Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Results from the Fundraiser

Yesterday's sale set records for my store!  Well, they were pretty good for my little shop.  I made a total of $18.90!  Holy cow!  So I rounded up to $50 and made my donation to the Red Cross this morning.  I know it isn't much, but every little bit does add up.

I also contributed by buying a few items from some of the stores that were also donating profits yesterday.  It was so much fun to check everything out and find some useful things for our homeschool.

The fundraiser bundles are still available on TpT.  For a $25 donation, you receive a treasure trove of fabulous goodies!  As of yesterday, the two k-2 packs alone have made over $15,000 in donations for the relief efforts.  This is simply awesome!  Click on the picture below to check those bundles out, if you haven't had the chance to already.


And thanks again to everyone who has donated!


Monday, May 27, 2013

Fraction Circles Level A


This week I've added a new product to my TpT store (and it's on sale today, May 27th!)  It's a set of task cards that can be used as a logic puzzle or a center activity.  There are 45 challenge cards that work in conjunction with rainbow fraction circles that you can find at your local teacher's supply store.  I've also included a set of printable fraction circles that you can use instead of purchasing them.  But if you already have some on hand, then you are ready to play with the Fraction Circles Task Cards!

These cards are designed to familiarize students with fraction circles.  Level A has fairly basic challenges appropriate for grades 1-3 (depending on student ability).  Each card should be modeled with the fraction circles and solved by the students.  It's a very tactile way to engage fraction learning!  Some of the challenges include work with equivalency, building circles with given pieces, bigger and smaller fractions, and patterning (just for fun, not really a fraction related concept).


Above, you can see the 45 cards printed out on card stock.  I didn't laminate mine, but if you have a lot of students using them, you might want to either laminate or use plastic sleeves.  This first challenge is a patterning challenge and has been solved using the store bought manipulatives.


When the student has finished modeling the problem, they can turn the card over and see if their answer matches the one on the back.


Here are some samples of some of the other challenges cards.


And their answers!  I tried to used different verbiage to help students grow accustomed to some of the many ways fractions can be talked about and written.


Here is an example of the printed fraction circles in action.  I printed these on card stock and laminated them with a sticky lamination sheet from Fellowes.  This allowed me to cut right up against the edges of the pieces.  I don't have a heat laminator so I don't know if you can cut close with those or not.


Cutting as close as possible to the edges allows the pieces to fit snugly together and helps students to visualize the problems more accurately. 


Here you can see the answer.  I've offset the pieces so you can see the whole circle underneath, which is how I've modeled the answer on the back of the card as well.

This product does require a color printer.  Mine isn't all that great and I found that the reds don't print very brilliantly, so they almost look orange!  But I assure you, they are quite bright in the pdfs, so with a good printer, they should print nicely.  Card stock and lamination are also highly recommended.

For homeschoolers, I think this would be a great Workbox Activity.  It is a fairly gentle introduction to fractions, so it would be fun for younger kids to play with while mom is busy with the older kids too.

Don't forget that today is Memorial Day and everything in my store is 10% off!  I am also donating all profits to the Red Cross for the Moore Tornado Relief, so you will not only get a discount, but you can help others at the same time!


And don't forget to check out the blog hop (look at the bottom of this post) to see a list of other sellers donating their profits to Moore as well.

Hope you are enjoying your long weekend!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Fundraiser for Moore Oklahoma Disaster


The generous teachers at Teachers Pay Teachers have put together an amazing fundraiser to help support relief efforts in Moore, Oklahoma.  As you probably know, Moore was hit by a horrendous tornado on Monday, May 20th.  Twenty-four people lost their lives, including 10 children.  When little ones die, it just breaks my heart.

Two years ago, my children and I sat huddled in our bathroom while a tornado ravaged our neighborhood.  The tornado missed us, but the damage started two doors down from our home.  My husband was in Iraq at the time, and it was almost more than I could process or deal with on my own.  Six homes on our circle were flattened and as of today, only one has been rebuilt.  It takes so long to fully recover from these disasters, both emotionally and physically.  And it really hits home how things can be going along just fine one day, and then the next day disaster strikes and you loose your home, everything you own, parts of your town, and maybe even your family members.  Life is terribly fragile.

There are four bundles included in this fundraiser, two for grades K-2 and two for grades 3-6.  Check them out at the links below.  Each bundle includes some amazing resources for teachers, parents and homeschoolers alike!  You could stock up for next year's classroom, use these to help keep your kids' minds fresh and active over the summer, or use them as activities and lessons in your homeschools.


I was too late to donate to these fabulous bundles, as were many of the other teachers at TpT (there were just SO many people wanting to donate!).  So they decided to do a coordinated sale on Memorial Day Monday and donate all the profits from their individual stores to the Red Cross efforts in Moore Oklahoma.  I've decided to join in that effort too!  So on Monday, my entire store will be 10% off and all the purchases made that day will be donated to the Red Cross.  If you have any puzzling needs, Monday will be the day to make those purchases.  You'll get a discount and help others at the same time!  Here's a link to my store...


There is a blog hop for teachers joining this sale.  You can see all their smiling faces below!  Also check out Donna's blog "Math Coach's Corner" for more information on the blog hop and how you can join.

Thanks in advance for your donations!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cub Corner - All About Breakfast - Puzzle Freebie

I have a new Cub Corner puzzle pack ready for solving!


Just click on the cover page above and you can download the puzzles from Google Drive.  There are 3 puzzles included, for kids in grades 1 to 3.  Of course, with help from parents, teachers, or siblings, younger students can also have fun solving these!  You will find a fill-in puzzle, a 4x4 sudoku, and a match-up type puzzle, all packed with yummy breakfast foods!  You may recognize the match-up puzzle from other puzzle books.  To solve this type of puzzle, students must follow lines to find which items pair up.  It's pretty simple, but good for tracing practice and coordination skills.  It's my first time trying to make a match-up puzzle, so let me know if your kids like it, or if they have any difficulties with it.  You can see some previews of the puzzle pages below.


Have fun!


Monday, May 20, 2013

Block Buddies and Hello Sunshine

Today I want to explore some games/puzzles for children under 5.  It's never to early to get kids excited about puzzles!

Block Buddies

First up is Block Buddies from MindWare.  This is a well-crafted set of blocks with a twist...building challenge cards! These blocks are great for the youngest critical thinkers.  There are four levels of challenge cards.  Kids can pick a card and then model the picture they see.  Block Buddies comes with 21 blocks and 76 challenge cards (at least my older version does!) and is for ages 3 and up.


We broke out ours a couple weeks ago and gave it another whirl.  Turns out Block Buddies are way too easy for 9 year olds!  My daughter found it fun to play around with, but was definitely not challenged.  And that's ok.  She did love them when she was little.  I think we've had our copy since she was 4 years old.  What's great about Block Buddies is that it is something that younger kids CAN do.


The blocks are well made.  Ours have suffered a few years of use and only have some minor paint chipping on the edges.  The colors are fun, and there are a nice variety of shapes.


Level 1 cards use just a few blocks and are the easiest to build.  Level 4 incorporates many more blocks into the designs with more difficult pictures to create.  It looks like the cards in the newer version might be bigger (not sure, but it looks like it on their website) which would be nice for small hands.  The newer cards also have the names of the pictures on them, like this...


I like that added feature.  Kids will be getting some reading/word recognition practice in too!



Our version comes with this instruction card.  It lists some other ways that Block Buddies can be used, like sorting by color or shape and creating three dimensional structures.


Block Buddies is a great learning toy.  Check out the MindWare website.  They have a little video about the blocks which is very cute.

Next up is Hello Sunshine!  Man, I really wished I had little kids when I saw this today!

This is a super-adorable hide-and-seek game for parents to play with their little ones.  It states that it's for ages 18 months and up.  This game comes from ThinkFun.  And here's how to play...


I totally snagged these images from their website.  I don't actually own this myself...my kids are (sadly) too big for this game.  But I was totally won over by their video introducing Hello Sunshine. You'll have to go to their website and click on the "Videos" tab to watch it.  The kids in the video are just the sweetest, and they make me want a little Sunshine for myself too!

Hope you find this information helpful and have a "Sunny" day!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Budding Blog Linky


I {Heart} Recess is having a Budding Blog linky. It looks like loads of fun, so I thought I'd join in.  Turns out, I have 4 followers on bloglovin', 11 in google circles (can't figure out what that even means!), and 0 through blogger, so I fall just a wee bit under the 200 followers or less requirement! Oh, and if I'm being honest, I'm actually following my own blog on bloglovin' so really, I'm just talking to myself here!

There are 5 questions to answer, so here goes...

1. Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging because I thought it might be a good way to drive traffic to my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Blatant honesty here. What I later came to realize is that it's a great way for me to share my love for/addiction to puzzles of all sorts. I've been trying to do a weekly feature (falling short of weekly, but still) about different logic puzzles that I have acquired over the years, how amazing and fun they are, and how they can be used to hone critical thinking skills in our young learners. This is my favorite part of blogging!

2. What is your favorite subject to teach and why?

I homeschool, so I get to teach ALL the subjects. So far I've been through K to 4th twice and 5th/6th once. My favorite subject is history! I can't believe how much I never learned (or more likely forgot) in my many years of schooling. For the younger years, we used "The Story of the World".  This is an amazing series of books that takes students from the ancients to modern times in 4 years.  Now we are using K12's wonderful series called "The Human Odyssey". It is packed with fabulousness!

3. Describe your teaching style.

I'm guessing my daily style would be closer to tutoring than any thing else. The overall approach is classical. For the most part, I follow the recommendations in "The Well-Trained Mind".

4. Give three interesting facts about you.

I've lived all over the world, including Japan, Italy, Germany, Panama and, of course, the US. This is what happens when you grow up with a father in the Navy and then marry a man who later decides to join the Army. Who knew?

I love to read. It used to be strictly SF all the time, but I've branched out more and more over the years. My dad got me hooked on a mystery/murder series, and my mom introduced me to Ken Follet.  I've also been rather keen on teen fiction. I've read a ton of that stuff over the last couple of years. Totally addicting...especially the post-apocalyptic stuff like "The Hunger Games" and "Ship Breaker"...oh "Unwind" is really powerful too.

I love puzzles! Did I ever mention that? I've got 3 drawers in my living room full of them and more scattered about my house. These are the logic type-hands on puzzle/games. I also have puzzle books squirreled away in bathrooms, car door pockets and various canvas shopping bags. I think the first logic puzzle I encountered was my parents' cube puzzle. It was kind of like Block by Block with seven shapes that can form into a cube. It came with a booklet full of other shapes that could be formed with the blocks too. I remember spending hours playing around with that puzzle. My love of puzzles might also have something to do with the fact that my mom does the crossword and crypto in the newspaper every morning. She's sharp as a tack with the trivia games too!

5. Do you have a TpT store? If yes, post the link :)

Of course! It has the same name as my blog. The Puzzle Den
I found TpT this past winter when I was looking for activities for my kids to work on over Christmas. I found some nice puzzles there, but not exactly what I wanted, and then it occurred to me that I could make my own! So I did. I'm hoping that teachers and homeschoolers and parents alike will find my puzzles to be fun activities to work on with their students and children.

Hope I didn't bore anyone...I can be rather chatty!
Have a great weekend and don't forget to check out some of the other budding blogs at I {Heart} Recess!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

TpT Purchases

BlogHoppin' is having a linky party for everyone to share all our purchases from last week's TpT sale.  It's fun to see what other people have bought, so I thought I'd share too!


I'm afraid my shopping cart was rather clip art heavy.  I just can't help myself when I see the adorable clip art bits from the Hazel Owl, like these sweet dragons!

Hazel Owl - Sweet Dragons

And I'm using these cute images from her Beach/Summer Set in a new puzzle pack I'm making (more on that later!) 


Pink Cat Studio is another one of my favorite clip artists from TpT!  Totally adore all these cute animals!  I have plans for these too!


And last, but not least, something to use in my homeschool classroom from Runde's Room.


This has been sitting on my wish list for months, and I finally decided it couldn't wait any longer!  It is packed with fun journaling ideas for math.  I'm going to use it with my 4th and 6th grader this summer.  Keep them sharp and review some important math concepts!

Hope you all are having a lovely weekend!  It's a sunny 82° here in Fayetteville today.  We enjoyed a picnic and a bike ride today (and lots of sweat!)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

New Cub Corner Puzzle Freebie & A Sale


To celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, I've created a new freebie pack for young solvers!  This Cub Corner set has 3 puzzles all about shells.  There is a Hermit Crab Maze, a Sea Shell Identification Word Search, and a Coded Arithmetic Sea Shell math puzzler.  Tons of fun as we gear up for the summer break! 

And don't forget to check out the TeachersPayTeachers site-wide sale!  Grab up some goodies while they are on super-discount!


Monday, May 6, 2013

TpT Teacher Appreciation Sale


Teacher Pay Teachers is having a sale!  This is the BEST time to stock up on fabulous curriculum resources!  I am joining in the sale and offering all my products at a 20% discount.  If you then use TpT's special code at checkout, you can receive another 10% off for a total of 28% off!  Woohoo!

Don't forget...the sale starts tomorrow (May 7th) and lasts through Wednesday!