What do you do when the world shuts down? Create a Kids’ TV show!

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.

alphabet kid show behind scenesNow, 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.


Check out our first few episodes:

alphabet kid show



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.

3 Awesome Sources for Funding Your Classroom

teacher funding
Mr. Gregs Class



One of the most common things we hear from teachers is: “Wow! Your product is amazing! I wish I could afford it!” We understand the dilemma teachers and educators face: getting funding for all the cool stuff they know their students need.

Because we are so committed to helping kids, we are sharing three resources for you to get the funding you need to give your students the best education tools!

1. GetEDFunding.com
(For Public and Private Schools)
Get ed funding



This resource curates thousands of free grants and places them in one convenient spot for you to peruse. They provide tips and ideas on how to apply for and write grants. You can also get an email update of new grants delivered right to your inbox! After you register, you’ll be able to search specifically for a grant that fits your needs. For example, if you are looking for boosting literacy in your classroom, you will search within your grade range and click on “Literacy K-12.” It will then bring a list of potential funding options for which you can apply! Also, we have some free templates here on how to write the best grant request possible!


2. DonorsChoose.com
(For Public Schools Only)
donors choose



This is one of the most popular funding options for teachers, and one that we have seen many teachers get funding for our products. Donors Choose makes it easy for any generous donor to help a classroom in need!

When setting up a Donors Choose project for our products, here are some great tips:

  • Choose Kaplan Early Learning as the vendor.
  • Have a captivating picture as your photo. You will want a clear picture that conveys exactly what you are trying to achieve.
  • Send out an email to all your contacts when you first launch your project to help get some initial funding. You can email friends, family, and communities you are a part of. Learn more about developing a great email campaign here.
  • Share your project over social media. Other than email, social media is an effective place to let people know about your project. You can even send out funding updates and remind people to help with a donation! Facebook has been known as the top, most effective place for online fundraising, but Instagram and Twitter are also good places too! Donors Choose has a great video with more in-depth ideas on how to make your project soar!



3. AdoptAClassroom.org
(For Public, Private, and Charter Schools)
adopt a classroom



The third online resource is AdoptAClassroom.org. Very similar to Donors Choose, teachers and school districts can start and share projects to find donors. You’ll simply create a page for your classroom with details of your needs and people can donate right there! Read more about the process here.

Some helpful tips when using AdoptAClassroom.org are:

  • Create a compelling page! Adopt a Classroom does “pages” instead of “projects,” like Donors Choose. Create a page with excellent pictures, a clear goal, and one that tells your story. People love to give support to compelling stories!
  • Share! This means making your page public and sharing it with people so they can learn about your needs and possibly help. There are also convenient templates to make page creation a breeze!
  • Read all their tips on fundraising. Adopt a Classroom has extensive information on effective fundraising for your classroom!

What other methods and tools have you found to be successful in raising funds for your classroom? Comment below and let us know!



4 Ways to Engage pre-K Students

using technology to engage pre-k kids

Preparing pre-K students for kindergarten and keeping them engaged is a huge undertaking. As pre-K teachers, our goal is to build the basic foundations for early reading and math concepts, beginning their social-emotional learning, and working with them on physical abilities such as motor skills. Adding to this challenge is the fact that pre-K teachers also need to attend to students who’ve likely never been in an academic setting and don’t understand the mechanics and expectations of a classroom. Providing a highly-engaging learning experience every day helps us accomplish everything we need to with our pre-K students.

1) Identify students who are (or aren’t) engaged.
When I think about student engagement, the first thing that comes to mind is a child who actively responds, both visibly and audibly, to what’s going on in the classroom—and whose body language is consistent with active involvement in the lesson.

On the contrary, I also think about the very quiet students who are definitely engaged with their learning but demonstrate it in a different way. Some people just have a naturally quiet disposition, of course, but the classroom environment is also pretty scary for our youngest students. It can be very overwhelming and intimidating. They go from being the center of the world in their families to this big classroom with 20+ other kids and two adults whom they don’t know. They’re going to new places and experiencing activities they don’t know how to play, and they’re unsure of how they’re supposed to be communicating in this new environment. All of this lends itself to various ways to express their engagement.

using technology to engage pre-k kidsThe idea of going from a self-centered environment to feeling like a speck in a big world where I don’t know my place seems intimidating to me as an adult, so I can understand why they’re quiet. I have one little girl in my class now who didn’t really start having conversations with me or most of her classmates until Christmas. Building their confidence is just another element we use to help students develop in order to make sure they’re ready for kindergarten. Fortunately, students tend to develop confidence as they learn both academic and social skills before moving into kindergarten. These are skills such as identifying letters and their sounds, the understanding that letters make words and words make sentences, the ability to count individual objects up to 20, and so on.

Engagement (or lack thereof) may be difficult to spot with such young children as they become accustomed to school, but it’s still at the center of a successful pre-K classroom. By providing a variety of fun and exciting learning opportunities, we can be sure we’re reaching even the shyest students.

2) Create an engaging classroom layout.

Activity centers are a great way to provide that variety of experiences. One way I try to make these activities as engaging as possible is by thinking through the layout of my classroom. I set up one side of the room to be louder and more playful, while the other side is quieter and better suited to concentration. On one side of the room we’ll have blocks and a kitchen play area next to math manipulatives. If you keep walking in the same direction, you’ll find art and science areas, then a station for iPad use and writing, and then a library space.

We also spend lots of time practicing transitions and other classroom routines. It takes some time upfront, but it pays off so well once everyone gets into the swing of the school year and the students know exactly how to move around the classroom. It saves me a lot of time picking up manipulatives and other classroom objects, too, because the students know where they go and are well-practiced at putting them away

3) Look for fun classroom tools.

Like any teacher, I’m always on the lookout for fun new tools to add to my classroom. One of my favorites this year is Letters alive. It’s an early literacy program that teaches the foundations of reading by using 26 zoo animals that spring to life in 3D! Students use letter, word family, and sight word cards to build words and sentences while interacting with the animals.

These 3D animals are so exciting for the students, of course, but one of the things I like about the product is that it doesn’t just live in a piece of software. using technology to engage pre-k kidsWe use the cards as traditional flashcards, and there are also student journals that can be taken home to work on the same literacy concepts with their parents on mobile devices. The free mobile app turns the journal into a magical 3D animal adventure! A big part of engaging pre-K students and ensuring their growth is parents who are committed and engaged in their children’s education.

4) Take plenty of breaks.

Children in pre-K are just too young to sit still for long stretches of time and remain mentally engaged. They need breaks, and they definitely need to move. Kids love songs, so I firmly believe that anything with a tune and educational value belongs in a classroom. I can’t sing, though, so I’ll often play songs via YouTube videos and playlists that incorporate our learning objectives. It gives students a little mental break, but it also reinforces the concepts we’re working on as a class. I like to use GoNoodle, a service that combines physical activity in the classroom with educational activities, too. It gets the kids moving while they learn. It’s a great way to get students alert and attentive without sacrificing instructional time. Alive Studios also has an awesome alphabet song for introducing the 26 animals in their zoo. The kids love it!

Volume Bonus for School Districts

school district pilot program

Below is a recent Press Release announcing our Proficient by 3rd Grade District Level Volume Bonus Program:

Alive Studios Helps School Districts Win the Reading Challenges for At Risk Students

Alive Studios is introducing a Proficient by 3rd Grade Volume Bonus program for school districts to test and prove the Letters alive early learning reading program.

Alive Studios has structured a program that allows school districts to test and prove the effectiveness of teaching with Letters alive within eight classrooms. “We encourage districts to test and compare student outcomes between classes using Letters alive and those not using Letters alive.” stated Cynthia B. Kaye, CEO and Chief Zoo Keeper of Alive Studios. The volume program comes with a full-year of free online digital assessments for measuring, tracking, and reporting the progression of students. The generated reports can be shared with teachers, principals, and even parents in English or Spanish. The Alive Studios’ team will also come on-site and trains the participating teachers how to most effectively use Letters alive with their students and how to track their outcomes. Says Kaye, “We’re convinced that once districts try the bonus program and see the results for themselves they’ll want to make this available to all their at risk students.”

“We’ve been busy spreading awareness of our game-changing supplemental reading program, Letters alive, by introducing it to teachers around the country.” added Kaye. “What we’re finding at trade shows and during demos is that teachers love our solutions, but 74% of them don’t have the purchasing authority to obtain it. We realized we needed to take our solutions to the district level.”

at risk studentsAmerica has a literacy crisis among our early learners and serious solutions are in demand. “An alarming number of children—about 67 percent nationwide and more than 80 percent of those from low-income families—are not proficient readers by the end of third grade. This has significant and long-term consequences not only for each of those children but for their communities, and for our nation as a whole,” cited Ralph Smith, Managing Director of The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

With almost 7 out of 10 students not proficient in reading by 3rd grade, early intervention with a proven solution is crucial for establishing the foundations for high school graduation and career success. Alive Studios’ difference maker is a mind-boggling technology called Augmented Reality. It creates a 3D experience without glasses and provides off-the-charts engagement that increase student outcomes. Now, over 1,500 classrooms are learning letters, letter sounds, sight words and sentence building in a revolutionary way.

The program is especially effective with At Risk students including ELL, ESL and Special Needs. Independent Research has proven a 48% increase in letter naming fluencies and 112% increase in letter sound fluencies by implementing Letters alive in the classroom. “My students love seeing a new animal each day and their reactions to the animals coming to life is priceless! Letters alive brings a whole new engagement level to our ABC BOOTCAMP!” stated Greg Smedley-Warren, Kindergarten Teacher at JE Moss Elementary, a Title I school in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Proficient by 3rd Grade Volume Bonus Program is available to any school district. Interested teachers and principals are encouraged to inform their district leaders about the program. Details about Letters alive and the bonus program can be found at www.AliveStudiosCo.com/beta/program-2.

Content is King for Classroom Technology

Content is King for Classroom Technology

So, after a long wait and a lot of pleading you finally got that new computer, or that new smartboard. Now what? Do you have the really cool content you need to engage students?

As we make the trade show tour, we have the pleasure of seeing all the latest educational technology; fast, streamlined computers and big, crystal-clear displays. Like kids in a candy store glaring at the shiniest and most colorful lollypop, we all fall into the “I have to have this” category. But when we get it into our classrooms, we realize it doesn’t solve any of the major problems we face with early learners. Are they now learning letter sounds and letter naming more effectively? Does the new tech reach both ends of the learning spectrum? Are At Risk students now achieving better results? Can ELL students grasp the English language any quicker?

One common void we discover amongst the hardware tech crowd is the lack of content. content is king for classroom technologySure they offer the ability to do “it” quicker, bigger, and with more wow.. but do what? It’s the content ON the device that makes the difference. It’s the software application that brings the device to life and solves problems in classrooms.

It reminds me of a story about a little boy who had a $5 bill and wanted to buy a wallet. After shopping several stores, he found the perfect one. It fit his pocket, it felt good in his hand, and it only costed $5. You can guess the rest of the story. Having spent his $5, the little boy had nothing to put into his new wallet. Just like the wallet with no money, a new computer or smartboard just isn’t that impressive without content.

So, if you’re given the green light for new technology, remember to save some funds for engaging content that will help make a positive difference in your classroom.