Vocabulary Fun ~ Use an app!

Vocabulary Fun with MSQRD app
Do you want a FREE app that will make learning vocabulary words fun? Well, that’s what I’m sharing with you today! I’ll even share a little video of what you can do with this app and a freebie for your students.
I happen to love words. I remember reading Anne of Green Gables and loving the quirky phrases like “kindred spirits” and the way L.M. Montgomery strung words together in a way that made you want to bask in the beauty of the words. Or reading Charlotte’s Web and being captivated by the marvelous first sentence and in awe of quotes like this:

“The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last for ever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into autumn – the crickets spread the rumour of sadness and change.”

When I discover a new word I find it exciting and can’t wait to use it. I’m finally getting around to reading the Fault In Our Stars and discovered the word hamartia. I’m not sure how I will put “fatal flaw” into a conversation, but it is going to happen! 
My students are not quite as enthusiastic to discover words. Of course, a teacher who is excited about words is a good first step, but they need something more. Tech to the rescue!
I searched for an app that would do filters like snapchat, but wasn’t part of a social media. I found one! The app is MSQRD (masquerade). It can link up to Facebook, but you don’t have to do that. You can just download the videos directly to your device. It’s available in the app store and google play store. 
I’m planning on using the app to have my students read a vocabulary word and the definition. Once we have videos of all the words that I want the students to work on then I will merge them into a single video (I used imovie for this). The students will watch the video a few times and then they will have some vocabulary activities. They will write the words in their vocabulary notebook with a space between each word. They will use the vocabulary spinner to select an activity for each word – draw a picture, write a sentence, write a synonym, or write an antonym. I may need to put a max or min for each choice if the spinner is ALWAYS landing on their favorite activity. I’ll figure out the details of that as we start using it. I think they will love seeing the video though. Hopefully, it will help some of these words to “stick”!
A few quick tips for this app:
1) Choose to not link it to Facebook
2) Click on the heart to add a filter to favorites. Tell the students they can only use the ones that you have marked. Some of the filters are too distracting – music in the background and/or yucky themes.
3) Combine the individual videos into a single video
4) Provide the students with a way to respond to what they’ve learned – you can use the freebie below!
  Vocabulary Fun freebie
Here is a little freebie for you to use with this app. It includes 2 cover options – Vocabulary Fun, Spelling Fun. These can be glued onto the front of a spiral notebook. It also has a spinner. You can print this onto cardstock and glue to the inside cover of the notebook. Students can take a paperclip and pencil to use the spinner and select a response form for each word. You may need to specify some guidelines to make sure they are doing a mix of activities. Click on the picture to download the freebie.
I hope you enjoy using this app to help your students learn and appreciate new words!

Blog Hop, Giveaway & Freebie! Teaching Strategies that Work

I’m so glad to be a part of this blog hop about Teaching Strategies that Work. Keep reading ’til the end so you can enter the giveaway! 16 bloggers have teamed up to offer some great products AND gift certificates to their stores. I love spending at TPT so this would be an awesome prize! 🙂

A BIG thank you to Celeste at the Education Highway for coming up with this idea, hosting the giveaway and doing so much work to create the graphics and get everything running! 🙂 Of course, she is part of this blog hop so make sure you stop by her blog and share your appreciation!

Join at: https://www.tsu.co/TeacherTreasure

There is a new social media was officially launched last week and is already taking the blogging world by storm. It is called Tsu (pronounced Sue). When you join and start using the network, it feels a lot like facebook. So, why bother? What’s new?

Facebook started out as a fun network to connect with family and friends. I remember reading about it while I was in a hotel lobby during a family reunion vacation. I was connecting with family members who I had only been able to see a handful of times in my life. I thought this sounded like a brilliant way to strengthen those connections and be involved in their lives while living so far away. It was. I’ve enjoyed seeing pictures of weddings and children and little glimpses into their lives.

When I started selling on TPT, Facebook seemed like a natural addition. I was already on Facebook a lot (too much!) so why not use this as a platform to connect with teachers. I enthusiastically participated in blog hops, giveaways and was working to provide and find content that would be beneficial. My facebook account grew quickly from a few dozen and now it is really close to 4,000 likes.

Unfortunately, over the last several months Facebook has been making changes that have been detrimental to bloggers and business owners. They started offering a system to pay for posts to have more a wider audience and limiting how much your post is seen. My organic reach (the number of people who have a chance to see the post) dwindled over this time. If I do not  pay for the post to be seen, Facebook is generally showing my posts to about 1% of my followers. I have tried asking my followers to like, comment, choose to get notifications, etc. I have tried paying for posts to be seen. It is very discouraging to write something and then have it filtered and blocked from those who would like to see it. I recently had a really big sale on one of a large bundle at TPT. I posted about the sale on Facebook and Instagram. I had several teachers who eventually saw the post from Facebook and were sad they missed the sale. I extended it and still had some who missed it. It has become a problem. Also, I loved to host giveaways on Facebook. It was fun and easy to host a quick giveaway where you could enter by liking or leaving a comment. Facebook also changed their terms for giveaways a few times over the last few months and at times has severely limited giveaways.

Tsu is a different type of social media. They believe that the content creators (the ones who write the posts) should control the content and even make the majority of the ad revenue that is generated on a social media site. They have an MLM type of structure so that you sign up with someone and both of you benefit from your activity on the site. It is free to join and there is no need to “recruit” anyone to join up with you. You can just use it like you would use facebook – to follow friends and other interests (teaching). The best part – they are not filtering who sees the content. If you are following my store and scroll through your feed then you will be able to see the links to giveaways, freebies, teaching tips, etc. that I post. I can even host a giveaway without worrying about not following the terms of the provider. I am really excited to try this. I have seen so many teachers join in these first few days. I hope that this continues so we can have a great place to network and share our ideas for the classroom! Please go to tsu.co/TeacherTreasure to sign up and start following my page. 🙂

Social media is all about connecting (in this case with other teachers). So, I thought I would share a few simple strategies for connecting to your students and families.


I was recently at a PD conference where Harry Wong, author of the First Days of School, was speaking. One of the things that he spoke about was the importance of greeting the students when they enter the classroom. That is something that I had already learned from my wonderful co-workers. They all stand at the door to welcome each student. That is not a requirement and no one has asked them to do that. Wong expanded on that idea even further, by suggesting that you train students to take turns greeting each other. What a wonderful way to help your students build their social skills and create a warm and caring classroom environment. I am just starting to implement this idea and am excited about the difference it can make in our classroom.

Most students have so much that they want to talk about — that is why you are always telling them to stop talking and get to work! 🙂 We thrive on those social connections. My 1st graders love to share! We have been learning about bats and I asked if any of them had a seen a bat (outside of the zoo). A few of them had some very credible sounding stories. Then, I started getting stories like…”Once, I was camping and I heard bats outside of the tent.” Hmmm… those noisy bats! That happens all the time! They just really want a story to share. My own boys are getting older (teen and pre-teen) and they seem to compete with each other to be the one to get to tell something. It is a frequent complaint lately that one starts telling something and the other wants to interrupt and finish it! I remember our pastor’s wife sharing about raising teenage boys and that sometime you just have to hang out with them (usually in the kitchen!) and talk about insignificant things (minecraft!) and before you know it they are sharing about the things that really matter. Listen to what your students have to say. Connect.

Help your students feel that they are an important part of the classroom. I read a recent Washington Post article about a teacher who spent a few days as a student. She asked one of the students she was shadowing if they were an important part of the class. Did she make important contributions? Would her input be missed on days that she was absent? The student laughed. No, she did not feel like they needed her in class. How sad. Our students spend so much time with this community of learners – shouldn’t they feel like they belong?


There are multitudes of ways to connect with parents and family members.

I send emails to my parents most every week to remind them of upcoming events and share what we are learning. I try to think about the things that they want to know. What will their child share with them about the day? What details will they have questions about? When we introduce a new app for the iPad rotations, I will often share that info with them. I will tell them about a topic we are studying or something fun that happened in class. I want them feel like they are also a part of the class. We have a weekly bulletin that is emailed from the office, but many parents don’t really read it. It is information about the whole school — they want specific information. Emails from the teacher will always hold more weight than general office emails.

It’s all about communication! 🙂 Many parents want to know about the behavior of their student. Our class has a classroom clip chart. I use a classroom calendar to communicate upcoming events and the students color the square at the end of the day to show what color they were on at the end of the day. I use a marker to put a check mark on the square to keep them honest! 🙂 (not that they would ever purposely use the wrong color…)

I’ve created some praise certificates that you can use to let your parents know when a student has awesome behavior. This is a freebie that is exclusively for my tsu followers. I have another freebie later in this post for EVERYONE! 🙂  Tsu followers – just click on either image below to go directly to the tsu post and download your freebie!

Let parents know about the positives in class. Share about the good things that happen in the day. Send home a happy note. Share pictures of the pictures that you take in the classroom – – student’s participating in classroom activities, student work, etc.

I made a freebie with the fall leaves and the words from this display. You’ll have to provide your own scarecrow. The pumpkins were created with strips of orange posterboard. I used a brad at the top and fanned them out and taped the bottom. The leaves are green construction paper. The vines are green curling ribbon and some gold cord. I made the fence out of large brown leaf bags. Click on the scarecrow picture above to download the leaf pattern and words. There are a few different quotes available for the words.

Here’s some more information about creating your door and including the audio QR codes. I had the students decorate fall leaves. They wrote about 3 things that they were thankful for during their Welcome Work (a phrase that I learned from Harry Wong at the conference — isn’t that great? I like it so much better than Entry Task!). Then, I had a grandparent volunteer record them reading it on the iPad. I created a QR code to put on the leaf so that when the leaf is scanned, parents (and others) can hear the message of thankfulness. This idea was MUCH easier in my mind! I found that it is difficult to record the audio on the iPad and then create the QR code on Windows. There were some complications with audio players, etc. Next time, I may get a microphone for my computer and use recordmp3.org. 

Here is what I used to create the audio QR codes with the iPad:
*Awesome Voice Recorder (free app)  This app will create an .mp3 recording and you can easily send it to dropbox. I saw a few blog posts about linking to dropbox, but I never was able to figure out a way to do that and get the audio file to open up or start playing. It just wanted to send me to a download page. I made the file public and tried to get the link while it was playing and nothing worked. If you know of a way to do this, please let me know.
~~YOU CAN AVOID THIS STEP – just use the soundcloud app!~~
*Sound Cloud – an online platform for sharing original music and audio content. Transfer your files from dropbox to soundcloud. There are options under each file. Click on “share” to get a URL.
~~The Soundcloud iOS app has an recording option. Just record the files directly on Soundcloud to save time.~~
*Goqr.me – This is my go-to QR creator. Just select the globe icon to enter a web address. Input the URL and press enter. Click on download beneath the live preview. I save the code as a .jpg. You’ll want to view the file right away so that you can change the default name to the student name. You don’t want to mix-up the files! 🙂
*Insert the QR code image onto a page in Word, etc. Print.
*Scan – Use a QR scanning app to access the file. I like to use Scan. I could not find a way that would play the file automatically so you do need to press the play button for this method.

There is a big prize package that you could win! This prize includes 8 ($10) TPT store WINNER’S CHOICE to choose an item up to that value and 8 great products! You can enter to win this package by following each store on tsu. You can sign up for tsu @ https://www.tsu.co/TeacherTreasure.
Keep reading to the end of the post for your freebies. 🙂 Enter to win the prize package here:

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Visit the Education Highway to see the other participating bloggers and their posts with teaching strategies and freebies!

App review & Giveaway! Ranger Rick Jr. Appventures

I’m so excited to bring you an app review today — and a great giveaway! I love to find new apps for the classroom. When I saw that Ranger Rick Jr. had apps, I couldn’t wait to try one. How did I miss this? I love Ranger Rick magazines and I’m such a fan of teaching science (a glance at my products on TPT will tell you that!).

I asked Ranger Rick if I could review an app and offer it to you all as a giveaway. They were super great and offered codes for 3 very lucky followers. Read the review and then make sure you enter the rafflecopter giveaway at the end of this post for your chance to win!

Ranger Rick has 3 apps that feature Ricky Raccoon. These are all IOS apps for the iPad. They also have a few other apps that can be used on IOS or Android operating system. I’m reviewing the newest app, Bears, and it is for the iPad. You can click on the link or the picture below to go to their site for more information or to purchase this app.

This app is recommended for ages 4-8. I really like the music that is used for this app. It is varied and interesting. So many apps have annoying music that you have to mute in order to think clearly! 🙂 This one really just fades into the background and you don’t think about it. There is a read to me option on the menu bar. I would just keep that on at all times for my first graders. For most reading apps I prefer to have the reading option off and for them to be able to click on a word to hear that particular word. However, this one has instructions and science information which would be difficult for some of them to read. I’m glad there is the read to me option. I also appreciate that it shows the text for everything as it reads it to the child. This is very helpful for developing readers and can increase their recognition of sight words and other frequently used words.

There are 3 options for this app: Play, Explore & Create

1) The play option has 4 different games.
*Solve a Puzzle – This activity features real photos of wildlife. They even have options to choose how many pieces that the puzzle has to adjust the difficulty level. There is a “preview” button which lets you look at the picture in case you need additional help to solve the puzzle — like looking at the box lid of a traditional puzzle! I’ve done that many times when I was stuck! 🙂
*Where’s the Bear – This game was my least favorite. You find bears and click a button to pretend to take their picture. As you move the iPad it takes you to new areas to view more bears so you need to be able to rotate the iPad 360 degrees. I do like the fact that this game makes you move, but it also may provide some challenges for using it in the classroom. I have my students seated during their iPad time so they would need to stand. Also, I try to limit the times that they move the iPads to avoid any accidents.
*Go Fish – This game also utilizes the movement of the iPad to make the game work. The user moves the iPad to get the bear to catch the fish. This one just requires you to tilt the iPad back and forth so you can easily do it while seated. When the bear is finished eating fish, he burps. Some of the kiddos will love that part!
*Match Sounds – I love this game! The app plays a sound and you have to choose from 3 different animals to identify the one who made the sound. When you correctly answer, it gives you an interesting fact about the animal. Identifying animals sound + animal facts = super fun learning!

2) The explore option teaches about bears. Students can follow the bear tracks to find another bear and hear more facts. They’ll also see real photos of bears and even learn about a few other creatures that are hiding along the way. There are 3 short (less than a minute) videos: adorable video footage of cubs playing, another of grizzly bears fishing & a one with grizzly bears doing things that bears do. 🙂 There is a neat gadget in this section that is called a Bear’s Year. There is a dial that shows the seasons. When you drag the hand to a season it will show you what bears do in that season and also what children do. I like how it connects the information to the child’s schema and their point of view.

3) The create option includes a sticker board, animal piano and animal builder.
*Sticker board – Students just drag the virtual sticker onto the paper to make a picture. You can re-size each sticker which is a nice option. You’ll just need to show the students how to do this and how to get them back to “regular” size. They can make them so large that they are bigger than the screen. There are several animals to choose from as well as some natural elements to enhance the outdoor scene. When you are finished you can click on the camera to take a picture of your creation. The picture is saved in your camera roll. One thing that I like to do on these type of activities is to print out the paper and have them use it for some extended learning. They can write a story about the picture, label the animals, compare & contrast 2 of the animals that they chose or write a short report about one of the animals. This picture can be attached to that extended activity and sent home when the project is complete. Parents will enjoy seeing how the students used an apps to complete a project and learn about animals.
*Animal piano – make wild music. This is a keyboard that allows you to push a key for an individual sound. The twist in this app is that the bear growls out the note for you!
*Animal builder – The user chooses individual parts to create a unique animal. To choose a new body part, they slide the title section. I found this a bit confusing because I wanted to spin the whole area (a tree trunk) where the parts are and that doesn’t work. It will only spin if you are on the title. You can even add extras (like wings!) to your animal.

The Ranger Rick Jr. Appventures series has already received some great reviews and impressive awards. This would be a fun app to use in the classroom or homeschool setting. The kids will have fun using it and they will  learn some animal facts. I even learned a few! Enter the giveaway below for your chance to win this app. The entry options are all easy to complete. Share this giveaway with your teacher friends. I’ll be choosing 3 winners! Thank you Ranger Rick, Jr. for this great giveaway!

Thanks for reading! 🙂
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Don’t forget to enter the giveway for the iPad mini! There are only a few days left to enter!

DISCLOSURE: I was provided with a free copy of this app to review. All opinions expressed are my own and this review was written by me. 🙂

Win an iPad mini! A giveaway for teachers!

I’m so excited to bring you this awesome giveaway! 20 teachers have teamed up to buy an iPad mini for a giveaway. The giveaway is open to teachers (classroom and homeschool) who are living in the contiguous United States. The winning entry will be verified and proof of eligibility may be required. Please see the terms and conditions for more information. The entry options are really easy! Good luck!

If you are the lucky winner or you have access to an iPad or other classroom technology, you may be wondering where to start? How can I use these in my classroom? What do the students need to know? Some teachers at TPT compiled some of their best ideas into a free ebook for teachers: Tech Tips for Teachers.  It’s full of great ideas!

A really easy and fun tech integration is using QR codes in the classroom. QR stands for quick response. A user can put some information (a web link, text, picture, etc.) into a site that will generate a code. The code can be scanned by students and show an answer, link to a website, etc. Teachers can easily create their own QR codes (I like to use the web site goqr.me) or there are many wonderful items at TPT that have already been created using QR codes. I have several QR items that link to stories. The Back-to-school stories are perfect for this time of year. These are stories that someone is reading (a librarian, author, parent, etc.) on YouTube. I have put the links into safeshare to avoid all the extra junk (comments, ads, etc.) on YouTube. That is another little hint for you – always put your link into safeshare and generate a new link before you watch something in class.
To use QR codes, you need an internet connected device (smart phone, iPad, tablet) and you need a scanning app. There are many free options available. I use Scan on my iPhone and the class iPads. The students know how to find the icon. They just click on it and then move the device so that the square target area on the device (see the top right photo) is over the QR code. That picture is blurry because as soon as I get near the QR code it picks it up and starts to scan! It will then take you to whatever information was inputted. This set of QR codes is for links to books about building character and social skills. It is called the Best Me. Once the code is scanned, the video is displayed on safeshare. I have other QR code stories in my TPT store.  
And now, for the exciting part…here is the giveaway! You could win an iPad mini with WIFI connectivity! 🙂

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These other blogs have partnered with me to bring you this giveaway. They also have some great technology tips and products for you. Click on each blog link so you don’t miss any!

The giveaway winner will be selected on August 10th. Good luck!

App Review & Giveaway *Win a free app!*

I was asked to review the Rhyme to Read app. You’ll get a chance to enter to win it at the end of this post!  This app requires an iPad running iOS 7 or later. The app is currently $9.99 in the app store. That means each story is only 50 cents!

The app features 20 short vowel word family stories. The pop-up that you see on the picture (can be disabled in settings) talks about how the app works and give bio information for the creators. It was created by 2 teachers who are reading specialists with advanced degrees and many years of experience. I love that! These ladies know how to teach reading! The music can also be disabled in settings.

At the beginning of each story there is a suggestion page. It gives advice about reading the title to the student (so they are familiar with the word patterns that are emphasized in that book) and that students should read the books in order.

The pages of each book feature those word family words throughout the story. The word families are all color coded for ease of use and to help beginning readers. Each page has a little box in the top corner that has sight words that are used on that page. The reader can tap any word on the page (including the sight words at top) to hear the word. To me, this is one of the best things about technology and early readers. I love that the app doesn’t automatically read the words or leave them without help (no audio). I searched high and low for books like this and there are not that many out there with this feature. PLUS, this one is focused on word families!

I’m excited to use this app with my 1st graders at the beginning of the year. It would be awesome for preschool, kindergarten or the beginning of 1st grade. I would LOVE for the authors to create more booklets like this (long vowel word families, blends, etc.). Let’s help this one to be super successful so these amazing ladies can create even more apps for us!

One lucky winner will be able to try this app for free. If you are the winner, you will be emailed a promo code. Be sure to read the instructions to activate. You won’t download the app. You just enter the code on the app store and it automatically downloads the app for you. Remember, this is for an iPad with iOS 7 or higher. Good luck!
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DISCLOSURE: I was provided with a free copy of this app to review. All opinions expressed are my own and this review was written by me. 🙂

The Daily Deal – Book bins & geography app

I have 2 deals for you today!  I was so excited to find these little bins at Wal-Mart for only 97 cents!  They will be great for my Daily 5 book bins.  They are smaller than the current ones that I’m using but seem much sturdier.  Also, the ones I’ve been using are from the Dollar Tree and they haven’t carried them the last 2 years, so I can’t replace the ones that get broken.  If your students put chapter books in their boxes this size is perfect!  I put in 5 Boxcar Children books and it’s not quite 1/3 full.  You can fit some oversized picture books in them.  I know my firsties will be creative with getting books into them so it won’t take them long to discover putting the books in diagonal will let you put in a few larger books! 🙂

There is also a free app today for the iPad & iPhone.  It looks cute (and educational!).  Enjoy the last little bit of your weekend!  As always, prices can change quickly!  Click on the picture below to see if it’s still a deal.

Amazon Book & App Deals

Here are a few deals at Amazon and itunes.   If you use an ipad and/or kindle in the classroom, check these out!  Prices can change quickly.  The Kate DiCamillo book will likely only be at this price for today.
This cat in the hat app is 99 cents today.   Visit the itunes link to add it to your ipad or the Amazon link to add it to your android device.
@ Amazon you also get $1 MP3 credit when you buy this app!  It is automatically applied to your Amazon account.

Amazon download for Kindle

App Features:
  • Choose from 3 ways to read: Read to Me, Read it Myself, or Auto Play
  • Listen to professional narration and fun music and sound effects
  • Enjoy the original illustrations from the classic book
  • Read or follow along as the words are highlighted; touch words to hear them again
  • Touch images on the screen, and their words will pop up

8 and up 3 and up

What if? Why not? Could it be?
When a fortune teller’s tent appears in the market square of the city of Baltese, orphan Peter Augustus Duchenne knows the questions that he needs to ask: Does his sister still live? And if so, how can he find her? The fortune teller’s mysterious answer (an elephant! An elephant will lead you there!) sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that you will hardly dare to believe it’s true. With atmospheric illustrations by fine artist Yoko Tanaka, here is a dreamlike and captivating tale that could only be told by Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo. In this timeless fable, she evokes the largest of themes: hope and belonging, desire and compassion–with the lightness of a magician’s touch.

Free Kindle book!  
9 and up 4 and up
I learnt that it is faith that decides whether something will happen or not.At the age of eight, Kaka already knew what it he wanted in life: to play soccer, and only soccer. He started playing in front of his friends and family, but when he suffered a crippling injury doctors told him he would never play again. Through faith and perseverance Kaka recovered, and today he plays in front of thousands of fans every year. As the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year and winner of the Ballon d’Or, this midfielder for Real Madrid has become one of the most recognized faces on the soccer field.