How to use Boom Cards in your Classroom

Today I wanted to share with you my latest classroom obsession – Boom Cards! Boom Cards are interactive digital resources that your students can use on any internet connected device.  In this day and age, classrooms are being flooded with technological tools with a push towards one-to-one accessibility. While this is wonderful and engaging for the students, sometimes as teachers, it’s hard to know where to begin.

A couple of years ago, I started making digital resources for my classroom within Google Drive. The process was laborious and lacked the ability to add sound or self-check. Students still needed too much assistance through the process. I needed more of an independent activity for them as I worked with small groups.

After learning about, using, and creating Boom Cards I finally feel like I found the tool that I need to make digital learning accessible for my students! In this blog post, I want to tell you a little bit more about Boom Cards, how they work and give you an easy how-to guide on setting it up in your classroom.

Creating an account

The first step is to create a free account.  There is a lot that you can do with a free account, just follow the link below:

Create my Boom Learning Account

After you create your free account, you need to decide on the type of membership you would like.

Choosing a Membership

Before you chose which membership you would like, you need to know some basic vocabulary that the site uses:

Section – The number of classes that you can create.  If you are in a self-contained classroom you might only want one section, while middle school and high school teachers would obviously have more. Sections can also be a great way to differentiate. Group your students by academic need, and you can push different assignments to different leveled groups.

Decks – Each product that you get from the website is called a deck of cards.  They contain a group of task cards that usually focus on a particular skill. Private decks are decks that you create yourself, that live in your library. Creating your own deck is easy and a whole lot of fun once you get the hang of it. If you want to make decks and sell them to other teachers, then you would pick the Ultimate membership to make a public deck.

Points – When you wish to purchase a deck of cards you look to see how many points it costs, and how many points are in your bank.  Depending on the membership you choose, you will start out with some points and can spend those as you see fit.  Once those points are used up, you can purchase more points within the store.  Think about it like reloading your Starbucks card : )

Okay, you’ve got your account and you’ve got your membership squared away, so now its time to start adding in some students under the classes tab.

Setting up a Classroom

You can add students individually or as a group under this tab.  Boom Learning gives every student a little avatar that they can change once they log-in.  You can change the usernames and passwords as you see fit.  Try and keep as many usernames and passwords the same across all digital learning platforms to make it easier for the students.

Under this tab, you can assign work to students individually or as a group.  I will show you another location that you can do that as well in just a little bit.

Now it’s time to spend your points, you can head on over to the store.

Downloading Boom Cards

There are a ton of cards to choose from, and more are being added every day. Cards can be used for whole class instruction, intervention work, guided reading, centers, early finishers, and as homework. Truly, the possibilities are endless.

Want to try out a sight word freebie that I made just for you?  Click on the link below and it will take you to a free deck of cards that you can start with!

Mystery Sight Word Freebie

 

Once you make a purchase or download a free product, you will find it in your library.

Assigning Boom Cards

You can click on each individual assignment and decide what you would like to do with it.

Assign – You can assign it to any class you have set-up.  To assign it to an individual student, you need to go to the class tab and click on that student individually.

Fast Pin – This allows your students’ quick access to the cards where they don’t have to log-in.  Doing this can make things faster, but you won’t get the reports on how the student did with the cards.

HyperLink – If you want to attach this deck of cards to another document, you can get the link here.

Print – prints out PDF versions of the cards.

Custom play settings – you can choose different options for your students, like showing the answer when they get it wrong or allowing for multiple plays of the same deck.

View reports – you can check out your students’ statistics on this particular deck.

Once you have assigned a deck, you can have your students log-in to their accounts:

Student Access

On the Boom Learning main page, you will find a green button for student sign-in. When the students’ click that, they will be prompted for their username and password.  Try to keep this information in an easy to access location.

I made some editable Boom Learning sign-in cards to make it easier to keep track of your students’ usernames and passwords.  I like to keep these on a metal ring by my computers.  Cards can also be kept in students’ personal folders.  If you would like a free copy, click on the link below:

Boom Learning Username Cards

 

Students’ will log-in, and they will see the cards that have been assigned to them and click on the correct one.

My nephew tested out the cards for me, and he was very engaged!

After the students complete the assignment, you can check out how they did in the reports tab.

Follow-Up

The reports tab tells you how many times they have done the deck of cards, their accuracy level, and the amount of time it took them to complete the deck. I love that this reporting tab gives you a quick snapshot of who is struggling with a concept, and who is ready for more challenging material.

Alright, I know that this was a bit of a long-winded post, but I wanted to offer support to teachers or parents who are looking into starting a Boom Learning account.  I truly believe that this resource has the ability to personalize the learning for your students. Teachers know what their kids need, and to be able to pick and choose the skills to present to them while differentiating their learning is priceless.

Please let me know if you have any further questions that I can answer for you!

All the best,

Cori

 

 

Hands on Apple Activities for the Classroom

apples for the classroom

Fall is my absolute favorite season! When September rolls around I am getting sick of the San Diego heat and humidity and I’m ready for a cool down.  I love football, I love sweaters, I love a cool breeze, but I don’t like Pumpkin Spice lattes (don’t kick me out of the basic club).

I love Fall time in the classroom as well because you are just getting to know each other, routines are falling into place, and the momentum forward has started. During this time I like to really get started on some hands-on activities with my students, and one of the first ones is crockpot applesauce.

apples for the classroom

For this particular applesauce, I used Gala apples, but any sweet ones will work.  In years past, I peeled all of the apples at my house ahead of time, cut them up and stored them in Ziploc bags, but…AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT! This year I decided to leave the skins on and see what would happen. Call me lazy (which I am), but teachers have too much on their plates already!

I did cut them into smaller pieces at home and brought them to work because having knives at school makes me nervous.

I brought my crockpot to work, and the students helped me pour in ingredients and measure out what we needed.  We put the crockpot on high, and it wasn’t long before the most delicious smell started to fill the classroom!

When it was done, it looked like this.  The apples were still in larger chunks and you can serve it just like that if you want to, whatever floats your boat. You can also have the kids help you mash it down to look more applesaucy.  Another fun little spin on it is to make faux apple pie.

I picked up these small crusts at Target, aren’t they adorable?!?! You can add the apples to them either in the big chunks or mashed up. Add some whipped cream to the top, or serve with some vanilla ice cream if you want to get really fancy!

My kids absolutely loved the applesauce and kept asking for seconds!  After we finished, we worked on our sequencing skills with this worksheet:

If you would like a free copy of this sequencing worksheet, click the link below:

Applesauce Sequencing Freebie

This is just one of the hands-on projects from my Apple Activities resource.  Inside the resource, you can find instructions for making apple patterns, doing an apple tasting, searching for seeds, learning about Johnny Appleseed, making apple play-doh, making apple slime, doing an experiment to see if apples sink or float, and building an apple tower.

All of these apple activities come with assessment worksheets to extend learning and allow students to increase their content knowledge.  Language arts, math, science, and social studies assessments are all included, along with some fine motor resources!  If you are interested in checking out this resource just follow the link below:

Apple Activities – Hand-on Fun!

 

Dollar Tree Teacher Finds to Save You Money!

Teacher Dollar Tree Finds

It is truly my belief that pre-K and kindergarten teachers are the biggest hoarders in the world! TLC would do a special Hoarders – Teachers Edition if they ever saw all the things we collected for centers, fine motor skills, art, math manipulatives, etc!

Last year I had to move classrooms. I knew I was a hoarder, but in packing up that classroom, the extent of my hoarding came to full light!  I did a lot of purging, but it also got me thinking about how much money I’ve spent over the last 10 years!

When I first started teaching there was no TPT.  Target, Walmart, and other discount stores didn’t cater to teachers as much as they do now.  The only place to go was the local teacher store, and everything there was exorbitantly priced! Thankfully now we have more options (including the wonders of Amazon) to spend our hard earned money on.

Today I want to talk to you about my favorite Dollar Tree finds. When I really started to look around this store I couldn’t believe how many hidden gems they had waiting for teachers, and they only cost a $1!!!!! The items I will share with you today are ones that I have tested in my classroom. I know that they will stand up to the abuse of 5-year-olds!

Art Supplies

For art supplies, I love the little six compartment palettes.  They are the perfect size for tiny hands. I can give them a little bit of paint, but it doesn’t hold enough to create a real catastrophe. The Dollar Tree also has many different sized canvas panels. I used this small size for our Christmas ornaments last year.  We did little fingerprint snowmen, and I hot glued ribbon on to the back to finish the project.  Paint brushes are something that I constantly seem to be in short supply of. Its another one of those items that I wonder to myself – are they eating them?!?! These paint brushes aren’t designer quality, but they get the job done, especially on our watercolor projects.

Fine Motor Skills

The large tweezers are always a big hit in my classroom.  We use them to pick up pompoms and create letters with the pompoms.  The tweezers really help to build hand strength. Play-Doh is obviously a must-have for the kindergarten classroom, but I love that these ones come with the tools attached. Play-Doh tools are another one of those items that always go missing or get broken. I love that I can get Play-Doh, and the tools for only a $1! Lastly, I use the bingo daubers in my Read the Room center.  I also use them for art projects. It’s a fun way to use paint without the mess.

Centers

Plastic storage galore! Store your centers in these brightly colored plastic bins. I’ve also used various ones for book bins in the past, but I think they are a little too flimsy for that. I know that dress-up and kitchen centers are going the way of the dodo bird, but they really do build students vocabularies and social skills, so try to sneak them in if you can!

Last years’ students were puzzle freaks! I ended up getting a lot more puzzles from the Dollar Tree, and we even decided to designate a table in the classroom as the “puzzle table” where you could leave your unfinished puzzle and it would be left in peace and not destroyed.

Am I the only person who doesn’t like the kids using my pointer?  I feel like sharing it is one of the leading causes of colds! I’ve seen them do some pretty gross stuff with it. LOL  I like to purchase some pointers that are just for the kids that they can use in the Write the Room center and leave mine in peace.

The dry erase block dice has endless uses, not just in centers, but in your guided reading and math groups! Work on number or letter recognition, fluency, sounds, you name it! I also have an I-Spy center in my classroom, and the magnifying glasses from the Dollar Tree work perfectly.  I originally purchased some child, multi-colored plastic magnifying glasses and those didn’t work very well, and they were a lot more expensive!

Math Tools

My students love playing with cards and dice! I taught my kids how to play war last year with the cards, and they thought it was the greatest things ever. Little did they know they were practicing their number comparison skills (BOOM – got you!). There are a million wonderful dice games out there as well, and I always have a big bin of dice readily available for my students to use. My kids last year were also obsessed with asking me if they could take dice home for the night, and bring them back in the morning! I pretty much always let me students take things home and use them. I’ve never had a problem with things getting returned, but even if I did, thank God for the Dollar Tree!

Classroom Organization

For classroom organization, I use the facial pads as erasers for whiteboards.  Once they start to get dirty, I just throw them in the washing machine and voila, good as new!  The Dollar Tree has tons of cheap prizes that you can load up on for your treasure box.  Word to the wise – avoid the ones that make noise!

The little craft storage boxes are great to keep letters in or small craft supplies organized.  If you follow the Jan Richardson model of guided reading you will know that students who are just beginning to learn their letters should only be introduced to a small amount at a time (starting with the ones in their name).  I like using one small craft box per student in my lowest group.  I put their names on it, and I can quickly grab their box with the letters I need in it to do some review.

The colorful pompoms they have in the party planning section are the perfect way to spice up my bulletin boards!

Lastly, the sandwich boxes and sponges make my glue tubs! I saw the idea of making glue tubs a couple of years ago, and ever since I started doing it (and using glue sticks sparingly), I’ve actually made it to the end of the year with glue sticks to spare!  Make sure you get the sponges that don’t have that harder scrubbing area on the bottom.  I made that mistake one year, and the glue didn’t seep in as well as I would have liked it to.  The sandwich boxes are really durable and have a tight seal! I also like to use the sandwich boxes to store fine motor manipulatives! Sand, sprinkles, rocks, etc. can all go in there for letter formation practice!

Honestly, I could keep going with this post, the Dollar Tree has so much to offer, and at a fraction of the price of your local teacher store! Next time you have an extra 30 minutes, grab a Starbucks and wander around the Dollar Tree, you won’t be disappointed!  What are your favorite Dollar Tree finds? Tell me in the comments below!

All things CVC

Hi everyone!  As I sit here on my Christmas break, I can’t help but think about my students, and the projects we are going to work on when we get back in January.  The first half of the year is spent laying the ground work, making sure they know their letters, and the letter sounds.  I really try to drive home beginning and ending sounds, and we do a little work on medial vowels as well with our spelling program.

Come January though, we are ready to hit the ground running with our beginning reading skills, and the first place I like to start is with CVC words!

Teacher your kindergarten students early reading skills with these CVC word worksheets and activities. #cvcwords #kindergarten #worksheets #activities #centers
I created this CVC word product to do a variety of things for me in the classroom.  There are 94 CVC words with the picture, and the words with dots and an arrow on them.  I love using the dot and arrow system with my students because they really start to understand how each word has three individual sounds. After you make those three sounds, you go back and blend those sounds together to make the word.  The dots and arrows provide the students with easy reminders, and are essential in those beginning stages of reading.
There are truly a ton of uses for these cards!  You can have the students put them together like they are puzzle pieces, or your can have them play memory.  When they match the picture to the word, they get to keep the cards.  I don’t know about your classrooms, but memory is always a high motivation game in my class (and they don’t even realize they are learning) mwah ha ha!!!
I’m all about sorts for Kinder!  Working with pre-literate students can be challenging.  They really need to see things in a concrete way to understand a topic.  I’ve provided you with header cards for word families and short vowel sounds.  Sorts can be used in whole group settings, like during morning meeting, as an exit ticket, or just part of your phonics instruction.
Sorts are also great for small group work.  I use mine during guided reading, RTI, and intervention for those students who are struggling with a particular concept.  These cards can also be used during literacy centers with the recording sheets.
Write the Room activities allow you to view how the students are sounding out words independently.  I like to use word family sheets to practice as a whole class and then have the students reinforce their learning by writing the word families.
When I feel my students have a pretty good grasp on the most basic sight words, I introduce sentence practice.  It gives them practice, reading, sounding out, and writing all together in one resource.
I like the Write it Sort it activities to give them 2 fold practice on sounding out the words, and sorting them into the correct short vowel sound categories.
The next three resources are all about comprehension.  So you can sound out the word, but do you know what you are reading?
I hope you find this resource as helpful as I do for your beginning readers!  You can find it in my store by clicking on the image below:

How to make a letter sounds mouse pad on Vistaprint

Do you ever have an idea kicking around in your head for ages, but just aren’t sure how to go about making it happen?  At school, my kids use some ugly cartoon mouse pads that the computer teacher gave me. I kept thinking to myself – what if I could make these more functional?  My kids do all sorts of word work on the computer, and they need easy letter sound assistance.  Well, this summer I finally figured it out, and I’m sharing it with you!

I stated by creating a slide in PowerPoint and turned that into a JPEG.  I made 2 different options for that tricky letter X!

 

Costco is normally my go to when I am printing pictures, or for any other little projects I have.  I started out by using their website, but they wouldn’t give me a preview of the mouse pad before I ordered it.  Their price is definitely cheaper, but I will pay more to make sure that what I see is what I get, and that’s why I went over to vistaprint.com  There might be other printing websites that work just as well, but for this blog post, I’m going to show you what I did on the Vistaprint website. When I first got to the site, I couldn’t find mouse pad listed anywhere in the drop down menus, so I just typed it into the search bar.
It immediately took me to this screen, and I selected the option to upload my own complete design.
I clicked on the “my computer” button, and added in the file from the place I had saved it on my computer. I normally save everything on the desktop that I am currently working on, and then I “file” the things away when I am done with my project.
What I love about Vistaprint, is that they let you see the preview ahead of time, and they give you little safety lines to work with.  When you upload my design, it might say that it is out of the safety lines a bit, but it will be fine once you get to the next screen.
It took me a lot longer than I would like to admit to get the sizing right, and to make sure that the graphics were large enough that they would not blur.  Trial and error, and a couple hours later, and I got this final design to approve.
Once I approved it, I went to my cart to pay.  One of my co-workers told me about a Chrome plug-in called Honey, have you guys heard on it?  All you have to do is go to the Chrome web store (or just Google – Honey Chrome plug-in like I did).  You click the “Add to Chrome” button, and after it is installed, you get a little icon up by your web browser bar.
When you are in the check out of ANY website, you can click on the little icon, and it will tell you all of the coupon codes that they could find on the Internet to save you money!  It’s a little hard to see, but in this next photo, Vistaprint has 7 different offers to choose from!
After I clicked on my Honey extension, I found a coupon for 50% off!!!! Vistaprint always has some good deals, so that’s another reason that I like ordering through them.  After I ordered it, I was afraid that it wouldn’t look as good as it did on the website, but I was so happy when I took it out of the bag, and it looked just like the preview!
If this is something you would be interested in making, just click on the link below, and you will find the picture of the letter sounds mat that I made, and you can upload it to Vistaprint!

Pineapple Summer Bulletin Board

Hello everyone! The summer countdown has begun!  I officially have 13 days left!  I feel half excited, and half panicky, trying to squeeze in all the last bits of knowledge that I can impart to them!  As the school year winds down, I am looking for quick and easy bulletin boards that we can do, and I’ve jumped on the pineapple bandwagon! 
When I saw these pineapple faces from Creative Clips I became immediately obsessed! I’m not ashamed to admit it, I jump on bandwagons like nobodies business, Whether it’s Rae Dunn, or Fixer Upper, or Pineapples, I’m as basic as they come! : )
I love to use Krista Wallden’s clip art for art projects, because she produces work that is nice and simple with clean black lines, but also contains adorable details that add so much fun and character to the classroom.  To create the art work, I took the black lines of pineapples, and blew them up in power point.  I gave my kids a couple different pineapple options, and I printed them up on card stock.
We started by outlining the pineapple in crayon to make the colors stand out a little bit more, and then we headed outside to do some water coloring.
Finally, the kids cut it out, and I put it on our bulletin board.  I love how everything pops on the black background, and I would love to do all black bulletin boards next year, but I’m afraid that it might make the classroom too dark.  Have any of you tried all black bulletin boards?
The center sign was made with some beautiful KG fonts, one of those being Pineapple Delight of course!  I made the sign below in power point and printed the PDF out in poster size.  I followed the directions on a Pinterest pin I had saved a long time ago, and it worked perfectly.  Here’s a link to the tutorial:

I printed the sign, laminated it, and I’m going to be honest, my husband put it together while I was cooking dinner.  Attention to detail is not my strong suit : )
If you would like a copy of this sign, click on the link below, and good luck keeping your sanity as another school year comes to a close!

Kindergarten Early Finishers – Setting Up for Success

Finding activities for early finishers has always been a struggle for me.  For the last eight years, I came up with different plans every summer to address this issue.  Some ideas worked better than others, but I wasn’t completely satisfied with any of my plans!
One of the biggest issues for me, was my limited number of copies.  I have absolutely no extra copies to use for early finishers, so I needed something that they could use, and then erase.  I also wanted something that I could introduce at the beginning of the year, and that students could complete independently the rest of the year.  Finally, I needed activities that would provide students practice with topics we had already covered, but that they would also find engaging and fun! With all this in mind, I created the Kindergarten Early Finishers Task Cards.
The inspiration started with these beautiful boxes from Michael’s. Click on the links below the picture to purchase these boxes.
Photo Boxes from Michael’s (Don’t forget the use your coupon’s!)
Photo Boxes from Amazon (Amazon has it in colored or clear)
I’ve used these boxes for an entire year now, and they are fairly durable.  I also have a rough class this year, that struggles to treat things carefully, so I’m even more impressed that they have lasted!
I broke the task cards up by months with an increasing level of difficulty in both Language Arts and Math. At the beginning of every month, I take about 10 minutes to introduce the new cards. Many of the cards are similar enough to ones the students have seen before, so the skills are easily transferable. I rarely have a students ask me how to complete the cards in a box, which saves me a lot of time!
I looked for storage options for an entire year’s worth of cards, and also found these boxes at Michael’s.  Both types of boxes are OFTEN 50% off, and then of course with a coupon, you can get them cheaper as well.
I originally found these boxes at Michael’s, and I’m sure they still have them, but I couldn’t find them online.  I did find them on Amazon though.
When students are done with their work, they can grab a box, and practice their skills.
My students’ this year are obsessed with the memory games!
This project was a labor of love for me this year, and I feel like, in my 9th year of teaching, I finally found a solution to my early finisher’s problem.  If you would like your own copy of this early finisher’s resource, just click on the link below. You can buy the cards month by month, or you can save money on the year long bundle.

Colorful Carnations!

Hi everyone! I’m taking advantage of this 3-day weekend to get caught up on my to-do list!  My husband and I spent all day cleaning yesterday, and I threw out my back out vacuuming! #officiallyold
 Today I’m taking it easy, and cleaning up the office/desktop, and wanted to share with you the project my students and I did for our science fair this year.

Every year our school has a science fair.  The students work individually or in pairs to complete an experiment.  We display them all in our cafeteria for classroom walk-thru’s, and parents viewing.  Pre-K and Kinder do group projects because if we sent something home, it would just become a parent project (although I kind of feel like that’s what it becomes regardless of the grade anyway : )
I’ve admired these color changing experiments with flowers or celery for a while, and decided that this year we would tackle the project.  I started by grabbing some white carnations and food coloring at Vons.
I also purchased these large test tubes from Learning Resources. Check them out HERE. I was pleasantly surprised with how wide the opening were, and how sturdy the containers seemed to be.  They are perfect for kindergarten!
We added about 10 drops of food coloring to each vial.  I only had the red, yellow, green, and blue food coloring, so we had to mix some of the colors together to get the orange and purple.  This provided us with an excellent opportunity to discuss color mixing again, and we brought out our favorite color book:
Miraculously, no one spilled any of the food coloring on the carpet, cabinet, rug, or their clothing, so already the experiment was a success! I cut the flower stems back a bit, and the students placed the flowers into the vials.
We recorded our hypothesis’ which ranged from – the flowers will change colors, nothing will happen, and to the inevitable – the flowers will explode (why is this always a hypothesis when we do science experiments?!?! #iblamecartoons)
I put the science fair board together and recorded our materials, procedure, and hypothesis’.
I believe I took this picture after 48 hours of the flowers soaking in the water.  They started to change around 24 hours after we put them in the water, and the flowers actually lasted over a week!  During our experiment, the yellow and orange changed color the most, and the purple absorbed the color the least.  I would be curious to see if anyone else got different results. 
My kids loved this experiment, and they kept bringing their parents in to show them the flowers and talk about what was happening, so that made it even more worth while for me!  If you would like a copy of the forms I used for my science fair board, just click on the picture below!  I hope you enjoy doing this with your students, and let me know how it comes out!

Valentine’s Art Freebie

Today I wanted to share with you a simple and easy Valentine’s day craft.  I was searching on Pinterest for some cute projects for the kids to do, and I saw  a beautiful art project that had the student draw lines over a heart, and fill in the lines with patterns.  I thought that the concept was awesome, but drawing lines can be tricky for kinder kids, so I created an easy template for them to use.
We started out by coloring the outside borders of the squares.
I showed them an example that I did, where the inside of the heart had two colors in an alternating pattern, and the outside square had another two colors, also in an alternating pattern.  We talked about doing it the same way as I did, and we also talked about other options that they might choose.  I didn’t put a limit on what they could or couldn’t do.
After we finished coloring our squares, we got to painting! I love that my room has benches right outside my windows so that I can get students working on the painting outside while others are still finishing up their coloring in the inside, and still keep an eye on them.
At the beginning of the year, I ask the parents to send in some old t-shirts for our art projects.
We let the paint dry, and hung them on our bulletin board.  I love how they look with the black background, and I love all of the different choices that the students made.
If you would like a copy of this simple art project, just click on the link below!

Thanksgiving Turkey Craft

Looking for a quick and easy Thanksgiving craft for your kids? One that helps them remember the true meaning of the holiday?  Head on over to the Kinder Tribe, and snag this freebie!