Monday, April 30, 2012

Test your Typing Talents with ABCya Games


ABCya Games: The Leader in Educational Computer Games for Kids!

I always love posting about ABCya Games because it gives me the opportunity to play around on their site.  I get lost in exploring and trying out new games and activities.  Quite frankly, I can't believe they're free!  Most of all, I love how engaging and organized the site is to navigate and use.

When I set out to write this post, it was my intention to feature Word Clouds; however, I couldn't stop playing the cup stacking game.  Having children practice finger positioning for proper keyboarding is important for typing fluency.  

Cup Stacking: A Typing Game: click here to play

Check out my screen cast video of me stacking the cups!  Give it a go... can you beat my score?





The Original Keyboard Challenge: click here to play

The Keyboard Challenge can be tricky!  Don't be tempted to glance down at your keyboard.

I love how kids can select the style of keyboard they'd like (ie: rainbow, fire, water, etc...) Plus, you can select the level of difficulty by choosing 'all keys' or 'just number and letters.'




Word Clouds for Kid: click here to play

Simple and Creative!  There are so many options you can use for word clouds.  Currently, my class is working on researching animals.  I could have student's type words that tell about their animal into a word cloud.  They could design their cloud for the cover of their book.

Students could write words to describe a character or book.  They could give clues to a place and print off their word cloud to see if their classmates could guess their mystery country, city, or state.  They could do a word cloud of 'ch words' or of action words or of alternatives to said.  There truly are so many fun ways to create word clouds.  See how easy it is by watching my demonstration video.




What is your favorite ABCya game?

 Leave a comment below and share it with us. Leave the link, too.

Have you played these games on your Interactive White Board, or SMART Board?

Are Little Bits the 21st Century Lego Blocks?


 Using Little Bits to Develop Elementary Engineers
Little Bits: a little bit of geeky fun!

On my 70 minute car rides home each day, I have a lot of time to listen to podcasts and TED Talks.  One recent TED Talk captured my attention so much that I had to blog about it.  Just as TED believe in sharing inspiring ideas, I know teachers share ideas with each other, too.  As I was listening to Ayah Bdeir discuss "Building Blocks that Blink, Beep, and Teach," I couldn't help but become so interested in how these devices could spark creative young minds to construct and play.

click play and become inspired by this 5 minute TED Talk below




What are Little Bits?

Little Bits are an open source library of electronic modules that snap together with tiny magnets for prototyping and play.

From the Little Bits Website...

Crave creativity? Make something!
Light it, push it, turn it, twist it, bend it, buzz it, blink it, shake it...

Just as LEGOs™ allow you to create complex structures with very little engineering knowledge, littleBits are simple, intuitive, space-sensitive blocks that make prototyping with sophisticated electronics a matter of snapping small magnets together. Each bit has a simple, unique function (light, sound, sensors, buttons, thresholds, pulse, motors, etc), and modules snap to make larger circuits. With a growing number of available modules, littleBits aims to move electronics from late stages of the design process to its earliest ones, and from the hands of experts, to those of artists, makers, students and designers.

littleBits is not affiliated with LEGO™ or any of its subsidiaries

What Can You Do With Little Bits?

You have to click here and check out the "Little Pics" and "Little Vids" of kids creating amazing products using Little Bits.  You can see how interested, engaged, and creative these children are, and it is so inspiring to watch.




Getting Little Bits for your Kids:









Sunday, April 29, 2012

Classroom Freebie Weekly Favorites


Free Yesterday.  Free Today.  Free Tomorrow

Classroom Freebies: Free Resources for Teachers
created by Teachers for Teachers


As a contributor to Classroom Freebies, I enjoy not only being a co-author to the site, but also a frequent 'shopper.'  I love that all of the resources provided are developed by teachers and they're free!

I recently posted a Guess the Covered Word freebie for SMART Board users.  Please click here to connect to the Classroom Freebie post and get your free download.  You can also view my two minute video to see how I use these interactive activities in my classroom.

May Guess the Covered Word Interactive Activity by Lindsay Denny

My Favorite Freebies of the Week
click each image to connect to the freebie

I plan to start a new weekly segment based on my favorite freebies featured on Classroom Freebies.  I feel this will be a great way to highlight other amazing teachers and share my favorite picks with my readers.  Most of what I share will be items I'm using in my own classroom at a second grade level; however, if there is an amazing kinder of middle school item, I won't be able to resist sharing that, too.  If you have a favorite product, please leave the link as a comment below.  Be sure to check back every Sunday evening for my freebie favorites!

Common Core Math Warm-Ups:
 
4 freebie pages of math warm up activities. Each page has 5 different skills. It is aligned to the 3rd grade Common Core math standards. The preview is 4 of the pages from the packet so that you can try them out with your students before you purchase.




Measurement Task Cards:

Here are 16 fun measurement cards to use with your students. Each card requires students to make an estimate before measuring. Students will need a ruler to complete these cards. A yardstick and tape measure would also be helpful. Students can work in standard or metric measurements. A student answer sheet is included.




Critical Thinking Synonyms Puzzles:

These puzzle square games are a great way to get your kids to sharpen their critical thinking while practicing the important vocabulary building skill of identifying synonyms. It's a bit trickier than it looks, so it's a great one for groups or partners to try together. It's also great for your early finishers to try solo.


SMART Board Attendance:

Liven up your attendance taking and welcome your kids to school with this SMART Notebook file! Complete directions are included for you to change the names for your class.



Five Looks on a Book:

Here's a fun little activity and a nice alternative to the traditional book report. It's called Five Looks on a Book. Students select 5 adjectives that describe their book and then write one supporting detail to explain each adjective.  


5 Teachers will Win Grants - Apply Now!



Learning Resources announces the sponsorship of a teacher grant hosted by WeAreTeachers. To apply, teachers must answer this question: “How would you use portable interactive technology to create collaborative lessons?” After the application process concludes, educators can invite colleagues to vote for their favorite lesson ideas. 

Each of the three top vote getters will win a set of three now!Boards and three GeoSafari Tuff Cams, a prize package valued at $2,000. 

Additionally, two merit-based winners selected by a panel of teachers will each win one now!Board and one GeoSafari Tuff Cam, a total value of $700. 

Teachers can apply for the grant online through May 22, 2012.

For more information and to apply for the grant, visit the We Are Teachers site by clicking here.

Give-Away: Language Arts File Folder Games




Language Arts File Folder Games To Go

I was very excited when Jim contacted me to partner with him through the great resources at Homeroom Teacher.  This site has many must have items and essential goodies for classroom teachers.  You'll notice on their home page that everything is neatly organized by subject, grade level, or category.  The website is easy to navigate and includes great images to see the products they offer.  Plus, they offer many items at 70% off - what a deal!  I recommend clicking here and taking a peak at their activities and supplies.


What I Chose:

When Jim gave me the green light to select anything from the store, I was so excited to shop!  I'm thrilled to share my shopping treasure with you, The Language Arts File Folder Games To Go.  You can click here and see the product on Homeroom Teacher, too.  

After looking at the different grade levels, even though I teach second grade, I thought the third grade file folder packs would best suit my class needs.  You can look at the grade level file folder packs here: File Folder Games To Go (math and language arts)

*Be sure to check out their math file folder games, too!

From the photo below, you can see that the product arrives as three components: 
  1. the red, durable pocket chart (holds ten file folders)
  2. the language arts skills packet (6 folder games neatly packaged in a clear zip bag with handle)
  3. the phonics skills packet (6 folder games neatly packaged in a clear zip bag with handle)
I love how the product is organized and includes the nice bag to store the file folder games.

Third Grade Language Arts File Folder Games To Go
  
What is Included:

Inside the third grade language arts skills pack, you will find the following six, brightly colored and engaging file folder games:

- singular and plural
- dipthongs
- synonyms and antonyms
- prefixes and suffixes
- fact or opinion
- parts of speech


You also receive six phonics skill file folder games.


- double consonants
- different sounds for the letters ch
- different sounds of the letters th
- vowel digraphs with the letter r
- silent letters
- syllables

Each set of file folders comes in a durable, clear plastic carrying bag with a handle.

You also receive the pocket chart to store your file folder games!  This narrow charts is a space saver.


12 games + pocket chart = $50.99 or you can purchase 6 games without the chart for $17.99.

If you purchase the set with the chart, you get all 12 skill games (phonics and language arts).  When you purchase the games without the set, you choose if you want the phonics games or the language arts games.  Personally, I recommend getting the set.  This way, you get all 12 games and the pocket chart to neatly store and organize your activities.

A closer look inside the file folder games:

When you open up each file folder, you immediately notice how organized and fun the game is for students!  When I bring this activity to school, I will laminate each answer sheet.  Then, I will cut out each sorting card from the activity sheet and place them neatly in an  envelope.  I'll keep the envelope inside of the corresponding file folder that it goes to.  This way, all of the game pieces remain with each game.  Of course, I'll label each envelope to match the title of the file folder. 



An Added Bonus:

I appreciate how each pack includes a basic information sheet for teachers with a chart to quickly assess student progress on each skill.


Additionally, each pack contains skill sheets for accountability and assessment.



How to get your own File Folder Games To Go:

  • click here to view: All Grade Level Games for Language Arts & Math
  • click here to view: 3rd Grade Language Arts File Folder Games (featured in this post)
Enter the give-away below to WIN your own Language Arts File Folder Games To Go!



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Monday, April 23, 2012

Great New Features from Mastery Connect



One of our favorite companies to work with at Kleinspiration has been Mastery Connect.  We've featured the good folks with this award winning company several times on Kleinspiration, and are happy to share today some great upgrades that have recently been made available by the developer. 

The following are newly available for Premium Accounts:

  1. Student View for bubblesheet scanning! Student View makes it easy to have students scan their own bubblesheets and get immediate feedback. Simply click on the link in the scanning window and the camera view becomes larger and hides the scores of other students in your class.
  2. For school and district administrators – the new Administrator tab lets you both view reports and manage the accounts of teachers at your school.
  3. Updates to Student Reports – student reports now include graphs that make it easy to view current mastery as well as progress over time for that student.
  4. Export your tracker – It’s now simple to export any tracker to Excel! This makes it easy to print and manipulate the data to your hearts content!
You can learn more about how Mastery Connect gives you easy access to the common core here.

In addition, you can add the common core to your blog using the Mastery Connect widget, instructions are available here





Disclosure: Mastery Connect is a sponsor of Kleinspiration

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Give-Away: 7 Habits of Happy Kids Game



Enter this great give-away below...

I was very excited to see this package arrive a few days ago for a give-away.  I had been recently looking for some new games and puzzles for my classroom collection and was having some difficulty finding something that was fun, easy to learn, and multi-dimensional.  Many of the games we see in classrooms can very specific to their genre.  Word games are word games, trivia games are trivia games, etc.  So when I received the 7 Habits of Happy Kids Game I was really looking forward to giving it a shot, as it appeared to encompass many aspects of childhood and promoted good behavior and life skills. 

To start the review, it's important to note that the game carries with it quite a bit of cache and brand appeal.  The game was authored by Sean Covey, the popular author who also authored The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The 7 Habits of Happy Kids.  Laura Robinson and Elizabeth Bryan are credited as the game creators, both are mothers who have teamed up to create a game that provides positive family experiences and thoughtful time together that lasts beyond game night.

Gameplay

Upon opening the box, you will find the 7 Habits Tree on the inside of the cover.  This visual aid helps guide players through the game, and provides a template to guide them through life as well.  These 7 habits include easy to teach and understand concepts such as "everyone can win" and "work first, then play."  The habits then translate themselves into gameplay cards, which are used by players to maneuver around the board.



Play, Pieces, and Cleanup

The game play is easy to setup and to follow.  Players are tasked with earning a token in each of the seven habit categories by answering questions and sharing in dialogue together.  All questions revolve around the 7 habits of happy kids, and many do a good job of masking their educational value.  For example, the question: "Ask the others their favorite ice cream flavor and then repeat them all back" appears to just be a fun question, but upon further examination it is clear that the question and answer combination helps kids develop their listening skills. 

The packaging experts at Educational Insights did a nice job with this one.  Everything fits very well back into the box with little to no rearranging of pieces.  Your students could easily put this game away.  The pieces include the board, gameplay cards and tokens, the scoring pieces, and the very cure ear-resitables (pictured on my son Jacob below) which are a code for your "listening ears"

Jacob with his listening ears

Pros

This game really is everything that it sets out to be.  It provides an easy and fun way to help teach kids great habits and behavior that will stay with them throughout their lives.  The game is highly interactive, promotes good dialogue between kids, parents, teachers, and friends. 
This game is also very easy to setup and teach to a new audience, and can be played within minutes of opening the box.
Cons

I found very little that I do not like about this game.  Everything works exactly the way it should, and promotes positive behaviors in students.  There are only two small issues that I would call a "con."

First, the game is built to be played in groups of 3-7.  Groups of 2 could potentially create a workaround, however since it isn't built for two, it doesn't play well for two.  Secondly, and this is a very minor issue- while the bunny ears are very cute they really don't have a place in the classroom.  Touching the heads of other students is something I simply don't allow in my classroom.  I would hate to have to explain on the 1 in 10000 shot that a child became sick or contracted lice because I made them wear a headpiece as part of a game.  With that being said, the ears are super cute and great for homeplay, and are non-essential to gameplay if you wish to remove them for your classroom.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kudos to Educational Insights and the gamemakers for creating a product that promotes such great habits for kids and sets a foundation for them that will last for years.


Chase Manning Mystery: Chase Against Time




Author and Educator Steve Reifman, who was previously featured on Kleinspiration earlier this year with his book Changing Kids Lives One Quote at a Time, is back again with another great offering. This time Steve moves into the role of fiction writer, penning an action-packed thriller that is sure to excite tweens with a real-time compelling story that harkens memories of Jack Bauer and 24.

Recently released by Brown Books Chase Against Time puts fifth grade hero Chase Manning up against all odds, as he tries to recover a prized cello in time to save Apple Valley's music program.  Chase faces numerous twists, turns, and surprises along the way as the mystery develops, all within one day.

If you're anything like me, you will be looking for some great new current materials to stock your classroom libraries with this summer.  Chase Against Time is a fantastic option to consider for your library if you are looking to give students something with a fresh, modern feel.  And one of the best parts of buying this book is that the purchase supports our fellow teacher, Steve Reifman.  You can view his homepage filled with great articles and tips here.  Click on the links below to move straight to Amazon if you are interested in any of Reifman's other great books.











Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Breaking News: Citelighter Partners with Cengage - Redefining the way we Research


Explore your favorite topics for fun... yes - research is enjoyable!

When I did debate in high school, I really enjoyed digging deep into the topics I knew I'd be expected to understand.  I also did extemporaneous speaking.  Gathering knowledge about various topics was exciting to me.  As I reflect upon my current thoughts of research, I don't have the same passion for learning.  After much reflection, I think my natural zest for becoming excited about a thesis paper or article is overshadowed by my fear of improper formatting.  I've been successful with my work thus far; however, I personally can attest to feeling less than creative when I begin to dive into a piece and pause to cite, reference style requirements, and evaluate resources.  Though I value the importance of these elements, I am thankful there is a tool that allows me to interact with the material instead of working through the text.  Enjoy the > 2minute video below - it's entertaining and informative!




Citlighter Partners with Cengage Learning!
So, what - right?  What does this matter?

That is the question I always ask when presented with something that is supposed to be interesting or exciting.  I originally covered Citelighter in a post titled "Evernote for Education."  I was excited to share with readers how amazing this free tool was for education.  However, now, by partnering with Cengage, users will have access to premium content at an affordable rate for all.  Here is a bit of information I borrowed from the Cengage website: With annual revenues of approximately $2 billion, the company has 5,500 employees with operations in more than 20 countries around the world.  So, you could imagine with this kind of support what a start-up like Citelighter has in store for education!

Citelighter Pro Will Grant Students Access to one of the Largest
Credible Information Sharing Databases of Its Kind

  • This partnership will offer Pro users assess to products such as Questia.
  • Due to Cengage Learning's database, instantly access millions of credible sources.
  • Citelighter is smart - it will make recommendations for you based on what you're searching.
  • The innovative Knowledge Card system aggregates facts & presents the most relevant ones directly to you... cool, right?!?

Personally, I think it's amazing that the six people at Citelighter have been plugging away at a dream they had for over a year... with no salary.  The group of dedicated individuals are now seeing their hard work pay off!  It's refreshing to see such a large company like Cengage bet on a start-up like Citelighter.   

{click here to sign up for Citelighter - it's free & quick!} 


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Put Your Year End Funds to Work with TenMarks


I just recently heard that our friends at TenMarks Math are running a great promotion for the month of April and really wanted to share it with everybody.  TenMarks is currently offering 50 free family licenses for teachers or schools that make one purchase of their premium services.  Very cool. 

TenMarks is a product that I highly recommend for students to help improve at home with their mathematics, especially during the downtime of summer.  As the school year comes to a close I'm sure many of us are determining what to do with our summer funding, and how to transition students to the next grade level.  The summer learning licenses available from TenMarks would be great for students that may need intervention and enrichment during summer vacation.  This is a great opportunity for everybody to check out.  Some restrictions may apply, so be sure to double check your eligibility before signing up.

Here is quick refresher on how it works:



And some great reasons to check out their premium services that are available.
  1. Personalized Learning - Assessment data + engaging, smart worksheets = differentiated learning at its best.
  2. Assessment with Intent - Identify learning gaps and reinforce concepts to build strong math foundations.
  3. Reducing Test Anxiety - Build confidence by encouraging practice in a positive and engaging learning environment
  4. Monitor Student Progress - Detailed, insightful reports let you know when to intervene; assign enrichment as needed to students.
AND...Buy TenMarks Premium before April 30, 2012, and get 50 FREE TenMarks-for-Families summer program licenses (a $2000 value*)!! The summer program is proven to stop summer learning loss.

In you're not sure yet that TenMarks is the right fit for you or your students, that's no problem.  Check it out for yourself and try out their free services before making the leap to premium, as the giveaway runs for a couple more weeks.




Disclosure: TenMarks is a sponsor of Kleinspiration

Monday, April 9, 2012

What is your favorite social network?

Making Friends through Twitter by erinklein on Storybird  Twitter for Teachers I recently composed a post for TBA regarding my love for Twitter.
 
{You can check that post out by clicking here
 

There are resources for the following:

(be sure to click 'open' on the book above)
  • how to compose a tweet
  • how to respond to someone on Twitter
  • how to include a link with your Tweet
  • how to shorten a link (url)
  • what is a hashtag
  • how to use the search feature
  • how to find interesting people to follow 
  • what is a chat
  • how to find a chat
  • how to participate in a chat
  • hoot suite
  • lists on Twitter
  • personal learning networks
  • how to track your influence on Twitter
  • crowdbooster
  • paper li
  • how to use Twitter magazines
  • what do the symbols mean on Twitter
  • and more!


{click here to read the full Twitter post on TBA}
and see my screen cast video!


TBA

Sunday, April 8, 2012

News for Today's Tweens via Tween Tribune


It's no wonder this has been one of my most popular original posts!

In February of 2011, one of my first blog posts was about Tween Tribune.  You can read that post by clicking here.  Because of the popularity surrounding this post, I only thought it would be fair to reintroduce it to potential new readers of my blog.  

Last year, as a middle school teacher, we used Tween Tribune a lot.  My students loved the engaging content the site provided, and I loved that it was appropriate and free.  Most of all, we all enjoyed the discussion and natural conversation the topics sparked within our classroom.  Students became motivated to take a stand on a paticular subject matter or to dig deeper into learning about another topic of interest.  They started sharing their ideas online with other children, too.  This platform lent itself for many teachable moments.  

With our SMART Board, we were able to pull up comments and view them as a whole group, discuss proper digital etiquette when responding, encourage proper conventions and mechanics for an authentic audience, and respectfully disagree with other student's opinions.  It was great!

It seemsed there was alwqays a piece of writing or topic that met our curriculum needs.  Tween Tribune enhanced purposeful writing in our classroom.  By nature, my students craved an outlet for their voice to be heard, and Tween Tribune allowed their voice to be heard from around the world, literally.

In closing, I find it note worthy to mention that in the time it took me to develop this post, a new article was added to the Tween Tribune site.  Who wouldn't want to read more about a man selling baby alligators out of his trailer?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fisher-Price Apptivity Case: iPod/iPad Case


The Fisher-Price Apptivity Case for iPod and iPad Use

As an advocate for technology, I am excited about the Apptivity Case by Fisher-Price.  Before others get upset thinking that it's alright for babies to sit in front of technology all day, please understand that as with any tool, I believe balance is the key.  Toddles need fine and gross motor development along with a variety of activities to interact with each day.  I remember my mom always saying how I couldn't stay away from the VCR buttons when I was little.  I think children naturally like to mimic the actions of their parents.  So, if you're like many parents today, your toddler probably always reaches for your smart phone or tablet.

Now, there is a safe way to share these devices - thanks to Fisher-Price!
click play below


I shop at Amazon a ton, and I'm an affiliate of Amazon.  If you'd like to check out these products, please click below to see the Fisher-Price tools for toddlers.  They're so cute (durable & affordable, too).

{click here to see the iPod Apptivity case} for $14.14

and

{click here to see the iPad Apptivity case} for $34.99




A Few of my Favorite Apps for Toddlers
Click the Images to see the App in iTunes








Here are 5 more great apps for toddlers featured in the New York Times - click here.

My children's favorite apps for learning...
click play below









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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Short. Simple. Big. via @ed_insights


Thank you from Kleinspiration & Educational Insights

As awesome partners of Kleinspiration, Educational Insights is giving away $50 to one of our amazing readers!  Whoo-hoo... who couldn't use an extra $50 bucks for classroom goodies, right?!?  In order to enter, simply click below.  You only need to enter once, but I'll include three additional entries for good luck!!  

If you have a moment, it would be great if you could click here and visit the Educational Insights website to see their great classroom products.  By the way, friends of Educational Insights on Facebook get fan exclusives, promo codes, and special offers.  Thanks for following this blog, chatting in comments, and connecting through social media!!



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