Monday, July 30, 2012

Make your Centers Interactive and Engaging with Hot Dots Technology from @ed_insights

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

- scroll all the way down to enter to WIN a set - 

A bit of honesty... about my original views on Hot Dots...

I've seen Hot Dots before, and I've been interested in getting a set for my classroom.  However, I had a few concerns and questions:
  • They looked fun, but I wasn't exactly sure of their function.  
  • What exactly do they do?
  • What do you get when you purchase Hot Dots?
  • They're really expensive; are they worth the cost?
  • Are my students going to know how to use these?
  • How am I going to manage this technology?
  • Is this product durable?
Sometimes I'm glad I'm not always right...

If I wasn't a partner with Educational Insights, I probably wouldn't have tried Hot Dots out as soon as I am now.  I'm typically not attracted to products that are in the form of question and answer format.  I find this type of activity to be dull and more of a test-prep tool.  My thoughts were that if you added a self-correcting pen and called it technology, the children still wouldn't buy in to the whole activity.  After all, kids are smart!

This wasn't the case.  Sure they can be used for test prep, but that is not the way it felt while interacting with the Hot Dots set.  I felt like I was playing trivia.  My husband, Jason, and I were sitting on the couch when I opened the set.  I started quizzing him about the Human Body.  We were having a fun time answering the questions (until Jacob ran up and took my pen).  Jacob, my four year old, was so interested in what the pen was doing and how it was making the cool sounds.  Of course, Riley, my eight year old, was over two seconds later.  She was fascinated by the cards and asked if they were for her.  Her birthday was 3 days ago.  I told her they were for her to practice with for now and I'd bring them to school in September.  She loved the challenge and immediately finding out if she was correct or not.  This sparked Jacob asking where his cards were.  I ended up ordering a Hot Dots Jr. pen and Jr. card set for him this evening.  You can see the set I ordered him below under the Jr. section.

I also 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:

I did buy the app - Jacob loves it!

App Description:
Getting ready for school has never been this much fun! With the coaching encouragement of Ace – the Talking, Teaching Dog™, kids will laugh as they play, practice and successfully learn colors, letters, numbers, shapes, patterning, sequencing and more with these 72 engaging challenges for kids to master!

You can WIN a Hot Dots Pen & 2 Card Sets!

You can go ahead and grab a pen from an Amazon link above and pick out a card set, too.  Then, if you WIN, you can pick out another pen and an additional 2 card sets.  I'm thinking that Hot Dots would be a great addition to Daily 5, workshop for math or reading, centers, and science/social studies.  I love these sets because they're fun, affordable, portable, interactive and teacher/student - friendly!  The more card sets you have, the better!

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Disclaimer: I am an affiliate of Amazon.


  1. I like the dog the best!

  2. I like the cat dots are great. I like all the new card sets that are out there.

  3. I liked the dog best!

  4. I have been hearing about these and wanting to try them out! Hopefully you'll give me that chance :)

  5. A teacher just told me about these and I can't wait to use them with my students. The dog is super cute.

  6. Do I have to choose? I love both the cat and dog! Lol

  7. My daughter would die for the purple "Kat" pen, but I would probably buy the yellow one because it would work for both my boy and girl.

  8. I am switching to a new grade level this year, so Hot Dots would be great to used with my students! I love the dog! :)

  9. I love the Hot Dog pens! They are so cute! :)
    Crayons and Curls

  10. I really like that cat and love its color!

  11. Ace, the Talking, Teaching Dog is my favorite.

  12. I have the dog so the cat would be great.


  13. I love dogs so I would choose Jr. Ace. :) cute!

  14. I am loving the cat pen!!!

    ❤ Sandra
    Sweet Times in First

  15. I like the dog and the cat! Too hard to decide.

  16. The cat's eyes have a darling expression, but the dog won my heart:-) Thanks for the chance to win!

  17. How adorable is the talking dog pen! Love it! My fav! :o)

    jennkeys @ gmail . com

  18. I like the dog pen the best!

  19. The dog pen is presh! I always thought these were super expensive too. I'm so glad you posted!


  20. Gotta go with the dog! I would like to try these in the classroom and the pens would be good to use on a car ride too.

  21. The dog pen is awesome, but I'd be happy with any of them :o)

  22. Thanks for the opportunity. I really like the dog pen too.


  23. I like the dog the best!

    A is for Apple B is for Blog

  24. I have hotdots and the kids love to use them! I love having something educational and fun for them to do!!!

  25. I like the cat pen (I hadn't seen it before). I have always wanted to try these out in my classroom-so glad to find out that they would be a good investment!

  26. Hot Dots are so engaging = students love them. Like you, I love they are ready to be used as soon as the product arrives!