Being a former first grade teacher, I know the difficulties of integrating technology into the primary classroom.  In the past I allowed my students who completed their assignments the option of playing Jump Start on one of the three desktop computers in my classroom (I called this my “Technology Center”).  As much as I thought I was incorporating technology effectively, I was actually using technology as part of my classroom management.  Now that I am more proficient with different devices and available programs, I see the vast array of opportunities to integrate technology into Math and Language Arts Core Instruction.  Let me show you some options that you might consider as well!

Fuel the Brain

Fuel the Brain

I love this resource because of its simplicity and engagement.  Students are sure to find the games appealing, and you will find them purposeful.  In addition, all of the games are tied to Common Core State Standards in ELA and Math.  Teachers just need to select Teacher Guides and drill down to a specific grade level then subject.  There you will find all of this site’s resources already aligned to specific CCSS indicators.

Fuel the Brain CCSS

Here is a common core standard with a game, interactive, and printable already aligned!  The hard part of alignment has been done for you!  Try it!


Mr. Nussbaum

This website was created by Greg Nussbaum, a teacher at White Oaks Elementary School in Virginia.  He conceptualized academic content in a digital format that was both rigorous and engaging for students.  He wanted all students to enhance their learning by using the internet in an interactive way – truly this resource accomplishes that feat.  Drill down by grade level, subject area, and off your students will go to a highly engaging activity!

Mr. Nussbaum

Mr.Nussbaum 2Another wonderful option is drilling down by a specific Common Core Standard to find games, online practice, and/or printables for your students.  Check it out!

Mr. Nussbaum 3

Turtle Diary 

This fun resource is dedicated to early childhood education.  There are resources for everyone.  To start with, students have access to hundreds of interactive games to help them learn. The games are created in multiple formats so differentiation based on need is streamlined.  In addition, teachers have access to over 1,000 activities and over 200 lesson plans to stimulate student achievement.  Why reinvent the wheel?  Using this resource will be highly engaging for students and ultimately save you time from looking for 20 different lessons you need for various subjects – they are all right here!  Try it!

turtle diary

Don’t let the “Premium Feature” lull you into thinking that you will have to pay for these resources. ALL teachers can set up free accounts for their classes.  The only drawback of the free accounts – there are ads (something you can live with!).  However if you choose to go with the Premium Version here is what you will be getting:

turtle diary 2

Your Challenge

Ok I know this post will be hard to connect to for some viewers either due to teaching assignment or interest.  However, we ALL have been touched by those students who have extremely low skills and need foundational supports.  So here’s the challenge – Pick an underperforming student or students, maybe they have IEPs or maybe they don’t, and have them use one of these resources in a targeted area needed for growth.  Would your student(s) respond to this resource in a positive way AND would their targeted areas of growth improve?  How could you measure that growth so this resource didn’t become part of your classroom management plan or “Technology Center”?

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  1. Although I have juniors and seniors, I do work with some middle school students who have lower reading levels. I liked Fuel the Brain – phonics for them. I don’t think I could use this in a classroom setting, but I would be interested in sharing it with their parents so that they could work on it at home. I could also use it after school when they are with me. I will also be sharing these resources with our K-5 teachers.

  2. I would use the Homework Simplified
    section from Mr. Nussbaum’s site with Marketing students to search expert opinions on Promotion strategies.

  3. I think that these sites definitely lean toward differentiation of instruction. As for measuring growth you could have pre/post test, just a few questions to test their skill level, and or use an “exit ticket” or journaling. Have the students answer a question at the end of the time period that would provide you with your data needed. These are also excellent bc that align with standards, so you may have a built in pre post data ALREADY available.

  4. Being a Spanish teacher, there wasn’t a lot that I could use, but one thing I think I could incorporate is the letter recognition on Turtle Diary. I could give the students the letters in Spanish. I will recommend these to the elementary teachers. I think they will love them.

  5. I wasn’t sure how to respond to this challenge. As a technology instructor for grades 1-4, I expose the students to different types of software programs that, at times, correlate to a project the classroom teacher may be working with them on. At other times, it’s an activity to get the students familiar with what a software program can do and when it would be used. In either situation, the student works at his/her own pace to accomplish the task the best they can based on the parameters I receive from the classroom teacher. Can someone offer suggestions for me?

  6. I have upper level science in high school so not much here for me, but I have younger children and they love the game type atmosphere. Another site for digital practice type environment for math is They cover math subjects from 1st grade to Calculus as well as science areas 6th grade to physics. I have used the Chemistry and Physics parts in class. they not only have practice questions, but video explanations of the topics as well as explanations of the problems/questions at hand.

  7. My school just received a grant that allows me to have 6 chrome books with headphones in my room for my students. On the mrnussbaum site I found a great lesson on biomes that a few of my 5th grade students would benefit from. The activity has a quiz at the end to assess if they learned the material. I have used the website TED-ed for students who have difficulty grasping content and need extra help.

  8. I have used Mr. Nussbaum and it is a great resource! Fuel the Brain is new to me. I looked at several games, and I think that it would be great to practice mental math in the four operations. Students who struggle in math typically have problems with mental math. The numerous games on this website would be a great way for students to work on mental math skills. That is how I would use this site with my students. I have added it to my Symbaloo page.

  9. I teach 7th grade science and precision is a standard. Many of my students still don’t know how to round to the 10th and 100th, which we do a lot in my class. Last year I had these students come in during their study period and work with a peer tutor. This helped, but I can also see using a rounding video, rounding drill AND rounding game (Half-Court Rounding) from Mr. Nussbaum’s site to get the point across. I would give them a post check up to see if they have improved.

    • When I taught fifth grade math my students had a really hard time differentiating between hundreds place value and hundredths place value. These resources are sure to be of some benefit!

  10. I have used Mr. Nussbaum and Fuel the Brain in all of my K-6 tech classes. I usually use them for a Friday day or when they have finished a tech task. I also have them on our Protopage so all grade levels can quickly acess them from whatever device they are on, Even if they are at home I make sure our parents have the Protopage URL to have quick access to the all the sites we use. I had not heard of Turtle Diary. After exploring the various games they have now made a home on our Protopage as well. I can’t wait to share this out with our teachers. I like the fact the paid version has a tracking part but that is also the downfall. We have also used FreeRice for the older groups. They enjoy seeing the grains of rice they collect as a means of tracking their progress. Many times the students track their own progress by trying to better their score from one game to the next or just trying to get to the next level is enough for them. If I really want them to track how they are doing I give them a notecard and have them label it with the site/game we are on and record the progress that way. I always enjoy when there is a log in feature and each students logs in with their own unique ID and then you can pull up progress, especially when it is free. These are all great for RTI.

    • I love freerice. Not only is it educational but also you are helping out people – the website actually donates rice!!!! Great incentive there! I am unfamiliar with Protopage. I am sure I could google it, but what can you tell me about it?

  11. I use Mr. Nussbaum on a daily basis for my Social Studies kiddos, but I found it particularly useful for one of my Autistic students. He is easily distracted from our usual lessons, but if I put him on some of the Social Studies readings and or games, he is much more focused. He is high functioning and loves his iPad, so this really helps keep him up to speed with the rest of the class.

  12. I like sites that really pin-point skills that are being taught/practiced in the games and activities. Being able to drill into specific skills allows teachers to assign activities that address the variety of learning needs that are in an early elementary classroom. Many of these sites can be used in a variety of ways:

    1. As a grouping station during Daily 5 activities
    2. As RTi
    3. As a reteaching tool
    4. As DI tools for students that are above or below grade level
    5. As homework activities

    Often the final score on a game can be printed or e-mailed. These printouts can allow a teacher to have evidence to evaluate progress on an on-going basis. I believe that any time learning and skill practice can occur in a more interactive way, student engagement increases and their love for learning increases.

  13. We currently have teachers using one of these three as a part of the 1:1 Math improvement plan. Turtle Diary has been extremely helpful for several of our lower students. Quite often they just need reinforcement that is both visual, aural and appealing (relevant). Teachers are stating that students are starting to use Turtle Diary and Mr. Nussbaum at home for fun! Teachers are giving pretests and posttests – students are showing growth!! We have discussed that Math can be made “fun” through online games. It just takes a little to make students go beyond the basic expectation.

  14. After searching through the sites, I have decided that I likely would not use them in my English 10 class but they might have some limited value in my Language Lab class. We often have lower level students who need some practice. These sites might be engaging for some of them.

  15. I checked out Turtle Diary. I like the resource and the options it has. I can see the site being useful for some special needs kids and for young elementary kids. I would guess that the younger age kids would respond positively to the website. At times in special education, we have students who are “click: happy” and they will have difficulty with staying on one website. For those students, the guided access feature on the iPad is helpful. My guess is that students could be tested on knowledge of a certain area before and after using the website to see if they retained any of the information. I will have to try these out with my Kindergartner!

    • Yes these are great resources. Been there with the click happiness! Even when we are going painstakingly one question at a time, we still get one fast clicker. That guided access is a nice feature.

  16. I would not use these in a Biology class. However, I would pass the sites on to our Resource and Life Skills teachers.

  17. I have looked at “” and “Mr.Nussbaum” I must say that I would have to search and specify specific games in order to get to relevant information. Most of the standards that my students begin having difficulty is around 7th and 8th grade. Here are some games that I have found after a while of searching that would be helpful and that the students would actually do.

  18. I can’t wait to share these websites with our elementary teachers and special ed department. Whether these sites are at grade level or used for remediation, they provide a lot of engaging activities to help kids work on their skills. Besides RTI, these sites will provide extra practice and assessment in multiple subjects for teachers working on target goals. I’m certain that elementary kids will respond favorably to the websites, and believe it or not, some middle schoolers will too. Continued practice, of course, will help improve kids’ mastery of the skill…which you’ll know when you reassess target goals.

  19. I teach special needs and have some self contained middle school students who function on a 1-3 grade level. I use sights like these to practice their goals such as telling time, counting money, computation skills etc. I like that there are some ELA activities as well. My students would love these but that is because they are sometimes mentally at this level and not their real age. I also started using IXL math this year to target some math areas. Great resources and I will use these and share as well. As long as they are user friendly with the ipad, my students can work on these at school and home. I have found some websites that would not work on the ipad such as math playground.

  20. Totally out of my comfort range here, but I am going to show a couple of them to my daughter, a 1st grader, who is struggling with the math concepts they are doing right now. Her class has started to work on basic algebra.

    • Isn’t it amazing the content that is being taught to primary age students? My daughter brought home some worksheets she was doing in geometry (1st grade). I asked her the name of a 3D shape and she replied – “Daddy it is a recktangleeus prism.”

  21. I have viewed and sent these sites to our teachers to use as resources. I like how Mr Nussbaum has different areas for children with learning difficulties. I can definitely see where our teachers will use these programs in their classrooms and in the computer labs. I have a three year old granddaughter and know she will enjoy playing on these site too.

  22. I looked at Turtle Diary. Since the 5th grade level isn’t functioning yet, I chose the highest available grade level, 3rd grade, and browsed the language arts activities. The site offered quite a few activities that incorporated instruction on parts of speech, including subordinate conjunctions. I could see posting links to this activity and others related to parts of speech on my Weebly website to add to the independent practice options for my freshmen students.

  23. Today’s post is perfect! Our district went 1:1 with Chromebooks for grades 3-12 this year. Our focus, early on, has been integrating technology for those grades. K-2 crave tech too! I’ve spent the last few weeks trying bulk up my resources for primary grades. I know our teachers will be very excited to add these sites to there “technology center. Interesting twist on using these sites for lower functioning older students as well. Thanks!

    • That’s great! I hear a lot of times from K-2 teachers how so much of our tech PD is really geared towards older students. I try to incorporate as much K-2 options for them as I possibly can!

  24. I think these resources are great. I truly appreciated all three. I am currently organizing a resource site for the teachers in my school district. I emailed my k-2 teachers this morning as soon as I added them and I have already got one response back about how much they appreciated these sites. I think using sites like this will improve student engagement and not be used so much for management because students will not need much management once they have the students attention. The technology station should be what kids look forward to doing.

    • Awesome! I love the CCSS drill down option. With our curriculum mapping, I have had a hard time finding the right digital resources without spending a ton of time searching. These resources eliminate a lot of wasted time.

  25. I teach 9-12 and at this point I feel the sites are too elementary. I will share these sites with my K-5 teachers and they will be ever grateful.

  26. As a 7th grade Language Arts teacher, I would have a hard time with these sites as well! I do have students for RtI, but they aren’t this low. I did, however, pass these resources along to one of our resource teachers. She has students in the middle school that are performing at least 3-4 grade levels below.

    Also, I sent these resources along to my mom, who teaches 2nd grade.

    I don’t think my students would respond to these websites in a positive way, because the resources are so elementary. They are middle school level and already think they are too cool for school, so they would probably do the opposite of what I wanted them to do with these resources.

  27. I think a few of the tools on Turtle Diary would be useful in my freshman basic skills English class. They have a section of smartboard games, and I noticed Word Spider: It’s a tool that allows you to type a vocabulary word in the middle and branch off related words or ideas. I could see my basic skills students using this tool to visualize concepts and make connections.

    The students would respond well to this resource if they didn’t see the rest of the site; they might be insulted by the low age of the target audience. Of course, I could also spin it as a site designed for younger students that has a few useful high school-level tools.

    I’d be targeting their context clues and vocabulary skills. I think they could raise their scores using this tool, but it’s something that would be difficult to measure. I could use a control group (no website) and an experimental group (using the site).

    I may link this particular tool to my Weebly, My etymology students might even like it.

  28. While I am a high school math teacher and would not devote class time to the sites (GVC!); I can see some use for them at the RTI level or even after finals when we still meet with each class to keep their brains working maybe even as a challenge to see who can best each other.

  29. I explored the Mr. Nussbaum site and believe that using the grade 6 tab in the US History sections (American Revolution, War of 1812, French and Indian War, US Territorial Acquisition, Civil War, etc.) would be beneficial and worth sharing and trying with students as another resource for 8th grade US History as they do projects at my school. I don’t believe that all the activities for these sections would be the most appropriate for an 8th grader (some are though – building a timeline for Civil War events) but the readings are helpful. The key information is the same as any other text but broken down and without all the fluff. This could be helpful for all students, not just ones with IEPs too.

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