Colorful, Crafty Supplies 

Best two-in-one tool
The double-sided Paintastics Paint ‘N Stamp pens from Elmer’s allow kids to paint with the brush, then flip the pen over to use the adorable stamps on the other end. “My students use these to make fun borders and gift cards for their families,” says a tester. 

Best for cutting down on colds
Fiskars’ unique line of antimicrobial scissors inhibits reproduction and growth of bacteria. “It’s an additional safeguard in the battle against germs we face every day,” says our teacher tester. “The finger loop is great, too.” 

Best earth-friendly innovation
The Sproutz line of furniture is manufactured from 100 percent recycled wood fiber and a formaldehyde-free resin. Options include this four-station art center. “The kids love the handy supply storage, too,” adds our tester. 

Best for paintless painting
Young artists will love these washable, nontoxic brush pens that create unique strokes — just like painting. The pens are acid free and won’t bleed through paper. “My kids can easily make thin and thick strokes, without the mess,” says one teacher. 


Handy Resources for Teaching Writing

Best for snowy afternoons
Looking for a way to keep indoors-bound kids occupied? Marko the Pencil comes to the rescue in the new Writing Strategies animated program. In this DVD, Marko helps a young girl learn to write using specific tips. “The DVD explains story elements in a visual way,” says our tester. “I like that the writing strategies are broken into mini-lessons.”

Best for assessment
Evaluating student writing can be a challenge, but Criterion makes it a snap. This Web-based program evaluates a student’s writing skills and within seconds provides score reporting and diagnostic feedback. “What’s great about this product is that students get immediate feedback,” says one teacher. “Normally, they’d have to wait at least overnight (or longer) for a teacher to read and correct their work.” 

Best for writer's block
Need help jump starting your students’ writing? The WRITE! Foundations and Models for Proficiency program combines instruction and assessment, writing models and prompts, and more for each grades 1–8. “Each lesson teaches one grammar skill and has a writing assignment to go with it,” says our tester. “I like that the program focuses on one skill at a time so that students don’t get overwhelmed.”  

Best for creating cartoons
Kids love animation, and now they can make their own cartoons using the Claymation Studio. “This software program is really easy to use,” says our tester. “My students like that they can create their own stop-motion video claymation and animation from imported images and music.” 

Best for making storyboards
Teachers know the value of using storyboards in the classroom, but creating them can be an arduous process. STORYBOARD PRO software makes it simple. “This software is perfect for creating and animating storyboards,” says our teacher. “Kids can easily import drawings and draw and illustrate directly into the storyboard.” 

Best way to retain vocabulary
Can’t get your students to remember all of their vocabulary words? Phase-6 can help. This Web-based solution helps students lock vocabulary words into long-term memory by making use of multimedia flash cards. “Phase-6 is the ideal practice engine to address knowledge-level learning in a time-effective manner,” says our tester. “Any multimedia content can be used in this versatile engine: vocabulary, formulas, facts — all can be memorized with equal ease. Each student receives extra repetition of words as needed and moves at his or her own pace until mastery is achieved.”