Monday, February 21, 2022

Create TinyTap Educational Games With Houdini Effects, Videos, and More

Disclosure: TinyTap is currently an advertiser on 

TinyTap is an educational game creation tool that I've been using and writing about since its launch as a free iPad app many years ago. In my recent series about creating games with TinyTap I’ve focused on using the web-based game creation tools. Today, I’m going to highlight some of the cool features available when you create games with TinyTap’s free iPad app along with a neat feature available in the web-based version of TinyTap.

Today, I’m going to use TinyTap to create a little game that answers some of the questions that my preschool-age daughters have asked me over the last year (I keep a list in my phone) then asks them to answer questions that I ask. To do this I’m going to use TinyTap’s free iPad app and incorporate videos, audio, voice input, and a neat feature called Houdini mode. The game that I’m building is based on the model used in this TinyTap activity about learning sign language.

Creating a Game With TinyTap’s Free iPad App
Starting the process of building a game is the same on the iPad app as it is in the web-based game creation tool (click here for details on using the web-based version). The first step after signing into my account is to tap “Create” and design a cover slide.

The cover slide design tools include creation packs in which you’ll find styles, layouts, and thematic artwork to apply to your cover slide and subsequent slides in your game. After choosing the style and layout I added some text. In this case, “Questions from my Daughters” and then used the drawing tools available in the app to draw some stick figures representing me and my daughters. By the way, those drawing tools are currently only available in the iPad app.
After adding my cover slide I recorded a short video to introduce what the game was all about and how it would work. That was really easy to do in TinyTap’s iPad app. All I had to do was add a new slide then tap “Set Activity” and pick “Play Video.” When “Play Video” is chosen you can then tap “Add Video” followed by “Capture” to record a video with your iPad’s camera and instantly insert it into your TinyTap activity. You can even trim the video if you need to (I did). The GIF below shows all of the steps to record and insert a video into a TinyTap game.

After adding my video the next step was to create a slide that taught a little lesson. To that slide I added a picture of a snowflake because the lesson is about why snow is white. Adding a picture can be done by uploading an image or by using the integrated image search. I used the integrated image search to find a royalty-free image of a snowflake. Then with the image added to the slide I set a new activity type of “Say Something” to record a short audio lesson about snowflakes. A GIF of that process is included below.
With my video introduction and my audio lesson completed it was time to add a game element. To do this I created a new slide and with another picture of a snowflake. Then I chose the activity type of “Talk or Type.” By using that activity type I could then block out the snowflake itself and ask the question “how many points does a snowflake have?” Players have to answer the question by typing the answer or by speaking the answer.
Another question that my daughters have asked me is “why do the leaves turn red in the fall?” To add that question into my game I repeated the step of adding a picture and recording a little audio lesson by using the “Say Something” activity type.

Then to add a game element to my lesson about leaves I decided to use something called Houdini mode for the pictures on my slide. By using Houdini mode I could set pictures to disappear when they were tapped on. I then just recorded myself saying “tap the pictures of leaves seen in summer.” The pictures for which I had activated Houdini mode then disappeared when tapped. The setting for Houdini mode is found when you insert a picture and tap on it for additional options. See my GIF below for details. Another example of Houdini mode in use is found in this TinyTap activity about forms of transportation.
Creating my game addressing questions from my daughters incorporated one other feature that is only available when using TinyTap’s iPad app. That feature is adding background music to the whole game. Doing that was a simple matter of opening the game editor then tapping on the music icon. TinyTap offers a selection of royalty free music that you can choose to play in the background. I chose a track titled Sun and No Clouds.
One last difference between a game created with the iPad version of TinyTap and the web version is that on the iPad you can have seamless transitions so that the game automatically advances without needing to tap on a “next” button. In fact, it’s so seamless that TinyTap refers to it as not having a transition. When implemented correctly it could even be used to create a stop-motion animation as is the case when this game is viewed on an iPad and as is demonstrated in the video clip below.

More Video Options in TinyTap 
In my game I used the built-in option to record a video with the camera on my iPad and insert it into the game. It is also possible to search for a YouTube video and insert it into your game. You can also simply add the URL of a YouTube video into your TinyTap activity by using the “Play Video” activity type. It should be noted that the search function is only available in the iPad version of TinyTap but the URL option is available in the web and in the iPad versions of TinyTap.
More Ways to Use Videos and Houdini in TinyTap
Thanks to Lior at TinyTap I learned about some other good implementations of the video and Houdini tools.
Getting Started!
To summarize, TinyTap offers a free iPad app and a free web-based game creation tool. Both are easy to use. The iPad version currently has a few more features than the web version. Those additional features are recording a video, drawing tools, and Houdini mode.

To get started creating a game with either version of TinyTap just sign-up for a free account and hit the Create button. You can follow my tutorial in this blog post or use some of the tutorials built into TinyTap to create an educational game customized for your students.

Other posts in this series:

Sunday, February 20, 2022

How to Use Canva Designs in Google Slides

Last week a reader sent me a question asking if it was possible to use Canva design templates in Google Slides. The short answer is yes, you can use Canva designs in Google Slides. The longer answer involves taking a couple of steps to get there. 

To use a Canva design template in Google Slides you'll, obviously, need a Canva account. Select a template from Canva's massive gallery of cool presentation template then download it as a PPTX file. The last step is to then import that PPTX file into your Google Slides presentation. The whole process is demonstrated in this short video

Applications for Education
The impetus for the question about using Canva designs in Google Slides was that the reader has a Canva account, but she wanted to be able to put her presentation in a shared Google Drive folder for her department.

To learn more about using Canva, check out this playlist of more than three dozen Canva tutorials.

To learn more about all things Google Slides and Google Workspace, take a look at this ever-growing playlist of more than 600 tutorials.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Cupcakes, Canva, and Docs - The Week in Review

Good morning from Connecticut where I'm visiting family for the first time in two years! My daughters had a blast having a slumber party with two of their cousins. Besides visiting family I'm looking forward to getting some good bagels this weekend. That's something we just don't have anywhere near my home in Maine. I hope that you also have something you're looking forward to this weekend. 

This week I hosted a webinar about teaching search strategies to history students. If you missed it, a recorded version will be available soon. This week I also hosted a webinar for a group that had purchased a bunch of copies of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips. I'd be happy to host a webinar for your group. Send me an email at richard (at) to learn more. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. My Big Playlist of Canva Tutorials
2. Ten Overlooked Google Docs Features for Students and Teachers
3. Use TinyTap to Create Interactive Lessons and Games With Soundboards
4. Take Flight With This Library of Congress Image Collection
5. Take a Virtual Tour of the National Museum of Computing
6. Map Puzzle - Test Your Knowledge of World Geography
7. How Graphs Can Be Misleading

Thank you for your support!
Your registrations in Practical Ed Tech courses (listed below) and purchases of my ebook help me keep Free Technology for Teachers going.

On-demand Professional DevelopmentOther Places to Follow Me:
  • The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter comes out every Sunday evening/ Monday morning. It features my favorite tip of the week and the week's most popular posts from Free Technology for Teachers.
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This post originally appeared on If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include Icons Daily and Daily Dose. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

I'll Host Your Next Professional Development Session

Yesterday afternoon I hosted a webinar for an organization that had purchased a bunch of copies of my 50 Tech Tuesday Tips ebook. I would be happy to do the same for your school, department, or organization. 

If you purchase ten or more copies of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips I'll host a custom, one hour webinar for your school or department within your school. The webinar can be about any of the topics within the book or I can cover some other topics of interest to you and your colleagues. To get started arranging a custom webinar for your school just send me a note at richard (at) and we'll get the ball rolling. 

About the eBook:

50 Tech Tuesday Tips was curated from more than 400 editions of The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter 50 Tech Tuesday Tips provides you with ideas for lots of helpful things that you can teach to your colleagues and to students. Throughout the eBook you'll find tutorials and handouts that you can pass along in your school. 

Some of the many things you'll find in 50 Tech Tuesday Tips include:

  • What to do when a web app isn't working as you expect.
  • Building your own search engine.
  • How to create green screen videos.
  • Improving instructional videos. 
  • Streamlining email management.
  • Creating educational games. 
  • DIY app creation.
  • Podcasting tips for teachers and students. 

Get your copy of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips right here!

No, this ebook isn't free but the tools that feature within it is free to use. Creating something like this takes many, many hours but reading it can save you many, many hours. Purchases of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips make it possible for me to create other free resources like The Practical Ed Tech Handbook that I update and give away to thousands of teachers every year.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Watch Out for These Common Google Slides Audio Errors

Last year I wrote quite a few blog posts about a Chrome extension called Mote that lets you record and add audio to almost anything in Google Workspace. As great as that extension is, it's not for everyone. In fact, earlier this week I got an email from a reader who was looking for some help adding audio to Google Slides without the use of a Chrome extension (her school won't allow them to use Mote). 

Helping that person earlier this week inspired me to create a new video that addresses the three mistakes that I most often see when people are adding audio to Google Slides. Watch the video to see what they are and how to avoid them. 

In the video above I explain the following mistakes and how to avoid them:
  • Trying to find a direct record or upload option in Slides. 
  • Not changing the default settings.
  • Not sharing the audio file with collaborators or viewers.