Pixel Magic Activities

If you've been following me on social media, you've probably seen that I am completely and utterly obsessed with Pixel Art activities at the moment.  I used these activities with students in grades 3-5 in the past and they ATE THEM UP!  I even had one 5th grader who loved them so much she taught herself how to code a simple one over winter break.  She was so proud of herself and I was too! <3

With everything moving digital I wanted to find a way to use them with younger students as well as older students. I've even started creating Pixel Magic activities to go along with picture and chapter books and I've been having way too much fun with it!  I can't wait to get back to school next year and use these with students...and the great thing is, no matter what our school situation looks like - back in the classroom or remote learning - these will be easy to use with students!

If you are not familiar with Pixel Art, it uses Google Sheets to "bring in" squares of color a few at a time as students enter correct answers until finally an entire picture is revealed. One of my favorite things about Pixel Art is that it is an independent and self-checking activity.  Since the bits of color appear when correct answers are entered, students will know if they entered an incorrect answer since nothing new will appear.  They will then know to try again!

Here take a look:

Students will need access to Google Sheets (or Microsoft Excel) to do these activities. If you're a Google school, the activities are super easy to share through Google Classroom.  If your students don't have access to Google Classroom and don't have their own Google accounts, you can use them as centers in your classroom on your own or a class Google account that you create.   The activities can also be download from Google Sheets as Excel files to share with your students that way, if preferred.

It's important to know that when entering the answers into the sheet, answers DO need to be spelled correctly.  The answers are not case-sensitive, but spelling matters.  That can be difficult for the younger learners especially, so I'm going to share an app that I've used for years in my classroom for this.

Easy Spelling Aid is an app that is available on both The App Store and Google Play.  It is $4.99 in the app store on my ipad right now and honestly it was the best five bucks I've ever spent on my classroom.  I've used it for years for writing workshop.  You know how you have those students who are perfectionists and want every single word spelled correctly?  I would have this on my tablets as an option during the revising stage.  It's SO easy to use - students simply tap the microphone, say the word, and it repeats the word and displays the spelling.  There are a lot of other features to this app that are helpful for dyslexic students, also.

Take a look at the intuitive design of how it works as a spelling aid.

With my Pixel Magic Book sets, I have made them available in GROWING bundles, which means after purchasing, you will receive ALL future book activities added for FREE.  I only promised 12 picture book activities and that bundle is already up to 40!

By purchasing the complete GROWING bundles you also get the deepest discount (50% off) at only $1 per activity.

You can click on this image to see the description which includes all current titles included:

I also have a complete GROWING bundle for a chapter book set.

Since the picture book set has grown so large, I've also divided it up into MINI bundles of 10 books each.  By purchasing the mini bundles, you receive a 25% discount ($1.50/each activity)

And, of course I still have Pixel Magic activities that are separate from books.  My Yearlong Research Bundle (grades 3-5) includes one activity per month that has students visit and read/research from a website to find answers to questions on a seasonal topic.

And my Primary Pixel Magic bundle has 3 versions for each image - basic addition, basic subtraction, and word riddles - no research required!

If you're new to pixel art and would like to try one of my resources for FREE, check out the versions below.


I hope this is a new digital activity that you and your students will LOVE!


Teacher Picks for Parents for Remote Learning

Now that students are learning remotely from home, it's important that teachers help parents have the learning essentials for their children.  If you ask me, there's not a LOT that falls in the essential category when it comes to supplies students must have at home to assist in learning, which is a good thing because every family situation is different - especially during this time.  So, besides having a way to connect with the teacher for instruction/assignments (whether that be from a district-provided device, the family computer, or a parent's cellphone), here are my other Teacher Picks for Parents During Remote Learning.  {Disclaimer: Oriental Trading provided many of the products in this post free of charge in exchange for the published post.}

Pick 1:  Dry Erase Board & Markers

Save paper.  Seriously.  This is one of those top tips that teachers use in classrooms daily.  If students are practicing math, spelling, or other content that is not going to need to be kept then white boards are the perfect solution!  You'll save paper and children LOVE them!  Markers with lids that "snap on" to the top of the marker so they're not lost easily are the best.  And, yes, that's a sock for the eraser.  Let's save money where we can - every home has socks without mates hanging around, right?  Who knew we'd actually find a use for those?  They make the perfect eraser for little ones.  Just slip them on the hand for erasing and then toss them in the wash later to use again another day.

Pick 2: Clipboards & Pencils, Crayons

Pencils and crayons are probably a given, but clipboards go hand-in-hand in my opinion.  While I strongly recommend having a designated "work spot" (desk, kitchen table, coffee table) we all know that sometimes it is tiresome sitting in one spot for a long period of time.  Many teachers now have "flexible seating" in their classrooms, so have a clipboard on hand to allow your child to work in other places around the home.  Even as an adult, I work better in non-traditional seating areas.  Let your child stretch out on the floor, on his bed, or in her favorite chair to complete independent assignments.  Plus, sometimes, if multiple children (especially siblings) are learning in a common area they just need a "break" from each other for a bit.  These rainbow clipboards from Oriental Trading are perfect if you have multiple children.

Pick 3: Sidewalk Chalk

Sidewalk chalk is something you may already have at home (#winwin) but if not, Oriental Trading has some really fun options like the popsicle chalk in the picture above or the unicorn horn chalk.  While most schools are cutting the learning time for remote learning, it still helps for children not to be stuck inside for lengths of time.  They need to be able to get outside whenever possible.  Why not take that spelling practice or math practice out to the driveway to get some fresh air? 

Pick 4: Pony Beads (or other small manipulatives)

You'll also need some type of small manipulatives for students to use for math.  These will help them with counting on, adding, subtracting, patterns, and more!  The small manipulatives could be anything really - cereal, pennies, dry beans, legos... I chose pony beads because they're something children can keep in their own container (more about that in a minute) and because we can also use them for craft activities when we need to take a break from learning.  Pony beads can be used to make bracelets, pipe cleaner animals, key chains, mosaics, and more!

Pick 5: Organization

Maybe one of my most important picks (or possibly the one you don't have at home already) is organizational tools!  My first recommendation is to give your child a container with a handle that he/she can carry around as his "school box."  Mine is filled with most of the items listed above - pony beads, markers, pencils, crayons, a sock, sidewalk chalk, etc.  This way your child has everything he needs with him at all times - and those things aren't getting misplaced, or stolen by younger siblings.  The school box becomes off limits to everyone else. 

My next organization recommendation is a clipboard holder.  The great thing about this storage piece is that it can also hold the dry erase boards.  If you have multiple children, this will be a lifesaver instead of having clipboards and dry erase boards scattered all around the house.

Find a shelf or area in your house where the "school boxes" and clipboard storage can go.  When it is not learning time, these items can be "off limits" so that they are always there and ready for the next day of remote learning.  When it's time to work, your child will know right where to go to grab their clipboard, dry erase board, and school box before heading to their work spot.  Easy peasy!

If you do have multiple children, color-coding supplies may help too.  I like to label the containers with names using a color that matches one of the clipboards.  No arguing over which clipboard everyone is going to use in the mornings.  Colors are claimed or handed out on the first day and then it becomes a non-issue. 

Pick 6: Creative Play

My final pick is for a new creative play option at home.  Your children will get bored quickly being home all day long.  This Marble Run is one of the top choices in our STEAM lab at school.  Children LOVE to build courses for the marble to race down as they try to make it land in the "catcher."  It's a fantastic way to get them using their problem solving skills as they try to figure out why the marble went off course and adjust their track.  It comes with a set of cards with examples of tracks for children to try to build or they can just use their imagination! The pieces are magnetic so they're perfect for the side of the fridge. 

In classrooms, teachers often give students "brain breaks" - these are short 3-5 minute activities that let students take a break from work and help them to refocus and attend to the task when they come back to it.  At home, you'll need to allow for brain breaks too and activities like this, rather than watching TV or playing a video game, are recommended.

I hope these ideas help you set up a space for your child that will be organized and easy to implement as you continue on this remote learning journey.  Let me know if you have any other questions or need additional tips about setting up remote learning in your home.  We're better together!

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