Grade 4 / Quarter 1 / Quarter 2 / Quarter 3 / Quarter 4


Class: 30 minutes / once a week
(Students may also have extra computer class time or extra keyboarding time once a week during the time that groups of students are going to instrumental lessons. This depends on the classroom teacher's schedule that day.)

Keyboarding Goal for the end of 4th grade: Finish UltraKey. Type 13-14 wpm / 95%, by touch.
  • Students receive a grade of O, S, N on the online report card, based on their typing progress.
  • If your child has not finished UltraKey, the best way to complete it is by working through it at home. Learning to keyboard "by touch" uses the same technique as learning an instrument. It is learned through frequent practice and repetition, with proper finger position (homerow) and hand position (wrists up). Contact me if you would like to purchase the program for $19.95. We do not spend enough time in UltraKey after 3rd grade to be able to work through the whole program. Fourth grade teachers often have students type stories, but I do not allow students to type stories if they have not completed UltraKey. (It would not be good for them to practice "incorrect" finger reaches.) Regular practice for 15- 20 minutes three-four times a week or more will help your child complete the program.


Quarter 1


Since most of the fourth graders completed UltraKey in third grade, we can use computer class time to apply those skills in typing stories and to focus on learning other computer skills through creating projects. Any opportunities to type at home will help your child maintain and improve their typing skill. Students can type spelling words, stories, email, and notes. If your child has not completed UltraKey, it is even more important for him/her to type at home. (Tape paper to the keyboard so your child types “by touch”.) Here is a link to free online games to practice keyboarding: Some students were a bit rusty when they came back to school, so this quarter, we spent several sessions just practicing typing.

SKILLS: Working with graphics in word processing when writing stories or poems
Students learned how to format their text in Microsoft Word last year in third grade. This year, we started out reviewing how to align text (center, right, full, left) and move it up and down the page. We talked about which fonts are easier to read (serif / sans serif) and when to use all caps and fancy fonts. Students learned how to indent with the "first line indent marker" instead of using the tab key. Mrs. Zehr's class also learned how to set tabs to put text on the left and right side of the same line, as in a heading.

Last year, students learned how to copy/paste an image from Microsoft Office's clipart web site, which is safe for students. We reviewed how to add an image and also how to use "text wrap" to make the words go around the image. We have been practicing those skills in several writing pieces in both classes. Students also learned how manipulate their images (flip horizontal, move front) and add special effects (crop, borders, artistic effects).

Mrs. Fisher's class will be Skyping with a class in another state next Thursday, using map skills, research skills and what they have learned about other states, to guess where each class is from. Then the classes will share information about their town and school.

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Quarter 2

SKILLS: Creating a Google Presentation slide show to create and present different polygons and shapes learned in math class; Editing a wiki (website); MYSTERY SKYPE!! Using Google Maps and Skyping to practice geography skills learned in Social Studies class

PowerPoint Polygons and Shapes Slide Show: Students learned how to use PowerPoint last year in third grade. This year, we practiced the skills with another slide show for math class. Mrs. Zehr's class used regular PowerPoint and Mrs. Fisher's class used Google Presentation, which is one of the Google Apps in their Google account. I showed Mrs. Fisher's class how to get into their "Google Accounts" so they could access Google Doc's Presentation tool to create a slideshow that can be worked on and viewed from home on the Internet! Since 4th graders learn about polygons, it is the perfect reason to learn how to make them with the tools on the computer. Students not only learned how to use PowerPoint (Google Docs Presentation), adding a background, choosing a theme and layout, adding/deleting slides, adding transitions, creating customized animations so shapes moved onto and off of the slide, and viewing the show. but they also worked with Word processing (formatting text in a text box), creating shapes with Google Docs tools, similar to those in Word, and formatting the shapes (fill, color, border color, border thickness). Students learned to hold down the shift key to make an oval into a circle, and a rectangle into a square. They also learned how to move objects behind and in front of each other and how to align shapes to make concentric circles.

Students add animations to their presentations so that the shapes and words moved onto the page and off the page in a fun way. By the time students are in 8th grade, I teach them to be consistent, repetitive and to the point in their presentations, without adding extra animations and sound, so the audience can focus on their message. But in the early use of this tool, students like to have fun with it and try out all of the options with color, movement, and sound! I don't blame them!

Google Docs
Presentation Tool: This online tool is similar to PowerPoint. The choices are a bit limited, but it can be embedded in a wiki (website) so the whole slide show appears on the wiki page, rather than just a file name. Students can also edit it at home. Mrs. Zehr chose to not use Google Docs with her class yet. Google Docs does include email. We stress to elementary students, that they are NOT to use the email feature. Please contact Mrs. Fisher or me if another student is emailing your child. The 4th-8th grade Google Docs accounts for LMS are set up to block any email coming in from anyone outside of the @lancastermennonite domain. We are using Google Docs for the following reasons: files can be embedded in wikis so the complete file shows up on the page; students can work on their projects and assignments at home; teachers can view and comment on written assignments in real time to provide feedback as students are working on them; students can collaborate on projects synchronously from home or school, to teach students how to use technology responsibly and ethically.

Mrs. Fisher's students then embedded their presentations in a wiki page so that all could see it. Even though the file is on the wiki, as students continue to make changes from Google Docs, the changes are updated on the wiki automatically! Mrs. Zeh'rs class will upload their PowerPoint to her wiki when they are finished. You can view Mrs. Fisher's Polygon/Shape videos from her class wiki or going to:

Mystery Skype
Since Mrs. Fisher teaches the state regions in social studies, it was the perfect reason to Skype with some schools and learn how to use Google Maps to learn map skills to locate places on the map. It was especially fun to see our schools and homes, as well as the "mystery" schools on Google Maps' "street view"! Our first Skype turned out to be with a fifth grade class from Texas. Our second Skype was with a third grade class from Florida. We were much more experienced on the second Skype. We were better at our map skills and googling, as well as feeling comfortable to communicate with the students on the screen. On the second Skype, we not only found each other's states, but also our cities and even our schools! On the second Skype, students took on roles: those who were the spokespeople, those who were "inquirers" and "map-masters", and those who took pictures and video. We also shared about our communities with the partner schools. Students were quite "engaged" in their learning! Working with actual students from other states made geography more exciting and real! - Authentic learning!

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Quarter 3

SKILLS: Integrating Art, Language, and Computer: Recording voices with Garageband (editing and playing the recording, exporting it as an audio file, realizing different file formats:), Taking a picture with Photobooth (moving images into another program to crop them, understanding image formats - .jpg), Creating a web page (formatting text, uploading files to a wiki and adding a caption, link, and an anchor.); Brainstorming adjectives, verbs, and names for God and using them to make a "word cloud" in Wordle; Using the screen capture program, "Grab" to select part of the screen and save it as an image; Converting image formats (.tiff to .jpg) to use on a web page.

Who Am I

I live in a hot climate, but I do not sweat.
I get big and eat a tall green plant as my candy.
Some people might even call me giant!
I definitely can’t be sneaky,
But I can be quiet!
Who am I?
Rita print.jpg
Giant Panda

View the finished projects!
Taking a picture of their artwork
The fourth graders made prints of animals in art class. I showed them how to take a picture of their print with the camera on the computer and the program, Photobooth. There was a problem, though. Their hands were in the picture. To crop out their hands, they dragged the image out of Photobooth and onto the desktop. Then they opened it in the program, Preview. They cropped the image and then exported it as a .jpg file to their folder on the server. We discussed how images on the Internet did not need to be big files. Even if they were small files, they would look nice online. If they were big files, they would print out better (not pixely or blurry), but they would take too long to upload to their wiki page or to appear on the wiki page when viewing. When exporting the image from Preview, we dragged the slider to make the quality lower.

Recording themselves reading their poem
Students wrote and typed "Who Am I?" poems about their animal prints. Then they copy/pasted them onto the wiki page they created. I taught them how to format the text to change the font and color. Then they printed out a copy of their poem so they could read it and record it with GarageBand. After they were satisfied with their recordings, they had to export the audio to the server to be uploaded to the wiki. I explained that they could not upload their GarageBand files, because people would need GarageBand to be able to listen to it. When they exported their recording, they saw that it was a ".m4a" file, unlike the ".jpg", which meant "picture" or "image". They uploaded the .m4a file to their wiki page.

Creating an anchor and link on their web page
Since whoever was reading the poem had to guess what the animal was, we didn't want to give it away by having the picture next to the poem. So, we hid the picture at the bottom of the page. I showed students how to add an "anchor" next to the picture and then write the word "ANSWER" and link the word to the anchor. That way, people would click on the "hypertext link" and it would take them down to the invisible anchor where the picture was. Students also added a caption to the picture to tell exactly what the animal was.

This was a great way to showcase their wonderful artwork and their writing skills, making something online for others to enjoy and interact with!

Wordle: Mrs. Zehr mentioned that they were brainstorming parts of speech in class. I thought it would be a perfect reason to use Wordle to create a "word cloud" of their words. We created a shared public Google Doc, so all students could copy/paste their adjectives in one place. They watched in amazement as each list of words was miraculously added by their classmates to the document they were viewing. A Google Doc can be edited synchronously (at the same time) by several users. Creating a public Google Doc let students edit the document without using a Google account. Mrs. Zehr then copied/pasted all the complete list into Wordle. Every word that appeared more often, appeared larger in Wordle. The adjectives were to describe their class. Of course the most frequent adjectives were: fun, funny, silly, thoughtful, active! The next week, students made their own Wordle using verbs. In Wordle, you can change fonts, layout, and color. You can print it, but not save it. To save the image students created, I had them use "Grab", and click and drag over their Wordle image. Then they saved it. Unfortunately, Grab saves images as "tiffs". But, Wikis will only upload "jpgs". Student learned about image formats: tiff and jpg this quarter! So...we had to double-click on our saved "tiffs", so they would open in "Preview". In the program, Preview, they could export the files as ".jpgs". Then they could upload the .jpgs to their wiki page. They also added a caption to their image. While, I was afraid this would be too complicated for 4th graders, I was surprisingly pleased at how well they picked up what they were doing - enough to teach it to students who missed the lesson because of instrument practice. Here is an example of what they did. You can view them on their Writing Wikis.
Allison verb wordle.jpg
Verbs - By Allison

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Quarter 4

Reb cupcake chair.jpg

population graph.jpg

SKILLS: Excel Spreadsheet (Creating bar graphs to show population of PA cities); Adding backgrounds, text boxes, and photos to show their artwork and writing skills.

Excel Spreadsheet Bar Graphs:
Students had studied PA in Social Studies classes. They talked about the most populated cities in PA. When comparisons are made, we often don't grasp the differences until we see a visual representation. After learning how to format text, columns, and rows in Excel, students learned how to make bar graphs (column charts), to compare the highest populated cities in PA. The differences and similarities were more evident when we viewed the lengths of the bars. Students used a website for the data. This particular website also showed the cities on the map, which was helpful!

Using graphics (images and text boxes) and changing programs and file formats to show what they created in Art class. Mrs. Zehr's class had some extra time this quarter. They wanted to publish the chairs they made in art class so others could enjoy them. We followed the process we had done with the prints they made in art class earlier this year.

Students learn differences in file formats and the purpose of "save as" and "export". Mrs. Zehr took pictures of the students with their chairs and put them on the server. Students wrote about their chairs in Word and saved the files on the server. We wanted to combine those two things with a frame on a document. To arrange the images and the text, we had to cut/paste the text into a text box. That way all three objects could be moved and arranged on the page. To create an image from the Word document, we had to do a "save as" to save it in a different file format - a pdf. When we opened the pdf file (in Preview), we were able to export it as a jpd (picture) file. That picture file could then be uploaded to a wiki, so it would appear on the page. What a valuable computer skill! - to understand different file formats, when you need certain ones, and how to convert one format to another! Click HERE to see them!

Just a reminder: Encourage your child to type over the summer! - And check to see that they have their wrists up and are using the correct finger reaches!

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Quarter 2

SKILLS: Working with graphics and text boxes integrated with math class and Christmas; Blogging (4B); Graphing with Excel Spreadsheets (4F)

Shape Poster
The fourth graders learned about shapes, specifically polygons, in math class. I took that opportunity to teach them how to create shapes in Microsoft Word. After students made the shapes, they learned how to format them, adding a fill color or pattern and changing the thickness and color of the border. Students learned how to create and format text boxes as they labeled each shape. The end result will be a kind of "polygon poster".

Christmas Card
The polygon posters are taking some time to complete. We will work on them from time to time throughout the year. Since it was soon Christmas, we transferred the same skill to a new project: making a Christmas card. Students needed to rotate an image to create the card, which gave them a purpose for learning how to manipulate a graphic. It also gave us an opportunity to talk about using search techniques and copyright when we get pictures from the Internet. We hope you enjoyed their cards!

Blogging (4B)
The Internet provides many ways for students to share their writing (or any creation) with an "authentic audience" and receive feedback that lends itself to communication through discussion and then more learning through the sharing of ideas. This is the focus of 21st Century Learning (creativity, communication, collaboration). Students "perk up" and want to write better when they know someone other than their teacher is going to read it and that someone will comment on what they write. I set up accounts with so students can have blogs that can be controlled. If something inappropriate is written, the blog is stopped and forwarded on to the teacher. Blogs can be made public or private. I have been using this company for years, as do many schools. The best part is, it's free! Mrs. Buckwalter's class is currently writing a persuasive blog, which ties in with what they are learning in language class. We will move on to other types of blogs and hopefully develop a regular class blog!

Excel Graphs (4F)
Mrs. Fisher chose to work on graphs, since she not only covers it in math class, but she can integrate it into social studies by graphing data about various states and regions. Students are starting out by learning how to enter data in a spreadsheet and format cells, rows, and columns. Then they will create a quick bar and pie graph on favorite ice cream flavors. Once students know how to create a graph, we will discuss what kinds of things we can compare about state regions using graphs. Then we will start to create graphs that are relevant to what they are studying in class.

Quarter 2


SKILLS: Working with graphics and text boxes with the Web 2.0 tool, "Glogster" to create online posters for Social Studies and Science

Glogster Posters
Fourth graders create posters each year about "Renewable Resources" and one of the state regions they study in Social Studies. This year I had their teachers try having the students create posters online with Glogster. Why online posters? With Glogster, students can add animated clip art which makes the poster more exciting. They can also record their voices and if they wanted, upload photos and video. With typed text, the words are all neatly typed and straight. Plus, with an online poster, parents and grandparents, and others can see it when it's shared online, like on a wiki!

Students are learning essential technology skills such as the formats of files (.jpg, .doc) when they save an image from online. They are learning that images, if used online, must be "saved" or "downloaded" and then "uploaded", and not "copied", as you would for a word processing document. They are learning how to use editing tools online that they used in other programs to change font and size of text and move a picture to the back or front or flip it to face the other direction. They are gaining experience using the wonderful free online tools which foster creativity and allow you to share what you've made with others. The students used websites we linked on our "portaportal" site so they didn't have to waste time doing a lot of searching. They wrote their information on the posters and added images from the Internet. When we finish, the students will place the posters on a wiki page. Students are also gaining experience adding information to a website when they contribute to their class wikis. Our students are becoming used to working with wikis, so they will be a natural tool for them to use for collaboration and sharing with others!

Your child can access their Glogster accounts from home and show you what they're doing. It would be great if they could be adding more to their posters from home! We are using, rather than The educational version has more appropriate graphics from which our students can choose.

Quarter 3


4S Scrapblog scrapbook collage to describe themselves to their penpals! Mrs. Smith's class is gathering images from the Microsoft Office site that describe themselves. Rather than copying them, they are saving or downloading them to a folder they created. After they collected several images, I directed them to the site, "Scrapblog", in which I created an account and set up scrapbooks for each student. Students chose a background and uploaded their pictures to arrange on it. From the site, they chose stickers and typed in text boxes to create a collage. Students will save their collages as images and then upload them to their wiki to show their penpals. - A fun way to use technology and Web 2.0 tools to tell about yourself!

4F Podcasts about landforms! Mrs. Fisher's class created a podcast to show the different types of landforms they had been studying in social studies class. Students downloaded images showing the landforms to a folder. With the program, Garageband, they recorded themselves explaining the landform. Then they dragged the images onto a "track" within the program and adjusted the recorded audio so the pictures would display during their explanations. To finish the podcast, background music from Garageband was added, and then students exported the podcast as a format that could be uploaded to their class wiki. - A cool way to show what you've learned and share it with others!

Example of Canyon Podcast by Kyler. (You will need QuickTime to view it.)

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Quarter 3

SKILLS: Creating book report podcasts and editing a wiki page (4B); Graphing with Excel spreadsheets (4F)

Podcasts / adding text and uploading a file to a wiki (4B)
Mrs. Buckwalter's class created podcasts with the program, GarageBand. They had written short essays, which they recorded themselves reading with Garageband. Then they found pictures on Microsoft Office's website to go with the essay. They saved the images in a folder and then dragged them onto the image track in Garageband. Next they searched through the loops of music files in Garageband, marking the ones they liked as "favorites". They chose one of their favorites to drag to the "jingles" track. The lengths of the pictures and music were adjusted and students learned how to fade out their music at the end. Once complete, the podcasts were exported into a file that can be read by any computer. So that others can enjoy the podcasts, Mrs. Buckwalter created a podcast wiki. Students signed into the wiki and created their own page. Then they clicked on "edit" and the "file" button and uploaded their podcast and placed it on their page. Last they added text to their page and formatted the text to make it look nice. You can watch their podcasts by clicking on this link to their wiki:

Students are almost finished creating their second podcast, which is a book trailer! It is amazing to see them downloading pictures, recording their voices and adding music with ease! Creating something you can watch and listen to and share with others makes writing a book report fun! And this class can now do it with ease!

Excel Graphs (charts) (4F)
After Mrs. Fisher's students got experience creating a bar and pie graph showing which flavors of ice cream their classmates liked best, they turned to what they had been studying in Social Studies to use their skills. There were many graphs in their Social Studies books comparing state regions. Students brainstormed about what state facts they would like to find out and compare. Some chose population; some chose the number of state parks or Indian reservations. I directed them to several sites with facts about each state. A very useful one was Students learned how to copy/paste the large numbers into the cells in Excel as they entered data the proper way to create a graph. You can see their comparisons on Mrs. Fisher's wiki. Sometimes comparisons are easier to understand when they are in picture form, like a bar or pie graph.

Book report with Blabberize!

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Quarter 3


SKILLS: Google Presentation: Working collaboratively to show what they've learned about the Southeastern Region; Writing stories online with StoryBird.

Southeastern Region Google Presentations
The students completed their Google Presentations with information and pictures about their topics. Google Docs provides a great opportunity for collaborating, as students can even work on the same slide or page! They had fun adding transitions and custom animations to make pictures and text boxes appear on the slide and then go off. Putting projects online in a wiki also gives students an authentic audience and feedback. It's not just the teacher looking at what the student has done. Also, as students read each other's work, they are reinforcing the information about the topic, for a better chance of retaining. Students mainly used World Book Online for their research. This way, they could quickly get information on their reading level. The program will even read the text to students. We also did some searching in Google, talking about how to find the best sites and search safely.

Take a look at the finished presentations!
Here is the page with information and links students used for researching:

StoryBird - Digital Storytelling
I come across a lot of neat sites and tools to use with students throughout the year. Students in 4th grade are putting their typing skills to use as they write stories. Storybird provides wonderful illustrations by artists which students can arrange and use to write their own stories. Then the stories are published online for others to read and comment on. - Again, an authentic audience and feedback to motivate students to write and create even more, and to do their "best" work, because others will see it!

Students embedded their stories on a wiki. Working with wikis themselves teaches them the valuable skills of how to create and post content for sharing online.

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Quarter 4
SKILLS: Creating Podcasts and editing a wiki page (4B); Graphing with Excel Spreadsheets and editing a wiki page (4F)

2nd Podcast: Book Trailer (4B)
Mrs. Buckwalter's class created their 2nd podcast. This time, it was a book trailer. What a fun, creative alternative to a book report! If you haven't seen them yet, view them on Mrs. Buckwalter's podcast wiki! Students uploaded both podcasts onto their page.

Blogging (4B)
The students in Mrs. Buckwalter's class had blogged using Gaggle earlier in the year. Gaggle helps students be careful about what they post because anything inappropriate gets blocked and sent to the teacher. There are several sites commonly used by teachers as class blogs that also allow students to have their own posts. Kidblog is one of them. I wanted Mrs. Buckwalter to try a class blog, so she added her students' names and we had them comment on one of her posts and then try their own posts. Kidblog allows the teacher to approve student posts before they can become public. Students love blogging, as it gives them an authentic audience. If someone is going to read what you write and comment, that's incentive to write more! Check out the blogs with this link. Mrs. Buckwalter said students may continue blogging over the summer!

Excel Graphs / File formats / Creating wiki pages of text and files (4F & 4B)
After Mrs. Fisher's students graphed the information they wanted to compare about the Southwestern Region, they copied their graph and pasted into a program called AppleWorks. This program allowed them to save the graph as an image (.jpg), so that it could be uploaded and inserted online in a wiki. Students were learning about file formats: .xls (Excel), .jpg (image) and uploading files to the clouds. If you want to add an image online, you can't copy/paste. The image must be its own file. Students also got to practice adding files and text and formatting text on a wiki, by uploading their image of the graph onto their wiki page. Eventually, posting information online will become natural to our students, as they create their own content and information to share with others and learn from other students with the tools of technology. See what they've done!:

Mrs. Buckwalter's class also learned how to use Excel to make graphs, copy/paste the graph into AppleWorks to save it as an image and then upload it to a wiki page, and add format text to the page. Their topic was taking a survey of their classmates on one of their favorite topics. They made the graph more complex by categorizing the votes by gender. See their results on this wiki!:

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Quarter 4

SKILLS: Creating online posters about PA with Glogster; Embedding files on a wiki; Continuing digital storytelling with Storybird; Making comments on each other's work on a wiki.

Glogster Online Posters:
Last year, Mrs. Fisher and I decided to start a wiki on PA, since students study PA in Social Studies. The idea is to have students add to the site each year, to develop a great resource for her class that was created by her fourth graders. This way, students will see even more value - lasting value in what they are creating. This year, we used Glogster, as the tool to share what students were learning. Students love this program, as it comes with fun stickers and animations to add to your poster, which makes it similar to scrapbooking. We stressed the importance of quality content and information before moving on to the pictures and "extras".

I am so AMAZED by how far our students come in a year! Two years ago, these students couldn't type or do any of what they are currently doing on the computer! Students are saving/downloading images, renaming them and saving them to a certain destination, understanding file extensions (.jpg, etc.), understanding the importance of naming files, the difference between copy/pasting and downloading/saving, uploading files and browsing to where they were saved to find them. They know how to log in and out of programs, how to edit wikis, how to find and copy the embed code of something they create online and the difference between embedding something and linking something when working on a website. They know to choose a "widget" if they need to embed a file on the wiki, and how to paste the code in the widget, so the file is displayed on the page.

What a REWARDING EXPERIENCE!! I am SO PROUD of our 4th graders! With such a huge class, even with two teachers, it can get a bit hectic, because we are doing advanced and complex computer activities. On our last class (When we work on projects, we work for hour long sessions this year.), we needed to finish the posters and get them embedded on the wiki. We were in a time crunch. It is such a complex process, and I wasn't sure of the most efficient way to do it, since they were all finishing at a different time. I showed a few of the students who had finished, how to do it. Then I asked if they could teach that to other groups as they finished. They said they could, and I was just blown away as they taught another group, and then that group got up and taught another group. Mrs. Fisher and I could then help other students finish getting their images, and help troubleshoot other issues. I also gave them the option of looking at the posted Glogster posters and commenting on them via the discussion board on the wiki page. They loved giving/getting feedback from their peers! What a sense of empowerment, confidence, independence, pride I saw in those students. It is also great to see students who do not excel in some academic work really shine in computer activities! It is also a great outlet and learning opportunity for students who have trouble sitting still and quiet in a classroom, passively listening to a teacher. With the computer activities, they can be active, and even vocal, yet they are thoroughly engaged and involved in learning.

Storybird: It was difficult to get the students to stop writing stories in Storybird! (Wow! What a wonderful problem!!) These stories can be printed and even made into a book and purchased! I encourage you to set up your own free account at home and let your child write some books this summer, and then have them made! They can also get in to their Glogster accounts and create new posters (or you can set up your own account for them.) These programs are FREE! What a great way to improve reading/writing/keyboarding skills this summer!

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