What Are Boom Cards? Getting Started with Boom Learning℠

Boom Learning and Boom Cards are the trademarks of Boom Learning Inc. Used with permission.

As teachers plan for this new school year, there are so many uncertainties. Whether students will be coming into schools and learning face-to-face or will be learning remotely from home in front of a screen, the new challenges are tremendous. When teachers, students, and families were thrust into distance learning in March, we all realized that "normal" can change in the blink of an eye.


 How Can Boom Learning Help?

Distance learning brought with it a whole bunch of learning management systems and platforms for delivering instruction to students. There are now so many ways to reach students from a distance, it can be quite overwhelming. When I first discovered Boom (which has been around for several years), I was hesitant to try another new system, but I'm so glad I did! Boom Cards are interactive, digital task cards created by teachers for students to use within the Boom Learning platform.


There are many great things about Boom, but what I like best is that it can be used in conjunction with your other learning management system (Google Classroom, Canvas, Microsoft Teams, Seesaw, etc.). This is because Boom Cards are played within their own platform which can easily be linked to whatever method you use to communicate with your students.

Here are some other things I love about Boom Cards:

  • Boom Cards are self-checking, which allows students to be independent.
  • Boom Cards support audio, meaning that creators can embed audio instructions. This makes Boom accessible to pre-readers!
  • Boom Cards can be played on just about any device with a connection to the internet.
  • The Boom platform has thousands of decks, both for sale and for free, that teachers can choose from to meet their students' needs.
  • Teachers can also create their own Boom Cards. Not seeing what you need? You can make your own deck just for your students or to give or sell to other teachers as well.
  • Boom Learning provides teachers with data reports that can help drive instruction.
picture of boy playing Boom Cards Ways to Make Ten with his parent
Child Playing "Ways to Make Ten" Boom Deck


Getting Started with Boom

Teachers must have an account with Boom Learning in order to assign activities (called decks) to students. This requirement keeps the platform secure and safe for students. There are different levels of accounts with different associated costs depending on how you want to use the platform.

You can head over to the Boom homepage to read the most updated membership information, but as of right now, here's a breakdown of the cost and benefits of each level:

Free - Starter Level: At this level, teachers (or parents) can create five student accounts. They can assign decks to those five students and can view reports of those students' progress. At the starter level, users can make five of their own decks, but they cannot add custom sound to those decks. At this level, and all membership levels, teachers can assign unlimited Fastplay links to decks in their library. Fastplay links allow students to play the deck without signing in, but do not provide any reports or data to teachers. Fastplay links expire after five days with free accounts and after 14 days with paid accounts (at which point the teacher can generate a new Fastplay link).

$15/Year - Basic Level: At the basic level, in addition to the benefits of the starter level, teachers can create up to 50 student accounts which they can place in up to three different sections.

$25/Year - Power Level: At the power level, the student number is increased to 150 accounts in up to five sections. Teachers can create an unlimited number of decks to assign to their own students. Teachers also gain a "live monitoring" capability at this level, which allows them to view live progress reports as students play.

$35/Year - Ultimate Level: At this final level, in addition to the benefits of the previous level, teachers can create up to 200 student accounts in up to eight sections, can add custom sounds to their own decks, and can sell their own decks in the Boom store. 

If you join Boom by redeeming a link for a Boom Deck that you accessed through TPT (such as this free sample of my alphabet activities for Boom), you will be automatically be given a free trial of the premium features for three months. Simply click the link in the product download and then follow the prompts to create a new account!



Using Boom Cards with Students

Once you have a Boom account, you will be able to see any Boom Decks that you have purchased (or gotten for free or created) in your library on the Boom Platform. These are decks that you can now assign to your students. Boom has created a very useful collection of tutorials and videos in their help section that you can access if you have trouble when adding students and assigning decks.

Once you have created your roster on Boom (or imported your roster from Google Classroom if that's the system you're already using), you will need decide how you want your students to access the Boom Cards. If you want students to be able to quickly play a game for practice and you aren't interested in collecting data, you can simply have them click a Fastplay link (in your library, click on the blue "action" box next to a deck and select "Fast Pin" to get the link). You can send students this link through whatever LMS or communication system you use.

If you want to collect data (which you probably will at some point!) you have a few student sign-in options that you can explore in depth in this tutorial.

Boom Learning is a robust platform with too much to explore for me to cover in one post, so stay tuned for more! In the meantime, check out my Boom Cards on TPT to see if I have anything perfect for your class!

Boom Cards Bundle of Kindergarten Math Activities    Letter Activities Bundle for Boom Cards Literacy Center


Thanks so much for reading and please leave a comment below if you have any questions about Boom!

Simple and Engaging Leprechaun Traps in the Classroom

A leprechaun stands beside a simple classroom trap on Saint Patrick's Day

Every March I see pictures on social media of absolutely beautiful leprechaun traps that students have made at home as a family project before bringing to school for St. Patrick's Day. While I think there is definite value in that kind of parent-child experience, I have only ever done leprechaun traps as an in-class activity for a few reasons. Planning and constructing simple traps at school can make for an incredibly engaging and educational day that children will remember for the rest of the year (and beyond!). Completing this activity in class is also an excellent opportunity for collaboration and provides a chance for all students to participate equally, regardless of their home environment. Making leprechaun traps in the classroom is less about creating something flashy or cute and more about the meaningful critical thinking and engineering strategies students practice as they plan and construct their creations.

Learning About Leprechauns

Before getting to the trap building, your students will need to build on their background knowledge of leprechauns to come up with a purpose for the activity. After discussing what children already know about leprechauns (you can make a KWL chart if you'd like), reading a book or two about St. Patrick's Day and leprechauns will set the stage for this activity.

A photo of five books that will help prepare students to make leprechaun traps this St. Patrick's Day
Some of my favorite leprechaun books are (affiliate links):

Fiona's Luck: A clever Irish woman is able to trick the leprechauns into returning luck to Ireland. This fun story has a lesson about the importance of wit over luck.

The Night Before St. Patrick's Day: Tim and Maureen attempt to trap a leprechaun but end up getting tricked. This one has simple, rhyming text.

Tim O'Toole and the Wee Folk: This story, which could be compared and contrasted with Jack and the Beanstalk, involves leprechauns (called little ones and wee folk), tricks, and treasures. Just as a heads up--it also includes a little violence (the leprechauns hit peoples' legs with sticks), but it is presented in a silly way.

The Story of the Leprechaun: This cute story gives a lot of background about leprechaun legends and retells a traditional tale of a leprechaun tricking a gold-seeker. 

That's What Leprechauns Do: This story tells of three leprechauns who play a few funny tricks on the way to completing their main job of putting a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

After learning about leprechauns and the legends associated with them, the purpose for building a trap will be clear: catch a leprechaun to get him to tell where the gold is hidden!

Talking About Traps

Photos of a lobster trap, a venus fly trap, and a student-made leprechaun trap
A useful next step is to talk about various kinds of traps and what they are used for in real life. Your students may be able to come up with a few kinds of traps on their own, which you can then discuss (How do they work? Would they be a good option for catching a leprechaun?). Some traps children might be able to think of on their own (depending on their life experiences) are mouse traps, spider webs, or crab or lobster traps. Showing photos of various kinds of traps and talking about how they work (bait? trigger?) will help get the kids' wheels turning. The PowerPoint presentation in my leprechaun set includes photo examples of traps with explanations of how they work.

Making a Plan

When your students have a good understanding of leprechauns and traps, it's time to begin planning! This is such a flexible project--you can have students work independently or in groups to make several traps or just one. One year I had each student draw a trap design and share it with the class. We then made a new plan as a whole group that combined attributes of several of the designs and built that trap together. You can make this project as complicated or as simple as you want to!

Photos of a student planning sheet for a leprechaun trap and a trap made out of a bun, blocks, and paper coins
Before you send your students off to plan, it can help to inventory the supplies that are available for building traps. Some ideas: bins, boxes, tubs, art and craft supplies, books, writing utensils, and toys...

When the children are drawing up their plans, they will need to think about what is going to lure the leprechaun into the trap and how the trap is going to keep the leprechaun from getting away. It helps to have a discussion about these things to brainstorm ideas!

My leprechaun set on TPT has planning forms your students can use, or you can just have them use plain drawing paper.

Building Traps

When it's finally time to build the trap (or traps), reassure your students that it's ok to revise and make changes! When my students were working to build the trap pictured here, they tried a few different bins and boxes before finding one with a lid that worked in the way they wanted it to. A couple of students worked on drawing and cutting out "gold" coins, while others built the staircase out of blocks. A boy even donated his golden chain to use as bait (thankfully the leprechaun didn't get away with it, so he was able to get it back at the end of the day)!

A Leprechaun's Visit

A leprechaun stands beside magic leprechaun rocks made of baking soda and a rhyming note
Once your traps are ready, you will all have to leave the room since leprechauns are far too clever to come into a classroom full of children! When the children are out of the classroom, it's time for some leprechaun mischief. In some stories (and classrooms) the little guys make quite a mess. Bear in mind that while some children will find it silly to come back to find their classroom in disarray, others may find it a little stressful--especially if the classroom is their safe space in a chaotic life. Some simple, but easy to clean up mischief that I find fun is to turn each of the student chairs around backwards, turn a few anchor charts or posters upside down, and to "write" a message (something simple like, "Ha ha ha!") by arranging crayons or pencils on the floor near a trap.

The most important thing, or course, is that the leprechaun must spring the traps, but manage to escape, leaving behind a message and a treat. Some treat ideas: chocolate coins or Rolos, little bags of Skittles, plastic gold coins, or these fun magic leprechaun rocks. The rocks are made out of baking soda, water, and food coloring and each has a plastic gold coin in the center. When dunked in a bowl of vinegar/water for cleaning, the rocks fizz and foam and leave behind the gold. I followed the directions in this post from Gift of Curiosity to make my rocks and left this note in the classroom beside the trap.

I hope these ideas help you plan out a fun St. Patrick's Day experience in your classroom. I'd love to hear from you about your ideas--feel free to post a comment below! Have fun with your traps and Happy St. Patrick's Day! Here are a couple of resources from my TPT store that might interest you:

Leprechauns: PowerPoint and Printables is a TPT resource from My Happy Place     St. Patrick's Day Addition is a TPT resource from My Happy Place



Finding Time for Valentine's Day + a Fine Motor Freebie!

Free Fine Motor Skills Task Box for Valentine's Day

February in kindergarten is always such a busy month with so many potential age-appropriate themes. It can be difficult to fit everything in--especially if, like me, you like to dig deep into themes and spend quality time nurturing curiosity and building understanding. In this post I've compiled some ideas you can use to give the kiddos some Valentine fun without taking time away from the content you need to cover this February.

1. Focus on Friendship with a Kindness Chain

Valentine's Day in kindergarten is all about caring and friendship. It, coincidentally, falls at a time of year when many classes are in need of a classroom management reboot! Making a kindness chain is a great way to put the focus on positive behavior while adding a festive Valentine's Day decoration to your room. To make a kindness chain, pre-cut a bunch of strips of red and pink construction paper. Challenge the children to notice and report their classmates' acts of kindness:1 act of kindness=1 chain link! You might want to add the links during your morning meeting, during snack time, or as you close for the day. Jotting the reason for the link onto the strip before fastening it on will allow you to revisit these acts of kindness as the month goes on. Having the students look for kindness in their peers tends to encourage positive relationships and curtail some of the tattling that seems to crop up this time of year.

Pin and Red Paper Chain


2. Encourage Card-Making in the Writing Center

If you have a writing center as one of your literacy stations, set up a Valentine shop for your students to make and write cards to their friends and family members. Equip the center with red and pink paper and pens/markers. Add a mini-word wall with Valentine's Day words and phrases to get their creative juices flowing. If you throw in some stickers (and teach your expectation of how many materials children should use in one session), they will be begging to go to the writing center! If you want to invest in some print-and-go materials to use year after year in your February writing center, this For the Love of Writing set is available in my TPT store.

3. Slip in Some Valentine's Day Read-Alouds

A great way to bring the fun and friendship of Valentine's Day into your classroom is to read Valentine-themed books to your students during your regular read-aloud time and/or while they are eating snack. (This section contains Amazon affiliate links.) The Biggest Valentine Ever by Steven Kroll (illustrated by Jeni Bassett) is a great story for reinforcing social skills and problem solving. Bird Hugs by Ged Adamson is a sweet story about acceptance and compassion. Children also love listening to Valentine stories about their favorite characters like Pete the Cat, Curious George, and Mouse (from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie).

4. Indoor Recess? Practice Cutting Hearts!

Fold Paper to Cut a Symmetrical HeartIf inclement weather drives your recess inside, have a station set up where kids can practice cutting hearts out of paper scraps. Teach them to fold a piece of paper in half and draw half a heart along the fold. After they cut along their line, they will have a heart shape and a heart-shaped paper frame that they can use in crafting. Children learn a little bit about symmetry this way while building fine motor skills and getting the satisfaction of learning how to do something new!


5. Add some Valentine Fun to Your Fine Motor Boxes

This Valentine's Day fine motor activity is free for my email subscribers! I was inspired to make a spin and cover set when I saw this cute pack of heart table scatter at Dollar Tree, but these cards can just as easily be used with mini-erasers or any other little counters you have on hand. (Read more about my Fine Motor Skills Task Boxes here.)

Dollar Tree Valentine's Day Table Heart Scatter for Fine Motor Activity

If you would like to get this printable download for free, just subscribe to my email list using the form at the bottom of this post (if you're reading this on a mobile device, you'll have to switch to "web view" at the bottom to see the form). Once you have the printables, print them on card stock, laminate them, and cut them out. Your students can use a pencil and a paperclip for their spinner arrow if you don't have a transparent spinner (read more about spinner options in this post). This set includes three printable spinners --number words, ten frames, or addition--choose the one that works best for your class or print all three and let the children pick! To complete this activity, children spin the spinner and then place a Valentine's Day counter on the number that matches their spin. Ultimately, they will have to spin a lot in order to fill their card. This is a great fine motor exercise!

Valentine's Day Fine Motor Spin and Cover PinValentine's Day Fine Motor Spin and Cover Pin

I hope some of these ideas help fill your February with sweet smiling faces!

Sign up below to get the Valentine's Day Fine Motor Skills Task Box. If you are on a mobile device and can't see the sign up form, try switching to "web view" at the very bottom of your screen. When you sign up you will get a confirmation email with a link to the resource. Check your spam folder, but if you can't find the email, feel free to drop me a note at susan@myhappyplaceteaching.com and I will get you signed up manually. Thanks!