Spring QR Codes for Counting to 20

Spring QR Codes Cover

We’re still trying to master the teens over here.  As a result, I’ve made a few more QR Code counting activity sheets.  You can click on the image to download the free set of activity sheets.

To see all of our other freebies, visit our Technology In Early Childhood Freebie Page. Read this post to find out how to make your own QR code activities.

I’m linking up to Freebie Friday. You can click on the link to see all sorts of other fabulous Freebies for teachers.

Freebie Fridays
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We finally found some good headphones!

we got headphones

The headphones we ordered from Zulily finally arrived yesterday. I couldn’t be more pleased! They fit all of the children nicely regardless of head size and are so much easier for them to use than the walkman style ones we were borrowing from the older grades. Having our own headphones that go on easily is such a time saver!



The cord is actually covered with woven fabric rather than plastic. It’s plenty long and the headphones themselves seem sturdy.

The only downside is the exercise I’m missing out on by running up and down the stairs twice a day to borrow headphones from other classrooms!

Google Reader Alternatives

Google Reader Alternatives

Did you hear the collective gasp across the internet last night? As blog readers around the internet settled in for the evening to read their blogs on Google Reader, they were informed that things were about to change.  Google announced that it would be closing Google Reader as of July 1, 2013.  What’s more, there seem to be few programs that can do the job that Google Reader currently does.

As I mentioned here,  I rely heavily on Google Reader to manage the blogs that I read.  I currently have over 1000 unread posts that I’m hoping to get to some day, as well as over 50 blogs that I check on a fairly regular basis. Moving all of that content to another, preferably free, provider seems like an enormous task.

A quick internet search last night provided few alternatives.  Fortunately, this is the digital age, and a short 24 hours has already produced a plethora of articles about Google Reader Alternatives.   The ones I’ve looked at so far are below. Click the name of the service to see their website.


Initially designed for fashion blogs, the interface for this service is particularly visual. Most of my favorite blogs, are on my favorites list because of the pictures. Show me a beautifully decorated room or entree that looks incredible and I’m instantly drawn in and ready to see more.  So I like the idea of a blog reader that will make it easy to enjoy my favorite blogs.  I worry about how hard it will be to transfer all of my content to Bloglovin.  I’ve started Google Takeout, as Google suggested when they made their announcement, but importing that content into Bloglovin wasn’t particularly intuitive and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to figure it out.  It seems like a promising option though.  Some of the other bloggers I’ve talked with are excited about Bloglovin.

Update: Bloglovin quickly updated their service and they have made it almost as easy to upload blogs as with Feedly.  All of my blogs were uploaded, but I did have to recreate my categories.  I love seeing the blog post in the context of the original blog, but this did slow things down a bit.  I tend to skim through blog posts and this was hard to do when I had to wait for each blog page to load. I still seem to be doing most of my reading on Feedly, but I haven’t totally given up on Bloglovin.


Feedly is a Chrome product that someone mentioned last night.  It took me only seconds to import my list of blogs from Google Reader.  Unfortunately, it was incredibly slow to import my content. I’m inclined to suspect that the site was over run with Google Reader refugees and that this will improve with time. Now that my content is there, it seems to be pretty similar to Google reader.  I had  to adjust the settings a bit to get it to feel right, but over all, I think  I could get used to it.

The Old Reader

This service is at the top of a lot of Google Reader alternative lists.  It’s supposed to be just like, “the old google reader.”  It looks to be that way, but honestly I never got a chance to try it out.  In contrast to Feedly, which automatically imported all of my content from Google Reader, The Old Reader wanted me to unzip and upload my Google Takeout files.  That’s a lot of extra steps when Feedly does it all for me automatically and I’ve got other things I want to spend my time on.


I really want to like Bloglovin.  Other bloggers I know speak highly of it, and I love the visual interface, but they’re going to have to make it a lot easier for me to import my content if they want me to do my reading over there.   The Old Reader had the same issue as Bloglovin. Getting my reader content into it was not automatic and seamless like it was with Feedly.  Feedly was just so very easy, and I’m all about easy. I’ll keep my eye on Bloglovin, but I’ll be doing most of my reading on Feedly for the time being.  

Giraffes: A Popplet and a Project

It’s giraffe week in our class.  We’re learning all about them! Did you know they only need to drink every few days?  We have a collection of giraffe facts that we always share with our class and thought it would be fun to spice things up a little bit.  I started scrolling through Pinterest and the blogs on my reader to see if I could find a fun way to present all of our facts.  One of the first things I found was this Laura Candler Post, 20 Terrific Presentation Tech Tools for Kids. I clicked on a few of the different tools, and decided to go with Popplet.  It seems similar Prezi, which I’ve seen other teachers use.  The first thing that appealed to me about Popplet was the way that it linked to Flickr’s collection of creative commons pictures, making it easy to grab some giraffe pictures to go with our facts.  It only took me a few minutes to create a short little giraffe Popplet which combined all of our facts with fun giraffe pictures. Here’s what it ended up looking like:

Giraffe Popplet overview

You can click here to see it and interact with it. On the Popplet website you can zoom in and out to see the pictures and text up close.  It’s a very simple, linear presentation. There’s a lot of room to go much deeper and more complex with Popplet.  Hopefully we’ll be able to spend more time with it and explore all it has to offer. When I’m logged in to Popplet, I’m actually able to click on the setting icon to put it into “presentation mode” (under the “view” tab) for a slide show.   That’s how we shared our Giraffe Popplet with the kids.

giraffe popplet


DSCN7081In the picture above, the kids are spreading their legs apart to drink water just like a giraffe might.

After we shared the Popplet with the class, we put the kids to work on our favorite giraffe activity.  One of my very first Pinterest pins was the adorable giraffe painting below.

giraffe pinIt’s a canvas painting that was for sale on Etsy but is no longer available. We loved it so much that we turned it into an activity for our students. They cut out the white head, pink ossicones and pink nose and then paste them on to a piece of 12×18 construction paper.  We have a collection of buttons and ribbons that the children use to embellish their giraffes. They add the eye with a black marker  (and sometimes another nose and a mouth 😉  )and we end up with an adorable collection of giraffes for our hallway!



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5 Best Apps for Math and Counting

Best Math Apps for Pre-K & K

As a follow up to my post about writing apps (which you can click here to see) I thought I’d share some of the math and counting apps we’ve discovered. Again, it’s been challenging to find the few jewels among the plain old rocks. I really hadn’t realized how many apps were out there, nor how terrible some of them could be! The ones I list below (in no particular order) are the ones that I like because of their educational value, and that kids like for their entertainment value. Each of these apps (except for Count Sort Match) offers a free “lite” version and a full price version. Click on the title or the picture to see the app in the app store.

Count Sort Match








This app showed up on Free App Friday last week. It’s been a big hit with my class. They find it very engaging. I like that in the “count” area of the game, they ask children to count objects and then teach the numeral (1) as well as the written number (one). (Small pet peeve: I think the way they ask children to write the lower case ‘e’ is off, but since this is a math app, I won’t hold it against them. 😉 ) My students don’t find the “Sort” game particularly compelling, but they do like the “Match” game. It offers an opportunity for them to match a collection of items to the numeral represented. Great for reinforcing accurate counting.

Hungry Fish


This app is particularly popular with the boys. A fish comes into the coral reef “hungry” for a particular number. It’s the job of the player to feed that number to the fish. This in itself is plenty of challenge (and entertainment) for some of my students. They love watching the fish grow as he eats each number. What takes the app up a notch is the fact that you can combine two numbers to get the target number and then feed that number to the fish. That concept is a little above some of my students, but they still love the app.

Math is Fun Ages 4-5

math is fun







I review this app here, and it’s still a favorite among my students. As I was trying to encourage them to try out some of the new math apps I’d downloaded, they still kept gravitating back to this one. There are a variety of activities which teach a variety of skills. My students enjoy all of the activities.

Butterfly Math


The kids drag a target number of butterflies into a bamboo cage. They check their work and adjust it if need be. I like that this app allows children to make mistakes, and then fix them. A lot of the counting apps I’ve downloaded only offer the correct number of items to be counted. Often I’ve watched children simply touch all the elements to be counted but not actually count them.

Park Math


It took me awhile to discover the depth of this app. Actually, it took one of my students to show me where all the “good stuff” was. I love how their young brains often see so much more than mine does. There are seven different activities for the child to explore. Those activities focus on counting, sorting, patterning, addition and subtraction. The counting activities were a little too simplistic for my children, but they enjoyed most of the rest of them.

Let me know in the comments what your favorite math apps for the Pre-K crowd are! If you’d like to read about my five favorite writing apps for Pre-K and Kindergarten click the picture below to see that list.

best writing apps

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St. Patrick’s Day QR Codes for Counting to 20

St. Patrick's Day QR codes

We had so much fun with the QR codes the other day, that I decided to make up another set with a St. Patrick’s day theme. Once you’ve made a set of QR codes, it’s pretty easy to re-use them for different variations on the same activity. You can read my post about the first time we used QR codes and I how I set up the activity by clicking here. I went with a shamrock theme this time.


You can download a set for your classroom use by clicking the picture below. Enjoy!

QR Codes for counting

You can also find my original “how to” post for QR codes with another free set of printable QR Code activity cards by clicking the picture below.


I linked up to Freebie Friday at Teaching Blog Addict. Click on the button below to check it out!

Freebie Fridays


QR Codes for Counting

Counting with QR Codes
I linked up to Manic Monday at Classroom Freebies. Scroll to the bottom of the post to download your own set of QR code activity sheets.
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Ever since I discovered how teachers in upper elementary grades were using QR codes in their lessons, I was desperate to find a way to make it work in our classroom.  I think QR codes are just so much fun! I mean really, what kid doesn’t like to scan things? I still get excited when I go through the self check line in the grocery store and get to scan my own groceries.  In case you’re not sure what a QR code (quick response code)  is, here’s a picture:

qrcodefixed blog.11869627

You can scan that image with a barcode scanner and the image will give you information. Sometimes it will give you text, sometimes it will link to a website. There are a number of other ways that a QR code can connect you to the internet, but I haven’t figure out all of those ways yet. The QR code above links to text. You can scan it to find out what it says. 🙂  All you need to read a QR code is a smartphone. There are a number of free apps that you can download that will allow your smartphone camera to scan a QR code, and also “old fashioned” bar codes.  Search “barcode scanner” or “QR scanner” in your app store to find one. The one that I liked for our ipads was this one.  It was really simple to use and seemed to be pretty reliable.

There are also websites that will allow you to *create* your own QR codes.  That’s when I think things start to get really fun. Here’s a link to the website I used to create the QR codes for this activity. Many teachers have been creating activities where students complete a task and then scan a QR code to check their work.  I knew my preschoolers would love an activity like this but I struggled to find one that didn’t require any reading, adding, or complex math skills. (My students aren’t able to do any of those things.)  Finally I thought of a way to make an activity that would use QR codes and be appropriate for their level. 

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we’ve been working on learning the teen numbers in our class. It takes us pretty much all of the Spring semester to master this, so we’re always on the lookout for ways to spice things up.  I decided that I could making a counting activity that allows the children to check their counting by scanning a QR code.  Here’s an example:

QR code 15

The child must count the kitty cats. Then they write their answer in the space that says “How many?”  Then they scan the QR code to see if their answer matches the one that comes up after scanning. If you scan the code above, it will tell you how many kitties there are. I made cards for numbers 11-20.  You’re welcome to download them for your own use. They are shared here using Google drive. 

One of the tricky aspects of this plan was figuring out which tools the students would use to scan the QR codes. We knew that we could put a scanner app on the ipads, but we were worried that the size of the ipad might make it a bit unwieldy. Turning over our cellphones to preschoolers wasn’t our first choice.  Finally we also had our underutilized ipod. We decided to start out with ipads and the ipod, but be prepared to switch to our phones if the ipads just weren’t working. In the end, there really wasn’t much difference between using the ipads and the ipod.  It was easy to scan with either device, once they got the hang of it. If anything, scanning with the ipads was easier.


What did turn out to be challenging was the multi-step process that this activity required.  When you break the activity apart, it really is a lot for a preschooler to handle.

  1. First they had to count the items correctly.
  2. Then they had to figure out which written number matched the spoken number they had used when they counted. (They used the number line to help with this. Boy Mama Teacher Mama is offering a free number line on her website if you’re looking for one.)
  3. Then they had to write the number correctly.
  4. Finally they had to scan the number to check their answer. 

Most of our kids could do it, but a few struggled, particularly the ones that are still forgetting 11 & 12. They would get bogged down on step 1. Our HeidiSongs helped with step 2. For example if the child counted “sixteen” but couldn’t remember what a “sixteen” looked like, we’d just start singing. 🙂 “A one and six is a sixteen…”  There were also a few kids getting bogged down on step 3. We realized that we need to review number formation with a some of our kids. Happily, scanning proved to be the least challenging of all the steps, so hopefully they saw it as a reward. We’re thinking we may go another round with QR codes to see if the multi-step process gets easier with practice!

Click on the picture below to download your own set of QR Code activity sheets:


Update: I’ve made another set of QR code activity sheets.  Click the image below to see them and download your own set.

QR Codes for counting