Saturday, August 10, 2013

Smile Makers!

Have you heard of SmileMakers?  It's a Staples company, and it makes me smile.  :)

SmileMakers offers a variety of items for the classroom: furniture, craft supplies, games, pocket charts, rewards, and so much more.  I was thrilled when SmileMakers contacted me and asked to review a product.

I chose the Hot Dots: Getting the Main Idea reading comprehension cards, an activity that would offer my students extra practice in an area of weakness.

The kit contains 50 stories of increasing difficulty that can be used with or without the Hot Dots pen.  Students read a passage, then flip the card over to answer four comprehension questions.

There are so many things I liked about this activity.  Let's take a closer look...

Getting the Main Idea Passages

A closer look at a passage and the questions              
  • I like that the passages are presented in a simple, clean design. Students will focus on the print without the distraction of decorative frills.  
  • I like that the cards are picture-free. While pictures offer readers support, most benchmark assessments and standardized tests do not provide picture support. Students need opportunities to practice reading without picture support.
  • I love the variety of genres and topics. There are fiction and nonfiction passages.  Some of the topics include dinosaurs, rain forests, famous people, and sports.

Hot Dots Pen

The pen is easy to hold and operate.
  • I love how the pen adds an interactive element to this reading activity.  Students receive immediate feedback for their answers.  (I plan to create a sheet for students to record their answers before using the pen to correct their work.)
  • The pen has three volume settings: high, low, and mute, as well as three sound settings: voice, sound effects, and a mix of both. 
  • The pen will light up green for correct and red for incorrect. This feature is great!  Students can use the pen in the silent mode and receive feedback without disrupting the quieter moments of the day.  Hot Dots will be a great addition to center time!
  • The pen is purchased separately and can be used with many other Hot Dots card sets.
The pen tucks away nicely in the box for storage.
Overall, I am so excited to use the Hot Dots activity with my students. SmileMakers has put a smile on this teacher's face.  :)

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