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Top Ten Teacher Blogger Products at Ed Expo2015

I had the best experience at the Ed Expo 2015 in Atlanta last weekend! I got to get together with 50 other teacher bloggers, check out an extremely large room full of new educational materials, and decide on my 10 favorites! Sounds like heaven, doesn't it?  It was!

I do want to mention a special THANK YOU to Sherron Washington, who organized the group of bloggers who voted on this list. I was very lucky to be a part of all this!

Here are the top ten new products at the Expo, chosen by teacher bloggers! (Well, ok, there are actually 12, since there were 2 ties!)

This countdown starts with a tie for 10th place!
I love anything that's self correcting, and these Cool Circuits do that in a big way! When you complete the circuit properly, it lights up! 

Learn more about Cool Circuits at the Science Wiz Website! (Be sure to watch THIS video!)

Aren't you aching to get your hands on these blocks? They are just wooden blocks, but as you can see, they are a great size and shape and offer a world of possibilities! I truly believe kids need "hands on" as well as opportunities for creative thinking! These people from Kapla certainly kept that in mind creating these awesome blocks! 

You'll see some amazing creations with Kapla blocks on their website: Kapla Website.

These pictures don't do this product justice. I suggest watching the video on the Chibitronics website to see the awesomeness of these Circuit Sticker books. These are amazing! They combine a knowledge of electricity with creativity. Science and art, fabulous!

Looking for a variety of pencil grips? Look no further! These single grip pencil grips not only help children learn to use a proper pencil grip, they are sufficiently squishy, colorful, and fun enough to motivate children to use them!  

See more at their website:  The Pencil Grip Website.

Got kiddos who can't keep their fingers still?  I know plenty of them!  These "Busy Fingers" are perfect for them! They come in a variety of colors and textures, and will keep those fingers busy while the child needs to focus. 

Learn more about these from their website: Fiddle Focus Website.

I want all these Math bands! Each color has a different multiplication table! I happened to know that children LOVE wearing these bands, no matter what they say. If they wear a multiplication family on their wrist all day, I think there's a pretty good chance of learning that whole multiplication table! Learning math facts is such a tough challenge for many children, I'm thrilled to see an educational company trying to make it easier and more fun! 

See their website: Learn in Style Website.

There have been so many times in my teaching career where I would have LOVED having an open number line at my fingertips! What a great way to get kiddos to develop Number Sense! F.U.N. stands for Fluency and Understanding Numbers. 

Be sure to check out their website: Learning Advantage Website.

There was a tie for #4... and two of my favorite products!
Goldie Blox were developed to encourage more females to go into engineering. These blocks are designed around books, and are just as much fun for boys as they are for girls! 

Here is their website: Goldie Blox Website.

I absolutely LOVE these fidgets! It's simply a marble inside some plastic mesh, but it's comforting and soothing and... simple! I know a few kiddos who could be calmed down by a fidget! 

See their website here: Endless Possibilities Website.

Everyone at the Expo was talking about this game! It's a box of square cards with words on them. Sound dull?  It's NOT! We had fun trying to work our words into sentences and stories. What a great way to develop vocabulary and language in a fun way! 

See their website: Say It Website!

The Reading Game is a fun way to engage beginning readers and have them reading in no time! Be sure to watch the video on the website to see how the game works.

There is a reason this product is #1! It was awesome! The magnetic letters are placed on the ipad, and the ipad sounds out CVC words. If it's a real word, there's a picture, but it also sounds out nonsense words. The ipad app is free to download. The number version is awesome as well, practicing 3 digit place value, and works with addition and subtraction. 

I know what you're wondering... how do I get all these incredible products! Well, just go to your local teacher store and inquire! If you go to EDmarketdealer.com, you can put in your zip code and find your closest teacher store!

My local teacher store is: Teacher's Pet. Trust me, I've been there many times and bought many items for my classroom there!

Aren't these products incredible? I feel so honored to be part of this list. Plus, there were a whole bunch of products I haven't even mentioned that are worth mentioning! That's my next post!

Things I did and DIDN'T do on my vacation!

I don't know how a whole week has gone by! 

How can weeks drag on while I'm at work, but fly by while I'm on vacation? 


I took off Saturday morning and came back Monday afternoon. 
It was a brief visit to Atlanta, but it was totally awesome!

I did get to attend the ED Expo 2015!
This was so exciting, and I came back with lots of samples!
I'll be sharing a whole lot more about this experience, so stay tuned here on Elementary Matters!


Between eating out in Atlanta (Yes, I did have Southern Fried Chicken and collard greens, Yum!), eating in airports, going out to eat with friends since I've been home, I've been eating too much!
I'm well fed, but I wasn't too happy when I got on the scale. I think I need to seriously watch what I eat!

I didn't get my taxes done, or even organized!

I meant to get the the gym every day that I was home, but that didn't happen!
Well, I did get to the gym one day, but that does NOT make up for all the food I've eaten and all the sitting around I've done!

Well, I still have the weekend!

Be sure to go to Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday link up!

Lessons From A Bus Driver

Lessons From a Bus Driver: Here's a little lesson I learned way back at the beginning of my teaching career that helped me understand something that was really important about teaching!
A long time ago, long before I started working where I am now, I substituted.

One day when I was subbing in a third grade classroom, I had a very interesting conversation with one of the children.

The classroom was situated right near the driveway, so the children could see the buses drive up at the end of the day.

Here was the conversation:

Boy: Yes!!! The good bus driver is back!
Me: That's great! What makes him such a good bus driver?
Boy: Well one day after I'd been out sick for a few days, when I came back, he asked me if I was feeling better.

I've thought about that conversation many times. 

Clearly, the boy liked that bus driver because the bus driver paid special attention to the boy. The bus driver showed an interest.

That's all it takes!

Since that day, I've made an extra effort to let the children know I am interested in what they do. I find ways to let them know I'm glad they came to school that day. I think it makes a difference to say things like: 

After an absence:

One of my favorites:

The more you make your students feel welcome, the more they will want to perform! 

No matter how I say it, I make sure I am there for my students, making sure they know they are an important member of my class, and give them each a special greeting as they enter my classroom each day!

What are your favorite greetings?

If you like this bright idea, please consider joining me on these social media:

For more bright ideas from some of my teacher blogging friends, please browse through the link up below!

Thanks for visiting Elementary Matters!

Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues

Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!

The Winter Blues
A medical diagnosis might be Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I am not a medical professional, but I have seen these symptoms in many of my students:

change of moods
increased crying
difficulty concentrating
fatigue or loss of energy
lack of motivation
feeling sluggish or agitated
problems getting along with others
changes in appetite

Honestly, with the incredible amount of snow here in the northeast, we've been stuck inside way too much, and it's not just the kids struggling with these symptoms!

As I'm sure you know, teaching can be tough under normal conditions. 
It's even tougher when the kids just want to nap at their desks!

But what can we do about it? 

Here are a few things I've tried:

1. Exercise!  Get those kids out of their seats and moving! They may not feel like getting up at all, but that's a sign they really need to!  It's important to do some exercises that will get their blood pumping, like jogging in place, jumping jacks, or Go Noodle! (If you haven't discovered Go Noodle, it's time to check it out! It's free, and the kids love these Brain Breaks!)
GoNoodle Inspiration Blog

2. Rest and Relaxation! They need some quiet time, too! There are yoga moves that are perfect for kids, and simplified forms of meditation. (Many studies show the need for meditation!) In my classroom we have "silent seconds". That's when the kids sit with their hands on their knees, trying to clear their minds of all the clutter. They love it, and seriously need to clear their minds. (We all do!) Another form of relaxation? Bring out the watercolor
paints! They are suddenly VERY quiet when those come out!

Here are a few links to Amazon if you want more information on Yoga for children. 

3. Happy Music! There is much research that proves music affects our moods. When the children are acting tired and dragging themselves around, it's time to put on some happy music! It's ok to let them dance! HERE is a post I did years ago that has several suggestions for Happy Music for the classroom. HERE is another link to a post that gives suggestions for a variety of kinds of music, and when to use it in the classroom. 

4. Get Outside! I realize sometimes this isn't possible, but it's important for those kids to breathe fresh air and get away from the stale air in the classroom. Plus, they need that Vitamin D from the sun! (Did you realize many symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency
  are similar to those of seasonal affective disorder?) What learning activities can be done in the snow? Measuring? Science? I'm sure you can come up with something!

5. Shake it Up! Kids need to look at things differently. This can be as simple as rearranging the furniture or having a backwards schedule day. It might mean changing the routine or doing something totally different one day. It's amazing how one crazy day can put them in a better mood. Plus, when they get back to the routine, they appreciate it more!

6. Plan Something Special! Kids (and adults) need something to look forward to. It gives them motivation. Luckily, February has plenty of opportunities for special activities! We're planning a Valentine's Day party, and I'll go out of my way to make it super fun. They need it! We also have Day 100 (which will be whenever we get back to school after this recent snowstorm!), Presidents Day, Mardi Gras, and Chinese New Year. (Which brings me back to #2: rest and relaxation!) But with the winter we've had, I may have to bring back something I haven't done in years:

A Virtual Trip to Mexico!
Yes, we actually go on a virtual trip to Mexico. We get in our virtual airplane, put on our seat belts and fly to Mexico. We get out of our seats, and exit the plane to the warmth of the Mexican beaches. We bring our beach towels, have tortilla chips and salsa while enjoying our books. We see virtual animals and feel the virtual warm breeze.  I might even sneak in some mapping skills and a handful of Spanish words to keep it interesting.

Of course, I might have to bring out some resources like this one: 

or this one

or perhaps this one:

We CAN get past this winter!

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