Popplet Christmas Activities: Santa Claus, Presents, Letters and Lists

Do you believe in Santa Claus? You remember: a rotund distinguished gentleman with white hair and a big white beard who favors red suits with white fur trimmings? One of the world’s largest employer of elves, who is known to ride a sleigh driven by celebrity reindeer. He also goes by multiple pseudonyms: Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Papá Noel, or just plain old Santa for short. No? Best you take a close look at this Santa Claus popplet.

Jingle any bells? Well, if doubt has pushed tender childhood memories of Dear Old Father Christmas from your mind and you have forgotten him, he hasn’t forgotten you! Dear Old Father Christmas. So fear not! To participate in these traditional festive Popplet activities all you really need is Christmas Spirit, Good Cheer if you will, and presents – let’s not forget the presents, they’re important. You’ll also need Popplet. So let’s make that the first thing on our list shall we?

Get Popplet, It’s a Gift
Making a Christmas popplet is just like making any other type of popplet. First, you’ll need a Popplet web account, which you can easily get by signing up on the Popplet homepage. You will discover that Christmas has come early at Popplet and Santa has left you a gift of ten Popplet boards. Alternatively, download Popplet Lite or the Popplet app and create Christmas popplets using an iPhone or iPad. If you don’t have one of those, you could ask you know who!

Now, we know what you’re thinking: Does Santa even own a computer or a tablet? Does he use Popplet? Well, don’t worry about any of that stuff because even if you don’t have Santa’s email address you can print off your Popplet Christmas List when you’ve finished it, and mail it to Lapland in the traditional way.

Christmas is coming soon, that means Santa is getting ready, so let’s get started.

Brainstorming Christmas Present Ideas
Before we begin writing to Santa with our lists of presents, it’s best to give some thought to the whole matter: What is it that I really want for Christmas? Almost certainly your students have something special in mind. But even so, it never hurts to speak to classmates and share ideas. Teachers could begin a Christmas list activity by brainstorming  Christmas present ideas. Have the students work in groups, alternatively project one big Christmas present popplet for all to see and prepare to be overwhelmed by expectation. Students could even all collaborate on the same Popplet. Be warned, this activity will generate much excitement!

Now, teachers don’t worry if you feel a little out of your depth at this point, you don’t need to know what any of these things actually are. The toy world is not what it was when you were writing to Santa. It’s now a complex maze of things understood only by children and those who work in marketing. Rest assured your students will understand it all perfectly well, and if they don’t immediately recognize their partner’s choices they’ll soon find out all there is to know. Trust your students! Talking seriously about toys in class, how cool is that? Very soon the whole class will be aware of what’s on offer and some may even begin revising or increasing the length of their lists before this part of the lesson is over.

A Letter to Father Christmas: A Letter Writing Activity
From what we’ve heard, Father Christmas, like most other distinguished gentlemen, is a lover of tradition and appreciates the protocols which govern written communication. As such, a lesson in formal/informal language and letter writing could make the difference between a gleeful, fulfilled 25th of December and one which is, well, not so gleeful. Best to err on the side of caution we say and demonstrate to students the ancient art of letter writing. There are a number of ways to do this, depending on the level of your class. Below is a popplet template you could use followed by some classroom ideas:

  • The teacher could supply examples of formal/informal language and ask students to choose which statements or phrases are more appropriate.
  • Or teachers might elicit the correct language from the class for a formal letter.
  • Popplet can also be used to show how a letter should be structured. Again the teacher can supply a structure (above), or ask students to create their own, then correct their work.
  • Another possibility is to turn the activity into a popplet puzzle by asking students to organize the different sections of a formal letter.
  • Be sure to have students include everything that they have done right this year, and why they deserve to have their wants fulfilled. Let’s avoid any negativity, Father Christmas already knows everything!

Creating Popplet Christmas Lists For Santa
Now we’re prepared for the main event: The Christmas List for Santa. Of course, students could just set to work with pen and paper, but even if that is how Santa is to receive the student’s lists, you can still use Popplet to help you out. Popplet can help you create cracking Christmas lists, guaranteed to grab Mr. Claus’s attention. Here’s how:

  • Create a Popplet with your name: “Petra’s Christmas List” in this example
  • Next, create a popple for each item on your list (most wanted things first of course). Using the text feature, enter exactly what it is that you want
  • Then, add an image of the present. This will help the elves locate your gift (after Santa’s approval of course). Santa’s helpers are pretty busy at this time of year and will be grateful for anything that reduces their workload. For this to work, you will need to have the image stored in your computer or camera roll beforehand
  • To add an image click on the square with the two triangles which will say upload things when you hover over it with the cursor:
  • Select the image that you want to add:
  • Now, if you really want to help out the elves, you can add a link to the list entry:
  • When that’s done, repeat this for every item on the list. You’ll end up with an astonishingly attractive, informative Christmas list sure to catch the eye of everyone in Lapland.
  • Finally, students might add a photo of themselves and use Popplet Linker to include the letter that they wrote in the previous activity.

What more could you ask for? What are you waiting for? The sooner Santa gets those lists, the happier the world will be!

If you have created any Christmas lists or done any Popplet Christmas activities in your classroom we would really love to see them. Share your ideas with the Popplet community on Twitter, and on our Facebook page.

Top of The Popplets! – April 2016

April has been and left its customary showers, and along with the welcome spring rain came floods of attractive new Popplets. We won’t go so far as to say that it was raining popplets, but we will say that the Public Popplets, Twitter and Facebook pages were positively drenched in energetic and innovative Popplet creations. From a character analysis of a well-known pushy pigeon to a challenging study of homelessness, we picked out some of the best this month had to offer.

Don’t Let Pigeon Drive the Bus: Describing Characters

What’s blue, funny, begs and really, really wants to drive the bus? Yes? No? Pigeon of course, from the award-winning children’s book, Don’t Let Pigeon Drive the Bus, by Mo Willems. An image of the infamous bird takes the center spot, surrounded by simple description words that provide some savvy insight into the character of the pigeon protagonist. A fun and earnest introduction to literary analysis. Thanks again to Kara Bunch and her Kindergarteners for sharing this on Twitter and Instagram.

Describing Characters

POPPLET TIP: This popular Popplet activity is adaptable for all age groups. Students could even upload a video of the character, or add text (take a photo of the relevant sentence or paragraph in the book) to support their descriptions.
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Back To School iPad Ed Tips with Popplet

Picture 94For many in the northern hemisphere, it’s Back To School week! September marks the start of a new school year in North America, the UK and throughout Europe. And this school year, more than ever, tablets and bring-your-own-devices are becoming the norm, meaning there are many students using iPads in the classroom, and teachers working to make educational technologies useful as an aide to learning and skills development.

Earlier this year, the Center for American Progress found that despite the growing use of tablets in schools, they are not being harnessed to help students achieve learning goals in the most effective ways. Their review found that, for the most part, education technologies are being used to replicate basic drill tests rather than empowering students to develop new skillsets in knowledge management.

For example, we increasingly live in an era of big data and instant access to all the world’s accumulated knowledge. As a result, being a subject matter expert is becoming less a sign of educational achievement than the ability to navigate knowledge systems and to acquire a skillset that makes use of all the information that is on offer. At Popplet, we believe this trajectory will continue and hope that students and teachers can use our visual thinking and ideas mapping app as a way to build core competencies in how to manage information, collaborate with others, comprehend complex concepts, and uncover new connections between seemingly disparate ideas. Continue reading

Gamification, Meetup Note-Taking and Why Toronto is Fertile Start-Up Territory: An Interview with Mark Reale

Mark Reale is the Community and Culture Partner at Canadian tech company BNOTIONS, and has been using Popplet to organize his ideas, map brainstorming activities, and present at conferences since 2010.

Mark Reale

Mark Reale

BNOTIONS is at the center of the Toronto start-up scene, releasing an ongoing schedule of mobile and app products. Despite the hectic nature of being part of a business that is on Branham’s Top 300 list of best performing companies in Canada, and with an ever-growing catalog of mobile apps in development, Mark still helps host the weekly Lean Coffee entrepreneurs’ meetup, and manages the company’s not-for-profit initiative the YMC.

“We were 4 guys for a really long time, and now we’re around 60”, he says, explaining why BNOTIONS was ranked Number 5 on Branham’s Top 10 growth companies for 2012.

Mark recently shared a Popplet from the latest Lean Coffee meetup (see below). We asked him what Lean Coffee is all about, why the Toronto tech scene is getting some buzz, and where Popplet fits in to his creative, working life. Continue reading