Saturday, January 26, 2008

Kerpoof! An Online Tool for Elementary and Middle Students

I have found another high quality, web-based, free educational software application. I believe that Kerpoof! ( fits that definition. Kerpoof! is a web-based application that has some capabilities similar to those of KidPix.

With Kerpoof! you can make pictures, stories, and movies. Select a background. Drag clip art onto the scene. Move, rotate, and change the size of the clip art. Even let the clip art automatically change size based on whether you’re positioning it in the front of the scene or farther back.

I read about this product at Steve Dembo’s Digital Passports web site. Steve, a former kindergarten teacher, calls Kerpoof! one of his "new fave’s for lower elementary/early childhood."
Kerpoof! works well in grades K-5, although it would probably be used the most in grades K-3.

M. C. Escher used to help me teach geometry. Well, at least his drawings and woodcuts helped me. I found a lesson plan for introducing his work and the concept of perspective with Kerpoof! For the Escher introduction, the lesson plan begins by sharing some information about Escher and his work. Then you use the multiple perspectives scene as your background and place clip art on it so that three different perspectives are represented. The lesson plan then continues with some other activities. It provides a good hands-on introduction. And it was fun!

At Amy Boehman’s web site I saw a suggestion for creating number sentences with different background scenes or creating patterns using the pictures. It also works well with IEPs.

The Kerpoof! web site provides lesson plans, ideas, and a teacher’s page. Training is available through text instructions, a PDF, and short movies. Students can save, print, or email their products. They can share their projects through the web site and they can email them to other students in a Kerpoof! community. Students can create “chat groups” and then work collaboratively with a member of their group to build a scene together. Scenes can be printed for coloring.

Chris Harris at the School Library Journal calls Kerpoof! “one of the most powerful online resources [he has] seen in quite a while.” Chris adds that Kerpoof! has aspects of Storybook Weaver as well as Kid Pix.

Kerpoof! is both kid- and teacher-friendly. It can be used in a variety of ways to help students learn the curriculum. Kerpoof! is accessed through a browser rather than installed on your computer. And it’s free!

My only complaint is that there aren’t both boy and girl clip art people for each scene. I could place a girl from the Nutcracker Suite scene in my Backpack and then pull her out to use in the Starry Night scene, but her clothing (a nightgown) just didn’t fit!

Kerpoof! is intended to be both fun and educational. Suggested uses for the classroom include studying traditional Japanese culture, the life cycle of a caterpillar, food chains, elementary mathematics, writing starters, reading comprehension, impressionist art, metaphors, and cubism art.

You can sign up for an educator’s electronic newsletter. Do be sure to read the Terms and Conditions for using Kerpoof! so you know the rules for displaying Kerpoof! products.

Kerpoof! is fun, free, and easy to use.


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