Thursday, June 19, 2014

Instagram-Inspired Project-Based Learning

If you've read my previous post about how we've been using Instagram in kindergarten, you'd know that we've been avid Instagrammers for the last couple of months. #mathphotoaday and #eduphotoaday have provided the basis for many terrific mini-lessons, and captioning photographs has provided authentic early writing practice. I've been amazed at how successfully my students have used Instagram and supporting apps such as Pic Collage, InstaCollage, and Color Splash.

Last week, we were viewing our Instagram pictures on our SMART Board, and the kids were commenting on how beautiful a lot of them were. One little boy put up his hand and said, "Mrs. Caldwell, our Instagram pictures are so beautiful. I think that we should print them out and sell them and make money for our new playground." And just like that, a new project was born! Why does this always happen at the end of the school year when we have a million and one other things to do? But their enthusiasm was contagious and I agreed that it was a fantastic idea! And when a 6 year-old shows entrepreneurial spirit like that, who am I to stand in his way?

All of our projects are guided by a to do list that is projected on the SMART Board, and our first job was to find out if the playground project still needed money. A quick FaceTime call to the president of Parent Advisory Council confirmed that the project was finished and additional funds were not required. The kids soon came up with two other options: supporting our universal breakfast snack program and/or our brand new child care centre that is set to open this fall.

Our next task was to find somewhere that printed Instagram photographs. I had used both Sticky9 and Prinstagram before, so we visited both websites and did some cost comparisons. In the end, we decided to go with Prinstagram. We decided to order magnets printed with our existing Instagram pictures. This led to some terrific digital citizenship/responsible use learning opportunities as we discussed what pictures we should use and sell. We also discussed our audience and what they would be interested in buying--sorting shapes (probably not), a beautiful blue sky (yes).

With our magnets ordered, we explored the rest of the site and discovered that they also made greeting cards in 4 x 4 and 4 x 6 sizes. The 4 x 4 cards were cheaper, but we wondered if they were too small to go in the mail. My mom is a postmaster and my students know her, so they asked if we could Skype her and ask (hey Mrs. Caldwell, your mom is a post officer. Can we call her and ask?). My mom confirmed the students' suspicions when she said that 4 x 4 were too small to be mailed as standard letter mail, but people could pay extra to have them mailed. My students made the decision to still order 4 x 4 cards as they thought they wouldn't always need to be mailed.
Our discussion of audience and what people would like to see on cards led to the students making the decision to take a lot of new Instagram pictures. They predicted that people from Oak Lake would be interested in pictures of our town and its landmarks. They also thought that everyone likes flowers, so we needed more pictures of flowers. We walked around Oak Lake and photographed whatever struck the students' fancy. I was absolutely amazed by some of the spectacular pictures they shot independently. They also edited and designed collages using a variety of apps, completely independently. Have a look at their work! As you can see, these images are perfect for greeting cards.

Once the greeting cards and magnets were created and ordered, some new tasks had to be accomplished to prepare for our sale. The students named the project #instaawesome and had decided to sell our cards and magnets at Awards Day and Kindergarten Graduation when a lot of people would be in the school. Setting prices for the cards and advertising were two big jobs!
 We always set up our to do lists in three columns: task, who will do it, then a check off when done column.
Deciding what organization our profits would support was an important decision. We talked about our two options (new child care centre and our school's universal breakfast snack progam), then I gave students a few minutes to discuss with their neighbour before voting. It turned out that a vote wasn't necessary, as one of my little boys raised his hand and stated, "I think our money should go to the day care. There's little kids in our town and they need to have somewhere good to go so they can learn stuff and be ready for kindergarten." Another little girl added, "And some of us have little brothers and sisters. They need to have a place to go when our moms and dads are at work." Everyone agreed with this logic and it was unanimous that all funds raised would go to the new child care centre on our school grounds. Talk about substantive decision making!
Setting prices was an activity rich in real-life learning. We needed to find out how much people would be willing to pay for little cards, big cards, and magnets.We decided to survey the adults in the school, so we took samples of our products and a clipboard to get the information we needed. Then we collated all our data on the SMART Board.

Because we wanted to ask more people than just the adults in the school, I suggested that we create a survey using Survey Monkey to give us more data for setting prices. We posted the link on my Facebook page and Twitter. After only an hour, we got 12 responses online which we included when we collated our data on the SMART Board. This information made it very clear to the students what prices we needed to charge for the cards.

This slide shows great problem-solving in action! It was a difficult concept for the students, but role-playing actually paying Prinstagram for each card helped them understand that we could not keep all the money for each card and what our actual profit would be. 

Next we used shared writing to compose a note to families in our school about our #instaawesome sale that would take place at Awards Day. The students strengthened their scissor skills by cutting the papers in half as there were two notes on each sheet of paper (great opportunity to teach the concept of half).Students decorated the notes, then surveyed each class to find out how many students there were. Printing the numbers on a clipboard to keep track, students were able to count out piles of notes for each classroom, and label them with a sticky note. It was very exciting delivering the notes!

Tomorrow is our card sale. The magnets haven't arrived yet, so we hope to sell those at Kindergarten Grad. Tomorrow morning, we will make a price list, a sign to advertise, set up our display, and practice using the coins to make change. It should be another exciting day of project-based learning in kindergarten!


  1. Hi Devon! Great post and beautiful pictures from your Instagram projects! Just a heads up that the images right below the text "Have a look at their work! As you can see, these images are perfect for greeting cards." are not displaying in my browser(s). The images display as content not available with an Instagram logo.

    Images look fantastic so how do we order a set?

    1. Oh thanks John! Our Instagram account is private and that's probably why the images aren't displaying! I'll screen shoot the images and share them in the blog post that way!

      We sold out in an hour at our card shop on Friday! If I do another order, I'll let you know :)