Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Excited To Be A New Part Of The Skype Moments Ambassador Group!

Skype is one of my favorite web tools to use.  It not only connects all of us and our students, teachers, and schools to one another, it also brings such a wonderful cast of characters into our libraries, classrooms, communities and homes.

I am excited to be part of an amazing group of people who love and use Skype as much as me.  This group is called the Skype Moment Makers.   It is made up of people who are passionate about all walks of, technology, cooking, parenthood, travel, film, sports, pets, music, photography, beautiful, fashion, innovation, gaming, and more!
Skype has asked me to be the ambassador for education and it is such a honor to be part of the Moment Makers.  I can't wait to see what we do together and with all of you getting our students, teachers, and school communities even more connected through Skype than we ever have before.
You can read about all of the Skype Ambassadors on the site and follow them through their social media connections as well.

I really enjoyed reading the interviews each of did with Skype too.  Just think how fun it would be to connect your students to all of these wonderful people.

My son Hagan can't wait to connect with Harrison Barnes who is the Skype Moments Sports Ambassador.  We will definitely follow the fun things he does through Skype.

I hope to see you soon on Skype soon too!  You can also follow @SkypeMoments to read about special moments in Skype from around the world.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Our Little Ones Will Have A Song For Every Story With Cantata Learning

A few weeks ago I got a special package in the mail.  I opened it to find two picture books.
It was from my friends at Cantata Learning, a new publishing company from Mankato, Minnesota creating books for children 3-8 years old.  
At first glance you see a beautifully illustrated picture book with an engaging story for young learners inside.  Any child would absolutely love these stories being read to them.
These picture books were developed by publishing and early childhood experts.
The illustrations and text support early literacy skills, while introducing science, social studies and language arts themes addressing the multiple intelligences cited by Dr. Howard Gardner from Harvard University.
Now, for something that truly makes Cantata Learning stand out from the others.

As you open the cover of the books you will see a stamp on the front that invites the reader to the back of the book for music.

And not just any music.....Wonderful sing-along songs!
The books brings to life favorite classics like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Hickory Dickory Dock. 

Cantata Learning use rhythm, rhyme, and beat in the music to "open up" pathways to learning.  This will be very exciting for any librarian, classroom teacher, or music teacher who are already using music in their libraries and classrooms.

With Cantata, the songs and stories reinforce this learning too!
With each book, the lyrics and music are contained within the pages and each is accompanied by a CD that can be played with the story or alone.
And I love what else they have done with the music for each book.

Under the "Listen and Look" tab on the Cantata Learning website you can find each of the books they have available right now and stream the music right from the site.  Teachers and librarians not only have access to this music at any time without even using the CD, but children and their families have access to it at home as well.

I was thinking about how many times we tell our kids they can't bring the book with the CD home in case something is lost or broken.  With Cantata Learning books they don't have to.  All you have to do is point out the URL to the songs in the book and make sure your students and parents know where to located everything.

You can also pay $1.99 for a download of the song.
By scrolling over the top of the book cover, you will see a little pink square link pop-up in the left-hand corner.  You can click on that and it will take you...
to the page that plays the music.  You just click on the white arrow in the long black box shown above.
You can try it out here too.

Who wouldn't just love reading 10 Little Kittens....looking at the fun illustrations of all the barn yard animals, counting, listening to music and singing along.  It will be fun for them to read and share the book in the library or music room....then go back to their classroom to share with their teacher or home to share it with their families.

The sky is the limit!
And just look how great they look on my iPad!  I loved reading it and listening to the music at the same time.
I really like how there is a Glossary towards the back that will further their understanding and use of the vocabulary contained in the book.
Also, on the very last page there is a To Learn More page that will take the learners, teachers, librarians and parents to more resources that will further the excitement around the book.
In the books focused around science and social studies topics, they have included Activities to further the learning experience.
Yesterday I had the pleasure speaking with Joan Berge, marketing consultant for the Cantata Learning team.  It was so much fun hearing the story behind Cantata Learning and these wonderful new books.

She told me how her niece Katherine (Kat) Coughlan was "inspired with the idea of creating books that would support children by offering multiple languages with which to make meaning of their world and express themselves, including music, movement and art." 

So they came together to create a product for the youngest learners and also to help others, such as ESL students.  

Joan said, “We do music for kids with educational content.  Simple, traditional songs…..all the way to new songs like Nothing Cooler Than A Dinosaur.
You can check out all of the books they have available on the Cantata Learning website.  They are available in print and eBook format. 
Make sure you check out the classics we all love like Hickory Dickory Dock, along with...
social studies topics, and....
amazing science topics too.  

For more information you can contact Joan Berge at or by phone at 952-456-2995.  

Cantata Learning is also on Twitter at @CantataLearning  and on Facebook

Cantata Learning is an educational publisher, creating books and music audio that addresses content areas, especially for Pre-1 and Grades 1-3, using recognizable and original music, simple text and age-appropriate illustrations. 

What a rich reading experience we can give our youngest learners with Cantata Learning books. 

Have You Noticed All The Makerspace Stuff Lately? It Is Everywhere!

Have you noticed all of the Makerspace stuff lately?  It is everywhere!

I have been spending a little time on Amazon this week shopping for the holidays.  Almost everywhere I go there are wonderful things that I could purchase to make, create or tinker.

When looking for my niece Grayce's recipe box, I found this cookbook...The Maker Cookbook!  How fun is that!
I even ordered Little Bits right after the recipe box.....and they will be here in a couple of days.

And it doesn't stop there.
The weekend before Thanksgiving we were looking for a wreath.  At the end of the isle at Home Depot was a display with Makerbot printers.  I was very excited to see the printers and a ton of different colored filament.  It is now so easy to purchase and maintain....anyone can have one.  
When we were shopping for Hagan's Christmas presents at Target we came upon this fun, new display at Target.  I love the brand and words across the top...
Kids Made Modern!  This space was filled with materials that would rock in a Makerspace of any kind.
There is a great space on the Target website for Kids Made Modern too.  I love the words across the bag...

Let Their Imaginations Run Wild! 
Target teamed up with Todd Oldham to create this beautiful collection.
In the LEGO section, there were these little holiday packages.  So cute but check out what they are called...

LEGO Creator....Perfect to encourage creativity in all ages.
After seeing that theme of LEGO's I went home to look up more information of the website.

WOW! What a great place to go for anyone!  LEGO Creator is filled with all kinds of fun videos, products, and games....even a blog and contest.
But the BEST thing I found was this amazing LEGO Advent Calendar!  
When I clicked on December 16th....

a video popped up on the top of the site to show how to create something with LEGO's today.  Talk about making!  I can't wait to share this with Hagan....We will be able to have lots of fun making with LEGO's this season.
I wrote about creating a Makerspace To-Go and Makerspace Mobile last week.  It now has a special place in our house and we see it several times a day.

As we travel around for Christmas, have time to explore a bit more, and create a few more exciting things over the holidays, it will raise my awareness more and truly tune me into looking for all of the rich experiences and materials we can bring to our Makerspaces.

I think about the giant paper gift wrapping tubes....the empty tape rolls......the boxes things come in....things we recycle when bringing in the new.

What maker things are you finding?  Where are you finding them at?  We would love to hear your ideas and stories too.  

Please share in the comments below.....This will be fun.