Friday, August 31, 2012

Short Cartoons Kids Can Create to Demonstrate Comprehension

This is officially boredom buster #148 out of 1,000 ways to make teaching and learning so much fun!  Imagine what it would be like if students could show what they have learned by creating a short cartoon clip. Visit my blog to get more information about this freebie!  Click Here

Using HotDots in your Reading Centers!

Hot Dots come in MANY different subject areas & age levels!
an easy way to integrate technology 

I  found that they're not expensive at all.  I've always seen the $50+ price tag attached to Hot Dots.  I didn't realize that was if you planned to purchase the pens in bulk, or as a set of six.  I learned you can actually get started with Hot Dots for around $19 ~ yay!  You can purchase a pen for around $9.50 and get a set of cards for around $9.50 as well.

When my package arrived, I received my Hot Dots pen and three card sets.  I was excited to see what these gadgets did and how they could engage my children.  Because I actually took the time to try out each package, I feel like my mind has been changed about this product.

I love trivia ~ and Hot Dots offer me a challenge while giving immediate feedback:

Yes, I'm hooked!  In the video above, you can see the feedback the pen provides for correct and incorrect responses.  Each pen type makes different sounds.  The dog pen barks.  You also get a good glimpse of what the cards actually look like.  For me, this is huge.  I enjoy seeing the materials that will be in the student's hands.  If the the layout is not aesthetically pleasing, the children will not be that engaged and could become distracted.  The Hot Dots cards are great!

I received three sets of Hot Dots cards: Synonyms, Context Clues, and Human Body.  By far, my favorite set is Human Body.  The Human Body cards are larger and include colorful illustrations and pictures.  They are developmentally challenging (which I love!).  They're not too easy, and they encourage critical thinking. 

What I recommend to get as your 'starter kit:'
 1 pen & 1 set of cards = about $19

I love to shop.  I love it even more when the experience is stress free.  Because my time is often limited, I like to get great things without spending a lot of time or a lot of money.  Therefore, because Hot Dots are a bit on the pricy side, I'd like to make a recommendation for what I would purchase.  In fact, I've already ordered another set of cards.  

First, you need a pen.  There are 3 choices:

Please click here to see the pens on the Educational Insights website.

You can also  buy a pack of pens.  They come in sets of six.  

Then you need a set of cards. I'll feature a few of my favorites below.

I'd start with one set, see how you like it and how you'd use it with your students.  Then get more.

*Click here to see all of the Hot Dots Items from Educational Insights*

Here are the Human Body cards I love:

Even if the human body isn't in your standards, I recommend getting these cards.  I find that we are all interested in learning more about ourselves, and these cards are informative while interesting.  They'd be great to place in a discovery center.

If you do word work or vocabulary building, you'll love the context clues set:

Again, there are so many card sets to choose from.  Please click here to see all of the sets available.

What I really Love about Hot Dots:

I go bananas over products that are ready to use upon arrival.  The less I have to learn, the better!  I don't have time to read a big instruction manual or teach myself how to get creative with a tool.  With Hot Dots, I opened the clear wrapping of the card set and placed a battery in the pen.  Bam - ready to go!  

I instantly thought of several ways I could integrate this feature into my existing curriculum and schedule.  In fact, I got really excited because I quickly began to brainstorm how Hot Dots would actually enhance my current schedule.   

They're affordable and portable!  Now that I have one pen, I'd like to purchase another so that I can have another partnership working together during our workshop time.  I especially love the corrective feedback Hot Dots provide.  Now, when I'm working with a small group, I know that my other learners are engaged and receiving appropriate guidance or affirmation for their thinking.

Because the cards are so different for each subject area, the engagement level will stay high since the content is so varried.  There is always sometime new to learn!

My students always gravitate towards the National Geographic books and the 'Did you Know' books when we have book orders.  They love finding out interesting facts.  Hot Dots Science cards are going to be a bit hit in my class this year! 

Hot Dots Jr. - A Fantastic Classroom Tool:

I am a second grade teacher; however, I have a four year old who will enter junior kindergarten this year.  I couldn't close this post without highlighting the Hot Dots Junior program.  Here is a great video that goes in detail to explain what sets are included in the Junior set.

I've ordered the Jr. Problem Solving set for my four year old, Jacob:

There is also a Hot Dots Jr. app available for $0.99 in iTunes:
{click here to see the video and app in action}

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Creating Electronic Posters with GlogsterEDU

GlogsterEDU is the one Web 2.0 tool I have used consistently over the past several years.  I really like the idea that students can demonstrate their knowledge on any topic using images, video, and audio all in an easy to use electronic poster format.  Student engagement is usually quite high with GlogsterEDU in that it allows for the creation of a fun and interactive poster that students enjoy sharing with others.  To get a better sense of the potential of GlogsterEDU, there are links below of an "I AM" poem my students wrote and presented to their peers using GlogsterEDU this past school year.

I have saved the best part of GlogsterEDU for last, however.  The time-saving, organizational features of GlogsterEDU are extremely useful for educators.  For instance, the educator account not only generates student accounts that teachers have full access to but also allows for the daily tracking of student progress.  I find this particularly useful as students who are struggling can be quickly and easily identified with a few clicks of the mouse.  To learn more about the GlogsterEDU features specific for teacher-use, please view my screencast below.

HINT: Assigning student account information can be problematic.  The strategy I use is to copy and paste the account information into a word processing document and then assign student names to each account.  Distribute the information as you see fit, but I do recommend having students record their nickname and password (cell phones are great to use for this) somewhere safe as the account information will be difficult to remember.  Be sure to keep a master copy!  You can manually change each individual account with more user-friendly information but that would take time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Short Vowel Sounds

Will you be teaching short vowel sounds this year? 
I have some activities that may help you do just that!

For each vowel sound, I created a "Read/Write The Room" game, an "I Have, Who Has" game, and a "Pick A Card" game! These are so much fun! My students absolutely LOVE them :)

You can either hop on over to my blog to read all about them

OR you can simply go right to my TPT store to get them for your classroom.

** You can either get them separately or you can grab the MEGA pack which is a bundled pack!

I hope you and your kiddies will enjoy this,

Place Value Workstation Activity

At the beginning of the year, you want some easy work stations that also feature good math.  That's exactly what you'll find with this little place value freebie for 6-, 9-, or 12-digit numbers.  Click here to read more and grab yours!

Math Coach’s Corner

Calendar Patterns

Young students love the comfort of a daily routine in their classroom.  One of the most universal routines is a morning meeting with calendar activities.  Lots of math concepts are inherent with calendar activities. But, have you ever incorporated patterning?  

Once September rolls around, I like to subtly introduce patterns on the calendar.  To do this, I provide apple cards for the calendar -- 

As the calendar starts to fill with apple cards, someone always notices that they make a color pattern.  Gotta love those "Aha!" moments!  Once that realization has been achieved, my students have a new challenge at calendar time:  predict what color the apple will be today.  

My first graders really get into this.  So naturally, I have to up the ante with the next month.  October brings autumn leaves --

The first few days of October are such fun as the children try to predict what the pattern will be.  By the 5th of October, the pattern becomes clear.  However, I'm not finished with the predictions...  Now my students have to predict such details as what kind of leaf it is, which direction the stem will point, is the leaf right side up or upside down...  

Common Core Standards are being addressed.  Visual discrimination is enhanced. Teaching time is being maximized.  Students are engaged and having fun.  Try it; you'll like it!

You can get both of these sets of calendar cards for FREE in my TpT store or TN shop.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Center Saturday

Each Saturday, I share my center ideas from the past week on my blog. 
I would LOVE for you to stop over to check them out {here}
I have 6 work centers that need to be completed by the end of the week. I also have many fun or free centers to play in while we are working and when we are done.

Hope you are ready for a GREAT week of learning at school.

How long does your class have "centers" for each day?

  Mary Amoson, Sharing Kindergarten

Friday, August 24, 2012

Word Family Centers

ACK Family Making Words Center - Word Work - Free

ACK Family Making Words Center - Word Work - Free

One of the favorite centers in my classroom last year was my Making Words Centers.  Students use pictures and letter cards to make words in many different word families.  Here is a video I created with my son this summer to demonstrate how to use these centers:

Grab the ACK Family Making Words Center for FREE from my Teachers Pay Teachers store or grab the entire set of Making Words Centers for 41 different Word Families for just $12.00.

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Voki - The Talking Avatar

Voki breathes life into any avatar!  Give it a try.

As demonstrated, Voki is a fun and interactive web tool designed to create speaking avatars.  
Students enjoy creating avatars with Voki as it is a fun and creative way to verbally demonstrate their knowledge in a safe environment.  

Other features of Voki include:

1.  Voki offers many opportunities to share avatars including email, embed code or direct access to your favorite social media site. 

2.  The free version of Voki includes an educational section with many lesson planning ideas for all grades and subject areas.  Lesson ideas are easily accessed using the site's search tool. 

3.  Voki offers a paid version as well which provides educators with a class management system, ready-made lessons, and how-to tutorials.  There are several pricing plans available but it is wise to try their 15 day free trial first.

A quick how-to guide to get your students started with Voki is available below.
Getting Started with Voki

Sample Classroom Activities:

1.  Ice Breaker Activity - to get the school year off to a positive start, have students create a short autobiography to introduces themselves to their new classmates.

2.  Website Homepage Introduction - verbally introduce yourself and the purpose of the website using a Voki avatar on the homepage of any website.

3.  "Exit Ticket" - before students leave class, have them outline what they learned.

4.  Reflection tool - have students reflect or summarize the key points/issues of a literary work.

I am confident your students will enjoying using Voki.  Give it a try!  Click here to get started.

This post originally appeared on The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Calendar Math Center

septembercalendarbookfront  septembercalendarbookback

Do you use calendar math in your classroom?  I love how calendar math enhances math instruction for my students, and how the repetition gives them multiple chances to practice important math skills.  One way to incorporate calendar math is to allow students to use math center time to begin their explorations.  Let students fill in their daily page in a calendar book (grab this September Calendar Book for FREE from Raki’s Shop) during their math centers.  Then, have whole group calendar math time after centers, to review the information with your students.  If you use this book for the month of September and like it – feel free to grab the other 11 months and 6 different differentiated sheets for just $7.00 from my store – Raki’s Shop.

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Early Numeracy

Do your kiddos truly understand the relationships between numbers?  Can they change from one number to another and explain the change to you?  This little activity is based on Kathy Richardson's book, How Children Learn Number Concepts.  Click on the first picture to hop over to my blog and read more!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Parking Lot Sight Word Game

Hi everyone! This is Allison from Climbing the Monkey Bars and I am so excited to be blogging for Simply Centers.

About ten years ago I went to a district workshop about phonemic awareness. At the workshop, we also discussed sight word vocabulary and the presenter showed us a really clever game to review sight word vocabulary. It is called Sight Word Parking Lot and it is a great game to use for small group work, centers, literacy stations, daily five work work, etc.

You can easily make one with a piece of paper and a marker. You make parking spaces on the sheet and write a different sight word in each parking spot. Then, you give each child in the small group a matchbox car. On each turn, you say a sight word and they drive their car into that parking space. Easy and fun!

Here is a picture of a board with a car:

 I created five boards with ten words on each. I chose fifty of the most common sight words for kindergarten. Stop by my blog to pick up your own set!

Climbing the Monkey Bars!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Super Hero Word Families

This is a fun way to teach word families. Everyone wants to be a super hero. Right? This theme is especially appealing to boys. It's a great way to interest them in reading. This book includes alphabet cards, word family cards, mini-flip books and more. Come on over to my blog to see how I use it.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Student Bloggers Can Receive Verbal Feedback Using SpeakPipe

SpeakPipe is an easy to use voicemail service that allows bloggers to connect with their readers verbally.  Once an account has been created, users can customize their widget by selecting what text appears on the button, as well as the color and location of the widget.  It only takes a few minutes to set up and then users are ready to receive voice messages.

Other nice features of SpeakPipe include:
1.  No need to learn HTML code, as SpeakPipe generates the code for you.  All you need to do is copy and paste it into your blog platform settings.  

2.  The SpeakPipe button sits discreetly on your blog and when a visitor scrolls up and down, the button is still visible.

While in beta, SpeakPipe is free but once the site is officially launched, users will be charged for the service. In the meantime, I encourage you to give it a try!

Below is a quick tutorial with screen shots on how to send a voice message using SpeakPipe.

Step 1: Locate and click the "Send Voicemail" button.

Step 2: A smaller window will appear. When ready, click on the green "Start Recording" button.

Step 3: Another small window may appear requesting access to the computer's camera and microphone. Click on "Allow" and record your message. Messages can be a maximum of 10 minutes in length.

Step 4: Once the message is complete, click on "Stop". Next, you will be prompted to type in your name and email. This is optional. Before sending the message, it is wise to listen to it first. Click on "Play" to do so. When ready, click on the "Send" button to send your message.

When a reader sends a message, an email is sent to the blog author to notify them of the new message.  Messages can be played from the SpeakPipe Inbox where they can either be deleted or downloaded to your personal computer.

SpeakPipe is a great way to receive verbal feedback from your blog readers. This verbal connection may have more of an impact than plain text. To get started, visit the SpeakPipe website here.

This post originally appeared on The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers.

Hot Dog With Everything On It Freebie

Are you tired of one word answers and want your students to fully elaborate on their ideas?  Get them to create a hot dog with everything on it!  Stop by my blog to download this freebie.

The Return of Center Saturday!

Check out my kindergarten work centers from this week!

Head {here} to read my quick discription of each activity.
I hope this helps you plan some great, engaging centers in your classrooms this week.

  Mary Amoson, Sharing Kindergarten

School Days!

Come on over to see what we've been up to on our FIRST full week of school - it's been a whirl wind!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Card Games for Fast Facts

I was lucky to have the opportunity to guest post for Raki's Rad Resources last week.  I told about a few games that can be played using a regular deck of cards, that can be used to develop mastery of basic addition and subtraction facts, and work on this standard from the Common Core:  2.OA.2. Fluently add and subtract within 20 using mental strategies.2 By end of Grade 2, know from memory all sums of two one-digit numbers.

I think this is probably the toughest standard for the little ones to master, and I'm constantly on the lookout for activities that will lead to mastery of these facts.  Be sure to stop by Elementary Matters to see more about these games and how to get the above freebie!

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