Category Archives: From Our Publishers

Using Primary Sources to Teach About Our Nation’s Beginning

Primary sources are artifacts, documents, or any other source of information created at the time under study. They provide records of the period of time in which they were created.

They take many formats:

  • manuscripts
  • photographs
  • audio or video recordings
  • journals, diaries, and letters
  • speeches
  • political cartoons
  • newspaper articles
  • advertisements
  • government documents
  • and more!

These valuable resources engage students in a meaningful way, resulting in a deeper understanding of past events. By analyzing primary sources, students gain greater insight into what it was like to live during the period of time in which the materials were created.

Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

Inquiry into primary sources helps students achieve the following standards set forth in the CCSS, which places an emphasis on informational text:

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

Identify key steps in a text’s description of a process related to history/social studies.

Continue reading Using Primary Sources to Teach About Our Nation’s Beginning

Teaching Figurative Language and Story Elements in the Elementary and Middle Grades

Literary techniques are the constructions of language used by an author to convey meaning. These techniques make the story more interesting to the reader. It is important that students learn to identify and understand these constructions. The mastering of these devices will help students get more enjoyment from the fiction they read—both in and out of the classroom situation.

These literary devices are commonly taught in the elementary and middle grades: Connotation, Dialogue, Dialect, Imagery, Idiom, Simile, Metaphor, Pun, Personification, Hyperbole, Understatement, Allusion, Oxymoron, Symbol, Alliteration, and Onomatopoeia.

Many of these devices fall into the category of figurative language. Figurative language uses figures of speech—phrases that go beyond the literal meaning of the words—to be more effective. Figures of speech include metaphors, similes, idioms, and hyperbole.

The study of the elements of a story goes hand in hand with the study of literary devices. The basic elements of a story are character, setting, plot, setting, and theme. Also important are point of view, tone, mood, and style.

The inclusion of figurative language in a work of literature enhances the various elements of the story. It improves a reader’s enjoyment and understanding of the literary work in several ways:

1. Figurative language helps create a mood, which refers to the atmosphere that surrounds the reader and evokes certain feelings.

2. Figurative language can enhance characterization. It can help the author reveal the characters’ traits and personality.

3. Figurative language can help the author advance or slow down the plot. The author can slow down the plot by adding long descriptive passages. He or she can use figurative language to add suspense or humor to the plot.

4. Figurative language can make the setting come alive.

In other words, the use of figurative language enriches the reader’s experience by making the text more interesting.

Figurative Language and Other Literary Devices

Figurative Language and Other Literary Devices, written by Rebecca Stark and published by Educational Books ’n’ Bingo, is available in two grade levels: Grades 5–8 and Grades 3–6. They use examples from classic and modern literature to teach these techniques and devices.

The following literary devices and techniques are covered: • Connotation,
• Dialogue
• Dialect
• Imagery
• Idiom
• Simile
• Metaphor
• Allusion
• Personification
• Hyperbole
• Understatement
• Irony (Grades 5–8 only)
• Sarcasm (Grades 5–8 only)
• Oxymoron
• Paradox (Grades 5–8 only)
• Symbol
• Pun
• Alliteration
• Onomatopoeia.

At the end of the unit, students will be able to identify and understand these literary devices. They will also be able to use the figurative language and other literary techniques in their own writing.


Each literary device is defined. One or more examples are given from classic and/or modern literature. Students are then given opportunities to identify, explain, and use the technique.

Story Elements

Story Elements, written by Rebecca Stark and published by Educational Books ’n’ Bingo, is available in two grade levels: Grades 5–8 and Grades 3–6. They use examples from classic and modern literature to teach the elements of literature.

It is important that students learn to analyze and interpret the literature they read—not only for good results on standardized tests but also for enjoyment throughout their lives. To get the most out of what they read, they should be able to analyze a work’s literary elements. These books are designed to help students achieve that goal.

The books cover the following elements:
• Plot and Conflict
• Character
• Setting
• Point of View
• Tone
• Mood
• Style
• Theme
• Genre.

At the end of the unit, students will be able to…
• infer the setting of a story
• understand the devices and word choices that help develop the mood of a story
• understand the devices and word choices that help develop the tone of a story
• understand the elements of plot
• understand the characters in a story
• infer the characteristics and qualities of the main characters in a story
• identify the point of view and narrative voice of the story
• determine the mood of a story
• determine the tone of a story
• determine the style of a story
• identify the theme of a story
• identify the genre of a story
• understand and develop story elements in their own writing.


Each literary element is defined. One or more examples are given from classic and/or modern literature. Skill-building activities based on the literary element are provided.

Other Resources

Educational Books ’n’ Bingo’s Figurative Language Bingo Book and Elements of Literature Bingo Book provide practice and review of these concepts. Each book provides a complete bingo game in a book. There are enough unique bingo sheets for 30 students!

Barbara Peller, AKA Rebecca Stark, author of Figurative Language and Other Literary Devices, Story Elements, Figurative Language Bingo Book, and Elements of Literature Bingo Book.

The books described in this article are published by Educational Books ’n’ Bingo.

Logic Puzzles Help Build Deductive-Reasoning Skills

Logic is the systematic reasoning process we use to comprehend the relationships between facts in order to reach conclusions. Logical thinking enables students to understand what they read and what they are told and helps them see relationships, understand sequencing, and make inferences. Students with good logical-thinking skills can take new information to build upon what they already know. Outside of the classroom logical thinking can help improve social skills.

Logical reasoning comprises two opposite types of thinking: deductive and inductive. Deductive reasoning begins with a general statement. When we use deductive reasoning, we begin with a general statement. We then examine specific premises to infer a conclusion. If all the premises are true, then the reasoning will be sound. Inductive reasoning, on the other hand, uses specific observations to make a generalization. Inductive thinking may result in a correct conclusion, but it is not reliable.

Example of Deductive Thinking
Premise 1. A dog is a mammal.
Premise 2. All mammals are warm-blooded animals.
Conclusion: Dogs are warm-blooded animals.
This conclusion is valid, and because the premises are correct, it is also true. Continue reading Logic Puzzles Help Build Deductive-Reasoning Skills

Interdisciplinary Approach to Science in the Middle Grades

by Educational Books ‘n’ Bingo

Interdisciplinary Approach to Science in the Middle Grades

An interdisciplinary approach applies interdisciplinary methods and terms from various fields to examine a theme.

There are many benefits to this approach:

 • Teachers can meet curriculum standards in more than one area by combining unconnected objectives.
 • Students gain a deeper understanding of the topic.
  • Creative activities motivate students and make lessons more interesting.
 • Students are more prepared for the real world,  where disciplines often overlap.

Thinking About Science Series Features an Interdisciplinary Approach to Science

Educational Books ‘n’ Bingo’s Thinking about Science Series comprises four books for the middle grades. They have also been used successfully in high-ability classes, grades 4 and 5.

Continue reading Interdisciplinary Approach to Science in the Middle Grades

Using Bloom-Based Centers To Enrich Your Classroom Lessons

A learning center may refer to the physical space where students engage in a variety of learning experiences. It may also refer to the set of activities provided. In this article, the term “learning center” will refer to the set of activities.

There are three basic types of learning centers:

  • Enrichment Centers,
  • Interest-Based Centers, and
  • Skill Centers.

The Create-a-Center units fall into the first 2 categories.

Enrichment Learning Centers

Enrichment centers are usually used after the teacher has introduced the subject, most often near the end of the unit. Tasks should extend and enrich the students’ knowledge and understanding of the subject.

The teacher may focus on one learning center at a time or may provide several. The multi-subject set-up is often used when the teacher is responsible for more than one subject.

Interest-Based and Exploratory Learning Centers

Interest-based learning centers are designed to capitalize on students’ interests. In this approach, a variety of centers are made available so that students can choose an area of special interest to them. The subjects addressed in the learning centers may or may not match those being studied in the class.

This strategy works especially well in classes for gifted students. In fact, the Create-a-Center units described in this article were originally created for this segment of the school population.

Specific periods of time should be set aside to work on the centers. You might also want to allow the students to work on the tasks during free time at the beginning or end of class or when they complete their classroom work ahead of the rest of the class.

Skill Centers

Skill centers are primarily used in the elementary grades. Teachers use them after the skill has been introduced and instruct the children which tasks to work on in order to reinforce what is being taught.


How you set up the center area depends on several factors:

  • how much space you have for the display(s);
  • how much space you have for furniture;
  • how many centers you want to make available at the same time; and
  • storage options.

Possibilities range from simple table-top displays to elaborate furniture arrangements. If you want to provide a selection of centers from which the students can choose but do not have the room, it is always possible to keep the tasks in large manila envelopes. While it is nice to have the centers on display, the activities are what really count!

Educational Books ‘n’ Bingo’s Create-a-Center Series:
Learning Centers Based on Bloom’s Taxonomy

There are 8 social studies and 10 science centers for intermediate and middle-grade students and 4 centers for the primary grades.

The activities in these centers…

  • expand students’ knowledge and understanding;
  • develop important language and literacy skills;
  • encourage critical and creative thinking;
  • help develop important problem-solving skills; and
  • foster independent learning.

You may also use the centers to provide opportunities for the children to work together in teams or small groups, which can improve their social skills.

What’s Included

Each intermediate and middle-grade center focuses on one subject area. Primary units include multiple areas of interest.

Activities expand students’ knowledge of the subject and help develop important higher-level thinking skills.

Each center is divided into 6 strands or sub-categories.

There are a total of 90 tasks based on the original Bloom’s Taxonomy with 3 tasks for each level of the cognitive domain.

One or 2 additional activities, such as a word search or crossword puzzle, are also included.

Instructions on how to set up the center are provided.

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Bloom’s Taxonomy was created in 1956 under the leadership of educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom. The committee first identified three domains of educational activities of learning: the cognitive, or mental, domain; the effective, or social, domain; and the psychomotor, or physical, domain.

The taxonomy deals with the levels of the cognitive domain, which comprises knowledge and the development of intellectual skills.

According to Bloom, there are 6 main cognitive levels:

  • Knowledge,
  • Comprehension,
  • Application,
  • Analysis,
  • Synthesis, and
  • Evaluation.

These levels are hierarchical. In other words, learning at the lower levels must come before learning at the higher levels can be achieved.

Save hours of time with these ready-made learning centers!

Your students will love working on the tasks!

Barbara Peller, AKA Rebecca Stark, Author of the Create-a-Center Series, Published by Educational Books ‘n’ Bingo 

Using Educational Bingo Games in the Classroom

Reviewing material at the end of a unit is an important part of your students’ learning experience. Unfortunately, it can also be the most boring part! People of all ages love bingo, and educational bingo games can be just what you need to liven up your review time.

How to Get the Most out of Educational Bingo GamesBingo games are fun for students and teachers alike.

Here are some suggestions to make the most out of the experience:

  1. Before you distribute the materials, tell the class the subject of the bingo game you are about to play. For younger students, be sure everyone knows how to play bingo!
  2. Distribute the list of terms and go over anything that was not studied. Use your discretion as to whether or not to allow students to refer to the list during the game.
  3. You may want to allow students to take notes during the game. (See #6.)
  4. If you are using a Bingo Book, there will be two or three clues for each term. Use all of the clues in one game or use a different set each time you play.
  5. You may want to play several short games, such as a straight line, a box, an X, and so on. For a more comprehensive review before a test, you will probably want to require players to fill all 25 spaces. 
  6. The winner should be able to show not only that all the terms on the card were called but also that he or she marked the boxes in response to the appropriate clues. Ask the winner to stand and to give an important fact about each term or name on the card. If you have allowed students to take notes, then they should be allowed to use the notes for their presentation.
  7. Praise the winner for a job well done but correct any misinformation.
  8. Present the winner with a prize. It can be an inexpensive item, a certificate, or even a special privilege.
  9. A fun option is to have students play in cooperative teams of two.
  10. Have fun!
Why Choose Bingo Books?

Creating your own bingo games is tedious and time consuming. Ready-to-use Bingo Books save you valuable time. 

Choose from more than 120 titles in language arts, science, social studies, and math.

Bingo books were specifically created for use in primary, intermediate, and middle-grade classrooms. The emphasis is on the content of the questions!

Each game provides comprehensive coverage of the topic.

Bingo books are great for end-of-the-unit reviews.

They can also be used as assessment tools. 

Math and analogy bingo books provide skill practice as well as a review of terms.

Teachers can customize the games by using the blank middle spaces to add additional terms or names.

Everything you need is provided: 30 unique bingo cards; 50 clue cards, with 2 or 3 clues per term; and a sheet of markers.

The use of markers is optional. Because the bingo sheets are printed on plain paper, students can mark them with a pencil. Reprint the sheets as needed. 

Barbara Peller, AKA Rebecca Stark, Author of the Bingo Books Series

A Few Reviews of Bingo Books:

Published by Educational Books ‘n’ Bingo
Written by Rebecca Stark

These reviews refer to the print formats, which are identical to the digital versions in content.

Teacher Try-It Review for the Indiana Bingo Game:

Recently I played Indiana State Bingo with my fourth grade students.  The first thing I did was look over the terms to make sure they had all been covered in my Indiana History class.  There were very few that had not been covered, but I talked to them about the ones they had not had so I could use all the cards.  The instructions were very easy to follow.  It took less than ten minutes to get the game ready to play.  We played several rounds, and the students really enjoyed transferring the knowledge they had learned all year into a fun game of BINGO.  I will use this game several more times this year because I feel that it is a good review for the students. 

Here is what a few of the students had to say about the game:

Madison: I like the game because it is about what we are learning in social studies.
Colleen: I liked the game because I got to learn new things I did not know about Indiana history.

Cindy Brogan
Fourth Grade Teacher
Princeton Intermediate

Review for the Elements of Literature Bingo Game (Amazon)
5.0 out of 5 Stars
Verified Purchase
A fun and meaningful way to for students to practice and connect.

5 Tips for Selecting Time Saving Resources

Teachers are always on the lookout for resources to help them in the classroom. Finding the right content, activities, and strategies are part of developing great lesson plans that resonate with students and ultimately help them reach that “I got it” moment! But how can teachers be sure that the resources they find are high-quality? According to Dona Rice, former editor-in-chief of Teacher Created Materials and Shell Education, it’s simple—“teachers know!”

#1 Does it meet teachers’ needs?

Materials that are created by teachers are easily spotted as the authors of these resources seem to have thought of everything including considerations for struggling learners, English language learners, assessments, etc.

#2 Is it research and standards based?

Resources that have a foundation of research and that support important national and state standards are preferred by teachers and are usually evident by the content and mentions in the materials.

#3 Do they work?

Materials that have successful track records are priceless, save time, and ensure the greatest outcome. Teachers stick with what works and seek out these products from sources they trust.

#4 Is it an easy-to-use format?

Teachers don’t have time to decipher complex resources! Although robust materials are preferred, they must be straightforward with clear direction. Rice notes that although some resources may have clear roadmaps “those roadmaps should be easy to recognize in a few manageable steps.”

#5 Will it pass the teacher test?

Teachers are the experts when it comes to their own classroom. They know what they are looking for! Their instincts and understanding of what is needed guides them to make the right choices! As Rice reminds us, “teachers know!”Click here to see all of Shell Educations top quality products!

*No need for a coupon code, prices are already marked down for you!

Summer Break: How to Relax and Recharge

At the start of my teaching career, I was fortunate to have a perceptive principal who loaned me a book. I don’t remember the title of that book, but the essence was about keeping a balance in your life as a teacher.

Most people who don’t have a teacher in their lives would be surprised to learn that the challenge of keeping the balance drifts into summer breaks. Part of me wanted to frantically catch up with every appointment, home project, and neglected family member that had to be put aside during the busy school year.

Conversely, I also felt pressure to get a head start organizing and preparing for next year’s class and take advantage of professional growth opportunities. Yet another part of me craved to indulge in travel, relaxation, lunches eaten slowly—basically anything that was the opposite of a bell schedule.

This is a natural reaction to having a job that daily tugs at your heart strings, demands oodles of time and energy, and regularly spills over the school day into your early morning, late afternoon, evening, and weekend hours. Along the way, I had some great summers that were personally relaxing and career recharging. Be good to yourself and seek the balance.

Tips for Relaxing and Recharging

  • Indulge in a hobby
  • Exercise
  • Connect with nature
  • Rev down and practice being “in the moment.” (No planning lessons in your head while you are enjoying a vacation on a tropical beach.)
  • Keep a notepad or journal of the good ideas and inspirations that pop into your head, when you are not successful at being in the moment.
  • Read for pleasure and professional development. Here are some ideas for summer reading for teachers. (provided by another one of our publishers, Scholastic)
  • Collect basic resources that will help you launch the new school year effectively, such as Evan-Moor’s How To Plan Your School Year and Lesson Plan Books.
  • As you would for your students, assess what you need this summer, and work toward your goal of achieving balance.
  • Finally, keep in mind that if you have a summer break where demands of career, family, or the unexpected encroach on your time, plan mini-breaks throughout the school year, so that you can still relax and recharge.

Connect with ways that other teachers strive toward a balance in articles such as Edutopia’s “Balancing Work and Life: The Ongoing Challenge for Educators,” by Elena Aguilar.

What are you planning to do this summer to relax and recharge?

Marti Beeck started her career in education as a parent volunteer in her three children’s classrooms. Her teaching experience, including adult school, intervention, and the primary classroom, was inspired by her background in psychology and interest in brain-based learning. Marti currently works in the field of educational publishing as an editor.

The following article was provided by Evan-Moor Publishing, reposted with permission.  We wish to thank Evan-Moor Publishing for allowing us to share their article on our blog! To see the original posting please click here

5 Tips for Traveling Happily with Your Children

Due to a cross-country move away from my family and friends, I have been traveling with my children since they were babies. Even at their current young ages of 5 and 6, they have logged thousands of miles in long car rides and cross-country flights with me. Since day one, I have listened to candid advice from experts (other parents) and have the following tips to share with you.

  1. Let go of the plans­: Sure, you want to get in as much as you can, but it is important to rest, take it all in, and have some spontaneous “I feel like doing X today” moments.
  2. Share your travel plans with friends and family: This way they can see when you are leaving and arriving. This helps your family understand, for instance, that you had to get up at 3:00am and it is not best to have the entire family over for a family dinner on the first day you arrive.
  3. Be flexible: Whether it’s travel delays, weather, an unexpected sight, or interest your child takes in a certain activity, be open to changing your plans. This may mean staying somewhere longer, leaving earlier, or not going at all. Remember that this is your family’s precious time together.
  4. Get your children involved: Let them know they have a vote in what the family does. Perhaps they get to pick the dinner cuisine or the day’s activity. It is important for them to know they have a voice, too, and aren’t just getting dragged around.
  5. Pack a personalized back pack: Let children pack snacks and activities, as well as select the music they want to hear or the movies they want to watch while traveling. This helps prevent the “I’m bored,” “I’m Hungry,” and “How Much Longer?” comments.

Here are some ideas to include in the backpacks:

Let us know your favorite tips for traveling with children. Feel free to include travel destinations and pictures.

Contributing Writer

Trisha Thomas is the mother of two and serves on the board of directors at a co-op preschool. She has also been a marketer of educational materials for grades PreK–8 for more than 15 years.


The following article was provided by Evan-Moor Publishing, reposted with permission.  We wish to thank Evan-Moor Publishing for allowing us to share their article on our blog! To see the original posting please click here

Top Publishers for Q1 2017

These are your favorite Dedicated Teacher Publishers for the first quarter of 2017.

1. Chalkboard PublishingTop Selling Titles

2. Evan Moor Educational Publishers Top Selling Titles

3. Carson-Dellosa Publishing —Top Selling Titles

4. Scholastic Top Selling Titles

5. On The Mark Press Top Selling Titles
*Also check these titles from S&S Learning distributed by On The Mark Press

6. Teacher Created Resources Top Selling Titles

7. Learning Link/Novel Ties Top Selling Titles *Also check these titles distributed by BMI.

8. Saddleback Educational Publishing Top Selling Titles

10. Creative Teaching Press  — Top Selling Titles    

See why these publishers are YOUR favorites.  *If you click on the name, you will see their newest products!