Creating Mini-Lessons with Sock Puppets

I recently wrote a post about using the Sock Puppet App to make mini-lessons.

How did I do It?

  • To make the sock puppet mini lesson I followed a few steps. Like always I first set a pedagogical goal. I wanted to make a mini-lesson about writing leads.
  • I went and found  articles with leads that could serve as mentor texts. I turned these into backgrounds I could import (see below).
  • I  made five separate sock puppet movies (the 90 second video and the ability to save require in-app purchases).
  • I uploaded each video to YouTube.
  • I downloaded each of the movies, imported them into iMovie and edited the clips into one lesson*

*You can pay to save videos to camera roll and then edit right in iMovie on the iPad (I did not but less rendering means less error so I eventually will pay)

Designing the Background

Fixing the text for the background was a challenge. The app stretches the photo to size. So after a few failed attempts I developed the following work around:

Materials:

  • Mentor text (either write a paragraph, find a source, or use student work).
  • Chrome browser*
  • Pixlr Editor*
  • Google Drive

*I could probably accomplish this on iPad only but prefer image editing on a laptop or desktop.

Steps:

  1. Take a picture of the text segment you wish to analyze.
  2. Save the file to Google Drive (or your preferred method for moving files of an iPad)
  3. Open Pixlr editor
  4. Make an image 600 width and 800 height*
  5. Open your text image as a new layer
  6. Free Transform the layer until you have a background on the bottom

Importing the Background

Steps:

  1. Save the new background to Google Drive (or your preferred workflow more moving files around)
  2. Open the image and save it the camera roll
  3. You can now choose the background in the app (If you made the in-app purchase).

Making the Sock Puppet Mini Lesson

The sock puppet app is easy to use (though it does require in-app purchases if it is to have any functionality).

  1. Just launch the app.
  2. Choose two characters
  3. Select a background (up to three)
  4. Choose any props
  5. Record
  6. Publish to YouTube

Limitations

In-App Purchases

Sock Puppets requires in-app purchases. I am okay with this reality. We need to feed developers  I just do not know  if a full version can be purchased and if volume purchasing program is supported. I purchased the longer 9o second recording, the ability to save, some additional characters, and the ability to import backgrounds. I still need to purchase saving to camera roll.

Short Record Time

The 90- second time limit is both a blessing and a curse. This keeps the videos (and thus the rendering and encoding) quick. Still this created additional layers of work. I had to record five videos, upload them to youtube, download the videos, import to iMovie, edit, and then resave to YouTube.

The short record time could also be an asset in the classroom. Imagine having students do a news show where they each record 90 second stories. I was able to quickly teach my five year old and two year old to use the app so students will pick it up.

My dream would be a video compressor app I could purchase in the OSX app store (similar to Explain Everything) that would allow me to record longer videos.

Video Quality

I am still playing with trying to find the right dimensions for importing text backgrounds. I also tried to use the Apple as a reading bouncing ball. The timing (going up and down and back again to YouTube didn’t help) ended up a little off.

Also in my final scene the background does not look as it did in the raw footage when recording.

Conclusion

I recommend Sock Puppets for school use, though you need to investigate either a full version purchase or VPP if possible). Students will find the app easy to use. I also think, following the above isntructions, Sock Puppets can be used for on demand mini-lessons or flipped classroom teaching.