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Submitted by: Jan Johnson, elementary art teacher from Fairfax County Public Schools.
Product Title: Toobers & Zots
Grade Levels: Kindergarten & up
Product Review: Intended as creative building tools for open ended play, Toobers & Zots are made out of the same material as swimming pool “noodles.” The large tube pieces, called toobers, are of varying lengths from a couple of feet to over a yard. Toobers have wire inside which allows them to maintain whatever shape they are twisted into. They can be curled, bent, folded, and zigzagged into three dimensional forms. The other pieces, called skinnies and zots, can be attached to the toobers and other skinnies and zots. They add a decorative element to the work. There are over a hundred dots, short tubes, star bursts, circles, crowns, and other shapes. Watch the video of my Kindergartners using this product below.
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This medium allows my students to work in a scale that is larger than they normally get to experience. Because of the abundance of material in each kit, several students can easily work cooperatively on one sculpture. I would suggest that you allow 1-3 students per box. Although my students do not get to keep their work when they are done, I take a photo of each student with their work and print a copy of it for them.
The forms come in a small box in which they fit tightly. Once they are put to use, it is near impossible to get them back in their cardboard box. I put each set in a plastic box about the size of two shoe boxes. The long tube pieces I keep separately in a large plastic bin. Storage is an issue for these currently, as I have limited storage space in my classroom.
The person in my county who introduced us to Toobers & Zot said that they are durable. She had been using her sets for over eight years.
When I priced them online, they seemed to be expensive. Amazon is selling them for around $24 a set. I did see several other sites offering them and the price was comparable. There were sets on eBay, new and used, for considerably less. Our county ordered so many thousands of sets of these, they were able to work out a much better deal with the company.
Though these were purchased for a specific lesson in my kindergarten curriculum, my older students have begged me to let them try them out as well. The kindergarteners thoroughly enjoyed using them and were slow to put them away.
Bucket Rating (5 out of 5 – Love! Need it! Gotta have it now!):
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Product Title: Say the Time (PC-only computer program, see Mac alternative below)
Grade Levels: Kindergarten-12th grade
Product Review: I am an elementary art teacher, and I know that schedules are hard to keep. In my classroom, we have fifty-five minute classes, and when you take away clean up time, that doesn’t leave us with nearly enough time to get our work done. I also realized when I was helping students, that sometimes the time got away from me. So I searched online for some kind of timer. What I found was Say the Time. It is an amazing program that can set reminders to go off every day.
I have set a reminder for when it is clean-up time for each class, and I have it repeat every week day. Whenever the bell rings, the students know it it time to clean up. This gets everyone going very quickly, and always on time! The program costs about $30.00, but that is a one time fee. There are no subscriptions or any other costs. Just recently, I have added another timer that tells students when they need to be in line and ready to walk out the door. Just today, I had a fourth grade class that was cleaned up and in line in less than one minute! It has worked wonders and given me back my class time. Another added bonus: You can set it to “Say the time” whenever you want it to (I have it set for every 15 minutes) which helps the younger students with elapsed time!
Please note: Say the Time works on PC only. If you are a Mac user, we found a similar product called “Timer 7.0” (click “download page” for free version)
Bucket Rating (5 out of 5 – Love! Need it! Gotta have it now!):If you’re interested in being a Teaching Palette contributor and submitting a review, please click here to learn more.