Monday, November 25, 2013

Gifts for Teachers


Get Simple
If you’ve got multiple teachers to buy for make this is as easy as possible for yourself. 
Gift Cards. ALWAYS a favorite with teachers. Don’t worry about the amount. $5, $25, whatever you can afford will greatly be appreciated by teachers. 
  • $5 or $10 Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts (or whichever coffee place is closest to the school) in a cute mug.
  • $10 to Barnes and Noble or Amazon stuck in a kid-made card.
  • $10 to Godiva -- Seriously, one of the favorite gift cards I’ve EVER received from a parent. I got $25 and it took me months to use up. It was awesome.
  • $25 to $50 to a teacher store such as Lakeshore. (That stuff is expensive, but great.)

Get Specific
Think about the special relationship your child had with their teacher. Did they connect over a favorite book, are they both art lovers, or math people? Do they both love dogs or the color pink? One year I helped a child deal with the death of a beloved pet. Later that year her parents gave me a plush dog.


Get Creative
Some of the best gifts are homemade!
Think about having your child make a card, a small gift or ornament. Check out these cute ideas:

Go With the Theme
Lots of Classrooms have a decorative theme. My classroom theme alternates from Moose to Superheroes. I’ve gotten several cute plush moose or moose figurines from students. I’ve also gotten a few wonderful superhero storybooks. *Be careful with this one. I had a friend who had WAYYYY too many frogs. 
  • If the theme is an animal, such as bears, rabbits, frogs, etc give a gift card to Build-A-Bear so they can make their own mascot for the class.
  • Instead of stuffed animals or figurines, look for books that go with the theme. 

Create Your Own Theme
I love theme gifts! So fun. 
  • Coffee Theme: a gift card, a mug, a bag of flavored coffee, a bottle of Torani Syrup, biscotti
  • Pet Theme: (if you know how big their pet is) A new leash and collar, a box of treats or specialty dog cookies, toys, books, etc.
  • Pampering Theme: bubble bath, loofah, pedicure set, body cream, Burt's Bees Tips and Toes
  • Date Night Theme: Popcorn, popcorn seasoning, gift card to Red Box or a movie theater, large boxes of candy, cute popcorn containers.
  • Sports Theme: Local sports team memorabilia, such as a hat or T-shirt. Mini balls, a pack of sports cards, etc. If it's baseball, add a box of Cracker Jacks. 
  • Cooking Theme: wooden spoons, mixing bowls, dish towels, specialty mixes such as pancake and waffle mix, dip mix or soup mix, 
  • Gardening Theme: a gardening gift basket filled with things such as gloves, tools, gardening tool caddy, seeds, bulbs or live plants. (We moved into a house with tons of hydrangeas all over the yard. The previous owner was a kindergarten teacher and the hydrangeas were all gifts from her students. years later they were a beautiful reminder to her of those students, and now we get to enjoy them!)

Give to the Whole Class
Books! Books! Books!
A nice box set or a beautiful hardback picture book is something the whole class will enjoy. Don’t worry if it’s a book the class already has. Books wear out. Multiple copies mean more than one kid can look at it at a time. Some great books as gift ideas:

Get Office Supplies
My favorite pens ever were a gift a received from a parent (who was also a teacher). The sharpie retractable pens. I love those things, but probably wouldn’t have spent the money on them myself. Here are some office supply ideas:

Support Small Business Crafters
Look for cute gifts at local Craft Shows, or search etsy.com for personalized gifts.
Some of my favorites:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Apps for Early Readers



Apps: readingphonicsstoriesetc.

(I only researched apps for Apple products, but many of these are available for other devices)


BOB Books
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
FREE lite version, 1.99 to 3.99 full versions
The easy to read books in app form! It encourages sight words, sounding out words, stretching syllables and it's fun, cute and easy. 


Duck Duck Moose
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
.99 to 1.99
Duck Duck Moose are the developers of several apps for kids including interactive songs and math games--many of them award winners. 

Animations
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
FREE
Lots of Stories including Sly the Dragonfly and Little Goose.
The Read to Me feature highlights the words read which helps the child read as well as builds their sight word vocabulary.

Dr. Seuss Beginner Books, Collection 1 & 2
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
$14.99 each (FREE sample versions, $4.99 for individual books)
These apps give you 5 stories each, which is a little cheaper than them individually. They work in 3 ways: Read with Me, Read it by Myself, and Auto Play. 
Read with Me version highlights text as it’s read and introduces new words. Lite versions are free and show several pages of each story. 

TabTale Books
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
FREE
Lots of stories here, mostly Fairy Tales. 
Easy to navigate, ads featured at the bottom of the free version. There are a lot of stories you can download, but this isn’t my favorite for kids learning to read. The Read to Me option doesn’t show the words, so the kids can’t read along. The Read by Myself version allows them to record their voice--which, if they’re already reading, is a great way to increase fluency.

Sesame Street ebooks
iPad only
$3.99 a month or $39.99 a year
The initial app is free, and there are free ebook samples (not read aloud). Through the subscription price you get over 150 books--ebooks, audio books, and Animated Audio Books. They also have Reading tips for parents, and interactive games. I love the Animated Alphabet books and any story with Grover. ♥ The other great thing is that they come in a variety of reading levels. 

Read Me Stories--Various Stories
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
FREE--sort of
This is a popular app rated with 4 1/2 stars. It offers a new “talking picture book” every day. Each story highlights the words as they’re read. 
You have to make in-app purchases to get new books, and what you buy in the iPad doesn’t sync to your iPhone. However, it teachers new words, reading concepts and pronunciation. 

MeMeTales--Various stories
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
FREE--sort of
This is another one that requires you to make in-app purchases, however, as I write this, they’re offering 15 free books for downloading the app.

Elmo Loves ABCs
iPad only
$4.99
There is a lite version you can try for free, which only gives A, B, and C as options. This is a great app for little ones just learning their letters. They trace the letter with their finger, listen to songs about things that start with that letter, watch little, cute videos. 

Achieve It With Sesame Street
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
FREE 
This one’s for parents and kids to do together. It offers challenges for kids to complete to help then learn in the world around them. Challenges include looking at a book while they’re waiting, sharing a toy, saving money, or eating a healthy snack. Kids can earn videos or stickers as rewards for completing tasks. It’s also cool because they take pictures of their challenges, add the “stickers” and can email it to someone. 

Get Electric with the Electric Company
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
FREE
Tapping on the word gives a verbal definition and pronunciation. It’s focused on a feelings theme; games, videos and music are all about facial expressions, moods and adjectives such as thrilled, petrified and curious. Great for increasing vocabulary.

ABC Touch
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
FREE
This is great of Kids learning their letters. It’s customizable and I’d suggest changing it from uppercase to lowercase letters. They’re harder to recognize, but are used more frequently than uppercase letters. (teacher pet peeve: teaching only capital letters. Ever seen a book written in only capital letters?)

Phonics Awareness-1st grade
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
FREE
This is by bugbrained apps which has lots of great educational apps for different grade levels K-3rd, including phonics, fluency and print concepts. Phonics Awareness is great for little ones who struggle with sounding out words, separating word parts and blending sounds. The guy’s voice is a bit dull, but clear and helpful. I wish the pictures matched the words, instead being just bugs.  

Phonics Genius
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
FREE
This one teaches blends, chunks and repeating word parts, like “ch” “ar” “ive". There’s not much to it, it’s basically a verbal flashcard app. It gives several words featuring that sound and lets the kids record their voice saying the word. This would be a great way for kids to practice for their spelling tests. If they’re working on the “oa" sound for example, they find that chunk and read all the words with it. It’s also a great way for kids in speech therapy to practice the sounds they’re struggling with.

**If you have an app you’d like me to add to this list let me know.** 



DID YOU KNOW MANY OF YOUR CHILD’S FAVORITE STORIES ARE IN APP FORM? 
(There are a lot more, this is just a selection)

Freight Train by Donald Crews
iPhone only
$.99

Secret Agent Splat’s Mission (A Splat the Cat book) by Rob Scotten
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
$1.99

Fancy Nancy books by Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
$1.99 to 2.99

Angelina Ballerina by Katharine Holabird and Helen Craig 
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
$2.99

Kung Fu Panda storybook and comic books
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
$2.99

How to Train Your Dragon
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
$2.99 (on sale)

Ice Age
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
$.99

Madagascar
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
$.99

Puss in Boots
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
$3.99

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss 
(Several Dr. Seuss books are apps, and run about 3.99-4.99)
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
$4.99

Dr. Seuss ABCs
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
$2.99

Winnie the Pooh Puzzle Book
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
$.99

Grimm’s Fairy Tales--from various developers
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
FREE to $4.99

LadyBug Girl by Jacky Davis and David Soman 
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
$4.99

Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
$4.99

The Night Before Christmas by Jan Brett
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
$4.99

The Berenstain Bears (several books)
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
FREE to $3.99

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
$4.99

Paddington Bear by Micheal Bond
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
$3.99

Biscuit (several books) by Alyssa Satin Capucilli and Pat Schories 
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
$.99 to 2.99

Toy Story Read-Along
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
Free

Brave Storybook Deluxe
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
$6.99

Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
$2.99