Create and Customize Folders on Your Mac!

Spring clean your computer files! Here’s a new take on a blog post I wrote back in 2016 about creating customized folders on your Mac! I love the ability to take the folder shape, completely customize it with color, icons, and text so that I can visually see what I am working on at the moment! It really helps for organization!

Here’s the step-by-step video to get you started!

Click here to download the Keynote folder shape.

Happy organizing! 🙂

Getting Creative With Slide Decks

This week I had a really great chat with Mike and Webs from the Intelligent Hoodlums. Mike and Webs are friends and fellow Apple Distinguished Educators. Together, they’ve started virtual conferences to reach educators across the globe in presenting professional learning opportunities to all. During this uncertain time in all of our lives, they put together a limited series called “I’m Bored.”

We can’t lie. We might have a bit of cabin fever. So we thought we’d hangout with some cool people and make stuff. Twice a week- Tuesdays and Thursdays, we’ll issue a creative challenge. On Tuesday we’ll discuss it. On Thursday, we’ll give everyone an opportunity to present their work. Sounds like a good time, right? It’ll be a fun time to exchange ideas, some laughs, and make some new friends as well.

Mike and Webs, Intelligent Hoodlums

Mike and Webs reached out to see if I’d be interested in sharing about slide decks…and since I am a slide enthusiast, I of course, said yes! To see a replay of our conversation, click here. We chatted about tips and tricks for creating compelling presentations, but also talked about moving beyond the traditional and into more non-traditional ways to use slides.

To read more about this limited series and to see the speakers they have lined up, click here. Additionally, you can find them and follow their work on Twitter @trustahoodlum.

I use both Keynote and Google Slides. In my opinion, based on so many factors, creativity and innovation being number one…Keynote will always win the golden crown.

Resources I Shared:

Resources from Apple:

I challenge you to use the slide creation tool of your choice to create compelling presentations. Take a chance and move beyond the presentation tool to give students opportunities to share their learning in new and innovative ways! Watch the creativity go through the roof!

Cheers, friends! Hang in there! #thistooshallpass

Animated Visual Vocabulary

This week I have been trying to think of activities, projects, and ideas to engage students in distance learning through fun and meaningful ways. I’ll admit that I have felt like I’ve been in a creative slump, as most likely is the case for so many others during this time. I have had this idea in my head for awhile and I thought this would be a good time to share it. I think it would be fun for siblings to do together or a project to get the whole family involved! This would be a great for PE teachers to demo various exercises, foreign language teachers to bring language to life, and other vocabulary words where kids can bring to life through visualization. After all, did you know that it only takes 150 ms for a symbol or picture to be processed and 100 ms to attach meaning to it? Our brains crave visuals and what a better way to study and learn vocabulary, parts of speech, or physical movements!

The Project

This project can be completed in Keynote or Google Slides. The first step is to create the background. I like to have 4 rectangles on each slide with the vocabulary word at the top, but you can design it however you’d like. Then, you will need to use your device to take video of someone demonstrating the word. These are just short videos, no more than 5 seconds. The next step is magical! I stumbled upon the site, This site doesn’t require a green screen at all, it just analyzes your video with AI technology and generates it without a background. For this project, I chose to have a transparent background, but you can do some other cool videos that have awesome built in backgrounds for additional awesome amounts of fun! You’ll see the one I created at the bottom of this post…I’m surrounded by fireworks! This company also removes backgrounds from photos at Once you upload your video, you can download it as a gif (more downloading options for the pro version). Once downloaded as a gif, then you can place it on the rectangle to visualize the vocabulary word.

In Keynote, you can set each video as an animation and have them all loop and play at the same time. You can export the slide as a movie and play the movie as it loops through. At this time, I do not think there is an option to export a Google Slide as a movie, but you can use third party extensions, such as I haven’t used it, but from what I’ve researched, I think that would be the way to go. The other option with both Keynote and Google Slides is to create each slide and just present (or play) the slide and it will keep looping though the animated gifs while it’s in full screen mode. This would be especially helpful to have when we go back to school and you are teaching PE moves or introducing new vocabulary. I think students will have a blast making these…I know I did with my two teenage boys!

Download the template (Keynote)

Download the template (Google Slides)

Animated Visual Vocabulary
Example of the various backgrounds at

Hope you enjoy this! Have fun! Create videos where you are in lots of different virtual locations while social distancing! Be safe out there, friends!

Green Screen Magic

Keynote+iMovie=Green Screen Magic!

This week I set up rotational stations for my students to experiment with various green elements to use as green screen props. We experimented with green and blue food coloring in water, green play dough, green magnetic letters, green blocks, and green paper. I had each station set up for 4 people and when the bell rings, they switch to another station. The goal for this was to play with the features to see how they worked and then talk about ways we could use these tools in deepening our learning for different content areas.

The green screen is an integral part of the special effects process known formally as chromakey. … Chromakeying, also known as color keying, is the process of singling out one color in an electronic image and then using software (iMovie and iPad) to make that color transparent.

Here’s a video with a few examples (green marker, green food coloring, and green paper)

iMovie is the magical tool you need to achieve any green screen videos! The important part is making sure you have great lighting and no other random green objects in the movie frame itself. Also, no green clothing unless you want that to be intentional. Students will need to create a bottom layer (this is the layer that will show through the green) and then create a video layer on top. At the end of this post, I will also show you how to line up photos and videos by using Keynote to achieve the perfect balance and alignment.

How to achieve the human body effect:

Draw or find a free-to-use human body online. Save the picture to your Photos.

Capture video of a person holding a green piece of construction paper (make sure lighting is good) and have them slowly move the construction paper down the body and back up again.

Open Keynote and select a wide screen slide. (I prefer to use Split Screen so I can quickly drag images back and forth). Insert both the video and the photo on the same slide.

Change the opacity of the video and line up the photo so that the proportions of the body align. Once they align, you can delete the video.

Drag the slide thumbnail over to Photos app and now you have your bottom layer ready to go to align with your video!

Open iMovie

Add the photo as the bottom layer and disable Ken Burns.

Add the video and insert as a green/blue screen overlay.

Tap the green part of the video…your video should be in perfect alignment!

Happy creating! There’s so many ideas in bringing learning to life with green screens!

Coding Activities for Young Learners

Teaching students the concepts of coding is such an important skill in today’s world. Teaching even our youngest learners these concepts is easier than one might think. To put it in the most simple of terms, coding is instructions given in order to complete a task. We use coding concepts in our daily lives without even thinking about it! We create daily schedules for students to follow, we lay out steps in projects, and we break down problems into smaller pieces, which is the skill of computational thinking.

I love the Code and Go Mouse from Learning Resources because of it’s simplistic design and ease of use. Kids love using the mouse and it’s fun to think of a variety of ways to integrate content curriculum with the mouse. I purchased mine on Amazon. You can’t beat that price, especially if you are low on technology resources.

One really fun way to use the mice is to build mazes on your floors with painter’s tape and build in obstacles that would block the mouse from moving further, which allows students to have to think about how they will get around that particular barrier. In this case, I created coding mats using Keynote on my Mac and then blew them up on our school poster maker. It’s important to make the squares 5″x5″ because the mouse travels a total of 5″ when it moves. Creating the squares to go the same distance really helps students visually understand how many forward spaces they need to travel.

Getting Started

To get started, talk to the students about what they know about coding. Talk about how coding is basically following a set of instructions (algorithm). They use these computational thinking skills when they get dressed in the morning, when they get ready for bed, when they make a sandwich, etc. Next, show students the coding cards (these come with the mouse). Those cards are the code they will follow when they program the mouse. Finally, introduce the mouse. We named our mouse Jack. Talk about how the buttons work and how they function. I usually show with a partner how the mouse works and I write an incorrect code so that we can demonstrate the process of de-bugging to find out where we might have made a mistake and then we try again.

Some additional tips:

  • I put students in groups of 4. Each student has a role for one round and then they pass the necklace with their role title to the right. This ensures each child has a turn to do each job. That being said, this is a collaborative project and they need to work together to create the code to get the mouse to where they want to go. They have to break down the problem with the coding cards (these come with the mouse). The roles: Object Chooser, Code Writer (programmer), Code Tester (button pusher), and Code De-Bugger. I put the cards on lanyards and have the students wear these. This really is a must because all of the kids want to push the buttons. 🙂
  • Rotate the mats so each group has a chance to use all 4 mats.
  • Use some type of marker (blocks work great here) to designate what object they are coding to get to.
Coding roles so each child has a job during the process.

Download Resources:

Happy Coding!

The Key(note) to Coding Version 2

There is a misconception when it comes to thinking about coding; some think it’s only for computer programmers and others think it’s too difficult. To put it simply, coding is giving a set of instructions to the computer to create an action. In this post, I will give the instructions that were in my first publication of this idea from my iTunes U Course (2015) as well as some fun updates! This project combines coding concepts and encourages students to understand basic coding concepts in ways that also spark their creativity. Students will use Keynote to create pictures out of basic shapes and learn the variety of ways to format shapes while taking note of the shape’s placement, size, color, and rotation. Once the picture is complete, students will write all of the “code” so that another student can replicate their picture. It would be very difficult to teach someone how to recreate a particular shape with precise measurements, but when given the exact “code” students are able to follow it and replicate the picture with ease. In addition to coding skills, students learn vocabulary for working and manipulating shapes, such as arrange, flip, size, position, and rotation. It’s perfect as a stand alone project targeting STEM or within your geometry unit as you discuss variations of shapes. This is designed for Mac OS because of the advanced tools in Keynote, however, students can use this idea as a guide for building and creating pictures with basic shapes on an iOS device as well. This is a great time to teach kids the design process and utilizing an engineering mindset as they will make mistakes, but through testing their codes, they will go back and refine and improve their code so that it’s just right for replication!

In my original iTunes U Course, I had students create tangram shapes. However, I didn’t want to limit students to just creating tangrams, so I changed this so students can create pictures of anything with basic shapes. This allows for a deeper level creativity. It is easier for students if they create pictures with 7 or less basic shapes as this helps with time creating the code as well as completing a partner’s code.

Before you get started, you will need to add a third party tool for the color picker. This will allow you to be specific with the colors and students will add the HTML Hex RGB #. With this option, students can be creative with colors they choose for their pictures. It is important to note that students should use solid colors only, no gradient or image fills for shapes.

Here are the steps:

Step 1:

Using basic shapes, create a picture (train, car, house, anything…be creative). Once the picture is complete, “Select All” and move the picture to one side of the screen to leave room for the code you will create. *Important note: The size of the slide is important. For this project, I’d recommend all students use the same standard slide size.

Step 2:

Use this PDF to print or distribute through Google Classroom. In Keynote, students will click on the Format (paintbrush) tool and then the Arrange tool. This is where they will note the shape, size, position, rotation, and color of each individual shape. I think if a student focuses on writing the code for each individual shape, then it’s easier to keep track of when writing the code on their Keynote slide. I prefer to have students handwrite the code and then transfer that to the slide, as it creates less errors. Since precision is so important, it’s a good step in the process.

Step 3:

Insert a square and create a larger rectangle on the Keynote slide to type in the code. *Note: Type out the required elements once, and copy and paste to save time.

Step 4:

Once you are finished with your picture and you’ve typed out the code, export slide as an image. Upload to a shared photo album (Photos, Google Drive, Google Photos, Once students have a partner, they can download their partner’s code and start the process of creating their picture based off the code of their partner. Remind students to take notes if they have to “debug” the code as this is good feedback for the creator.

Remind students that they need to be exact, specific, concise, and pay close attention to detail.

Step 5:

Once students successfully or unsuccessfully complete the code, have them complete a reflection for their partner. You can download the reflection here.

Happy creating! This has always been one of my favorite projects!

Create Your Own Inspirational Posters

Anyone can go online and find a ton of really fun inspirational quote generators to create and print an inspirational poster. Additionally, how many of us go online and find our favorite quote and post it on social media? Are we really utilizing digital citizenship skills in how we re-use the work of someone else? How about we encourage our students to create their own from a blank slate with creative design in mind? In this post, I will lay out the directions for creating a poster using my favorite creation tool, Keynote.

Students can be the subject of the poster and display a quote that resonates in their life. They can create a poster to go along a research project on an important person in history and quote something remarkable they said during their life. They could honor an elder or family member and quote something they grew up hearing from that person. There are so many ways to approach this project.

Yes, And…

This project could be taken even further by adding an audio track of the student reading the quote with background music created in GarageBand. Export as a movie and now your inspirational poster has become a multimedia project with creativity and student voice at the heart!

Here are three examples to get you started. Notice that the background has been removed. There are a few ways to do this. You can use Instant Alpha in Keynote to remove the background or you can use an online tool

Getting Started

Step 1: Encourage students to spend time finding quotes that resonate with them. The kind of quote that makes you feel inspired. The quote that gives you the “feels.” If students are researching a person, find the quote that best represents that person’s purpose.

Step 2: Create a new project in Keynote. Tap on the 3 dots in the upper right hand corner and tap Document Setup (or on Mac, go to Format and click on Document). From there, change the size of the slide so your poster is in portrait orientation. On a Mac, you will reverse the two numbers to create a custom slide size. Note: this step isn’t a must…some students might want their poster in Landscape orientation.

Step 3: Think about the photo that will serve as the background. You can use a photo you’ve captured, create your own design by experimenting with the gradient fill for your background, or you can use am image from a royalty-free image website. My two favorites are Unsplash and Pixabay. Search for what you might be looking for and then download the picture. If you are using an iPad, you can utilize Split Screen and drag the photo over to your slide. This makes multitasking so easy! Insert that picture on the slide and adjust the size so it fits your screen. You can play with the opacity and adjust the color as needed once you have more elements on your slide.

Step 4: Insert the subject photo.. Students can take photos of each other or students can use a photo they already have. Remember to use Instant Alpha or to completely take out the background. This makes the subject in the poster stand out as you can adjust the size, and format the photo to your liking. It’s really a great idea to take into consideration the Rule of Thirds when placing the subject of the photo. My good friend and ADE colleague taught me about the rule of thirds for photography, and I think it applies here nicely when thinking about where to place your subject. You can read more about Don’s work here on page 18.

Step 5: Now it’s time to type in your quote. Use a variety of text sizes and formats when inserting your text. What we learned when creating these posters is that it is easier to chunk up the text and create multiple text boxes so that you can format various words or lines of the text easily. If you don’t have a lot of fun fonts on your iPad, you can download Fonteer and get fonts for your iPad projects. If you are using a Mac, my favorite place to get fonts is Additionally, if you cannot install fonts on your computer, you can use an online font generator tool, which allows you to save the text as an image. Have fun playing with size, color, character style, capitalization, and outlining text. Keep in mind that less is more in this case as far as design is concerned.

Step 6: Once you have the text situated on the slide along with the photo, you are ready for adjustments. Play around with the opacity of the background image or the image of the subject. Add shadows, adjust the saturation…have fun with artistic expression here!

Step 7: If you want this as a poster, now you can export this as a PDF or an image. If you want to make this into more of a multimedia project, you can add a soundtrack with an audio recording to the slide from GarageBand. I have directions on how to do this in an earlier blog post here. You can export those slides as movies!

Step 8: Share your creations! Print them and put them in picture frames, post to social media, post them online and send them to parents! Create a book and include each child’s poster on various pages. Share the book to Apple Books and allow the world to see each student’s creations!

Happy designing!

Literacy+Keynote=Creative K-3 Learning

One of my favorite books is A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon. I’ve read it to my classes every year at the beginning of the school year since I began teaching. When the iPad came around, it changed the game as far as what my students were able to do with creative activities that reinforced the book. I am so excited to share this with you and I hope that you and your students enjoy it! These guides are prepared for the K-3 classroom, but you could certainly take these templates and modify them to match literacy objectives for your grade level. The skills in Keynote are truly great for any age group of learners.

Here’s the Scoop:

I’ve created a literacy-themed Keynote template, which allows students at the beginning of the year to not only read the book as part of an ELA unit, but also dive into how to utilize the creative tools in Keynote. I would do this as a group with my class, giving them time each day to explore a new tool in Keynote. At the end of the unit, students should be able to take their knowledge and build their own templates or guides and be quite comfortable and knowledgable about formatting and options in Keynote.

Teacher Guide:

Teacher Guide: Click HERE to view the presentation. Duplicate it and you will have your own version. The teacher guide has lots of little tips and tricks that you can use as you guide your students through their own version.

Student Template:

Student Template: Click HERE to view the presentation. Duplicate this one and use Apple Classroom to send this file to your students and they will each have their own copy. Don’t have enough iPads for the whole class? This would make a great station in a center.

I sure hope you love these creative activities as much as I have over the years. With new iWork updates, this project constantly changes, which I love!

Happy Keynoting!

Create Pattern and Base 10 Blocks in Keynote

Don’t have pattern blocks or base 10 blocks in your classroom? No problem! Create your own virtual blocks in Keynote! You can also create these in Pages and Numbers, too! Would be a great way for students to illustrate their thinking by creating a book about their knowledge of numbers or math shapes in Pages and export as an ePub!

Pattern Blocks

Create pattern blocks with shapes. Did you know the green circle in a shape means you can manipulate the shape’s sides and thickness? Explore how selecting more than one shape will allow you to subtract parts of a shape to create a new one. The other feature I absolutely love is that when you are resizing a shape, you will see words like square and radius as well as the degree of an angle. This is great hands-on math exploration!

Base 10 Blocks

Create base 10 blocks with tables in Keynote. Copy/paste to create multiples and there you have hands on math for stations or any other math work while using iPad! This isn’t just for younger students, either! Students can demonstrate their knowledge of fractions and decimals by filling in cells in the base 10 blocks.

Here’s a how-to video to get you started:

Click HERE to download the Keynote deck with all of the shapes and base 10 blocks created for you to practice!

Happy creating!

Everyone Can Create Pop Art

If you missed ISTE this year like I did, then you’re in luck! One of my favorite activities from the Apple Education Pop-Up Classroom was featured on the Apple Teacher Learning Center page! There are step-by-step directions in creating your own pop art masterpiece! I decided to play around further and created a pop art image, video, and gif! All you need to do to take the project a bit further, is change your number of Keynote slides and export as a video or gif.

The Apple Teacher Learning Center has a collection of creative lessons to inspire you to apply creativity in your classroom lessons. Included are lessons on:

  • Video: Storytelling with Clips
  • Augmented Reality: Building a Virtual World
  • Drawing: Animated Doodle Art
  • Photo: Moments in Motion
  • Music: Producing Podcasts
  • Resource: An AWESOME Activity Workbook

The Apple Teacher Learning Center also features new classroom ideas and activities:

  • Drawing: Animated Word Art
  • Video: Movie Magic
  • Photo: Photo Pop Art
  • Music: See Your Sound

Click here to visit the Everyone Can Create lessons and activities shared at ISTE.

Click HERE to learn more about the Everyone Can Create collection of inspiring lessons and activities to infuse creativity into every subject.

Happy Creating!