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K-12 Technology Activities That Work

Are you tired of locating the "perfect" Internet activity, only to find it full of dead links and confusing directions? Are you bored with PowerPoint? Are you looking for interesting technology integration activities that work the first time, every time? Look no further! Included: Activities, examples, and complete directions that will make you look like a tech expert whatever grade you teach!

As you head back to school this fall, it's likely that you face a strong administrative mandate to more fully integrate technology into your curriculum. It's true, of course, that technology can revolutionize and revitalize your curriculum. Technology-based activities grab your students' interest and imagination and provide information and experiences they could never hope to find in a textbook.

For many teachers, however, using technology also presents a significant challenge. When will you find the time to locate or develop technology integration activities that work? What will you have to sacrifice as you go through the inevitable process of trial and error involved in any new activity?

To help you solve those problems and meet that challenge, to simply get you started as quickly and easily as possible, we asked the Education World Tech Team members to share with you some of their favorite tried-and-true technology integration activities.


"One of the more exciting aspects of my job is seeing teachers take hold of technology and incorporate it into their own classroom needs," Lydia Patrick told Education World. "I had the opportunity to work on this activity with kindergarten teacher Tanya Anastasia, who wanted to create an interactive science activity for her students. The resulting project [below] is age-appropriate and fun to work through."

Title: Race to Space
Subject: Science
Grade: Kindergarten
Objective: Students identify the basic components of the solar system.
Materials: computers, Race to Space student page, and Race to Space teacher's page

  • At Race to Space, students click the sun, moon, planet, or the star above the moon to go to simple fact pages about those celestial bodies.
  • Each fact page contains a link to online activity pages.
  • Students work through the activity pages at their own pace.

Assessment: Students click the star beneath the moon and then complete the interactive assessment activity.


"Our social studies curriculum includes a study of celebrations around the United States and the world," Mary Kreul told Education World. "We read books and stories on how people celebrate special days in their communities and with their families, and we exchange information on celebrations with key pals from around the world. The culminating activity for this unit is a family celebrations slide show project.

"After creating the slide show, we present it at our school's open house, so parents and other visitors can understand how technology is integrated into the second-grade curriculum. The open house provides an authentic audience for student work," Kreul noted. "Student slides can also be posted to the class Web page."

Examples of family celebration slide shows created by Kreul's second grade classes in 1999-2000, 2000-2001, and 2001-2002 are posted on her class Web page.

If you're interested in impressing the parents at your school's open house, you might want to give the activity a try yourself!

Title: My Family Celebration
Subject: Social Studies, Language Arts, Technology
Grade: 1-3
Objective: Students explore the different ways in which people celebrate special days in their own communities.
Materials: Computers, Kid Pix Deluxe, Inspiration, or Kidspiration

  • Brainstorm with students celebrations they share with their families and friends.
  • Ask students to choose a favorite family celebration for their project.
  • Have them make a mind map or graphic organizer with the family celebration in the center connected to various aspects of the celebration. Students can create their mind maps using pencil and paper, a teacher-created Inspiration template, or Kidspiration.
  • After students review their ideas with the teacher, ask them to create a storyboard (pencil sketch) of their celebration on a blank sheet of paper. Tell students to include the name of the celebration and at least four ideas from the mind map they created. Students should also make notes about colors or other details they want to include on their Kid Pix slide.
  • Help students create their slides. This part of the project takes two to four lab sessions of 45 minutes each, depending on students' prior experience with Kid Pix.
  • Combine all the Kid Pix slides into a slide show. As the show is presented in class, ask each student to tell the classmates about his or her own family celebration.

Assessment: Students are assessed based on an assessment checklist, the mind maps, storyboards, and slides. The checklist can be also be used by students for self-assessment.


Beth Gregor shared an activity begun by Susan Freifeld, an art teacher at Pleasantdale Elementary School. "Susan started the Starry Night project with our fourth graders," Gregor told Education World. "Then she came to me and we added other components. Susan prefaces the project in the art room by teaching the students about Vincent Van Gogh. They do preliminary drawings using the techniques of horizon line, foreground, and background. At that point, the students come to the technology lab for several more 30-minute lessons."

The project involves a total of eight lessons:

  • Lesson 1: (Art) Drawing using Kid Pix. Students draw a horizon line and draw a scene using something in the foreground and background. This is just practice and may not be printed.
  • Lesson 2: (Art) Display samples of Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night and distribute smaller prints for students to share. Students use Kid Pix to do their own renditions of Starry Night. They may not use stamps. They may use Paint Brush Tools only twice. We play "Vincent," a song by Don McLean, as the students are drawing. Students then save their pictures.
  • Lesson 3: (Technology) Students continue to add detail to their pictures. Most will finish. When they're finished, they print their pictures.
  • Lesson 4: (Art, Language Arts) Students read the lyrics to "Vincent" while listening to the music. We discuss the detail and descriptive words in the lyrics. Students write the lyrics as a poem in Microsoft Word. (This lesson could also be done in class as a language arts activity, and students could bring a written copy of the poem to the technology lab.)
  • Lesson 5: (Technology) Students finish writing their poems, select a font color, center the poem on the page, add a border, and print it.
  • Lesson 6: (Art) Students open up Kid Pix, choose a background color, and "spill" paint. Bold colors work best. Then they retype the poem using the typewriter mode in Kid Pix. They must be careful to use the arrow key, not the mouse, in the text box or the program might freeze. (Some versions of Kid Pix don't offer a text box when the typewriter mode is selected. In that case, students will have to type the poem using the computer keyboard. This step will need to be done after the paint and mixer step below.) Have students use the space bar to center the poem, bold the print, and use a large size font. Recommend that they choose a color that contrasts with the background color. Using the paintbrush tool, students can dribble up to five bright colors on the text. (I stress that less is more.) Have them choose mixer and click one to four times. (The texture will look like woven fabric.) Then they can click the typewriter tool to put the text back on top.
  • Lesson 7: (Technology) Show students how to create a HyperStudio stack: Open HyperStudio. Create two cards. On Card 1, go to File and import a background. Go to the saved Starry Night drawing. Click yes when asked if you want to adjust size to fit. On Card 2, import a background and go to the poem file. Once again, adjust size to fit. Create buttons linking Card 1 to Card 2 and Card 2 back to Card 1. Save often!
  • Lesson 8: (Technology) Show students how to animate and then have them animate three pictures. Only one may be from HyperStudio, the rest must be from their Starry Night drawing. Have students save the animations they create. This finishes the project.

    "At this time," Gregor noted, "I make a master for each class, so students can view one another's work."


"My favorite integration lesson is King Tutankhamun: Was It Murder?," Madeleine Decker told Education World. "This WebQuest, which I created, gave me the opportunity to communicate with another teacher, who did the activity with her class and sent me the results. My students and I were amazed when we found out her class was located in Australia. What a small world we have become!

"This WebQuest is all inclusive," Decker pointed out. "It contains active links, a rubric, examples, a suggested grade level, correlation to [Illinois] state standards, and a teacher direction page. (Be sure to read it before beginning the activity, so all appropriate documents can be downloaded, printed, and copied.) I would recommend the WebQuest for students in grades 6-8, although it has been used at lower and higher levels. Even the special education students in my sixth-grade inclusion class were able to participate because of the cooperative learning strategies involved. The WebQuest can be done in a computer lab or in a five-computer-station setting. It loads very quickly, considering the heavy graphics-to-text ratio.

"The quest, which includes some fun hidden elements and special effects, gets a lot of activity and is very popular," Decker noted.

"I teach social studies to seventh grade," Katy Wonnacott told Education World. "As part of our work on the economy, we visit Look Who's Footing the Bill, a WebQuest about the national debt. Then, using a graphic organizer, such as Inspiration, we map what we've learned, what the problems are, who needs to be made aware of the issue, and how to educate them. Students work in groups to create a persuasive presentation, usually incorporating a multimedia product such as a PowerPoint."


Fred Holmes submitted a project that can be used during a unit on the Civil War. Students research the Civil War by becoming tour guides, Holmes told Education World. "They research pictures and events of the war and then create a presentation for the class."

Now you can take a guided tour of Holmes's lesson:
Title: Civil War Guided Tour
Subject: Civil War
Grade: 6-12
Objective: Students investigate events that took place during the Civil War.
Materials: Selected Civil War Photographs, computer, projector for presentations
Lesson: Arrange students into groups and assign each group a year during which the Civil War was fought. Provide the following directions:

  • In this project, your group will take the role of a virtual tour guide during a particular year of the Civil War.
  • Use Selected Civil War Photographs from the Library of Congress American Memory collection to create a presentation showing the battle sites and to illustrate how the people lived.
  • Explain the major events that took place during that particular year of the Civil War.
  • After selecting your photographs and saving them in a single folder on your computer, prepare a narrative to accompany the presentation. (Be sure to number your photographs in the order in which they will be displayed.)
  • Those students who were not assigned a particular year should go to Other Photographs in the American Memory Civil War Photographs collection and pick one of the topics listed. Use the text and pictures to prepare a presentation on that topic.

Assessment: Students are evaluated on how their information is presented and on the appropriateness of the photographs used.


Article by Lorrie Jackson
Education World®
Copyright © 2004 Education World


Updated 08/11/2006