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Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Few of My Newest Faves...

Happy Thanksgiving Ya'll!  There is so much to be thankful for on this beautiful day!  I'm thankful for each one of you that takes time to visit the blog, my TPT store, and all things social media. Thank YOU for your support over the years!

Today I wanted to share my experiences with a few products I had seen on the internet, but never had the opportunity to try out until now...Kwik Stix and Pencil Grips.  They are a MUST have when working with kids in your classroom or with your own kids at home.  The Pencil Grip company sent me a few samples to try out and share with you all.  Below are some pictures of the paint sticks and pencil grippers.

I knew Kwik Stix were fabulous for mess free art projects, but wanted to see how they could be used on the academic side of the classroom.  The children I worked with looked forward to our math intervention time because they were going to the have the opportunity to use something their peers didn't get to use.  Can you say, motivated kiddos?!  I've never seen a student work so hard for the "reward" of getting to use the paint sticks to color in ten frames, solve math problems, and use a number line.  It was MAGICAL!  Yes, kids can use markers or crayons to do the same thing, but then you lose the magical component.  Kids like to have things others don't...human nature for sure, and it's a huge motivator to do things that aren't so fun.  My advice to keep the magic in the stix is to pull them out randomly.  The beauty of these paint stix is the fact it's real tempera paint that doesn't bleed through paper...#winning and dries in less than 90 seconds.  No need to find a drying space in your classroom or at home for all the artwork!  Simply perfect for anyone who is a slight control freak like yours truly! ;)  If you go on Pinterest, you will find several cute art projects you can do (painting pumpkins is one of my favorites).

Stickers and Kwik Stix...genius and MESS FREE (click picture to be taken to original blog post on the craft)

solving math problems

drawing out pictures for word problems

using two different colors on ten frames to solve math equations

building numbers on a ten frame and connecting it to base ten blocks
I also used the Kwik Stix with my little nugget to practice weekly sight words.  This was another win for me because doing sight words with mom is no fun until now!  I never understood the power struggle parents would share with me at conferences when discussing getting homework done.  I always thought I wouldn't have those same struggles because, well I'm a teacher and I "know" how to keep kids on task; boy was I super wrong about that!  I have the exact same struggles as the parents I conferenced with.  What I decided must be the issue is my little knows I'm a teacher, but I'm her mom; therefore, I'm not in charge of her learning at school so why should she do "school" things with me?!  The kwik stix have helped remedy that mindset...thank goodness, because I wasn't sure if we were both going to even make it to kindergarten!  #thestruggleisrealfolks ;)

my little practicing her weekly sight words

tracing over sight words first written in pencil and then over with kwik stix

The other product I wanted to share with you are the pencil grips!  I have a few kiddos with handwriting so atrocious you can't read it!  Before the pencil grips I would suggest to parents Handwriting Without Tears; however, little did I know...a simple change in gripping a writing tool would correct most of the concerns.  I'm loving the gradual release design of the grippers.  The grippers meet your kid where they are currently at and get them to where they need to be.  
The gradual release grips that grow with your child

Gripper 1

Gripper 2

Gripper 3

As an Academic Coach I work with a variety of children in different grade levels; oftentimes, with terrible handwriting.  Teachers ask me to help with the academics and "if I could help with the handwriting that would be fabulous".  One teacher in particular noticed a huge difference in her student's writing in a few short days of the child using the gripper.  The gripper is also good for righties and lefties.  There is a R and L to guide the child to proper gripping for their needs.  The colors are fun and the grippers are squishy to make writing a more comfortable task.  Below are a few pictures of a child working on handwriting and trying out the different grips.  Over the past few weeks his handwriting has improved drastically and the teacher is thankful she is able to read what he writes. :) 
first try..."feels weird" 
second try..."feels a little better"
third try..."feels just 'write' ;)"
Now you are probably wondering where you can get these magical tools for the classroom or home? There are a few places you can go starting with online at Target, Amazon, and ThePencilGrip.  I'm pretty sure you will start seeing them inside Target stores as well, so next time you're there check out the arts and crafts section to grab you a set.  There are so many fun sets in thick and skinny sizes (metallic, neon, and classic colors).  

Stayed tuned for future posts on how I use the grippers and stix...Happy Thanksgiving friends!  Enjoy all of the wonderful blessings in your life!