Dyan Branstetter | February 2017

Secret Message Valentines with Augmented Reality

Have you ever tried augmented reality? With the use of apps like Aurasma, it allows any 2D print you choose to work like a QR code. Or, as Drew Minock from Two Guys and an iPad says, a QR code on steroids! If you’re looking for instant engagement, this will do it. Scanning an image and seeing something new appears has an appeal that is slightly addicting. During a recent open house, my students showed their parents how to scan a project we had hanging in the hallway. The parents couldn’t get enough, and many of them downloaded the app before leaving. In addition to its magical fun, augmented reality has the potential to tremendously enhance instruction.

Using Augmented Reality with Valentines

For those of you who have classroom Valentine parties, this can be a fun twist to a traditional exchange. Or, if you are an art or music specialist that doesn’t get to host this sugar laced love fest, you can use this app to make any piece of art, anchor chart, or poster come alive and become even more of a teaching tool.

Creating Secret Message Valentines, Option 1

The secret message Valentine activity actually occurs after students create their Valentines. With this option, students would make their collection mailbox the “trigger”, which is the Aurasma terminology for “QR code”. Valentine’s Day typically falls around the time of college instruction in my curriculum, so we extend that and create oversized, collage covered envelopes for students to collect their Valentines as they are delivered. Once the envelope creation is complete, each student uses an iPad to record a video with a “secret” Valentine message. (While we call it secret, students keep in mind that their message will be scan-able by everyone in the class.) This becomes the “aura”, which is the terminology for what happens once the trigger is scanned.

Next, the student opens the Aurasma app and taps the plus sign. The student centers the screen on their envelope and snaps a picture. The app prompts you to select the aura (video) you’d like to appear. They select their secret message video clip and save. Once that is complete, anytime someone scans their envelope with the Aurasma app, the secret message will play. This may sound confusing, but the process is relatively simple. There are also many great tutorials out there, as well as many ideas for how to use Aurasma to enhance instruction. Make sure to check out the resources below and play around with it.

Creating Secret Message Valentines, Option 2

The alternative is for students to create Aurasmas for the Valentines they are delivering. If students are creating these in class, make sure to check out the great resources from EducationCloset’s article on Colors, Lines and Valentines and our recent post Share Your HeART: Fine Art Inspired Valentines for the Community. To make these individual Valentines come alive, students follow the same steps as above, but they snap a picture of the Valentine they are giving instead of their envelope. Now, as students are reading the Valentines they receive, they can scan them with the Aurasma app and a message from the sender will appear. One caution: In order for this to work, the image must be identical to the one that was captured in Aurasma. For Valentines that are original works of art, it won’t work unless the student creates a separate Aurasma for each one.

Using Augmented Reality to Enhance Instruction

This Valentine activity is an effective way for students to learn how to use Aurasma. Imagine the possibilities for its use in instruction, though. It could give new meaning to a flipped classroom. Here are a few ways that adding augmented reality could work:

  1. Anchor Charts: Create a video clip to explain the anchor chart, or demonstrate the concept it is showing. Use Aurasma to turn the anchor chart into a trigger. Students can scan the chart to see the video.
  2. Works of Art/Prints: If you are displaying artwork, use Aurasma to make a short biography of the artist play when it is scanned.
  3. Instructional Posters: If you have a poster to teach instrument families, use Aurasma to have an instrument from each family play when students scan it.
  4. Vocabulary cards: Have students create video clips that demonstrate a vocabulary word. Use Aurasma so that when students scan the card, the video plays. This works for math facts, too!
  5. Book Talks: Students can record videos describing what they enjoy about a certain book. Aurasma can link this video to the book cover so that the video plays as the cover is scanned.
  6. Homework: Link demonstration videos with Aurasma to worksheets that play when students scan them. This could work at independent workstations in a classroom as well.

Resources for Using Aurasma:

It took me a few tries to be comfortable with Aurasma, but there are many tutorials that are helpful. Here are some to get you started.

If you’re interested in augmented reality, make sure to explore apps created by DAQRI, the creators of Crayola’s Color Alive and Easy Animator. For higher-level science classes, there are augmented reality apps for Anatomy and for the Elements. Both are equally amazing.

Have fun scanning! I guarantee you will have trouble stopping.

About the Author

Dyan is a fifth grade teacher in a public school district in Lancaster, PA and has over 16 years of classroom experience. With a Masters of Science Education and a passion for dance and music, she strives to integrate the arts into the curriculum whenever possible. Dyan has a background in teaching advanced learners, and is devoted to using project based learning to help her students achieve 21st century learning skills and master the PA Core Standards.