Animating teaching with Wideo

Wideo is a free on-line tool for making videos. You can use their templates or start from scratch to create your own animations. It is possible to upload backdrops and different objects to animate, enabling you to make your videos specific to your needs.

This term in ICT we have been learning how to use Wideo to make animated movies of firework displays as part of our ‘Firework Maker’s Daughter’ topic. A simple black background is used with a variety of firework we found on google images layered over the top.

Through teaching and exploring Wideo I began to see other possibilities for using it in school. We are currently rehearsing ‘Jack and the Beanstalk‘ as our Christmas production and so I had a go at creating the set using Wideo. It took a bit of playing with timings and it was important to keep the animation to a minimum, but it was brilliant to see the beanstalk grow while the action takes place on stage in front.

There are short tutorial videos available on the site and youtube as well as hints and tips to help you along the way. All this makes it very easy to use for my year 5 class and the results are slick and most pleasing.

Due to it’s ease of design and format Wideo can also be used for any number of lesson and staff meeting presentations, helping to engage and inspire.

The catch is that it is only free for Wideo animations that are 45 seconds or shorter. Perfect for our firework display but obviously this can be quite a limitation. We have also experienced problems using the site with the whole class as too much traffic can cause the site to freeze. This can be frustrating but is a good opportunity to teach the children about patience!

Recording a school CD

Last year I saw this tweet from @MySchoolCD and it piqued my interested.

Naturally my first thought was, ‘what’s the catch?’ So I investigated further.

It turned out that MySchoolCD were offering to give away a class set of African percussion instruments if you sign them up to come and record an album at your school.

Encouraged, I booked the recording and it all went rather well. Later I moved schools and have just repeated the process of recording an album with my new school.

In this blog post I aim to share my experience and the benefits of recording a whole school CD.

So what’s in it for them?

Once the album is recorded, they sell it. Your school (or school charity) gets at least £1 for every CD sold and they get the rest. The price you can sell it for depends on the quantity you sell. Suggested selling price is £7.99. There are 3 different options you can sign up for, but on both occasions  I went for the ‘Zero Risk’ option. Mainly because it meant I wasn’t tied down to selling any guaranteed quantities. Basically I’m not too comfortable with risking school funds and being left with CDs that I can’t shift. If you are willing to commit to more sales then you can get a better deal overall.

What’s in it for you?

Firstly we got a class set of African percussion instruments. Useful. Especially if your topic is Africa.

Secondly, you hold a whole school art competition to design the album cover. In our school this was judged by some member of the senior leadership team and we gave the winner a copy of the finished album as a prize.

Thirdly you get to meet a large part of the music curriculum while giving the children purpose for their work and a very memorable experience.

We practised in whole school assemblies and each year group had their own songs to sing. It gave the children a real reason to work hard at improving their singing as an ensemble and listening to each other as well as the music.


The day of the recording itself is pretty straight forward so long as you have rehearsed and communicated clearly with the rest of the team so they know what what is going on.

The engineer arrived by 10am and was set up within 20 minutes. We recorded most songs in 2 takes (so allow 15-20 minutes for each one). The engineer on both occasions really useful. He was keen to do a good job and was happy to record as many takes as was needed. I was really struck by the fantastic behaviour of the children. It was obvious they were completely engaged with the process from the moment they walked into the hall and saw the microphones set up. They sat straighter, listened more intently and sang better than I had heard before.

Overall I found working with MySchoolCD to be a positive experience and one the children will remember for a long time to come. While the percussion instruments were a welcome bonus, the main benefit was the sense of purpose it gave to our singing and music within the school. The children and staff all upped our game considerably because we had something to work towards that we can now listen back to and be extremely proud of.

A multimedia approach to literacy

I was asked to talk some School Direct students about ‘A multimedia approach to Literacy’. This blog post is the result.

The Literacy Shed contains a collection short animated films with teaching suggestions. These can be used as a wonderful stimulus for writing in a wide range of genres. .

Writing fake text message conversations is a lovely way to introduce dialogue for story writing and play scripts.

@Fascinatingpics and @abandoned_pics are two twitter pages that offer some interesting pictures that can used as writing prompts. Superb for scene description. Other great writing prompts can be found on this Literacy Shed blog by @redgirob 

Use x-ray goggles to ‘hack’ or at least adapt any website to say what you want.  The example below is one we used in school during book week to help  draw the children in. Be warned it can lead to confusing conversations with both children and parents. Also, as you are only pasting over the top of the web page so any links and comments will relate to the original story.

If you wish to let the children in on the scam it can be a wonderful way of getting them to write their own news stories.

Use random name generators available from ( and ( to select children at random in class. This helps the children in the class remain focused during the lesson and you don’t get the same children putting their hands up every time.

I also use the generator for sentence and word games. The example I’ve included below can be used with any writing, take a spin and ask the children to include whatever comes up in today’s writing.

One of my favourite tools at the moment is Padlet ( Padlet is an online bulletin board which is perfect for sharing ideas in the class to encourage collaborative learning. It’s free to join and simple to use.  I share the URL to my page with my class and then they can add their ideas so the whole class can see them and build on them. This Padlet page shows examples of some sentence my class were writing.

Mainly to support my lower ability writers, I use Keezy on the iPad to record and play back sentences. This allows them to listen back to what they want to write as many times as they wish. See my previous blog post for more information.

Most of the ideas shared so far are ways to stimulate literacy. These usually result in writing in books, but there are a few other ways for children to commit their ideas to the page digitally. eBooks can be a lovely way of getting children to write stories. There are loads on iPads and you can add your own pictures to many enabling you to write fiction and non-fiction. Zooburst and Storybird have been recommended to me by @ianaddison. Storybird is particularly beautiful but you need to use their (admittedly wonderful) artwork. This can be limiting or inspiring depending on your need.

Our class blog also gives the children another means of sharing their writing, with the bonus of offering a real audience and sense of purpose to their work. Quadblogging ( and the 100 Word Challenge ( help to broaden that audience.

No doubt as more websites, apps and tools spring to mind I will add to this post.