to show the game in action.

So what do you think?  Could you use this in your classroom? 

Letter recognition is important because it enables beginning readers to comprehend how printed text is associated with the spoken language. Having a mastery of letter names can make letter sounds easier for emerging readers.
Experienced teachers agree that effective letter recognition is a fine balance of both explicit instruction of letters and frequent exposure to those letters in multiple forms, both isolated and within text. 
This letter recognition game should not only be fun for the student, but provide repeated practice in recognizing the letters of the alphabet. Students are rewarded with a spinning star and a smile when they identify the correct letters. To avoid students being moved on to the next slide automatically when clicking on a wrong answer, I have had to include sad faces. All clicks are accompanied by some fun audio!  
Once the slide show is set up by the teacher, the student should be able to progress through the game independently. They may require help until they develop confidence in the technical aspects of using the game.
  • This game is also useful for intervention and assessment. 
  • I have intentionally created the game in black and white to allow the teacher to print as a worksheet. Students can cover the correct letters with manipulatives, such as counters. 
As I mentioned before - I have made a game for lower case, upper case and mixed case. 
These can be purchased separately or you can save 20% by buying the bundle. If you click on the image below, you will be taken to my teacherspayteachers store>interactive category where you can have a look at all 4 resources, should you wish to consider purchasing.

The games are for sale on several platforms. I know I have a mix of US, UK, Australian and Canadian followers, so I will always try to provide links to a couple of platforms so you can purchase where you feel most comfortable. I am trying hard to make my resources available to all!

For British English peeps you may want to check out the same resources on TES GLOBAL. Just click the image below and you will find them in my tes store. On this platform, there is a spring sale, so the bundle is further reduced by 25% - limited time offer, so, don't delay!

My second big challenge for March was creating resources for thinking skills - this is not my area of expertise, but I am aware that teachers need these resources for the classroom. I decided to create a small mini-series - 'Think Outside of the Box' - which would include three completely different delivery methods and cover a wide range of the thinking skills we wish to develop in our students.

Today’s students are the problem-solvers of the future. If they are taught factual knowledge only, they tend to respond with conventionally correct answers rather than exploring creative solutions. All students can learn to think critically and creatively.

Students need to be able to judge, analyze and think critically in order to participate fully in a democratic and technological society. This can be achieved if the teacher recognizes the value of thinking skills and provides opportunities for the thinking processes to be modeled and developed.

This ‘Think Outside of the Box’ series provides teachers with straightforward ideas and activities to help students develop these skills.

Just click on the image above to find this resource in my store
In this pack you will find 70 pages of shapes.

Students can: (turn the page in any direction)
  • have free choice to make any picture from the given shape or 
  • be given directions to change the shape into something specific, for example – a car, a house, an imaginary friend, a dog etc. 
When to use:
  • independently during morning work 
  • small group collaboration during circle time 
  • in centers – laminate and provide a dry erase marker

Click on the pic above to see this resource in my store

In this pack you will find 80 quick start task cards – 4 cards per page.
I have provided 3 options for printing.
These ‘quick starts’ are ideal warm-up activities for the beginning of a lesson. They should be used flexibly and can be used in any order at any time. As these task cards are intended for repeated use, I would suggest laminating them for durability.

When to use: (10-15 minutes group/class)

• at the beginning of a lesson
• during circle time


• Brainstorm Task Cards x 8
• How Could You? Task Cards x 8
• It Won't Happen Task Cards x 8
• How Do You Do It? Task Cards x 8
• What If? Task Cards x 8
• What's The Same? Task Cards x 8
• How Many Ways? Task Cards x 8
• Recycle Task Cards x 8
• What's The Connection? Task Cards x 8
• Crazy Combinations Task Cards x 4
• Predict The Future Task Cards x 4

The third resource is almost finished - it will be a series of worksheets. I am so pleased that I decided to create these, as it was another challenge met, but also because this type of resource is badly needed in classrooms - developing these skills in our students is critical.

Again if you would like these resources in British English, you can find them on the links below at TES Global.

Also, as an extra little surprise, if you go to, you will be given £3 credit towards any purchases - isn't that nice?!

Just enter the code: SPRINGSALE17

A very last resource you might like is really a little bit of fun for your hard working students!


So, if you managed to read this far, I just want to let you know that I will be sending out a newsletter tomorrow with a very special offer, so if you haven't signed up yet, please consider doing it now! By signing up you will be given an exclusive freebie, as well as access to my password protected freebie library. You don't want to miss out on this very special offer tomorrow!

PS:  Huge apologies for the wonky formatting - blogger does not want to play ball!!

Making Movies and Video Intros!

Wow - it's March already - my favorite month (when I was born!) and lots of hints of springtime! Very inspiring!  So much so, that I have been moved to add something extra special to my teacherspayteachers store and can't wait to tell you about it!  But first.....

.....I would like to continue with some tips for all you budding teacherpreneurs!

Many sellers reach the stage of trying to find new ways to get their products in front of potential buyers - we all know about making eye-catching pins, not using product covers anymore and so on - the advice is endless and we twist ourselves in knots trying to keep up with it all!  What we try never seems to be enough and we strive to move on to the next 'big' thing that will improve our sales!

The current trend, especially on facebook, is to promote our products via the medium of video. There are lots of great phone apps out there like Ripl, Adobe Spark Post etc - these are great if you want to create 'on the go' and are time poor, but the end results can leave a lot to be desired.  I do like Kizoa and imovie, but I am a bit old school and like to create on my computer.  My preferred desktop app for Windows is Movie Maker.  I love spending time creating videos, but yes, it is not a quick fix!

At this point I need to mention Video Intros - because I have started creating these to sell on TpT!  I am very excited about this new project, but I know it has left some of my seller friends scratching their heads!  They suggested I write a blog post explaining what they are and how to use them, however I felt that this was impossible to do without first explaining how to make a movie/video which would allow you to also insert a video intro - confused much?! Read on for a tutorial.....

Movie Maker Tutorial

1. Organize Your Files

Before starting your project it is a good idea to organize all the files you'll be using for your movie. It is advised that you do the following:
  • Identify, sort, and save all the files you'll be using in a single file folder, preferably with separate sub-folders for images, videos, sound effects, music, etc. 
  • Re-name the individual files according to their order of use in the project 
  • When the files have already been imported to a Movie Maker Project file (*.wlmp), DO NOT move these files to other locations. 
  • DO NOT move the main file folder (and sub-folders) of the imported files in the project. 
  • Avoid re-naming imported files.

2.  Importing Files

After you have organized your files, you can import them into the Windows Live Movie Maker.
The pictures and video clips can be imported by clicking either of the two Add videos and photos buttons (one at the Home tab and the other at the storyboard) > locate the file folder(s) > select all the files to be used for the project > click Open > the files will be imported into the storyboard/timeline.

Below is the view of the imported images in the storyboard. You can change the sizes of the images in the timeline - just click on View and choose the size you want.

If you intend to have music accompany your movie, you should import the music file early on since the music will dictate how the images/videos will be edited in the timeline. To import the music file just click the Add Music icon (you have the option to add your music at the start of the project or at specific parts of the timeline) > locate the file folder > select the music file > click Open.

The imported music file will appear as a green bar below the images, with its duration visually depicted by the length of the bar.

3. Save your project now!

  • Select File > Save Project As… 
  • Choose a save location on your computer and enter a name for your file in the file name field. 
  • Click on Save.

4. Moving/Editing the Files

Moving Files in the Timeline

You can move the image and video files according to the order of appearance in the movie by dragging the thumbnails left/right/up/down. This is where the pre-organization of files will prove to be beneficial - if you re-named your files in chronological order then they will be imported and placed in the timeline in the same order - so no need to move and arrange them one-by-one.

Editing Photos

There is only one editing option for images in Movie Maker - adjusting the time duration of the image in the timeline - which will dictate how long a certain image will appear in the movie. To edit the time duration of images: select a particular image, click Edit below Video Tools (highlighted in yellow) in the Function Menu above and set the desired time duration (in seconds) either by:
  1. choosing one of the pre-set time durations in the drop-down list or 
  2. type in the exact time duration
Editing Music

Music files have similar editing options. These can be found on Music Tools (highlighted in green) beside the Video Tools. The music-editing options include:
Audio Settings Adjustments: includes music volume adjustment (no sound to full sound) and fade in and fade out speed selection (none, slow, medium, fast) 

Split Tool: enables you to split your music file into two or more segments by moving the vertical bar to the specific point/time you'd like the music file to be split and clicking the Split icon.
Set start time: allows you to set the point in the timeline when you'd like the music to start playing. You could do this by either typing in the exact start time or clicking the up and down arrows. Another alternative method is to manually drag the music bar to the point in the timeline you'd like the music to start playing. 

Set start/end point: an exact equivalent of the Video Tools Trim Tool, this enables trimming of the selected music so it starts/ends at the specified point in the timeline, which could also be done in two ways:
  1. Manually move/drag the vertical bar to the specific point int the timeline where you'd like the music to start, then click on Set start point to trim the music at the specified point. Do the same to set the end point, clicking Set end point this time; or 
  2. Set the Start point and End point by typing in the exact times or clicking the up and down arrows.
Miscellaneous File Tools

There are other tools and commands that you may find useful when moving/editing files in your project:
  • Duplicating Files: you can copy images/videos/music files by simply selecting the thumbnail/item > click the Copy icon > paste it on the specified point in the timeline. The copied file will have the same added effects as the original file. 
  • Removing Files: just select the file(s) you'd like to remove and click the Remove icon or press the Delete key. 
  • Selecting Files: you can select a single file (clicking on a thumbnail/item), multiple files (batch selection using Ctrl+mouse click), or all files (clicking the Select all icon or pressing Ctrl+A). 
  • Rotating Images/Videos: click on the Rotate Left or Rotate Right icon to change the orientation of your images or videos.

5. Adding Animations & Visual Effects

Movie Maker comes with sets of special animation and visual effects that you could use to make your movie more attractive. These include transition effects, pan and zoom effects, visual effects, and pre-set AutoMovie themes.

Transition Effects

Transition effects allow you to insert special effects which dictate how your movie plays from one video clip or picture to the next. You can add a transition between two pictures or video clips in any combination on the storyboard/timeline. To do this:

Transitions are added at the start of images/videos, so click on the particular clip where you'd like the transition to start (i.e. the second of two images should be selected to add a transition between them)

Click on the Animations tab > click the drop-down button > hover the cursor over the thumbnails to see the preview of each transition in the preview screen > select your chosen transition effect.

Set the time duration of the transition either by typing in the exact time or choosing from the pre-set time durations.

A grey triangle will appear on the left side of the clip thumbnail indicating that the transition effect has been applied.

If you intend to use the exact same transition for all your pictures and video clips, just click the Apply to all icon to apply the selected transition to all images and videos in the timeline.

If you want to only apply a certain transition effect to a select number of pictures and video clips, you can use the Ctrl+arrow key or Ctrl+Shift to batch select the items and then click the transition you'd like to use and set the time duration. The transition effect will be applied to all selected items in the timeline.

To change or remove transitions, click on the image or video and choose No Transition or choose other transitions.

Pan & Zoom Effects

Pan and zoom effects refer to the movement of the image or video within the viewing screen. Pan effects include movement in the horizontal (left/right), vertical (up/down), diagonal or even rotational directions, while Zoom effects are zooming in or zooming out of the screen (in combination with pan effects). To add these effects to your project: 
  • Select the picture or video clip you'd like to add an effect to.
  • Click on the Animations tab > click the drop-down button > hover the cursor over the thumbnails to see the preview of each effect in the preview screen > select your chosen pan & zoom effect.
  • A four-square icon will appear on the top left corner of the clip thumbnail indicating the pan and zoom effect has been applied.
If you intend to use the exact same pan and zoom effect for all your pictures and video clips, just click the Apply to all icon to apply the selected effect to all images and videos in the timeline. 

If you want to only apply a certain pan and zoom effect to a select number of pictures and video clips, you can use the Ctrl+arrow key or Ctrl+Shift to batch select the items and then click the effect you'd like to use. The particular pan and zoom effect will be applied to all selected items in the timeline.

Visual Effects

Movie Maker also has a range of visual effects that you can apply to your pictures and images to give them a distinct feel or atmospheric look.  Take a look and explore the various visual effects available and test what effect will they give your images and videos.  To use these effects:
  • Select the image/video you'd like to give a visual effect > click the Visual Effects tab > choose the desired effect. 
  • There is also a brightness adjustment setting you could use for your images/videos. 
  • Like with the transitions and pan and zoom effects, you have the option to apply a specific visual effect to all of your images/videos by clicking the Apply to all button.
AutoMovie Themes

Movie Maker also offers AutoMovie themes which you could use to instantly give your project the necessary movie elements in just one-click of a button! Each AutoMovie theme comes with its own pre-defined set of animations and visual effects that serves as a guide/suggestion on what you could do with your set of images and video clips in your timeline.

The AutoMovie themes can be accessed under the Home tab, and by clicking on a selected theme, its pre-defined animations and visual effects will automatically be applied to your images and video clips in your storyboard. You have the option to adjust your images and videos to fit the theme or adjust the theme settings to fit your set of images and videos. 

6. Adding Titles, Captions, Credits

Text can also be added in your movie project in the form of titles, captions, and credits. These three differ in their locations within the timeline: titles are added at the start of the movie, captions added in the middle, while credits are added in the end. These can be added by clicking either the Title, Caption, or Credit icons in the Home tab > a text box will appear in the particular slide or image/video > type in the text > re-size the text box dimensions as needed > move by dragging the text box to the desired area in the screen.
Texts appear as pink-colored bars at the bottom of the pictures and video clips in the timeline.

Text-editing options are available via Text Tools (highlighted in pink). You can access these by clicking on a text bar in the timeline to open the Text Tools sub-menu. The text-formatting options include:
  • Font Settings: enables you to change the font type, font size, font color, bold, italicize. 
  • Paragraph Settings: change the text alignment (left, center, right) and the transparency of the text. 
  • Edit Text: allows you change the text. 
  • Background Color: enables you to change the background color (whole screen) of titles and credits, but not of captions (since they are positioned over images and videos). 
  • Start Time: set the time when you want the text to start showing in the timeline by typing in the exact time (in seconds) or using the up/down buttons. 
  • Text Duration: like with images and video clips, you could set the length of time you'd like the text to appear in the movie (by typing in the exact time or selecting one of the pre-set time durations). 
  • Effects: text also have animation options like images and video clips. Simply hover into the thumbnails in the grid (more in the drop-down menu), choose and select the text animation you like.
So, that's it!  Simple, right?!  Actually when written down, it can look overwhelming - the best way is to just have a go and play - I found out everything by trial and error!

If you click on the video below, you will see one of my movies.  The only difference is that my clips are not photos.  I created my images in PowerPoint first and then saved each as a JPEG - the process is exactly the same, except this step.

As you can see, something extra has been added to my movie - this is a Video Intro!!  I wanted to add my logo so potential buyers would recognize my brand, so I added an animated video to the beginning of my movie.

When making a movie using Movie Maker, all you have to do is add the video intro as one of your clips.  As mentioned in the tutorial - BOTH videos and photos/images can be added to your storyline to make a movie/video to promote your products.

These video intros are fun and just add a little something extra to spice up your video!  They let potential buyers know who you are and where to find your resource.

I have added some video intros to my teacherspayteachers store - all you have to do is purchase and I do the rest for you!  Below you can see the video intros in action!  There are various options which are explained in each product listing - all the information is contained in the PDF which you can download after purchasing.

So, that's it!  Have fun playing around with movie maker and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

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