Sunday, April 30, 2017

PicMonkey: Still My Graphic Go-To

I've been sharing my love for this one stop shop of graphic design
goodness for five years now, you'd think they would put me on the payroll or at least fly me to New York, pick me up in a limo, and set me up in the Four Seasons - you know - a just for a casual office visit! 
But, nahhh I just got some stickers & T-shirts to give away at conferences.  But hey, that's OK...because I love them anyway! (**see my sponsorship & street cred pledge to you at the bottom) 

The PicMonkey App - For iPhone & Android.

Get Graphic!
PicMonkey is a free website & app that does wonders with your digital photos in an easy peasy click it and save it kinda way. PicMonkey is free but yes, I enjoy the Royale upgrade - and now it's better than ever!
The graphic at the very top was done on the web version of the site and this one was done just on my phone. In this post I'm going to give a few highlights about each version of PicMonkey.  Of course, the computer version has many more bells and whistles but the mobile app ain't so slouchy!

Get Filtered!

On the mobile app you have a lot of filter choices -  BOOST is one of my favorites. 

What is also nice, is that you can control the intensity, you can erase portions, or draw the effect on, too! 

The filter I used on the left, as you can see, is called Intrepid, which has a nice circle focus effect! 

Just click the check mark on the top RIGHT when you're done. 

But be mindful that once you do that, there's no going back. But on the web version you can undo any step and you also have layers. Like an onion or an ogre. Or Photoshop Elements (my original graphic addiction and tried and true go-to for big jobs!) But I gotta admit to you, Photoshop is HARD. There are things I still don't get with that software! PicMonkey is fast & easy - who doesn't like that?

Get Texty!

The text feature is nice with lots of different fonts to choose from (not as many as the online Royale version, natch) but plenty of script, serif, sans serif, and funky fonts. 

AND you can change the color, size, tilt, rotation, and placement (by pinching and squeezing, takes a bit of practice) it's also easy to delete any layer! Just click the trash, hon! 

Click check to save, but again - no going back & editing.

Get Sticky!

Another cool feature is a variety of stickers you can add to your image. 

You can also change the opacity, color, and size.

Just pinch & squeeze to rotate the sticker. I really like the arrow, as pictured at left, it's really handy for kids & teachers!

Once you're all done, click the check mark and then click save to your camera roll, the hub (if you're Royale) or share to message, mail, Flickr, or Instagram and quite a few other great choices.

The PicMonkey App goes beyond the photo edit features built into my iPhone 7plus - the text feature alone is worth having!  So, if you're on the go, not near a computer, try this! 

PicMonkey - the Website. More Power to Ya! 

Got digital images and near a computer? Try the PicMonkey website for lots of extra features.  Filters, layers, textures, touch ups, and more!

Honestly, if you join PicMonkey just to whiten your teeth, brighten your eyes, and erase any flaws or fine lines - it's worth it and more effective and less expensive than any trip to a plastic surgeon. 

 Umm it's just not real or lasting. 

Get Toolin!
Tasty textures, cool effects, and many, many, themes can be found on the web version of PicMonkey.  For example, I added
clouds to the above picture - and even though the original photo was taken on an overcast dark morning, now with a couple clicks, it's bright with white fluffy clouds and splashes of pink! 

I also like the bokkeh, burst, and light trail textures and fancy focus is super cool!

Social Media Templates That Capture Eyeballs and Create Buzz   

PicMonkey has handy Templates that walk you through a lot of different sizes and types of projects. Even ones for birthday cards, announcements, and for Social Media like Facebook and Instagram.

Get Into the Hub! 
The NEW added hub is a "nifty feature for Premium users that lets you edit your overlays and text after you’ve saved them. Hub also lets you keep all your photos in one convenient location, so it’s easy to pull them up when you want to edit them. No more emailing (*shudder*) your mobile pictures to your computer in order to work on them in With Hub, they’re literally one click away!" Read more about the HUB.


Get FREE or Pay?
You can enjoy PicMonkey's free features as a basic user: core editing and touch up, effects, frames, and templates...or you can go for the Royale Premium Upgrade. 

For the price of one Carmel Caffè macchiato a month, you can get a year's worth of graphic goodness.  I use it professionally all the time! It makes great graphics for displays, blogs, and our school social media shares!

There's also a new premium called Supremium but I haven't splurged for that yet.  

Check out their pricing for more options. 

There are a few things I think are worth the yearly cost on the interwebs -Amazon Prime, Netflix, Acorn Media, Flickr Pro, Flocabulary, my Smugmug Archive, Dropbox, Apple iCloud, my domain name, and yes, PicMonkey! 

This year though, I have to admit - I'm gonna cancel my Birchbox

Now...should I splurge for Supremium? Unlimited hub storage...nom nom. Hey PicMonkey, I wouldn't hate you if you upgraded me for free -- forget about the limo & the Four know, just sayin - in a totally shameless way! 

I guess I still love you either way because're pretty much made of AWESOME! 

Resources & Past Posts

PicMonkey is Pretty & Pretty Free for ISTE!

Digital Image Factory & Cue Tips

Lustworthy Fonts Made of Win!

Teaching Good - Branding Evil

My promise:
**No one can pay me to be on this blog, I don't take unsolicited guest posts, paid adverts yet (maybe I'll monetize it as I get closer to retirement!) and all these start ups, infographics, & authors who email me to get on this blog - get a canned (but very polite!) response that's basically "Thanks, but no thanks!"So, I promise you - if you see me talking about a product or a website - it really is one that I like and use. I know I have my favorites - I'm looking at you Flocabulary and BrainPop! But I really am passionate about not being a vendor sell-out! You know who you are....not judging you tho!  Nope not me...[shakes head emphatically] See...cause I ain't cheap and my street cred meas a lot to me. So, don't ask! Unless it's a BOATLOAD of money - then err maybe baby...hey, wait...that just sounds wrong somehow! Heh heh one ever reads to the end anyway - not even my really, I could say ANYthing here...tempting.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Speed Dating for Book Lovahs!

Hello Book Lovahs!
I want to share with you a favorite book selection activity that the kids dig, is super silly and fun, creates a lot of excitement, and makes the books fly out of the library! I first blogged about this with you back in 2013, added a genre twist last year, and now I've added a video and a few new tweaks! 

With my middle school kids this activity is guaranteed to make them grin, giggle, and cringe a little. Give yourself permission to really ham it up. Because prepare yourselves, book lovahs, this is super cheezy!  

All the resources, printables, graphics, and videos are FREE for you to take, use, & share because they're made using the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.  

 Set Up & Book Your  Date

To get ready, I take a book cart around first the fiction area, grabbing armfuls of favorite, popular, and good looking books, grouping some by genre like my Teen, realistic novels, and Bluford High series.  

Then I collect a passel of Manga, comic, and graphic novels, and finally I cruise around my non-fiction and add popular like Guinness World Records, DK, Cooking, and sports books.  Lucky for me I also have a couple great kiddos who pitched in and selected some of their favorite books to add, too!  

The trick to staging this activity is to create messy inviting piles of books on each table (by subject, genre, or type), leaving some some flat, some standing up, and just pile it up and add signage

Hey Baby, Give me a Sign!

Next, I printed up some of the posters I designed last year when I blogged with my Californian librarian friend Mary @SEMSLibraryLady about Speed Dating by Book Genre. (Take them, they're FREE! - Wow, I seem to mention that a lot, don't I? But, Who doesn't love FREE?)

Super sports fan 7th grader Dominic, of course, chose all the Tim Green and Mike Lupica books to add to the sports table!

A post shared by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on

YouTube it for a Partial Flip!
Then, using the fun, silly, super cheezy script I wrote a couple years ago, I created a new iMovie with photos, music, and voice over to play for each class giving the directions.

Which I really needed because in the past 3 months I've had bronchitis twice and the days I was leading this activity, my voice was super croaky! (Yeah, that's part of why I've been a slacker about posting lately. But, I'm not apologizing for it, because life and bronchitis happens! So, not apologizing or making excuses!  Reflective Blogging Tip #3) Srsly, the video above saves your voice, time, is a partial flip addition, and it adds extra cheese to the lesson. Besides, let me make a fool of myself with the cheezy delivery and you can just sit back and roll your eyes with the kiddos. You're welcome!  ;-) 

Be Daring - Try a Blind Date!
Laminate some butcher paper book covers with cuts out on the back for bar codes! I made just four. (Yeah, I'm lazy!) Choose a few books, write short provocative blurbs on oversized post-it notes and rubber band em up! (I deliberately chose books I had several of copies of that I hid on a cart- so that if they were checked out I didn't have to do all the work over again - pop in the next copy! Boom! 

Now, set the time bomb timer  (I start with 30 seconds) and go! 
Switching a lot means that kiddos keep moving, talking, and it creates a sense of urgency. I tell the kiddos: "No sitting down  - to find true book love, sometimes you have to be quick on your feet & ready to pounce on the right book! During the 3 or 4 activity rounds you can also play Love Boat Theme by Barry White.

Sort of like musical chairs, but with books! Encourage kids to try a new genre or type of book. Make suggestions! Let the cooperating ELA to Reading teacher wander around making suggestions or pointing out a "good lookin possibility!"


After a couple turns I'll call out that the first 6 kiddos checking out books will get a scratch and sniff bookmark and then they can go, put up their feet, read their new book and hang out in our READING LOVE LOUNGE. ("VIP: Space is limited - hurry kids!") 

Not in the mood? Already got a date? 
Baby, it's all good!
To the kiddos: "Don't want to check out a book today? Not in the mood? Already got a "date?" It's OK if you're already in a committed reading relationship  - I don't want you to cheat on book you've already checked out!  I'm not gonna to force you - I just want you to see what's out there! It's all good!" LOL  

I'll then ask the cooperating teacher now to help out with the timer as I scoot over to the circ desk and check out the books. (Of course I do it myself! Esp, if I don't have a media asst there or a parent volunteer available- and most times, I don't [sad face]) The last round the kiddos can go anywhere in the library to find that "just right" book and then-- in the space of about 15 min almost every kid has a book & they're all smiles! W00t!

I hope you can give it a whirl! I know there are a LOT more ways to do this and some of my favorite teacher librarians do even more intricate dating and book set ups. But I'm kinda lazy! This is easy, fast, fun, cheezy, and effective. 

Your Turn! 
I'd love to hear how YOU do it, additions you would suggest, any changes or opinons in the comments! 

Though I did try and link most of the parts while I was writing this, here's the nuts and bolts of what you'll need to run this activity as described. Feel free though to add your own flair!

FREE online Love Time Bomb!

Speed Dating by Book Genre: Personal Ads  Collaborating with my friend Mary - where it's more about the Genre and it includes a Kahoot exit ticket game!
Feel free to steal and enjoy the posters!

My original Speed Dating with Books! post where I tried to do Vocaroo and it turned into a total fail in the long run! See the update to find out why.  



Book Speed Dating | Mighty Little Librarian

Blind Date with a Book --or--Speed Dating for Books

Book Speed Dating - YouTube

Get On Board the Book Speed Dating Train 

From the Archives: Speed Dating with Books! – School Library ..

Get On Board the Book Speed Dating Train | Programming for Teens ...



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