TOO COOL (PERFECT FOR SCHOOL): Kia ora! In celebration of “back to school,” we asked Ava Crocker, a year 1/2 teacher at Freemans Bay School in Auckland, New Zealand, to pick her four go-to tools for this fall. Check out her faves below, especially you, early elementary educators!
Free! Need some exciting fresh writing prompts? Explore.org shares live webcams of animals in their natural habitat from all over the globe for you to watch with students. The children find these fascinating; we watch, we discuss and then we brainstorm the key words we can use in our writing. It is easy to use, has great images and children are enthralled! It has been a writing favorite in our class!
Free! Looking for something to supplement your phonics program? Alphablocks is a great way to make learning the alphabet fun. Children watch as the letters in the alphabet tell stories and make words using phonics. Available to watch free on YouTube, each mini-program lasts five minutes and focuses on a particular letter, word or sound. The children remember the lively letters of the alphabet when it comes to their own reading. For example, when P and H hold hands, they make the sounds ‘F.’ I would absolutely recommend it to other younger classrooms.
Free! ‘Mr. R’s Songs for Teaching’ YouTube channel has been great for my kids and their learning. There are hundreds songs on a variety of topics. The songs are delivered in such a catchy way that the children sing them throughout the day. My students use the songs as a fantastic way to support their skip-counting learning; I often play a couple of tunes for a math lesson warm-up.
Freemium: Our reluctant readers and writers have made great progress using the Reading Eggs apps, where kids (age 3-13) learn how to read with interactive online reading lessons and phonics game. “I really love the stories in Reading Eggs when we click on the little arrow it tells me the next page. All the activities are fun and none of them are boring,” said one of my students. Technically, the app is free for a two week trial, and then you have to pay a fee for further log-ins. But I cannot express the difference it has made in our classroom!