Giftable Goodies under $20: Teachers

‘Tis the season to treat our teachers. Here are some great gift suggestions (all under $20!) for educators in class and at home!

SpinZone® Magnetic Whiteboard Spinners– $19.99

Spin some fun into your home or classroom with these three giant 11″ spinners! Use it for custom games or activities on the whiteboard for the whole class. Simply draw a circle, write in content, attach a spinner, and play!

Get your spinners here: http://www.educationalinsights.com/product/spinzone-reg-+magnetic+whiteboard+spinners.do?sortby=ourPicks&sortby=&&from=Search

ReMARKable™ Magnetic Write & Wipe Pens– $7.99
These 2-in-1 dry-erase pens are a must-have for any educator. Built-in erasers on each pen cap allow anyone to write and erase with the same tool! Better yet, the magnetic backing will never allow you to lose markers ever again! Sticks to magnetic whiteboards, filing cabinets and much more. They also make great stocking stuffers for office friends!
Check out the ReMARKable pens here: http://www.educationalinsights.com/product/remarkable-trade-+magnetic+write+-amp-+wipe+pens.do?sortby=ourPicks&sortby=&&from=Search You Rock™ Student Hall of Fame– $19.99Give a whole-class shout out to your Rock Star of the Week! Spotlight your star of the week with this jammin’ new chart! Included templates provide space for “Get to Know Me” responses like “Check Me Out,” “My Faves,” “My Family Rocks,” and “Awesome Appearances.”  Reuse this chart year after year and let your students shine!

Check it out here: http://www.educationalinsights.com/product/you+rock–8482-+student+hall+of+fame.do?sortby=ourPicks&sortby=&&from=Search

<br><i>Cheer for successful student work with stamps!</i><br><br>

Positive Reinforcement Stamps– $12.99

Cheer on successful student work with these 6 illustrated positive reinforcement stamps! The set includes a stamp pad built into a convenient, compact desk set. As an educator, you can never have enough!

Get your stamps here: http://www.educationalinsights.com/product/positive+reinforcement+stamps.do?sortby=ourPicks&sortby=&&from=Search

Class Scrapbook– $14.99
Teachers take hundreds of photos each year! Quickly and easily display them in this adorable wall-hanging Class Scrapbook. It’s another great pocket chart to use year after year!

Check it out here: http://www.educationalinsights.com/product/class+scrapbook.do?from=Search

<br><i>Deliciously scented pencils are made of 100% recycled newspaper.</i><br><br>

Smencils®, Set of 10– $14.99
Draw student attention with these gourmet-scented, environmentally friendly pencils. An alternative to wooden pencils, Smencils® are made from 100% recycled newspapers! Individually packed in their own freshness tubes, the ten “scent”-sational fragrances are guaranteed to keep their wonderful aromas for two years. Includes 10 Smencils®, one of each scent, in a handy zipper storage bag.
Get your Smencils® here: http://www.educationalinsights.com/product/smencils-reg-%2C+set+of+10.do?sortby=ourPicks&sortby=&&from=Search

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An Old Chinese Proverb

“Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.”

Blast from the Past: Let’s Doodle! Coloring Sheets

Talk about Blast from the Past! Here are some awesome holiday themed sheets from our very own Let’s Doodle books. Sadly, we no longer produce these sheets, but feel free to take them off our blog and print them out for your kids or your classroom!

https://i0.wp.com/i.imgur.com/8bAgL.jpg

 

From Inspiration to Conception: Magic Moves

Marcia, here. I’m the product manager for Language Arts and Teacher Resources, and I make toys for Educational Insights.

Here’s one I invented last year — Magic Moves. It’s my absolute, all-time favorite.

There are thousands and thousands of toys in catalogs and stores! Where do they come from and how do they get there? Magic Moves started with an idea from my past life as a preschool teacher. For seven years, I read stories, did arts and crafts, dug in the sandbox, turned a jump rope, and “Hokey-Pokeyed” my way about. By far, circle time was my favorite time of day. It was cut-loose fun where we sang, danced, and got the wiggles out assisted (back then) by a tape player!

Fast forward 20 years to working in product development for an educational toy company. I wanted to make something that would make circle time magical, that parents could use to inspire their kids to be active, and that was simple enough for preschoolers to play with themselves.

I put my idea – a talking, musical magic wand that would promote creative movement play – down on a piece of paper and pitched it to the team here. I wish I could say its brilliance cast a spell over them, but it actually took me three tries to convince the group that it would be successful. So, if you think you have a great idea, stick up for it!

After the idea was approved, I hired an industrial designer to draw a picture to show the factory what it would look like.

I worked with a programmer to write a document to show the factory how it would work.

I worked with a musician and lighting designer. He wrote the tunes and designed the light shows that go with them. He also designed this cool simulation to show us how they worked together.

I had taken some wonderful workshops on creative movement and music and wanted to make sure the wand had a variety of musical styles so we incorporated Latin, Afro Pop, and techno or “club” style music.

I also wanted to inspire children to move in different ways so there are slow tunes and fast tunes; heavy, ponderous tunes for stomping, and sinuous, mysterious tunes for slithering. And, that’s another thing. I wanted the children to hear rich vocabulary in the course of their movement play – stomp, slither, and strut, for example.

In the meantime, the factory made me a model so I could test its size with children. It turned out to be too big so they made me a smaller one to test with kids again. This one worked.

Next, the factory made me what we call a breadboard, a circuit board with switches that simulate how Magic Moves would work. It’s kind of weird looking, isn’t it? This helped me test the wand’s programming, lights, music, and speech.

The factory also made me a plastic model with nothing inside. That model was used for photography for the wand’s package which our Creative Dept began designing. They also designed the decorations that add to the wand’s magic – like the stars and swirls.

At this point, the factory made me another model. This model looked like and worked like the real thing only the electronics were outside the toy. It had to be tested and tested some more so that we could determine that it was working as expected.

Finally, in October, everything was ready for production to begin. The factory started making Magic Moves. The first shipment of the toy arrived in our company’s warehouse in December – ready to ship to the toy stores that ordered it. From concept to shelf, it took over a year and a half to develop Magic Moves.

I’m so proud of it I want to ….strut like a peacock!

 

Extra! Extra! Read All About It: Hands On Learning

Here is a great article our CEO, Rick Woldenberg, found that reinforces what we have always believed: Hands-on learning is (and continues to be) the most effective elementary educational teaching method!

Mommy Mondays: Benefit of the Doubt

I recently read a poll in a parenting magazine asking if parents pay attention to other parents’ “reviews” of teachers. It asked if parents would go so far as to try to have their children moved to other classes if they had heard negative things about the teachers their kids were assigned.

The readers’ responses varied. Some thought it negligent to ignore the negative feedback—why put their kids through a potentially bad experience if they could help it? Others gave the teacher the benefit of the doubt—some teaching styles work better for some kids, so why not give it a try first? If you’d asked me this question last year, when my daughter was heading into kindergarten, there’s no question what I would have said.

[My daughter, Emma. Her daddy is 6’3, with 6’ sisters and a 6’7 brother!]

Flash back…there we were…waiting to see the class list and meet Emma’s teacher. We’d heard such great things about both kindergarten teachers. We’d played for years on the kindergarten playground and peeked through the kindergarten windows at the adorable little chairs and tables. Even the in-class bathroom door was tiny!

What a surprise to learn that one of those two teachers had taken on the school’s new preppy-K class and my daughter was assigned to a new team-teaching pair. At first we were thrilled—two teachers in the classroom! Too good to be true! And it was. What it really meant was that two teachers would split the week. Really? Neither one could commit to a 22-hour work week? Then the other shoe dropped— neither teacher had ever taught kindergarten before. Oh, and that cute little classroom on the cute little playground? Nah, we were down the hall with the big kids. And the tiny bathroom door was replaced with the big girl’s bathroom—across a corridor open to the street.

I did what any good parent would do—I panicked. I tried the principal, to no avail. There would be no relocations; the classes were full. I wasn’t alone: we were all worried—two teachers, two sets of rules, two styles— and in this crucial year, no less! After a few sleepless nights and more conversations than my friends care to remember (oh, and a deposit at the private school down the road, which we really couldn’t afford and whose religious tenets we do not believe), I caved. I mean, what choice did I have?

Well, a year later, I am both thrilled and embarrassed to report that the year could not have gone any better. One teacher was nurturing and sweet. The other was stern, but conducted kitchen science lessons every Friday with edible treat results. I never heard any student or parent complain of trouble adjusting to different styles or routines. In fact, they may have come out more flexible for it. The highlight of my daughter’s year was winning the silent auction at the spring carnival. The prize? Lunch. At Burger King. With her teacher. The stern one.

I am not a go-with-the-flow person, but  man, lesson learned. So when the flurry of phone calls, texts, and emails started rolling in when this year’s class assignments were mailed, I’m happy to report that I closed my ears and went with the flow.

And I’m glad I did. Emma’s new teacher opened this year’s Open House by telling the parents how grateful she was to have a job that she loves so much. Teaching is probably the hardest job in the world (okay, tied with being a mom). Teachers wouldn’t do it if they didn’t love it. So let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. I know I will!

Magic Moves wins 2012 Brilliance Award from Brilliant Sky

Let the music move you!

What a way to start the month off! Our featured product of the month, Magic Moves™, just won a 2012 Brilliance Award from Brilliant Sky! How cool is that?

According to Brilliant Sky Toys & Books, The Brilliance Awards “recognize products that represent the very ideals that Brilliant Sky Toys & Books was founded upon – the importance of quality, the value of open-ended play, and the simple beauty of a child’s fascination and delight.  The products must meet the company’s high standard of offering developmentally sound products for children and must also engage children and encourage the growth of important values, such as self-esteem, patience, tenacity and cultural sensitivity.”

We are so honored to have received this award. Our team couldn’t have done this without you, our fans, in mind.