Saturday, October 15, 2016

Dear Blood Donors, Thanks for the times that you've given us! (Teachers giving back...)

Imagine all the treasured moments people have experienced because of the generosity of blood donors! 

When I was expecting my first child, my father was battling cancer. Due to blood donors (whose identity I will never know), he received transfusions that extended his life and allowed him to see his first grandchild smile. Thanks to those donors, I got to see my son reach up to grab my father's hand and walk with him. Priceless!

I drove by a sign the other day stating how low the blood supply currently is. It had been a long time since I donated, so I stopped in. Less than an hour later, I was on my way. The next day, I felt a sense of rejuvenation. It wasn't just an altruistic feeling. I truly felt like my own health was a bit better than it had been before I stopped. 

So - I started looking into the health benefits of donating blood. The latest research suggests that donating blood can help reduce the risk of both heart attacks and stroke.  As I searched, numerous articles pointed to links between good health and giving blood. 

My father's birthday would be this week. In his memory, I'd planned to offer $15 of resources to my Teachers pay Teachers shop to teachers who see this and decide to share the gift of life by donating blood. (Where I live, the American Red Cross makes it quick and easy.)

I'm absolutely thrilled that a group of my TpT friends have decided to join me to support this cause! Together, we'd like to offer $15 of materials to each of the first hundred teachers to see this and decide to donate.  Click on the pictures and logos below to browse through the shops of educators who are offering materials.

It's simple to participate:
  1. Click here to pledge your donation and find helpful information about blood drives in your area. 
  2. Set up an appointment and donate blood through the Red Cross (or the organization that serves your area). 
  3. Browse through our shops and pick the item(s) that would be most helpful to you.  
  4. Send an email to documenting your donation. Include links to the items of your choice.  
To document your donation, you could send a picture of your appointment summary sheet (given to you as you leave), a picture of yourself with your sticker saying "I donated blood today!" or the location of your donation along with the first six numbers of your donation identification number. 

The files you have selected will be emailed directly to you. We hope the resources we have created will save you a bit of precious time while also showing our appreciation for your participation!
Thanks for stopping by and for considering this.  Here's hoping those you love never need blood - but that it's available if any of them do!

Sincerely,  Anne Gardner

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Dots and Boxes!

Do you remember using dot paper as a kid?  It was always one of my favorite things! My grandmother used to carefully draw the dots by hand. Times sure have changed, but I find my primary students are just as enamored with activities using dot paper as I was.   

Dot paper and a die are great tools to help kids develop number sense.  A student can roll a die, draw a shape around that many dots and write the number in the shape.  (Kids can play with a partner or on their own.  A wipe-off plastic sleeve is handy for this activity.) 

The next step ~ Offer either a ten-sided die or two dice to roll.  When using two dice, it's easy to differentiate by deciding whether each student is best served by writing just the number or an equation inside the shape. 

My kids always love this simple counting and number writing game.  The first person circles one dot and writes the number one.  The second person draws a shape around two dots and writes the number two, . . .   The only rule is that a player may not cross a line.  

Early in the year, I like to show kids how to play the classic Dots and Boxes game. Kids take turns connecting two dots, either vertically or horizontally. Players write their initial in each box they complete.   

Later in the year, I put sight words inside the boxes. When a student completes a box, he/she reads, traces and writes the sight word. You can add your own words to dot paper. (To try a sample of this game and also download simple dot paper, click here.)  

I always felt like I was missing a piece - kids just love these games so much that there must be a way to add more . . .   

Then I met Linda Nelson of Primary Inspiration.  Linda shared her Spring into Summer math games with me.  I was AMAZED! This set includes 30 unique games and every one involves a creative twist that makes it especially engaging. These are games that students beg to play, even during inside recess. As they play, they practice essential math skills while also learning to plan ahead and use a variety of strategies. What a combination! 

Since I just love Dots and Boxes games, Linda's Fireflies game really jumped out at me! Linda had put numbers inside the dots. Brilliant! It was the exact twist I had been looking for.  

My son, Keith, was studying Computer Science in college and had just written a variation of a Dots and Boxes app. When we saw Fireflies, our eyes grew oh so big! We touched base with Linda, and she said go ahead and use the idea in an app. THANKS, LINDA!

Here's the app on iTunes.  It's called Addition and Subtraction Boxes. The following levels are included: 
  • Counting within Five (Free)
  • Counting within Ten
  • Addition within Five (Free)
  • Subtraction within Five
  • Addition within Ten 
  • Subtraction within Ten
  • Addition within Twenty
  • Adding with Three Addends
  • Subtraction within Twenty (Free)
The game can be played either with a partner or in one player mode. (In single player mode, an image is uncovered as the player completes the boxes.)

We've had fun creating this game and would love to hear your feedback if you have a chance to take a look. 


If you're looking for fun and engaging games and activities, I highly recommend exploring Primary Inspiration by Linda Nelson. She puts such a fun twist on rock-solid content!

Here are just a few of her fabulous free games and activities: 

I played these games just for fun (repeatedly) 

as soon as I downloaded the file! 

Another fun twist on a Dots and Boxes game!

So versatile and kids love them!

Thanks so much for stopping by!  I'd love to hear about your experiences with any of these activities or other variations on dots activities.  

:)  Anne Gardner