10 Websites Teachers May Not Know About



New and useful free websites and apps pop up quicker than Jiffy Pop popcorn (if you're a child of the 70s or 80s then you get me)! It can be hard to keep up! A friend recently gave me a list of 100 websites for teachers and students and I decided to start looking at all of the websites listed. Many have associated apps for Apple devices and other tablets. Of course, it was when school was in session and I did not get through all the websites, but I did check out about 60-70 of them. Out of those, I chose what I thought the best options were for elementary school teachers and students, and here are the top ten!

SMARTY GAMES
Smarty Games has:

  • memory games
  • addition games
  • puzzles 
  • and more (like Math Ski Jumps). 
  • It's free, but there are ads on both sides (usually for specific sections of Smarty Games.
  •  Based on what I tried, it works best on an internet browser, not a smart  phone.  

 Here's a telling time game I found - not fancy graphics but fun and could be engaging for students.

TURTLE DIARY
Turtle Diary - there is an  app available; however,  I just looked at the free website. There are ads on both sides, which I didn't love.
What I did like:

  • games like racing and ninjas for quite a few subject areas.
  • Educational videos such as compound words, what is math?  and hammer subtraction
  • Number detective activity, shape riddles
  • There was a fun adjective activity where you practice adjectives in this  describe the picture game. With each correct answer, you get the mouse through the doors and higher up in the castle (pictured below)
Geometry Sorting Activity

FUN FONIX

Fun Fonix 

  • A big focus seems to be that it has LOTS of printables
  • To find online games, you have to scroll down to a link
  • I noticed in one video A sounded like K 
  • games included concentration, short vowels,  CVC words, beginning sounds
  • Kids can collect stars

CVC Game on FunFonix.com


YOUTUBE TEACHERS

Have you heard of Youtube teachers? If not, take a look. If your school has regular Youtube blocked, you might be able to get this one okayed

  • teachers: can also access your regular you tube information from Youtube teachers
  • Suggested to me were videos and playlists such as figurative language , similes, metaphors, and what is hyperbole? 
  • 500 K videos with channels such as Stanford, TED,  PBS, Steve Spangler Science


MANYTHINGS ESL 

Manythings ESL is a very plain, not cute website but possibly useful, especial to English Language Learners or teachers looking for read alouds

  • website, no app
  • Not fancy at all or cute (I didn't even take a screenshot)
  • but useful
  • You can get bilingual sentence pairs and listen to both
  • Daily study options
  • Learn - listen and read, for example Langston Hughes, People in America


APLUS MATH
Aplus Math is now owned by Varsity Tutors LLC - you get redirected to them

  • Free online activities like flash cards. 
  • With them, students much press return to check their answers
  • Online math games like Matho - screen shot below. I had to shrink my screen to see all of the board though. 
  • Ever present phone number you can call for tutoring but clean screen and little ad clutter


MATH PICKLE 

Math Pickle is a unique and fun website with a lot of puzzles

  • Puzzles 
  • Games 
  • Mini competitions
  • Games like sheets and sidewalk prinatble game cards
  • An example of games included is Hex - made famous by John Nash ( but created by Piet Hein) with printable boards - some videos
  • Possibly good for math enrichment 
Puzzle at Math Pickle


LIFE OF BIRDS 
Life of Birds exists thanks to PBS and Sir David Attenborough
Students can learn about:

  • Bird brains
  • evolution
  • champion birds
  • parents' songs



HAVE FUN WITH HISTORY
Have Fun with History 
  • Great for teaching history 
  • Educational videos like one of a Puritan family of early New England
  • People timeline videos such as  Presidents, Frederick Douglass,  and Susan B. Anthony
  • events timelines
  • videos on historical events  such as the  Gold Rush, Civil War
  • History in a minute such the Mayflower, Minutemen, and the Cotton Gin
  • Jamestown online adventure game where you are the captain



PLIMOTH PLANTATION 
  • Award winning activity
  • Students act as history detectives and investigate what really happened at the first Thanksgiving (screenshots below) 
  • Also there is an online virtual field trip hosted by Scholastic 


     


Now I will be totally honest and tell you some of these are much better quality then others, and all could be useful, but because they are free, their usefulness and quality is limited. Some of the websites I use every day like Spelling City and Dreambox require a paid subscription. However, if you are like most teachers, we don't always get what we request for our students, so free websites and apps are a great option. Which one here is your favorite? Or did I miss one you use? Comment and let me know!


Evaluating Flexible Seating Options

I transitioned to a full flexible seating classroom in September of 2016. So, I just finished my third year of using flexible seating options with my second graders and think it's a great time to rate and evaluate what worked best for my students and what didn't hit the mark! Following is a summary of my experience with each type and a grade based on durability (how long the seating lasts, how popular it is, and if it met the needs of my students)!

       
Camp chairs are very popular in my room!  The beige chair (there were two) came from my house - old deck chairs I never used. They were probably worn down and only lasted a year. Then I grabbed the black ones at Walmart for $10 each and they have lasted two years. They are actually where I have my parent teacher conferences! I used to have them around a black IKEA side table, which broke, so my mom donated a small side table from the 70s! 
Camp Chairs get an A+ !

            
                                 
My students always love ball chairs, stability ball chairs, or anything like it. I have had a hard time keeping them from getting holes or broken. My least favorite has been the peanut ball chair, mainly because it took up too much room and only lasted a couple months. My favorite are the kinds with legs! The blue and gray stability ball chairs lasted about one year or less each. But the green ball chair with no legs was from my father for his PT, and I have had it for 2 1/2 years and it is still going strong!
Ball chairs get a C- because they don't last long.


    
These IKEA stools have been great for the teacher table. I originally bought black and white stools, 4 in all. The two black ones broke within a couple months! The white stools seem to last between  a year to two years. It is hard to get my friends to stop rocking and wobbling on them so the plastic can break underneath and the screws can get loose(or if you are like my student here, you can just use the stool as a place holder when you get tired of leaning on the table).
  I have had a couple tips from fellow teachers for the IKEA stools - the main one being to use gorilla glue or krazy glue on the screws when you first assemble them. Also, two teachers recommended upgrading to the wood stools, which are about $9 each more but allegedly last longer. Overall for the price at my IKEA, you can get five plastic stools for $30, which is a great price point though!
IKEA stools get a A- for their usefulness, price point and because they last a somewhat long time.



 
I was using IKEA side tables for my camp chairs as a little seating area. They were okay, but too small for kids to use to write on, students would have to use clipboards, and couldn't with stand much weight. They were cute and cheap though but as you can see, only lasted about one school year.
IKEA tables get a D!

I can't believe I don't have any pictures of students working here - the low table is very popular! All I did was take the legs off of the table and it's perfect. Students use cushions to sit on the floor. The table is heavy, not wobbly and sturdy! 
The low table gets an A+!

I have used the beach chairs since 2016. They are grouped around a coffee table. Originally I had a sturdy old coffee table but it had elevated edges and it was very hard to clean. Then I brought in this coffee table from IKEA. It is barely hanging on at the end of two years so I think I will replace it, but the beach chairs are the perfect height. I got the first few beach chairs at Target in July, on sale for $6 or $7. Last year my room parents bought a few new ones for us (the blue). They last about two years before the seats start to come apart from the side rails.
Beach chairs get an A-!


Lap desks are used by students who sit on the rug or floor.  I have gotten some at Hobby Lobby, Michaels Stores, and A.C. Moore. Michaels and A.C. Moore's are $1-$2 cheaper in the summer. They do break, as you can see in the picture below. The students love them but when they lean on them, they can't handle the weight for long. They seem to last about a year or two.
Lap Desks get a B!

 
We love our scoop rockers. They have never broken (so far, in two years)! I also bought this laundry basket at Target which is the perfect storage spot. It fits about 6-7 scoop rockers. I just have to remind my students to not tip backwards in them but they work great for seven and eight year olds. I think they would be too small for students who are much older than second grade.
Scoop rockers get an A!
  

The tall table is a table that is very old - see how the top is bumpy and bubbly and the wood laminate is scraping off at the back? It has always been that tall, so I just appropriated it for my classroom a couple years ago after asking around about it. I tried to cover the top with contact paper a couple years ago, but immediately, my first class poked, ripped, and peeled it off.  They don't seem to mind that looks a little yucky! Ut gets moderate use. Sometimes students get tired standing up partway through the day, so I do allow them to switch seats and sit down somewhere!




I got my first wobble stools for free from Scholastic using my Book Club points (those are the purple ones)! Then I used budget money in 2018 to get four more (black). They all are great and none have broken. Students do fall off them (and every kind of seat) if they are not careful. One thing that happened with one particular class is that students squished crayons under the wobble stools and ground them into the floor. Crayon marks are hard to get out, and after the first few times, I couldn't give the students the benefit of the doubt that it was an accident any more and took the crayons away for a few weeks. After the students had crayon access again, no more "accidents" occurred. 
Wobble Stools get an A+!

That is my evaluation of the flexible seating options were have tried! What is your favorite flexible seating option? Do you agree or disagree!



TPT Gift Card Giveaway!


Yes, you heard that right! It's time for a quick gift card giveaway so that you can use the $10 to shop the TPT 2 day sale, February 26 and 27th!  Enter below with the rafflecopter - it's easy and fun!  The winner will be chosen at 12:00  EST Wednesday February 27th, which will give you a day to check out! 

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