Thursday, July 31, 2014

Back To School Product Swap Blog Hop!

Although I still have a month of summer left, I know there are teachers that are on the brink of heading back to school.
Cara Taylor of Creative Playground has organized:
so that we can review each other's products to help you make decisions as to what you may be able to use in your classroom this upcoming school year!

I am lucky enough to be reviewing 2 great products!  

The first product comes from Life Over C's!
Kim Staten, the author of the blog, sent me her:

This is a 100 page resource that is perfect for PreK & Kindergarten classrooms, as well as those that homeschool.

Here is what is included in the pack:

This pack is perfect for hands-on work and play.  It does require a lot of colored printing, but once you print it and laminate it you are set to use it over and over, so it is definitely worth the time and investment!

So I grabbed my boys and we got to work!

First, whip up a batch of some fun sparkly ocean blue playdoh for sensory fun!
There are tons of recipes online (see link above)- some are 'cook' and others 'non cook'.
You can even add extracts and/or KoolAid to your dough mix for added sensory experiences!

The pieces are meant to go into the 'ocean' (playdoh) for guided or unguided play:

She also included these great QR code cards that read to the children to tell them what to do!!!!

Simply scan the QR code with a device that has a QR Reader (they are free to download)

and it reads the sentence/task to them!!!

then they go ahead and do what it asked them to do in the playdoh using the animal printables!
 The boys wanted to do this part over and over and over!!!!
Now think as a teacher of littles who aren't quite ready to read yet how awesome this is!!!
This now makes an independent sensory learning station/center for your classroom!

There were tons of other 'hands on' center activities to do:
Number puzzles- from 1-5 and also 1-10

Sorting/Matching/Counting activity cards

Counting and 'lacing' activity- perfect for fine motor development too!!
If you don't have pipe cleaners, straws work just as well- just glue the number card to the bottom of the straw and have them slide the pictures down the straw!

The boys really enjoyed playing Tic-Tac-Toe!

They chose their sea animal of choice and started placing them down

And the winner is...turtle!

I chose to stick the gameboard into a plastic binder sleeve so that I can place it in my center games binder.

And the playing pieces are stuck in the back.  Just stick the whole thing in the binder and then pull it out when it's time to play!

Kim also includes some 'task cards' so to speak that work well when binded together on a binder ring:

And then there are black and white printables for follow-up and extra practice/extension and review!
 I have my guys work on the floor- laying on their bellies.  It helps direct the pencil to be held in the right position- a little trick I learned from an OT! 

Another way to use the printables is to place them in the plastic binder sheets and use either dry erase markers

or crayons

They wipe off in a snap and are ready for the next kid/group!
Saves paper, time in the copy room, etc!
I also keep a binder for center activities like this so that they are quick to pull out and use!
Perfect also for unexpected days when a sub is in your room- they can pull out the activity and it is ready to go!

Next up that we played with were 'clipping cards'
You can cut/laminate and use with clothespins as you see above (you can even mark the back with a dot- they flip them over and if the clothespin is on the dot they got it right!)

But I chose to use them in the plastic binder store in my center binder!
To keep with a 'buried treasure' theme I had the boys use 'treasure' (coins) to cover the answers 

You could also use bottle caps (water or juice bottles), pom poms, big googly eyes, counters/chips, etc!

The boys also got to play with the number puzzles
and lucky for you, you can try out a similar version for free!

Kim has these 'Making 10 Ocean Puzzles' as a free download in her TPT store!

She also has follow-up printables for the math concepts covered!  We practiced some counting, cutting and gluing using this one:

he first guessed '4'- so I said 'touch them and count them' to get the correct answer!

and he got quite the chuckle that they numbers were out of order when he was all done!

So to rate this product...I give it 4 stars!
This is definitely a unit I would incorporate into my Kindergarten classroom, and it can easily be used in a PreK/School classroom as well.  My kinders could do these activities on their own with limited assistance and guidance so that I could work with small groups for guided reading.

If you think this is something your students would love, Kim has put it on sale for the duration of this hop!
You can find it by clicking here:

She is also allowing me to give a copy away to a lucky person!
Enter this rafflecopter for your chance to win it!

The next product comes to you from Suzy Palmer from On The Go Teacher Mama!

This pack is perfect for grades 1-3.  The grade 1 kiddos may need a tad bit of help with some of the components, but the 2's and 3's can do it independently!

Here is what is included in the pack:

Suzy has provided wonderful previews of what is included:
These are the components of the 'Memory Book'
You can also use them individually for a back to school writing center activity, morning work 'do-now' and/or for a great 'back to school'/'meet the teacher' bulletin board display!

Here are some of her activity pages.  They can be used for partner work to get your new students talking and working together and/or independently.  They would be great to add to a 'menu' of activities that need to be completed for the day and/or as 'early finisher' activities!

These pieces are included for you to use to make a class bulletin board.  She gives detailed instructions on how to manage distribution and collection and has provided some blank pieces for other ideas you may have on how to use them!

Here are the graphing components she has included.  Students can graph how they get to school, their favorite ice cream and/or favorite part of school!
These would make great independent math center activities too!

She has literally shown you everything in her pack with the previews provided!

I wanted to give Suzy's pack the full review that it deserves, but I don't have 'access' to any 7-9 year olds!  I did do the interview with my soon-to-be-kindergartner and the answers are quite cute:

Have your students fill out the interview, and make a self portrait.  Then at the end of the school year revisit them and see how much has changed!

Suzy wanted to have you try out components of her pack so she has uploaded this FREE sampler:
It includes 3 of the pages from her Back to School pack!

So how do I rate her pack:
It includes a great variety of activities for teachers to choose from!
You can differentiate the activities to meet student needs and use them for grouping and pairing!
If you teach grades 2-3 this is definitely a pack you want to consider acquiring to make your back to school and beginning year planning a bit easier!

The pack includes all printables- perfect for teachers who are limited on color printing/copying!
Project onto a Eno/Smart board for classroom discussion and/or directions too!

Suzy has put the Back to School pack on sale for the duration of the hop and you can find it here:

In addition, she would like to give one of her packs away for free!
Enter this rafflecopter for a chance to win it!

Be sure to visit Life Over C's and On The Go Teacher Mama to find their reviews of my products and a chance to win them for free on each blog!

Looking for more blogs involved in:
Here they are:

Wishing you a wonderful start to a new and fabulous school year!
Until next post,
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  1. It's my last year before retirement. I'm looking forward to seeing my returning preschool kiddos but also bittersweet. ~Denise

  2. This is my first year with a "real classroom". I was an interventionist last year, and have a kinder room this year. I am SO excited!!!

  3. Such a great giveaway! I am so excited to start Daily 5 in my room this year. We played around with it a little at the end of last year and now I'm ready to dive in from day 1. My tip would be to stay organized and plan ahead. Life happens and you don't want things to start piling up or it will be hard to catch up.

  4. This is an awesome giveaway!! I am looking forward to meeting all of the little kinders that I will be spending my days with over the next school year. They grow so much in such a short span of time. Tonya

  5. I'm looking forward to teaching my students how to become better readers and collaborating with my co-workers to help them become better reading teachers!!

  6. Thanks for participating in the swap friend!
    Creative Playground

  7. I'm excited to meet all my new kinders!

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. My tip is to model and practice procedures over and over and over again the first week or two of school.

    You can read more about my beginning of the year routines at


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