The Perfect Listening Center {with iPads}

Do you have iPads in your classroom?  Even just one?  Let me show you how I'm using my 5 iPad minis as listening centers in my classroom.  I've discovered an organization system that works!

It all started with these Belkin Rockstars.  We only have 5 iPad minis in our classrooms and I wanted all of my students to be able to listen to stories or podcasts at the same time from time to time.  By plugging one of these into one of our iPads, it lets five students listen at the same time.  5 iPads with 5 listeners each....BINGO!  I found them on Amazon for $7.99 each.  I thought that was a steal!

They came with an alternate cord which is a bit longer.  I didn't think I would need that for our centers, so I stuffed them all in a ziploc baggie...just in case I need them in the future. 

Now, I know myself pretty well.  And, as much as I THINK I'll remember what those little blue cords are, I won't.  My bottom desk drawer is proof of this.  There are so many spare cords and adapters there that go with SOMETHING, but if my life depending on it I wouldn't be able to tell you what. ;)  So, I've become a little smarter.  I cut the cover off of one box and stuck it in the bag with the cords.  Now, I'll be able to find those extensions easily if they're needed.

Next up?  Earbuds.  Now, most of my students have headphones at school.  We use them for our laptops.  Students can order them from our school at the beginning of the year.  However, they're a pain to pass out and collect.  They're always a hot mess.  Some students brought they're own *different* headphones from home instead of purchasing them, and then some students don't have any at all.

Not a happy teacher.  I like things to be the same.  And neat.  And organized.  And easy.  I thought if I could just find earbuds for all, it would solve a lot of our problems.  I searched Amazon, but the cheaper ones had bad reviews.  Then, I remembered someone raving about the ones from The Dollar Tree once.

I visited their website and was pleased to find that they had them and the reviews were great!  I was even happier to discover Dollar Tree Direct.  Y'all!!  Have you heard of this??  Life changing.  I mean, back to school shopping next year is going to be AMAZING!!  With Dollar Tree Direct, you can order items in bulk on their site and they'll be shipped FREE of charge to your local store for pick up!

Oh! My! Word!  How many times have I visited three Dollar Trees in one day in search of enough of a particular item only to be disappointed???  I bought the case of headphones (36) and picked them up from my local store.  LOVE!

With these two items, I now had iPad listening centers for all of my students.  But, how was I going to store and organize these new gems?

I knew from the beginning that I was going to use these little storage containers {Hobby Lobby}.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find one with 24 slots, so I picked up two with 16 slots.  That would be perfect for adding in a few extra earbuds for backups.

I have heard from teachers who have used earbuds in the past that they can become a nightmare.  As in, such a tangled web that they end up throwing them out.  How would I store these in the containers so that students wouldn't just throw them in as a wadded mess?  I knew I wanted something that they could be wound around, keeping them from tangling.  I found these little wooden spools in the craft section {wooden aisle} at Hobby Lobby.  They came in a bag of 20 for $3.99.  I just stuck the plug into one of the holes on the end and then wound the earbuds around.  Perfection!  

It did take a few minutes for me to teach the kids how to do this initially, but they caught on pretty quickly.  A few practice rounds and they were pros!

I also knew that I wanted each student to use the same earbuds each time, so I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut vinyl numbers to go at the bottom of each slot.  

I also printed off labels for the lids and voila!  Instant earbud organization.  #teacherheaven

Along with our dishrack {Target} iPad holder, we now have everything we need at our fingertips.

So, what are some ways I'm using the iPads for listening centers?  Here are just a couple of my favorites.

The first is an app called Epic!  It's FREE if you sign in and register as an educator.

See that little "educators" underneath the white "NEXT" button?  Click it and sign in!

Once signed in, you'll have access to a ton of great books.  I mean, just take a look at the fairytale and poetry resources available here!  For FREE!  Can't you just imagine having students work in groups to read and compare some of these fairytales??

Many of the books students will read on their own, but some of the books have an option to be "read aloud" to them.

Above is an example of a non-fiction book about bears available as a read-aloud.  This will be SO helpful to some of my lower level readers during our informational study.

Another fabulous free resource we use is Act!vated Stories podcasts.

To get to the podcasts, simply click the podcast icon that comes installed on your device.  See the purple icon in the bottom right-hand corner?  That's it!  Then, go to the search function to find Act!vated Stories.

It's filled with podcasts of professional actors bringing many fairytales, tall tales, legends, and more to life!  We have used these for many years on our computer and I'm super excited about using these quality resources on our iPads now!  There are currently 147 podcast stories available - all FREE!

I hope some of these tips and resources will be helpful to you.  Do you have more tips for me?  I'd love for you to share them in the comments!  Let me know what has worked for you.  <3


Five for Friday

I'm linking up with Doodlebugs for Five for Friday this week.  Here's what I've been up to lately...

We've had some "snow" days around here this week and I tried to use that time wisely.  I organized our new listening center a bit.  I'll be blogging ALL about it tomorrow, but here's a glimpse.

It's was Teacher Appreciation week at my school and I was in hog heaven with Sharpies, Flair pens, colored cardstock, and highlighters.  Teacher Heaven, I tell ya!

I also started planning a new little blog series that I hope to get underway next week.  It'll be all about how I lesson plan - the smart way!

The couple of days we were in school, we started our U.S. Regions unit. I just love "traveling" through the USA collecting photos and souvenirs to make our scrapbooks.  Such a learning treasure!

And, of course, I my mind was blown along with everyone else's this week in regard to #thatdress!  Things that I can't understand DRIVE ME CRAZY!!  Like obsessively.  I cannot understand how this dress is NOT blue and black to everyone!  Since we were learning about line plots in our classroom, I took a little independent poll of my students and we plotted the results together.  I was a little shocked that 100% of my students saw the dress as blue/black.  YES!  #teamblackandblue

Go link up with Doodlebugs and give us a peek at your week!


Saving One Classroom at a Time with Morning Work!

I'm excited to link up with Jessica and friends for this linky today!  Often times, our Primary Shop gets the most shout-outs, so I'm happy to link up and show you one of our Intermediate products today.

This linky is all about "heroic" products that have helped to "save" teachers in the classroom.  I can attest to the fact that our 2nd grade Morning Work Slides saved my sanity each and every day in my own classroom, so it's been wonderful to hear the same from teachers in other grades, too!

This is an example of feedback left on our 4th Grade Morning Work PowerPoints unit.  In this unit, you'll receive 180 slides of morning work.  Each slide provides practice with grammar through mentor sentences, math practice, vocabulary practice, and word work.  The slides provide a format that students will learn quickly, enabling them to have a valuable, independent routine to the start of each day.  And the best part for you - NO COPIES!  Just have students complete the work each morning in a journal/notebook as it is displayed on the board.

Here's a little peek at the format...

Hop over to our Intermediate shop, Lightbulb Minds, to put this unit in your cart for the sale!  It will be 28% off of the regular price of $7.99 during the sale!  What a DEAL for an entire year of morning work at your fingertips!

Based on the feedback, this resource has "saved" many teachers and we hope it will be a lifesaver to you, too!  We hope to see you at the sale on February 25th!


Sundays in the South {with Maroon 5}

Well, there will be one singular focus for this blog most recent Maroon 5 show...VIP style, of course. :)

Rozzi Crane {from Adam's label} opened the show and let me just say, THAT VOICE!

Then, Magic! came on...I was only familiar with "Rude" - they did do "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" - an all-time favorite of mine. ;)

And, finally, Maroon 5 opened with Animals. While this show was AMAZING, I will have to say it didn't quite edge out the Overexposed tour, which is still my number one concert experience of all time...and y'all know how much I love a concert, so that's saying a lot! 

We did have row 2 seats this time (technically, almost row 1 since the first row only had 4 seats and we were seats 5 and 6 in row 2).  So close! #yetsofaraway  Haha! :)  Also, they don't stay on the main stage the entire time since there's a "runway" that stretches the length of the arena with a "V" stage at the end of that.

I'll just mostly let the pictures speak for themselves.  Enjoy!  I know, I did!!!

I'll leave you with a little clip of the guys starting Payphone off acapella!  Love!  And, SUGAR was the best finale ever (see a little clip of that on my IG)!  Most of my videos are way too large to upload, but hopefully, you'll be able to enjoy this small taste...

If you're a fan of Maroon 5 and haven't been to a show...make it a goal!  It will soooo be worth it!  Until next tour....  ;)

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