Browsing Category

Games for Learning

MindWare is Great Brainware

I recently had the fantastic opportunity to try out some products in my classroom from the company called MindWare. MindWare shares a site with Oriental Trading. Which I think is pretty cool!  This company has the slogan for their awesome products that says: “Brainy toys for kids of all ages!”. After trying 3 products out, I have proven them absolutely CORRECT!!


I love to change up my early morning work time in my class with activities that the kids can manipulate and use to get their brains in gear for the rest of the day.

I hate to say this, but I’ll just put it out there….

I am sometimes not successful with this,…something that seems so perfect in my head, doesn’t always turn out the way I’d like


when I pulled these brainy toys out, my kinder cubs were so excited and were looking forward to the rest of their day!! YAY!!


One of the fun toys I put out were the Keva Brain Builders and Brain Builders Jr. . These inexpensive wood puzzles come with 20 small pine planks and 30 puzzle cards. The Jr. set has 20 cards but each side has a puzzle…so that makes 40 puzzles! The pine planks are very high quality and smooth. The planks and cards come compact in a little zippered bag. This makes it so easy to keep the entire set stored and ready to use anytime!

Now, if Brain Builders had been around when I was young, “Boy! Howdy!” (as my momma would say) I would have been so much better at putting together furniture and other things as an adult!! This is because the puzzle cards have 2D diagrams on one side and the solution on the other. The object of the puzzle is to turn these 2D diagrams into 3D objects. Then, you are able to check your work by looking at the solution side.

The 2 pics below show the 2D side and the solution side of a card. The cards are labeled beginner, intermediate and expert.

Brain Builders are for ages 7 and over. However, my little kinder cubs didn’t have too much difficulty with the beginner level cards.


I love the Brain Builders set. I think it would also make a great gift for a kid who really loves to build.

I could even see a child incorporating the objects he or she builds into playing with Barbies or any kind of action figures.

The Brain Builders Jr. Set was perfect for my kinder cubs and I found many ways to incorporate them throughout my instruction.

The students could build letters, numbers, and shapes using the planks. I also like to incorporate them with my STEM bins.

The cards have pictures on both sides. There are a total of 40 puzzles. My students really enjoyed duplicating these pictures with the planks.

Another way that I could use some of the cards, was to show a card to a student and have him/her count the number of planks he/she can see in the picture. Then, the students could count out that number of planks before assembling the object.
Yes! These Brain Builder Sets were a hit in my classroom!!

But wait!! There’s more!!

MindWare also sent me Pattern Play!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       My kinders were immediately drawn to this unique puzzle because of the colors! Again, all of the blocks that come with this set are high quality! There are 40 cards that children can look at and try to duplicate using the unique blocks.  

When I first got Pattern Play out, I had to get my hands on it too!!

There were 2 sweet kiddos helping me! It is a terrific puzzle to teach spatial relationships. Because all of the blocks had angles, the kids had to really think about which way to turn the angle on the block so that it would fit correctly. Not only were they thinking about that, but they had to also think about the size and the color of the block to use!!

Wow!! What a way to wake up their brains so early in the morning!

Then when we got finished with the entire puzzle, we were so proud of ourselves and we were giving each other a high five!

I just love those kind of moments!!

But the teacher in me couldn’t stop there….

We had to discuss what shapes did we see throughout the puzzle.

The best way for me to store this brainy toy is by leaving the last puzzle intact and putting it into the box until it gets used again!

After having the opportunity to try these products out, I will definitely be looking for some more Mindware products to add to my “brainy toy” collection!

Click HERE to get to!

Click HERE to find some lesson plans that go along with MindWare Brainy Toys!!

If you liked what you saw on this post then:

Please be sure and follow MindWare on Facebook:

And on Twitter:

And on Instagram, too!! :

Because I loved these products so much, I am giving away 1 of the Brain Builders or Pattern Play sets.

Just enter my rafflecoptor below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lastly, please know: “This review is based strictly on my opinion. I was provided the sample free of charge by the company to provide my honest review. No other type of compensation was received. All ideas and opinions are my own.”

If you liked what you saw on this post then:

New Blog Design! Time to Celebrate with Giveaways!!

I am super stoked today, to show off my NEW blog design!! Megan Favre from A Bird In Hand Designs set this up for me!! I love it!! She is a teacher herself and she does a terrific job in making the blog the way you want it. I use WordPress and I know that WordPress is more difficult to work with on blog designs than Blogspot. However, Megan keeps the pricing down low enough to make it affordable. Thanks, Megan for the great job!

If you stick with me through this post, I have a freebie AND some AWESOME giveaways!! I mean JELLY BEAN they are pretty AWESOME and you will definitely want to sign up to try to win one!!

To start off this blog post today, I have some pictures of some recent LOOT that I got from Target and from Kitchen Collections.

Target Swag

I was beginning to feel left out when I read other blog posts and I saw all of the great swag from Target! But, I would just stop by my local Target when I was out and about…

and then one day….


There it was!! All of this cool stuff that I found to start my school year off right!

My coolest find here were the favor bags! Can you see them towards the bottom on the pic?

They are made with really thick material and have a drawstring. I bought 6. One way that I’m going to use them is to put letters in them and the students will draw out a letter and for the beginning of the year, they will say the letter name and the sound. Later on, I will have the focus letters in there for that week and they will pull the letter and match it to a word that begins with that letter. Or I have little objects that begin with a certain letter, so I’ll probably put some of those in there and the students will take out an object, name it and tell me the letter it begins with.

I’m also planning on putting numbers in the bag. The possibilities are endless with that one!! We can work on number recognition, number order, comparing, and counting. Later on in the year, I will play guessing games using them, Like: “What’s That Coin?”, or “What’s That Shape?”.

Now on to my next great finds!!……

Here’s the preface:

Last week I had to fly into Dallas TX to meet up with a group to talk about an upcoming mission trip.

I arrived pretty early and my meeting wasn’t until around 6:30pm

So, I decided to get some shopping in while I was there.

I found a really nice outlet mall in Grand Prairie, TX.It was as hot as blue blazes and I was working up a sweat, so I found a little snow cone kiosk and it was a great place to stop and get refreshed!!

sno cone time


I love to cook and bake, so I decided to look around at a kitchen store there called Kitchen Collection. As I was looking around, I felt like I had struck gold!! Here are my finds from there:

Kitchen Collections

Don’t you just love those BUG SWATTERS!! They are shaped like a hand!! What fun can I come up with using those!?!

Lots!! I tell you!! Lots!!

I could have a High Five monitor who looks for kinders making good choices and he can give that child a high five.

I can play Swat that Letter, Word, Number, etc game!….

I can give High Fives using it…

I can raise it when I want the kinders to give me five….

Lots of uses!! These babies were just a dollar!

I really got excited when I saw the metal cookie shape cutters. They were $1 each and I even found a hexagon! They are a perfect size for little hands and they are very durable! These will work perfectly for my shapes unit. I love to use kinetic sand and these cookie cutters will definitely come in handy when I use my sand in a center!

Do you see the little dustpans and brooms. I am ALWAYS a sucker for little cute things and these caught my eye right when I was checking out! I just thought the dustpan and broom would be prefect to sweep up little things on the center tables. For $1 a piece….how could I go wrong!!

Now, do you see the red and pink items? Are you asking, “What the heck is that?!?”

Well let me tell you!!

They are silicone pot holders shaped like a chicken and a pig!! They are called, Kitchen Kritters.

Here is my idea for using these kritters!

I will be teaching using a farm theme during early October. I’m going to have a game set up called Farm Fetch. During Farm Fetch, there will be 10 table tennis balls with a letter written on each one. I’ll have the balls in a small container that will look farm like. Two students will have an oven mitt on and I’ll call out a word associated with the farm. Then, I’ll say, “1-2-3 FETCH!” The 2 students will reach in and try to fetch the correct ball by using the pot holder.

If you are interested in finding any of these items, here is the info about Kitchen Collection:

Kitchen Collection


If you’d like to try to play Farm Fetch with YOUR kinders, click the pic below to go straight to my TpT store and download it for FREE!!

Slide1Like I said earlier, I want to have a FANTASTIC giveaway Are you ready? Here is what I’m giving away:

Drumroll please…….

1- $25 Gift Card to Target

1- $25 Gift Card to Kitchen Collection

1- $25 Gift Card to Teachers Pay Teachers

2- boxes of kinetic sand

That is 5!! Count them 5 total giveaways from one post!!




a Rafflecopter giveaway


I hope that you will enter! I will choose the winners Saturday after 11:00am Eastern time. Thanks for stopping by and it will be a joy to have you stop by often!! I want to continue to offer many other giveaways and advice and open my classroom door to you through this blog. Enjoy the rest of your week! Bye, y’all!



Five for Friday: {Linky Party- March 4, 2016}



You put Leap Day and Dr. Seuss Week together and get ………………


However, I do it to myself! I want these kinder cubs to have a fun and engaging week. Therefore, I plan all of this and then my Friday, I crash on my sofa when I get home and I don’t move for several hours.

Does anyone else do that?

Please appease me and say that you do?!?!

To show what this crazy week was like, I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching  This post gives a glimpse of some of the events that happened in and out of my classroom.


File_000 (14)

I spent the weekend researching and making a resource to use with my Kinder Cubs for Leap Day. The last time I taught on Lead Day, I was teaching 1st grade. Therefore, I didn’t really have much to appeal to the kinders. This year, I put a free resource in my TpT store. Please get it HERE if you would like to save for the next time. Remember 4 years from now will be here before you know it!! In the packet I included some coloring sheets, a Leap Day reader, a social studies activity the emphasis on past, present, future, and some math counting sheets. In the collage above, I found a cute frog puppet with a leap year poem to glue and put on the back.

CLICK HERE to see a short video of our origami leap frogs in action. I don’t have a good pic of what they looked like.

File_000 (16)

We ended the Leap Day Celebration with Leap Frog Floats. These were so easy peasy!! I bought store brand lemon lime soda, lime sherbert, mini chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, and vanilla frosting…..BTW, the last 3 items  were leftovers from the week before when we created Washington and Lincoln cookie faces. My parapro “glued” the mini chips onto the mini marshmallows using the frosting. To assemble the float, you just put a couple of rounded scoops of the sherbert in a small clear plastic punch cup, then add enough soda to not cover up the sherbert. Then, we gave the kinders 2 frog eyes and a straw and spoon and they loved them!! They were so quiet and don’t think 1 child disliked it at all!! Next time, I will use red straws, so it will look like a tongue. Of course, I had to save some for us to have as a family that evening. Dan and Jaden were slurping away on this tasty treat!!


And now for Dr. Seuss!! I stayed late on Monday and turned the room into kind of like a Seussville. I had the book display covered in Dr. Seuss books. I found some bulletin board displays from Really Good Stuff and mounted those onto my dry erase boards. I set out manipulatives like erasers for them to use to pattern during morning routines. I put out all of my stuffed characters (these are treasures for sure!!) with the books they that match them. I had matching card games that I located in the $1 bin at my friendly Target.

These kinders were in awe when they walked in that morning. In fact, that morning, I had to change my Daily Five routine and just let them get books and stuffed characters and enjoy!! I loved it!!



Now, if there wasn’t already enough to do, our grade levels had to come up with a spring display on our doors that related to our Habit. We are a Leader in Me school and we teach the 7 Habits of a good leader. We got plenty of notice about this, I just didn’t take the time to get ours finished until this week…..see… crazy!!

Our habit to focus on was “Begin With The End In Mind”. Our grade level chair thought of using the sequencing of the Little Red Hen. We kept the decorative doors that we used in the winter and turned them into spring. My husband painted the Little Red Hen scenes. I think the finished result was so pretty!!

File_000 (18)

Here’s a close up of the way the flowers were done.

File_000 (19)

I stayed late that day completing my door and getting the signs ready. Whew!! Now we are ready for the spring!

Then, that night Jaden and I went to a Wilton’s cake decorating class at Joann’s. We had a lot of fun, but I’m telling you, I was whipped by the end of that day!!



On Wednesday, March 2…..

Dr. Seuss’ Birthday, we get out the hats. Don’t they look precious. We continue with our literacy and math centers for the week and have a Cat in the Hat healthy snack.

File_000 (20)

File_000 (21)


The next day, we had spring pictures!! I’m telling you…..the week of C-R-A-Z-Y!!!!!

File_003 (1)

I just had to show this collage, because every one of my kinder cubs were looking mighty spiffy that day!!! This is just a few of them!!


And then came Friday!! Friday, Friday……YES!!

That morning my focus was on Green Eggs and Ham. And I did cook Green Eggs and Ham. Only a handful of kinders didn’t like it, but the majority did and they asked for more!!

After lunch that day, we did a lot of Seuss writing.

They wrote rhyming words on a hat and then wrote a rhyming sentence. They wrote a sentence to go along with their CAT IN THE HAT Art Smart activity they worked on during the week.

Then, they did a response sheet on where they would eat green eggs and ham (I forgot to take a pick of that!! Oops!!). But here is a collage of the other 2 writing activities.

File_000 (17)

Then, after recess, they watch a DVD of the OLD Dr. Seuss cartoons. If you find those in a store, GRAB. THEM. UP. I’m telling you they are treasures and the students absolutely love them!!!!!

Then…..for our SEUSS WEEK Finale……….we had a GRINCH CAKE WALK!! Yes a GRINCH CAKE WALK!! I made cupcakes the night before (using my new skills of cake decorating and decorated the cupcakes to look like Thing 1 or 2). The students walked around on the Grinch footprints. When I called out the equations, the child that was on that one got to go get a cupcake and sit down and eat. The last child standing got extra CUB CASH to put in her prize money cup. They loved this! Also, in the collage below is a math activity we did called: How many cats are under the hat? They loved it and it was a great way to teach missing addends!!

File_002 (2)

File_001 (2)

Also click HERE to see a short video clip of the kinder cubs in action playing the game!

As we packed up that day, the kinder cubs got to choose a little Dr. Seuss notebook(got these on sale from REALLY GOOD STUFF), a pencil and a eraser. They were thrilled!!

Now, I am about to head to Orlando to attend Deanna Jump’s Conference: Get Your Teach On!!

I’m so excited!!

Please let me know what you did this past week and be sure and link up with

Doodle Bugs Teaching for this FUN Linky Party!!

Enjoy your weekend!!

Worksheet Don’t Grow Dendrites: Strategy 4: Games

bookstudy1Strategy 4: GAMES!!

I love this quote that was in the first paragraph of this chapter: “You don’t stop playing because you get old. You get old because you stop playing. ” My husband and I are in no way spring chickens. We aren’t what I consider senior citizens either….yet…..but we are getting a little closer….so this quote really spoke to me.

We love games!!

We watch game type reality TV like Survivor and Amazing Race.

We used to be in charge of the games when we were a part of children assemblies at church.

Our favorite thing to do with our closest friends is to get together and play FUN games like Fish Bowl. If you don’t know what Fish Bowl is take a look at this post about how to play it. Click here to see it. At the end of the post is a little You Tube clip showing a little bit of the game is played.

So without elaborating any more about it, I LOVE games in the classroom!

Here is what I got from this chapter:

Slide1In the classroom, it is so easy to play math games using dice and cards. I don’t know about you, but this year I finally bought small FOAM dice to use. It makes for such “easier on my ears” playing time with my kinders. When I see any deck of cards in a dollar bin that is theme related, I buy a few decks. My kinders love to play math card games when the cards are shaped like hearts or bunnies….I mean….wouldn’t you like that better, too?!

Ok….now how long has Bingo been around. I’m really not sure, but kiddos really love playing it. Therefore, I try to find bingo games that fit my learning targets all the time! Last March, at the VERY LAST MINUTE, I made up a quick March bingo game for addition and subtraction facts within 5.

Bingo Game

Click the pic above to get to this freebie.

It’s not my best work because I did it so fast, but the kids loved it.

Notice in the pic that I used Rolos for the markers in the game. You can also use small themed erasers.

I have another freebie for a “I have, Who has” rhyming game that really fits well with the book HOP ON POP.

Grab this freebie by clicking the pic below:

Rhyme Time

I have another game that is a freebie on TpT called Fact Family Find.

It is easy and can be used as a whole group game.

Grab it by clicking the pic below:

Fact Family FindBe sure and hop over to Queen of the First Grade Jungle.

She has some great game ideas and you can see the other linkys to this book study.

Hope you have a happy week with more game time than ever!!