“Their engagement went from 0 to 100 and I was able to actually get some real teaching done.”
Guest Blogger: Beth Pittman
1st Grade Teacher, Early Ed Influencer, Blogger
Follow me: https://www.instagram.com/flexibleinfirst/
“Since this past March, we’ve been distance learning in our California school district. Just like everyone else, we were all scrambling to find things that worked with our students. At first, I was standing in front of my camera talking to my students over a computer. I learned quickly that I was not going to be able to hold my students’ attention. They needed some excitement, some spice, and something visually to get them engaged. I had recently implemented Letters alive in class and I knew my students loved it, so I gave it a shot virtually and WOW it was just what we all needed! Their engagement went from 0 to 100 and I was able to actually get some real teaching done.
With Letters alive, we’ve been able to review and master three key ELA skills:
1. Word Building with Phonics Patterns: Yes, even 1st graders need practice with letters and sounds; especially as letters are put together and the sounds change. The Word Builder in Letters alive is perfect for this! When I use the letter and word family cards, we are able to hear the individual sounds and the word as a whole. My students love directing me to use the different cards as we work our way through words. This has been a great review and practice for vowel teams and has given me their undivided attention as I teach them these concepts.
2. Sentence Building and Proper Punctuation: My students love putting words together and building sentences. But their biggest problem has always been capitalization and punctuation. When we build sentences in Letters alive using the sight word cards, not only do we get to see what all the 26 zoo animals can do in 3D, we also get to see the capitalization and punctuation get added on the fly! This has helped my kids so much and gives me a fun way to point it out and teach them the concept. When I build “The horse can run,” we see the “T” get capitalized, a period added at the end, AND, we see Henry Horse actually running! The sights, sounds, and actions have bridged the attention gap I was having with distance learning, and my students are actually learning and retaining the information.
3. Writing: One of the biggest problems with writing is finding things to write about. Letters alive has 26 animals in the Alive Studios Zoo. Each animal has a name, a rhyming story, a set of actions, a habitat, and other animal facts. This layer of animal science has ignited my students’ imaginations and they always have fun things to write about.
In addition to these ELA skills, I discovered a cool way to improve my students’ behavior while distance learning; I assign a “helper of the day.” My helper is able to verbally assist throughout each lesson. At the end of the lesson, I allow them to select one of the 26 animals for us to watch their habitat video so we can go on a virtual field trip. My kids LOVE this! They feel a sense of pride and accomplishment by playing an active role. Now all my students are at their best in hopes of being the helper for tomorrow!
I also have to let you know about the Zoo Crew Alphabet Show. Alive Studios took their “lockdown time” as a company and filmed 26 animal/letter lessons and shared them for FREE on YouTube. There’s over 6 hours of digital learning that you can share with your students and your parents. This also helps that disconnect created by remote learning for our little ones. I know my parents are loving it as we continue to figure out what is next for schools.”
If you’re interested in getting Letters alive® for your classroom and need help with funding, we are pleased to provide four great options here.
“Letters alive brings animals to life in 3D so we can use those to review and practice letters, sounds, concepts of print, science, and more! And yes, we ARE using it virtually!”
Guest Blogger: Mr. Greg Smedley-Warren
Kindergarten Teacher, International Speaker, Curriculum Developer
Follow me: https://www.facebook.com/kindergarten.smorgasboard.7/
“About ten years ago I began developing a 4-6 week program for introducing letters and letter sounds. Having done tons of research, I learned the two biggest predictors of early reading success are phonemic awareness and letter recognition. I also learned about the Law of 10-20 for Memory Sets and how 4-6 weeks is considered ‘optimal time’ for remembering items in a set. So, I wanted to develop a program that considered all these best practices and also included direct instruction, multiple exposures, motor movement, and review.. all of the most effective methods for success.
When my ABC Boot Camp™ was born, I never thought I’d have to teach it to 20 kids who were each sitting in their homes. Y’all know how challenging it is to keep a 5 year old’s attention in person.. Just imagine over a computer across town! Now, my ABC Boot Camp™ is engaging, fun, interactive.. all the things a little learner would want. But, presenting it through a computer screen made me wonder if it’d work.
Well, I found out it does! And even more so with Letters alive! Letters alive now includes a specialized “zoo keeper version” of my ABC Boot Camp™ in its learning kit as part of its supplemental curriculum. It takes letters and 26 zoo animals and springs them to life in 3D augmented reality and has added a new level of engagement to my camp!
This fall, we started the year out virtually as did many classrooms across the country. The first 26 days is… you guessed it… ABC Boot Camp™ with Letters alive! Any doubts I had about engagement went out the window when my kids saw all the animals and letters jumping off the screen! They can’t get enough! They giggle and squeal just as if they were in my class.
I’m anxious to see how my kids do compared to previous years. I’ve been collecting data for four years since I started using Letters alive in my Boot Camp. The numbers are almost hard to believe. In only 26 days, my kids already have a solid foundation for reading. This opens up so many other options for learning additional skills as we progress through the school year.
My kids always have the highest and best scores in our school, even though over 90% are English Language Learners! I owe a lot of that success to Letters alive. Based on my kids’ excitement and motivation so far this year, I think they’ll do just as well even virtually from home!”
If you’re interested in getting Letters alive® for your classroom and need help with funding, we are pleased to provide four great options here.
“As you may know, capturing kindergarteners’ attention is not easy in person,
much less over a computer. So, I had to get creative. I knew just the resource from my classroom that would do the trick…”
Guest Blogger: Amanda Lewig
Kindergarten Teacher, Masters in Curriculum Instruction,
2020 Teacher of the Year Nominee
Follow me: https://www.facebook.com/theprimarypinkchef
“As a kindergarten teacher, I like to reach out to my incoming students and offer a summer camp to get them excited and prepared for their new adventure. This year, in the wake of Covid-19, I had to conduct my camp remotely. As you may know, capturing kindergarteners’ attention is not easy in person, much less over a computer. So, I had to get creative. I knew just the resource from my classroom that would do the trick, Letters alive. I could easily bring the kit home to help with my distance learning. What I love about Letters alive is that it is research-proven, brain-based, and most of all, super-engaging.
1. Research-Proven: Now, I’m a nut for data. After introducing Letters alive to my class last year, I saw a solid increase of 18% when measuring recognized letters sounds. And, this is crazy, but I saw a 124% increase in recognized sight words. I think these increases will only get better as I learn more about how to best use Letters alive.
2. Brain-Based: Since Letters alive uses a multi-modal approach, I could easily differentiate for my kids’ learning styles. Best of all, Letters alive offers active screen time; It’s a very hands-on and interactive learning experience that plays on children’s natural curiosity about animals.
3. Super-Engaging: I love how the zoo theme throughout Letters alive keeps my kids engaged and eager to learn! In my summer camp, I also gave each of my kids a Letters alive Journal and free mobile app. This not only lets them explore the animals and letters at home at their own pace, but it also gave them a real-world connection with animals to literacy, it encouraged their personal creativity and provided them with opportunities to practice writing. The journals have built in writing prompts that allowed me to do early writing lessons with my incoming Kindergarteners. This laid the foundation for starting writing workshops in the fall!
In addition, an encouraging side effect is with non-English speaking parents. They are there to help their child with a remote connection, but they are also exposed themselves to the basics of reading and writing English! How exciting is that? It was heart-warming to see family interacting and laughing together.
Thanks, Alive Studios, for helping my remote summer camp to be a huge hit! And now, I’m excited to use Letters alive for back-to-school to get my kiddos back on track in a hurry!”
Recently, we received a phenomenal success story from a mom whose preschooler is excelling at home with four of our remote learning resources (three of which are FREE!). I instantly knew we had to share her story with you! See how she uses our Zoo Crew Alphabet Show, Journals alive app, Letters alive Journals, and Interactive Alphabet Chart to get her daughter, Adaline, excited about learning:
“So my daughter, Adaline, is almost three years old, and I am always looking for creative ways to engage her with her learning, so she will be prepared and ready to go to school. Just watch this video of Adaline and you’ll be amazed, like myself, how self-motivated she was to learn. It was very easy and fun for me to be there just to assist.
I know our local schools are looking for ways to engage our little ones remotely that will really hold their attention span. Little kids, like my Adaline, need that one-on-one, in-person contact in order to be excited about learning and understand exactly what is being expected. One of the key skills at her age is letters and letter sounds. My educator friends have told me that a child’s ability to recognize letters and their represented sounds are a major determination of literacy success.
My mom actually introduced Adaline to the Zoo Crew Alphabet Show on YouTube. It’s a free remote learning resource with 26 individual lessons. The lessons teach an animal, a letter, letter sounds, and a social emotional growth skill. Each one is about 12-18 minutes long, which is perfect for Adaline’s attention.
Adaline instantly fell in love with Chief Zoo Keeper Cynthia and her little sidekick, Gerdy Giraffe. An added surprise was that some of the shows can become interactive with the free Journals alive mobile app. We are very sensitive to how much screen time Adaline gets each day, so we are very selective on what she actually gets to watch. When I saw her glowing with excitement and interest as she followed along with the show on her iPad, I was amazed.
After watching several of the lessons, Adaline quickly picked up on the repetitive catch phrases and began imitating them as she learned about the animals and letters. She will not be three until next month, yet already knows all her upper and lowercase letters and most of the letter sounds. I can honestly attribute this to the Zoo Crew Alphabet Show, the Letters alive Journal, and the mobile app.
We purchased the Letters alive Journal so she could follow along with all 26 animals and letters and be even more actively engaged with each lesson. It’s the best $10 I’ve ever spent. 🙂 I don’t normally promote or brag on companies or their products, but this is one that all parents of 2 to 5 year olds need to know about. I’ve never seen such an effective resource for helping kids learn their letters and letter sounds.
Recently, we learned about the Interactive Alphabet Chart, another FREE resource from Alive Studios. It’s a pdf file that lets you click any letter to instantly watch that lesson from the Zoo Crew Alphabet Show. This makes it so easy to find each lesson.
Anyway, from a mom and her preschooler, ‘thank you!’”
~ Leah (mom)
With schools being temporarily closed, we know that educating children at home presents new challenges.
Parents are looking for engaging ways to educate and entertain their kids. Teachers are looking for creative ways to keep their students engaged and retain what has been learned so far.
As the COVID-19 quarantine continues, there is a real concern about the effects it will have on our children, not just academically, but we also want to keep our kids happy and positive.
If you’re like me, you’re trying to figure out a way to help children and parents rather than getting lost in the reality of this shutdown.
Difficult seasons offer a chance to tap deeper into creativity and resourcefulness in order to solve problems. They push us out of our comfort zones and into new areas to stretch and grow. This is where new ideas can be born.
Since we started Alive Studios six years ago, it has been a dream to make a kids’ TV show. During the hustle of creating products to help educators and the launch of our Classrooms alive, we weren’t able to dedicate the required time and effort to realize that dream.
Now, with schools and businesses closed down, we have the time to brainstorm ideas for how we can help make a difference for educators, parents, and children. And… you guessed it! The production of our kid show came to mind! The ideas for the Zoo Crew Alphabet Show came flooding in! After our team was able to hash out our desired format, we began production and posting episodes onto our YouTube Channel, Alive Studios Zoo. We could not be more excited to share this with the world!
Designed with early learners in mind, we have created a free show that uses the same mind-boggling technology of Letters alive® and our Journals. I host the show along with my zany friend, Gerdy Giraffe (a puppet character played by Faith DeWerd, one of our Training Coaches).
Together, we embark on a magical zoo adventure through all twenty-six letters of the alphabet. Each episode introduces a zoo animal, a letter, and letter sounds using our patented 3D Augmented Reality technology.
On each show, we also read one of our original short rhyming stories that teach a social-emotional growth skill; and the engagement doesn’t stop there! These stories can be printed for kids to read and color at home.
Since our show can be found publicly on YouTube, it is accessible to everyone on any device, including smartphones.
Join us on our zoo adventure as we introduce two new animals and letters each week on our YouTube Channel Alive Studios Zoo. It’s a magical learning adventure you won’t want to miss!
Check it out now and share it with parents and teachers of little learners!
So what do you do when the world shuts down? Get creative together and try to make the world a better place.