Sparklebox Alternatives – part 2 8


Sparklebox Alternatives is Part 2 in an ongoing series on the blog. Read Part 1

“Do you know of any alternatives to Sparklebox ?”- this subject still keeps coming up in my email, in direct messages on twitter and in face to face INSET days.

Here are 3 more useful sites for classroom display resources:

Mrs Pancake

Wonderful, creative, useful and very helpful the team at Mrs Pancake are a great source of interesting and innovative display materials. I have written about their resources before and they just keep getting better! They ask for a donation of between £0:50 and £1:50 for their downloads and use an honour system. There is no need to sign up or sign in. The site uses some advertising.




Mrs Pancake was created in a small design studio in Belfast, founded by a husband and wife team. Until recently we also worked as volunteer youth workers so we have full POCVA (Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults) checks. There are now three of us working as professional illustrators, designers, webby types, animators, consultants… we’re multi-taskers here.
We call ourselves a Responsible Design partnership which means we think and design for businesses and non-profits who share our passion for creativity, design thinking, transparency, responsibility in business and creating organisations with a positive net effect. We love what we do and it shows.
We have a passion for creating great educational experiences for tiny people and many of the projects we work on have an education slant. For example we helped BBC Northern Ireland and Sesame Workshop create an online world for Sesame Tree – the Northern Irish Sesame Street spin-off. This has been hailed as a huge success and schools across Northern Ireland use the resource as part of the curriculum.
We have also developed A wonderful Story – a children’s book and animation that teaches the benefit of seeing good in others and passing on encouragement. This is also being used throughout classrooms in  Northern Ireland as part of the Personal Development curriculum.
Mrs Pancake was born out of the frustration of lack of good quality classroom resources. We have a lot of teacher friends and enjoyed helping them make their classrooms more enjoyable places for their pupils. When we kept getting more and more requests we thought that it was finally time to put our resources online for any teacher to download freely and Mrs Pancake was created.
It has been a real labour of love, we run a busy studio so Mrs Pancake gets tended to during lunchtimes and spare moments. We love hearing the feedback though and we get to illustrate elves and monkeys and test out our craft ideas so we love our Mrs P times!
Heather, Pete and Karys

Primary School Teaching

Update – no longer available. This was a rather different sort of site. Primary School Teaching was based on resource sharing. Teachers contribute resources and earn a share in the advertising revenue based on the number of times their resource page is viewed. It’s early days for the site but there is some promising sharing going on. John and Lydia are young, energetic and committed.

John and I run the site together. John does all the technical work and I market the site and provide resources for it. I am a trainee primary teacher currently studying at York St John University.
Primary School Teaching is a free service for teachers to share their lesson plans and resources. Not only can you access resources easily but you can edit other people’s resources to improve them and keep them up to date.

Primary Technology is a young, energetic company with a range of skills covering almost all areas of ICT in primary education. Since 2004, we have provided onsite ICT services to primary schools in Yorkshire which has helped us to develop a company-wide expertise in the primary education sector.

We use our expertise to develop new and innovative hosted services for education, with a focus on web 2.0 and collaborative learning.

Primary School Teaching is a social networking and resource sharing site made exclusively for Primary School Teachers.

We also welcome other members of staff working in Primary Schools who may also find Primary School Teaching a valuable resource.

Primary School Teaching is a platform for sharing and ranking teaching resources and ideas. It allows teachers to communicate effectively in a collaborative environment, working to create exciting and engaging teaching.

Teachable

Teachable is another teacher resource sharing site. This time it is not free but charges a small fee, half of which is paid to the teacher responsible for the resource.  The resources are mostly worksheets and lesson plans at the moment but it’s worth keeping a look out for displays stuff, or even contributing your own! All the resources are checked and vetted before they are approved but I’ll let Edward explain more:

‘Heroic’ is a word that applies to many of our teachers, and often their efforts go unsung and unsupported. Providing access to cost-effective top-quality resources is Teachable’s mission is to enhance education quality and to empower teachers who in turn empower our children.Teachers can browse and search for relevant resources matched to a subject, topic, age group and ability level.  By encouraging teacher feedback, and providing easy previews, Teachable.net makes it as quick as possible to find the best material.  A continuing flow of new resources is sourced from contributing teachers (over 500 so far) earning a half share of all revenue we make from their files.  We now have over 200 files for KS1 and nearly 1000 for KS2.

Teachable Ltd is a social enterprise, funded by private capital but with a specific commitment to use funds to improve teachers working lives, and reinvest a share of revenue in the teaching community.  It does not receive government grants or charitable handouts, but instead exists by charging schools and end-users for the content they use.  The founders believe in a fair, efficient and sustainable way to deliver educational materials in the Internet age.

Edward Upton founded Teachable at the age of 27, with a passion to improve the way the internet is helps teachers’ teach.  Edward wrote his first educational software aged 12, and has first-hand experience of using self-service educational materials when he taught himself GCSEs from home.  He is a scientist by nature, and youth winner of the Royal Society Gold Award for Biology.  Edward is happily married and CRB checked!

So there you are 3 more great alternatives to Sparklebox for you to check out. Watch out for another post in this series soon!


About Linda Hartley

Hi, I enjoy helping teachers to make their classrooms into interesting visual learning environments. I write most of this site and I also run the Classroom Displays online course which you can find out more about in the sidebar.


What do you think?

8 thoughts on “Sparklebox Alternatives – part 2

  • JO

    yes, I agree. Choice is good. I feel that the website are doing themselves a disservice though, as people refrain from using it because of the SB connection.

  • JO

    I think it is disgusting that teachers are even contemplating using Sparklebox resources, wherever they may have come from. It must be really great for him knowing that people are turning a blind eye to his horrific crimes just to make displays easier for themselves. If a convicted paedophile sent you a postcard, would you put it up on display in your house? I would like to think not and wouldn’t display his resources in my classroom either. For this reason, I will not use the PST website and will advise my colleagues not to as well.

    I know many members of the primaryresourcecentre.myfreeforum.org feel exactly the same way.

    You would do yourself a huge favour if you stopped helping him out.

    • Linda Post author

      Hi Jo. This issue has certainly provoked strong feelings from all concerned. I can see the PST argument that there is nothing sinister about the resources as such. Some of them were not actually made originally by Sparklebox but by other teachers. The people who run the PST website are CRB checked and no money goes to Sparklebox.
      I think choice is an important factor and if you want to avoid all connection with that site that is up to you. There are quite a few alternatives mentioned in this series, all of whom are open about who they are and what their background is. I’m sure the original site does not feel that I’m helping them out.
      My own feeling is that I don’t like Sparklebox resources anyway and with all this choice why wouldn’t you try something else?

  • Anita Woodward-Benn

    Hi Linda,
    Thanks for the pointers to some really good websites, as a TA I really appreciate the ‘personal’ information that you have gathered for each website.
    I have reviewed PST recently and was dissapointed to find that all the resources are contributed to the Sparklebox website. I feel uneasy using a site that may still be lining the pocket of the Sparklebox owner – do you have any further information about this?
    Kindest regards, Anita

    • John McLear

      Gotta say this is an incorrect comment, only 1/3 of the resources on the site are from sparklebox. I have asked the person who runs PST to comment on this in further detail 🙂 Thanks

    • Lydia

      Hi Anita,

      I am currently working on Primary School Teaching and can assure you that no money gets to the sparklebox owner this way unlike going to the sparklebox site directly. I am aware that many people do not use these resources now and am seeking out other resource sites who may be willing to share their resources on Primary School Teaching. If you have any favourite sites then it would be really good to know and I can try getting in touch with them.

      Kind Regards, Lydia

    • Linda Post author

      Hi Anita, I thought it best to get PST to answer you directly. I suppose the question is do we feel uncomfortable using those resources even when they have little or nothing to do with the site owner anymore?